I only took a week off between quitting my old job and starting my new one. I wish I’d been able to take more time. In the legal profession, vacation time is tough, even if your employer technically gives you a lot of it and even if you don’t work in a high pressure Big Law environment. I’m a litigator, which means my schedule is at the mercy of clients and the courts. I can book a vacation several months out, and try to schedule around it, but things still come up. If those things are bad enough, the vacation gets cancelled. If they’re things that someone else can take care of, the vacation happens, but it can be hard to detach from cases that keep going in your absence. Because of this, there’s really no time for vacation like the time between jobs.
When I told colleagues I was leaving the old firm, they acted appropriately sad for the appropriate amount of time, and then asked me where I was going for vacation. They started living vicariously through me. To make up for the trickiness involved with scheduling vacations, lawyers like to live it up when they actually get some time off. One coworker decided I was going to Ireland, where I would rent a car and drive the coast. Another coworker insisted I go to Paris, and then tacked on a quick trip to Morocco for good measure. Another friend, who knew that Robert spent many years living in Santiago, pointed out that this would be a perfect time for me to finally go to South America. When I reminded people that I didn’t have much time to buy plane tickets and so should probably stick to the continental U.S., I was suddenly headed for San Francisco and New York and even Florida, until I pointed out that I have no interest in going to Florida, ever.
I let everybody dream and didn’t say a word. Robert and I had already decided as soon we knew I’d have a few days off that we were going to Milwaukee. I didn’t tell anyone because to people who live in Chicago, Milwaukee is massively disappointing. At least half of Chicago’s population are refugees from small towns in Wisconsin, or one of the other Midwestern states. They hardly needed to ask why we would go to Milwaukee, when Chicago has so much more to offer in terms of accommodations, entertainment, scenery, and food. Robert and I have a history of driving to small cities, and even smaller towns, though. We like driving, and looking at new buildings, and having room to breathe. And I’d almost always rather be somewhere other than the place I live.
So we went to Milwaukee and checked into a fancy old hotel, complete with gilded decor and Victorian art and a ghost, and we spent a long weekend doing what we always do when we go somewhere knew — planning a life.
Note 1: I know Milwaukee is not a small town, it sure feels like it after Chicago, though.
Note 2: I wish I knew how to layout photos better on WordPress, but I don’t. Oh well.