“I Vacation in the Van Down by the Marina”

The rear windows were cracked open, leaving barely two inches for the fresh air off the Puget Sound to circulate inside. The carpet on the floor was barren and dusty, and the pillow cases had a worn texture. I crawled under the comforter and adjusted the angle of my body to avoid the light from the street lamp that shone between the tattered curtains. Wasabi, my daughter’s Australian Shepherd mix, waited until I stopped squirming before taking her position at the foot of the futon.
The noises from the branches waving above and the acorns hitting the roof seemed magnified. After a few minutes, I took solace in Wasabi’s deep breaths and closed my eyes.
I was exhausted. The night before I’d flown across the country to visit Sierra over Labor Day weekend, and my body had not yet adjusted. Worse, the flight delay caused us to miss the last ferry. That meant driving an hour south to Tacoma before heading northwest for the 90 minute drive to Bainbridge Island. Sometime after 3 a.m. I fell asleep.
Shortly after 6 o’clock headlights flashed through the windows and the sounds of a car engine washed through the open window. My body jolted. Wasabi raised her head and growled. She set her head back down as the car moved on up the street, one last newspaper flying from the car window.
I pulled my jeans on, slipped into my shoes, then hooked Wasabi’s leash. Rusting metal squealed as I pushed the door open. Wasabi jumped out and I followed, allowing her to stop in the grass before heading to the locker room at the marina.
Later that morning I called home to check in with my wife and let her know that I’d reached Seattle.
“I assume you managed to get a hotel room,” she said. “Did you find a Marriott?”
“No,” I said. “I stayed in Sierra’s cargo van.”
“It’s my own version of the Saturday Night Live skit,” I said. “I’m 58 years old, and I vacation in the van down by the marina.”

Leave a Reply