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The 50-year-old perspective: Staycations

Staycation: I think that's yet another phrase we coined during the "Great recession," along with "shovel ready," "zombie banks" and my personal favorite, "recessionista," a former champagne-taste fashionista on a beer budget. Staycation somehow connotes that we, the anointed middle class, have had to resort to staying home – no pun intended. But there's something blissful to being in a familiar place at an ideal time of year, right at home in Southwest Portland.

This is my third staycation in the past 12 months. I revel in what my backyard smells like at 10 a.m.: a cross between dog poop I really should scoop and blooming hydrangeas, if I remember to water. I can leisurely walk to yoga in Hillsdale and linger with the crowd at Baker & Spice instead of trying to get out of the parking lot in record time (or at all, for that matter). I know where I can get a table outside for lunch with my 83-year-old friend from church without having to look it up on Trip Advisor. I can walk to my masseuse and forget about the spa fee. And I can talk to not one, but three neighbors on the way home – and revel in how friendly this city is and that my neighbors aren't sure how much water to put on the hydrangeas either.

We forget what a great hamlet we live in. I live three blocks from the Hillsdale Town Center and a rejuvenating walk to Multnomah Village. Forget the lack of sidewalks and heavy traffic; if I were on vacation and staying in a hotel in a place like this, I would be counting my lucky stars and writing it up on Yelp. Add sunny skies, a good coffee shop and hey, you've arrived.

Yes, I ignore the dirty windows, the lure of checking my work email and my mascara, which is about all I can muster on a work day anyway. And you called it: my 12-year-old is away for overnight camp, which in my opinion is right up there with the dishwasher in terms of greatest inventions ever. My neighbor, a retired teacher who knows me well, asked me, “Do you really do nothing during the day?”

Of course I don’t.

My husband and I took in “Hope Springs” at an evening showing and didn't even have to rent a room to practice what we'd learned. I went to Powell’s Books mid-morning and browsed after whizzing through the book sale line. I got a pedicure, haircut and massage, which I think are the three peaks of the female experience at this age.

Typically, I'm prone to go. Perhaps that is my expectation of life – the more I see, the more I realize how much there is to see. Planning a vacation and looking forward to it is, for me, like paparazzi are to Kim Kardashian. It’s invigorating. I imagine places unseen and think they will be golden, backlit like the pictures on the website, all the people welcoming and the bathrooms clean. But, in fact, holidays are expensive, fraught with perils from torrential rain to forest fires to some ridiculous idiot in your hiking group. Of course I always need to go at the most inopportune crossroads and find myself hovering precariously over the fixture wondering if I can reach the paper and keep from getting a disease in a country where I don’t have health insurance.

This makes the staycation a perfect panacea, not just for Great Recession-worn middle classers, but for those of us who can explore our town, our coffee shops, our backyards – and know where the bathroom is – and have money left over to update my wardrobe.