Leaving Manch-Vegas

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Let’s be honest, vacations where extended families are staying in the same house are seldom completely cordial, and they seldom end well.

In its Platonic conception, the idea is primal and perfect. The tribe congregates for a break—after the daily grind has wheedled them to Popsicle sticks—and the family celebrates their shared drudgery with board games, fattening foods and copious alcohol.

Maybe it starts with a house that could best be described as palatial on the jagged Atlantic coast of York, Maine, with an iconic lighthouse on the distant shoreline, blinking at night, as the waves rush against the rocks then recede when low-tide approaches.

Maybe inside said palatial house—complete with a hot tub, a saltwater pool and a fire pit—resides multiple generations of a family varying in socio-economic status and race.

Maybe there are five couples in said family—from Boomers to Gen. X’ers to Millennials to the teens in Gen. Z, all seeking a peaceful and placid stay, a plea for synergy.

And, say, two of said couples live in Manchester, and they’re a little rougher around the edges. Things they’ve seen haven’t been so polished. And sometimes the Manchester denizens have different experiences than those who might actually gasp at someone overdosing on Valley St., as if it hasn’t been commonplace in their reality for the past decade.

The Nubble Lighthouse, York Maine.

Maybe the Manchester couples have slight chips on their shoulders, which they wear as abject badges due to the fact that many people in the state see Manchester people as “lesser,” living in a “drug-invested den” without any redeemable qualities[1].

Maybe this ends in a combustible situation at dinner, a caustic encounter in a palatial house on the coast of Maine. Maybe it ends with acrimony and hurt that could’ve been avoided.

Who knows?

But, as aforementioned, vacations with extended family staying in the same house sadly seldom end neatly. Or well[2]. It doesn’t mean the situation is dire or loveless. It just means that cohabitating, even for ephemeral periods with extended family, might not be the best idea.

Yet maybe someone remembers a morning waking in a king-sized mattress-foam bed with the window open, the ocean waves rolling against the rocks and the soft scent of salt, thinking it was the most precious sleep he’s ever experienced[3].

Maybe, despite the dramatics, some people enjoyed themselves, despite the dysfunctionality of family because, let’s be real, all families are dysfunctional.

And maybe, just maybe, some people were pleased to come home to The Queen City where everything seemed normal again.

____

[1] Maybe there are times when Manchester reminds your columnist so much the Rhode lsland town where he grew up (West Warwick)—another old dilapidated mill town on a New England river—that he views his new inherited city with the same pride that another transplanted Manchester-man and radio host shares. Why? Because it’s their home now.

[2] N.B. Your family may coexist with a harmony that makes Crosby, Stills and Nash sound off-key but, in my limited experiences, it’s seldom that disparate personalities within families—particularly when unresolved spites and grudges exist—join hands for an a capella fire-pit version of “Our House.”

[3] Maybe one visits a Maine dispensary where they can legally purchase edibles and said gummies may (or may not) make said sleep fucking heavenly.