In praise of the loner-stoner vacation

In praise of the loner-stoner vacation

By Ashley Fetters
Photo by Meagan Mastriani

When I was in fifth grade, Officer Carlson from D.A.R.E. enlightened my class one Tuesday afternoon to the dangers of using the controlled substance marijuana. Marijuana, Officer Carlson said, was a “downer”; it would make us feel lazy. It would also impair our judgment, he said. It would make us feel disoriented and confused, and make us forgetful, and make it hard to focus on anything at all.

He was absolutely right about all of this, thank God, because some of us grew up to be women with jobs in dude-dominated environments — and all these years later, we can thank Officer Carlson from D.A.R.E. for revealing unto us the miracle drug that would ultimately keep us from becoming full-time, ’round-the-clock people pleasers. Funny how the stuff we all pledged to never go crazy with as kids became a way to stay sane as adults — to make sure a vacation day doesn’t turn into a catch-up day, that a weekend doesn’t turn into working from home. Or in my particular case, that a yearly much-needed week-long solo beach vacation doesn’t turn into a self-funded, week-long solo work trip.

The solo vacation is, of course, an excellent idea in theory. You’ll read some trashy books! You’ll do some sunrise yoga! You’ll get a massage and clear your head and find serenity! Sure you will, until you remember: that email in your inbox. The one that arrived right as you were leaving the office, that you took care to Mark As Unread so you’d remember to respond to it later.

Then that one email turns into those three emails, and three turns into 13. “Actually,” your brain says, “maybe today’s the day I finally write that long, detailed, crazy-impressive email to my boss and pitch that big project he’s gonna love. Oooh, or maybe today’s the day I finally read all of that whole memo Brad put together! Or, oh God, maybe today’s the day I finally file last month’s expense report.”

And this is why the loner vacation must necessarily become a loner stoner vacation. Weed, with all its brain-fuzzying, better-judgment-impairing capacities, becomes the gentle hand on your wrist when it’s reaching for your laptop, the laid-back angel on your shoulder. “C’mon,” it says. “Not today.”

Sure, you can try — but inevitably, you will hit “New Message” three times and each time struggle to remember which Chris you meant to email. Today, you will fight valiantly to comprehend Brad’s memo but give up after the first two paragraphs. Today, you won’t even be able to keep up with a podcast or make it through a whole New Yorker story. But it’s OK. Today, you will lie down on a beach towel, smile vaguely up at the lone cloud in the sky, listen to Vampire Weekend’s “Hannah Hunt” twice, and stumble upon serenity just before falling into a contented, gauzy half-sleep.

Today, you will finally spend 24 whole hours with your teeth unclenched.