True Life: "I'm on Family Vaca"

By Megan Hayes

My brother, sister, and I were in our hotel room getting ready to meet my parents down at the pool when my sister and I first saw it. My brother’s infamous tattoo, that is. He brought up that he had gotten one earlier when we were in the car being dropped off at the airport. He wanted to feel out what my mom’s reaction would be first — since she is not a fan of tattoos — before dropping the news.

We didn’t know if we should actually believe him. He is known to be a jokester just to get a rise out of all of us. With his permanent crooked smirk it is hard to tell whether he is ever truthful or kidding.

Well, we found out that through his little smirk he was actually telling the truth. After laughing and taking bets on what it would be like when my mom saw it, we finally met up with my parents.  As we were getting in the hot tub my sister and I were turning our heads back and forth between our brother and mom waiting for a reaction. She finally saw it and gasped, “It’s HUGE!”

The tattoo takes up his left “peck.” It’s black and is made up of the words veritas and aequitas (truth and justice) in the form of a circle, with a cross in the middle. We thought it was pretty sweet; my mom not so much.

My mom was in shock. She didn’t talk to any of us, but would make comments to the two other men in the hot tub who were observing our family dispute. She was angry, but after 15 minutes of the silent treatment she finally came around and accepted it.

That’s what I love about my family. Despite growing up and going different ways in life, at the end of the day we love each other: through tattoos, disagreements, fights and all. Not only are we family, but we are also friends.

When we were younger we used to go to California a lot, which is why it is a very important place to us. We went on a family road trip there when I was only one and a half and my grandpa lived out there, so we made many visits.

Whenever my family and I would go visit my grandpa, before he died, we would go to Disneyland first and then make our way to Santa Barbara, where he lived. The last family vacation that we took out there with all five of us was when I was eight. My brother is now 27, my sister is 24 and I am 20.

When asked where we wanted to go for Spring Break, my brother, sister and I chose to do one of the same family trips that we used to do. We decided to go to Disney and Santa Barbara. We knew that this would be one of the last times we might all be able to go on a family vacation. My parents were surprised that we all wanted to go on what my sister likes to call "family vaca.”

Since we were going on a trip like one that we’d already been on, I went with a question in mind: Would it be the same trip and would our family be the same? Or would the fact that we have all grown up and gone different ways cause a huge change in our relationship?

We are a Disney family so we made sure that we went to Disneyland again, which also now includes the California Adventure Park, which is different than when we were kids.

When you are younger, Disneyland is a huge deal. It’s the kind of place you dream about going to. My dad said that, “It was enjoyable bringing younger kids, because you were able to experience Disney through the kids' eyes. Their eyes would light up seeing all the characters and rides.”

It was fun to experience Disney with the family as adults too. I realized now that it was the “life” to be young and get pushed in a stroller all around the park. You had the luxury to sit while you waited in what seemed like a never-ending line. You definitely don’t get that treatment when you’re 20.

It was much more crowded than it was back then. There seemed to be so many more strollers jamming their way through the crowds than there used to be, but then again we probably just noticed more, because we weren’t actually in them this time around.

It was fun to experience rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Peter Pan’s Flight that we loved to go on when we were younger.

My sister said that some things have changed since last time. “When you’re younger you enjoy all the rides and get so excited about the amusement parks,” she said. “When you’re older you start to value time spent with your family more.”

When I was 8, I remember, I was so excited to go to Disney again. Being older, I actually realize all that goes into a place like that and what they have to do to keep it up and running. It really is a magical place and it was nice to experience it again with my whole family.

The Santa Barbara part of the trip was a little different since my grandpa wasn’t there. He introduced our family to Santa Barbara and is a huge part of why we love it there so much. Every year we visited he would give us a tour as we went through the town. From his house to State Street, he had a comment for everything.

“There’s my dentist,” he would say as he pointed to the right. “Oh, and that’s my bank,” as he pointed to the left. We would all get so annoyed and laugh every time, but we never forgot it.

Every time we drove by each building, my brother made sure to whip out my grandpa’s famous lines in remembrance.

I have always looked up to my older brother, Dave, ever since I can remember. I would even try to dress like him when I was little. One thing that I admire about him is that he always values the importance of family.

He is 27 years old. There are a million other things that he could be doing besides going to Disneyland and on a trip with his family. The fact that he can still go and have a fun time, joke about the rides and want to still hang out with us, made the trip that much better.

As you grow up I feel like you learn the importance of family and become less worried about what others think or what the “cool” thing to do is and you are able to have the time of your life and experience things that you wouldn’t have before.

My brother said that he thinks that nothing has changed since our last family vacation. Everyone still behaves the same. We are able to have a ridiculous argument one minute and be over it and be saying, “I love you” the next.

At first I was offended. I thought, “Hey now I think we have all matured since then.” Then I realized he was right.

We have grown up. We may even be more excited to have a cocktail now than to go on Peter Pan’s Flight, but despite our life changes we still remain family.

My mom said, “All three of my kids are very different, but they still enjoy spending time together despite that.” That’s the nice thing about family. You are different, but you have an inseparable bond.

In my family we have five different and strong personalities, but we can still come together and make each other laugh. As you grow up people change, but you learn what is truly important to you and that travels with you throughout your lifetime.

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