“Staycation, not a maycation,” my son London sang as we walked down Washington Street toward the Inn of the Anasazi hotel.
“Cause it’s June,” his older sister Poppy said with the cutting intonation of a girl who just owned the age of 13.
After the kids had finished their school-related camping trips, field days and locker cleanups, and once I stopped seeing blue (books) after grading exams, we decided to have what folks are calling a “staycation:” staying in a hotel and playing tourist in your hometown.
Like many families who consider themselves “locals” in a popular tourist destination, we’d been avoiding the areas that attract outsiders. The cool part was that the Inn of the Anasazi was offering something called Flip for Rosewood promotion: free use of a Sony Flip UltraHD digital camcorder during our stay. Our last camcorder needed a part only available in Denver, so we did what most Americans would: put the broken machine in the closet and ignored it like an illegitimate love child. Lucky for me, the Flip was as big as a pack of cigarettes and as easy to use. Now we’d have moving images of our kids before Poppy went to college and London left home to open a comic book store.
“We haven’t done this in so long,” was our refrain as we walked the Plaza, running into old friends of my wife Lala’s and former students of mine who can still bear to speak to the guy who dragged them through The Grapes of Wrath. It was late afternoon and the sun turned that Etruscan gold color that seemed to match the new exterior of St. Francis Cathedral Basilica.
The kids were hungry and we didn’t want to miss any of the light, so we headed up to the Rooftop Pizzeria where I turned the Flip camcorder on each member of my family in an attempt to create a reflective moment.
“What’s your first memory?” I asked London.
“Let’s see,” he said, pursing his lips and rolling his eyes toward the heavens. “When I peed in your face.”
“You can’t remember that. You were five days old.”
“Sure do. Best moment of my life,” he said straight-faced right into the camera.
London’s clever urinary retort was repeated for every question I posed. Poppy wasn’t much better. She felt it was her job to give sullen proletariat responses about cleaning her room and still not having a cell phone. Lala was camera shy and said turnabout was fair play so she spent my confessional moments doing close-ups of the extended family of chins I carry around.
I realize now that the staycation is more about fun than emotional outpouring. Everyone loved the new museum smell of the New Mexico History Museum as well as a stop for show tunes and dessert at La Casa Sena’s La Cantina, a place Lala and I hadn’t visited together since Mr. Pee in Your Face was born. I reveled in not driving as we strolled in the cool desert evening to the inn where I would hand in my Flip so our memories could be downloaded onto a DVD, ready for checkout the next day.
After a night of London being swallowed up by the hotel robes and Poppy staying up late mainlining cable television, I had to deal with the difference between a vacation and a staycation. London was starting soccer camp, so I drove his shin-guarded self over to Salvador Perez Park while Lala and Poppy slept in. On my way back, I marveled at the clean empty streets and the morning light so different than the night before. The air was cool and the school year was now over. On the patio of the hotel that would be ours for only two hours more, I stared into the face of rock ’n’ roll icon Lou Reed enjoying breakfast with his wife Laurie Anderson.
Lucky for him, I had already ditched my Flip.
Rob Wilder’s most recent book is Tales from the Teacher’s Lounge. His column, Daddy Needs A Drink, appears the first Wednesday of each month in the Santa Fe Reporter.