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The Art of the Anti-Vacation

I am just back after a week’s vacation in the Cotswolds. If it seems to you like I am always on vacation, well, it seems that way to me too. I am now living in the most generous of European countries when it comes to vacation days and get a whopping thirty per year. (Note to US companies: neither your company nor the economy will collapse if you let people off for more than ten days every year.) It’s a good thing too because most my vacations in recent memory have been anything but relaxing.

Last week’s started with a funeral. Admittedly it was a funeral that was followed by a rather expectional party of a wake, but still a funeral. And up until the minute we walked through the doors of the church in Bibury, husband was furiously tapping away at his BlackBerry in negotiations over two potential job offers, tense negotiations that would stretch well into the week.

There was a lot at stake. After three months in Berlin husband had exhausted his interest in the Betty Draper life of leisure or, as he had taken to describing it, being a work-shy fop. (Mastering the art of frittata making had been gratifying at first, but failed to sustain him.) He decided he would have to get a job and spent the month of May in the Cotswolds doing interviews in the UK while simultaneously turning up the heat on a potential job in Berlin that had been hanging around without a formal offer for far too long. Neither of us was particularly thrilled about the idea of commuting back and forth between Berlin and the Cotwolds each weekend to be together, and the propsect hung over us like a dark cloud all week.

We have a habit of timing career crises to coincide with our vacations. A few years ago we spent a weekend in Venice intended to celebrate our wedding anniversary but instead spent it agonizing over whether or not husband should change jobs, agony tempered somewhat by prosecco and cicchetti consumption. A year or so later there was angst in Breisach am Rhein over the decision to take that job, then more of the same last Christmas in L.A. over the decision to move to Berlin for my job. At the end of this vacation, though, there was good news. The Berlin job offer came through and husband started today. Next month we go to Paris to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Let’s hope it’s angst and crisis-free.

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