It started with an innocent trip the store. Back in America, my daughter has taken to music and acting and since it is her passion, I take her to every show, practice and rehearsal. There is a lot of waiting. As a writer, I often look forward to the silence in which I can find ideas and words. I also take the opportunity to run errands with one child during these times. It was such a day, I purchased milk and a beach cover-up that said “staycation.” How sweet, I thought, my daughter could wear it by the pool while she was having a relaxing day at home.
Only in America, can you actually buy a gallon of milk at the same time as car supplies, bicycles, toys, paint, furniture toilets and bathing suits. Sometimes it is a blessing, other times you curse under your breath at how long it takes to find one small thing in those endless, fully stocked aisles. With milk in one hand and a staycation cotton piece in the other, I smiled at the cashier as she rung it up.
We are a year and a half in to repatriation and still, I occasionally experience reverse culture shock. Having said that, I also realize that having pre-teenagers is a culture shock all on its own. Despite where you are living, there new words and abbreviations (and behaviors) to decipher. My daughter is twelve, so I thought I was becoming quite the expert in tween-hood.
But there were language lessons in store for me that day. What I thought was a cool staycation shirt read “slaycation” which I noticed immediately after pulling it out of the bag. Weird. Was it a typo of some sort? Did the top of the T get peeled off? I turned to my younger sisters in our group chat, which we created on my landing back home still entitled “sisters home together” and proceeded to write the five-hundredth question/comment of the day with a photo, asking what this could possibly mean.
Meanwhile, my daughter insisted it meant a fun vacation, you slayed it, or killed it and thanked me for the gift. Apparently, her homeroom teacher says that she slayed the test when she gets an A, and her piano teacher says she slayed that song when she learns it. So what could be so wrong with a slaycation? A vacation you totally nailed. Right?
Only in America can you buy a gallon of milk and a beach cover up that says slaycation in one go. But what does slaycation actually mean?
“Don’t let her wear that shirt! Like. EVER!” pinged my phone from my sister’s chat.
According to the Urban Dictionary, (which I actually forgot that it existed, as google translate took precedence for years) a slaycation is: “A vacation for the sole purpose of having sex. This sex can be planned with someone in advance or just with a random person you meet, but the main reason you are taking this vacation is for sex. This is different from a laycation, which is a sex getaway for two (or more if you’re into that). A slaycation is strictly solo. You don’t bring a partner.”
WHAT??? I almost dressed my twelve-year-old in that word. There are other definitions listed on the same page of the Urban Dictionary under the first: “The trip that one takes to relax and unwind after committing a murder, serious manslaughter, or slaying. usually over 50 miles from scene of crime. Example 1: When Tony Soprano asphyxiated Christopher Multisanti in season 6 of ‘The Sopranos,’ he took a slaycation to Vegas after the funeral as the Feds investigated the death and the family.”
At this point, I did not know whether to laugh or cry, as she clutched the shirt from me which I had already given her. “Let me see it for a minute, honey,” I asked, reaching out one hand, scrolling through the horrific definitions with the other. There was one more definition listed, not as bad as the others which read:
“A girls or womans vacation where they must do all the planning, shopping, cooking, dishes, washing and care for the kids.
My Slaycation last year was miserable. I think I got 10 minutes on the beach.”
At least that was something I could relate to. Because that is my life, ALL of the time. Because I am not only a mom, but an expat mom. Well, currently a repatriate mom. Who packed up the family three times to move bringing food, planning, washing and taking the whole house with me. On top of the moving, we traveled extensively (which was an amazing opportunity) but I am not going to lie, it did often feel like thankless, insurmountable work. Slaycation. That slang sort of works for my expat-repat life description. I am also prepping for a cross-country drive at the moment and my planning, shopping and prep work is getting to me. I want family vacations, but they sort of slay, or kill me.
After further research, I did find that slaycation is used to describe a relaxing vacation. In a few other places, I saw the use of slaycation in the context of slaying the world, sort of conquering it travel-wise. Perhaps these were the more common intentions, although you can’t truly trust a slang word that has no official meaning. You also cannot put a shirt on your kid when the first few definitions that come up in your searched are bad. Really, bad. In more in-depth searches, I also came across angry moms posting comments to various stores, asking why they are selling clothing with this word on it in the teen section, asking if they had even read the definitions before selling.
Perhaps learning to speak another language wasn’t so hard after all, I reflect, completely lost and exasperated in my native land. I mean, it was only a little cover-up… or was it? I never laughed so hard about a nine-dollar purchase. Some days, I would rather be back in German lessons instead of navigating the American-urban-landscape. Other days I wish I could re-wind to my pre-teen to the little girl we took to Germany four years ago. But most days, I take it all in and hope that at least in some small ways, I am slaying life, or at least slaying the humor part of it all.
Author: Nitsa Olivadoti
Nitsa Olivadoti chronicles her thoughts and experiences from life abroad on her facebook blog Bridge the Divide, stories which are currently being complied into her upcoming book with the same title. Nitsa is fascinated with the voices of growth and migration and is the author of the Cicada Series: Cicada’s Choice, Cicada’s Consequence and Cicada’s Closure, novels based on her favorite Triangle: her Greek grandmother.