The Perfect Vacation… And Other Lies Facebook Told Me

I haven’t posted in awhile… I really need to get better about that. To be fair, a big part of the reason is because I just returned from a 16 day trip to Europe with Gil. I know, rough life right? We spent the holidays in Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome. And it was just as beautiful as you would imagine it to be.

And I can confidently say I had a wonderful time with the man I love and it was an experience I will never forget. AND I had the best New Year’s celebration of my life, on a boat in Venice watching an incredible fireworks show and drinking champagne with my honey… it was like something out of a sappy romance novel.

BUT (and this is a big BUT) it was not the picture perfect European getaway I had been imagining. It was hard work! And we stayed in nice hotels and flew with an upgrade to “Premium Economy” (totally worth it by the way) and STILL there were more trials and tribulations than I imagined a dream vacation like this would have.

So while our friends and family got to drool over the pictures I posted to social media, they really only paint half of the picture. The GOOD half, obvs.

trip collageWe have all read about the Facebook effect right? This weird phenomenon of comparing your seemingly drab, complicated, messy, unorganized life to the picture perfect moments of people you went to elementary school with who now have the perfect life, and flawlessly documented new vacation/baby/house/wedding and make you feel like you’re somehow lacking in comparison. Because whether we admit it or not, we are all guilty of trying to put our best foot forward on social media, and with that automatically comes a bit of manipulation of the truth. Not a lie exactly… but maybe a lie of omission in some cases.

Normally I read about this exercise in the context of parenthood: a gorgeous professional picture of the entire family smiling… while everyone was actually screaming at each other between shots and the toddler was eating boogers in all but two frames. The snow filled photos with carefully selected Instagram filter of the little ones sledding for the first time… when really it took five hours in traffic to get there, they fought with each other the whole trip,  and they spent a grand total of 15 minutes in the snow before they complained so vehemently about being cold and wet that you could LITERALLY feel hairs on your head turning gray.

I AM TOTALLY GUILTY OF THIS. I just perpetrated this crime of social media for almost 3 weeks straight. Obviously not with children – I leave that parenting shit to you masochists. No, I essentially Photoshopped my vacation. Not REALLY – I didn’t actually physically manipulate the pictures themselves, but I definitely smoothed over the rough edges so the finished product was shiny and beautiful and ready for consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I DID have the trip of a lifetime with the man I love. It was thrilling, beautiful, exhilarating, exciting, romantic, and delicious. And if you look at the pictures I posted you would glean exactly that.

What you WOULDN’T see are my teary eyes from that stupid argument we had in front of the Eiffel Tower about retaking a picture because I felt so self-conscious about how fat I looked, which is why I’m wearing his sunglasses in some of the pictures. Those pictures of the Louvre are drool worthy, but you don’t see the three hour line we waited in because we didn’t think to buy a museum pass ahead of time and how by the time we got in I could barely walk (I am still recovering from extensive ankle surgery) and so I spent most of my time there looking for benches instead of admiring art. The Colosseum is awe-inspiring, but you can’t see how sick I am at that point, or how exhausted we both are which led to us snapping at each other for no good reason.

Yes, we shared those stories with a handful of friends and family when we got home, but to a casual observer I got the perfect European vacation with my perfectly bearded lumberjack of a boyfriend. Truth? 16 days of travelling together is when shit gets real. Eleven hour flights. Questionable cab rides. Gross underestimation of how much money you’d be spending on food (some of which was totally mediocre). A swollen and throbbing ankle. Long lines. Short tempers. Obnoxious tourists. Meltdowns. MY PERIOD, a week early.

It happens. Of course it does. Life is messy and chaotic and tragic and bloody sometimes. And I would definitely use each of those adjectives to describe moments in our trip. The real triumph? The one you don’t see in any of the pictures? The fact that those were merely MOMENTS. The fact that we tackled them together instead of tearing each other down further even though it would have been so easy to do – to take out our frustration with a stressful situation on the one we love the most.

The best parts of the trip? The way we sat on a bench overlooking the canal in Venice snuggled up together watching the sun on the water. How tight he held me on the boat when we were watching fireworks on New Year’s. Feeling him reach for my hand halfway through an eleven hour flight when he was somewhere between asleep and awake. The way he helped me with my suitcase on the train in Florence even though he warned me not to over-pack because I would be responsible for my own bags. Spoiler alert: I over-packed.

These are the moments I didn’t document but they’re some of the most vivid memories. And honestly, I wouldn’t change any of them, good or bad. Well, that’s a lie too. I would totally wish for a healthy ankle so I wouldn’t have been in a walking cast for most of the trip. And maybe I would have eaten even more cheese. Yeah, definitely more cheese.

But I wouldn’t trade the experience. Now we KNOW the things we would do differently (I think 10 days is probably our max). And now whenever I see someone posting pictures from their own “perfect” vacation, I always wonder what those “real” moments actually look like. Those would make a much more interesting photo album…

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