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Ahead and Behind

Josh pointed out that we’re going on holiday soon-ish, and when he said the words, I felt my heart drop a little, almost like my muscles fumbled for a moment.  I don’t want the holiday to get here, not because I don’t want a vacation — I desperately do want a vacation — but because I love still having it in front of us.  Once we go, it will mean that we’re one step closer to having it over.  And then it will actually be over and we’ll have to deal with that down period that comes after a long-awaited trip or event.

I like to call this time period my pre-disappointment.

I felt this way about my wedding too.  I sort of didn’t want the day to arrive because then it would all be over, and I’d have to jump back into regular life.  And add to that my Bat Mitzvah, I didn’t want that to start either. (Though that may have had more to do with the fact that it was the year of the cicada, and I had all sorts of fears of going from the car to the shul with my hair down — a perfect nest for catching flying cicadas.)

And then I think about the things that I want now, that I’d rather be in the moment doing it, even if it means that at some point, I’ll have to move to having memories rather that still have it before me: I felt that way about college.  I was nervous to go, but I wanted to already be living the first day back when I was still in my junior year of high school.  I obviously feel that way about children; I want them here.  I want to be experiencing them now.  I don’t want to be working towards a time when I have a baby.

So I sort of don’t want this trip to start because that will also mean that it’s also close to being over, and I am going to be so down after this vacation ends.

Am I the only one who gets this way?


1 electriclady { 10.09.11 at 9:35 am }

There’s actually research that found the greatest stress and happiness benefits from a vacation come in the anticipation, not the actual trip (and definitely not the aftermath, when you get stressed from having to catch up). So you’re not alone in loving having the vacation ahead of you!

2 HereWeGoAJen { 10.09.11 at 9:40 am }

Yes and no. I hate it when things are over, but not enough that I don’t want them to come. I really dislike the “okay, NOW what?” feeling I get after something I’ve been looking forward to is over. I try to stack my looking forward. I’ve got a trip coming up that I am looking forward to. And after that, I am going to start looking forward to Christmas. (I haven’t thought of what I am going to look forward to after Christmas is over. Any ideas?)

3 TasIVFer { 10.09.11 at 10:06 am }

You’re not the only one who does it. Sometimes when something wonderful is coming or is happening you can see the beginning and ending all at once. I feel that now that I have my son, almost definitely my only baby. I’m seeing the new things he does each day, and mourning the fact that he is leaving his newborn-ness behind so quickly. I’m pleased he’s safely here and healthy but wish it didn’t seem that that graduation from uni and acceptance speach for his Nobel Prize were coming up quite so soon. I mean really – I have nothing to wear to either even and obviously I’ll be his date because he’ll never love anyone else like his mum, no?!

4 Esperanza { 10.09.11 at 10:07 am }

I TOTALLY understand that feeling. I was explaining to my husband the other day that I’d actually dislike a surprise trip being sprung on me a the last minute because then I’d miss out on the first (and maybe best part) of the trip – the anticipation. The looking forward to is just as fun as the doing, I think.

On the other hand, though, I think the anticipation is only fun for a certain amount of time preceding the trip. We have no money right now and can’t afford any trips this school year. I’m saving up all year to visit my cousin and friend on the East Coast with my daughter and right now it’s too far away to anticipate. I’m also really bummed that I’m missing out on other trips that I would be going on if we weren’t so broke and the anticipation of that (hopefully to be) trip is not enough to make up for all I’m missing in between.

So next time you feel sad that it’s coming up, focus on the fact that you get to go at all, because a lot of people don’t get to go, for whatever reason. Some never get to…

I hope you have fun, waiting for your trip and actually taking it.

5 Esperanza { 10.09.11 at 10:15 am }

PS I re-read my comment and realized it sounds really preachy and obnoxious, which was NOT my intention. I’ve been well off my entire life and taken tons of trip (and taken for granted that I got to go at all). My point was just that now that I can’t go on lots of trips, I realize how lucky I was to have them to look forward to before, and how much a part of the contentment in my life those trips were. I hope in the future I can combat my fear of post-vacation disappointment by remembering that vacations are not a forgone conclusion to the passage of a certain amount of time and I’m very fortunate to enjoy them at all. I hold I’m not still sounding preachy, I worry I’m still not explaining myself well… Also I’m trying to live more in the moment and that helps with this sort of thug too.

6 Meghan { 10.09.11 at 10:26 am }

I feel the same way. I set up countdowns to big trips and then as soon as they start I’m constantly thinking “only x more days of vacation, must pack as much fun in as possible” and then even the vacation becomes stressed. This is especially true the last few days for me

Regardless, enjoy the pre trip build up! And the actual vacation of course

7 Gee { 10.09.11 at 10:47 am }

I like the anticipation before a trip or big event because at that point it’s still all potential. The actual vacation contains good and bad and things surprising and mundane and everything in between, but before it happens it’s all one hazy ball of blank potential on which I can project anything I want.

8 loribeth { 10.09.11 at 12:17 pm }

I am on vacation right now, & I’ve already been feeling slightly frustrated — it took forever to get dh to commit to going away for a few days (to be fair, it’s partly because his hernia has been bothering him, & he wasn’t sure how far he’d feel like driving), and many of the other things I had in mind to do during our week off hinged on our plans to get away. I know that, no matter what the schedule, I am not going to get half the things done that I thought I would.

On the other hand, every day away from the office is a good day, no matter what I am or am not doing. ; ) The busiest time of the year starts immediately after I get back & I am NOT looking forward to it. So I’m just sort of trying to enjoy the present & not worry too much about tomorrow, or next week.

9 a { 10.09.11 at 3:00 pm }

Yep. It’s just you. 😉

10 Mina { 10.09.11 at 4:55 pm }

I think A nailed it.

PS- Don’t you just love how concisely A sums up all one has been thinking, which took one quite a long time and a lot of words to explain? And then she comes and bam! one is left feeling silly for not being able to just say it like she does. She amazes me every time she comments. Clearly, I am the opposite of A., too many words, too little sense.

PPS – you sound like Woody Allen, who’s always sounded to me like what I imagine to be a Jewish mother. 🙂 Are you related? :-p

11 Mo { 10.09.11 at 7:47 pm }

Pre-disappointment. Love it! I may even steal it from you eventually.
And no, you’re not the only one. I think it’s a plague with us control freaks. 🙂

12 Janey { 10.10.11 at 3:37 am }

I do feel this way. But sometimes something miraculous happens… after the holiday and the excitment wear off I realise that it was even better than I thought at the time.

Months or even years later I can enjoy moments more than when they happened. So if you get strong feelings of anticipation, maybe the retrospective feelings will be wonderful too.

13 edenland { 10.10.11 at 7:46 am }


You have coined a term that I have felt since as long as I can remember. I get it about most things. An example was you sitting in my hotel room in San Diego, and me watching you talk and feeling so so sad that soon enough you would be gone and I’d be left with the memory of you sitting there talking.


14 Ellen K. { 10.10.11 at 9:38 am }

I like that term. I’m definitely feeling it right now — D. and I are going on vacation very soon (matter of hours).

15 JDragonfly { 10.10.11 at 1:20 pm }

I’ve always lived my life one step ahead of where I am. Maybe it’s because I have an older sibling and was always trying to “catch up” to him. My 4 year old self wanted to be able to tie my shoes because my 6 year old brother could. My elementary school self wanted to be a middle schooler. My middle school self… You get the point. I always imagine that when I “get there” I’ll feel content and happy. But, inevitably, when I do get to the place I’ve been anticipating I’m already looking ahead to the next thing. The same holds true for vacations.

I’ve come to realize over the years that looking ahead to the next thing drains the joy out of where I’m at today. While this tendency seems to be a part of my very nature, I’m trying to train myself to just enjoy the moment. … A work in progress.

Enjoy the anticipation AND the vacation. Worry about what comes after, after.


16 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.11.11 at 12:06 am }

You’re not alone.

I hate waste. So I tell myself, “Don’t waste the Now.”

It helps. A little.

17 Paz { 10.11.11 at 9:13 pm }

Yes! I feel that way, especially today 😉

Enjoy the vaca, can’t wait to hear the details.

18 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 10.15.11 at 1:47 am }

I’m not usually, but I certainly felt that way during pregnancy. Not only because I wanted to keep them in as long as possible and minimize the prematurity issues, but because the anticipation was so exciting. In that case, though, the real thing was better than the anticipation.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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