Vacation All Year: Part 3 and 4

Two more tips on keeping your life like a vacation, even after you move back to the real world.

2. Celebrate During the Week
When my husband and I house sat for my in-laws mid-week, we took full advantage of their beautiful deck overlooking the ocean. Although it was a Monday night, we turned dinner into an event and invited all of our friends over. Because it was a week night, we knew many of our invitees wouldn’t be able to make it, but by keeping the hours flexible – people dropped in any time between five to nine – giving plenty of notice so people could schedule us in, and turning it into an event complete with Google and Facebook invites, we had a hugely successful dinner party. We kept the preparation low maintenance, too: sangria tossed together on a Sunday, a barley and chickpea salad with herbs and balsamic vinegar, pasta and marinara sauce, make-your-own grilled veggie skewers, veggie dogs and burgers to toss on the grill, supplemented by dishes that the guests brought, left guests’ tummies satisfied and the hosts free to chat. The best part was on Tuesday, I felt as refreshed as if it were Monday morning – as if I had cheated time out of an extra weekend.

3. Meet New People
One of my most memorable experiences in Asia took place in less than a day. On the overnight train to Batou, in Inner Mongolia, home of the sand dunes, my friend, my husband, and I found ourselves in different cars. As I usually did in China, I found a Chinese person and asked in my very poor Chinese, “What is this stop called?” and waited until I heard the name of my stop. A middle aged Chinese man, finding me funny, struck up a conversation with me – he with no English at all, and me with my 200 word vocabulary, mostly composed of food, colors, taxi directions, numbers – the kind of stuff you learn in first semester high school French. He ended up driving us all the way out to the sand dunes and including us on a family vacation with his son and a friend. As we rode on camels, flew over the dunes in sand cruisers, and slid down the down on the sand slide, I was amazed at the ways in which people from completely different cultures, with no language, find ways to connect with each other.

Us with our Foster Family For A Day in Inner Mongolia

Us with our Foster Family For A Day in Inner Mongolia

Think of your first year of college. Though it seemed to fly by, it also seemed incredibly packed with miniature memories, so that when you thought back on it, it seemed to have been two years. Think of all the different people you met every day. Somehow, the excitement about coming to know new people, puzzling how to related to them, lengthens our lives.

Nowadays, it seems that meeting people, especially if you are a busy young professional, is about going to “socials” at pubs with cash bars and free fried food, organized by Alumni Association X or Professional Society Z. The awkwardness of meeting people is still present, and there is little common ground except an abstract idea of “networking” – ie, let’s see what we need from each other. A business card swapping party. Other organizations, however, are starting to organize events around doing something. In Boston, the Young Non-profit Professionals Network organizes volunteer events like bike path clearing, as well as hikes, so that participants are able to make safe conversation around the joint experience of service or physical work and may even in fact find out more about each other that just their position and place of work.
Matt on the YNPN Hike
There are other ways of meeting new people – taking a graduate class that involves lots of discussion, starting a new job. One solution that takes less commitment is to reconnect with old colleagues and friends by inviting them to events. My husband and I invited both of our friends to our dinner part on our in-laws deck, along with my colleagues from both my current job and past jobs. I like to think that I’m helping to slow down time for them as they’re given the opportunity to meet new people. An organization I used to belong to holds an annual “Invite Someone No One Else Knows Party” that is always a huge success.

Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers; friends lay around every corner. Include new people in the activities of your traditional group of friends – you’ll find more about them and help them slow down their lives as well.

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