Sunny beaches cluttered with party-hungry sun worshipers. Frosty beer mugs clinking together and spilling over with wonderful ale. Well-tanned breasts glistening with suntan oil, their paler, most private regions hidden by oh-so-delicately positioned swimsuit tops.

These are things I didn’t see this break.

Like many of my fellow college students, I have no money and therefore could not afford a kick-ass weeklong vacation in some sun-soaked corner of the globe like Mexico, Jamaica or Aruba. Instead I stayed in town. My plane-hopping friends don’t know this, but Isla Vista gets incredibly lonely when everybody else has skipped town.

Eventually I had to chose between attempting socialization with the raccoons or violating generations of collegiate tradition and going to the exact opposite of anywhere fun: my hometown.

Now, I love my parents and occasionally wish I could see my family more often, but my hometown is a place I have deliberately avoided since I graduated from high school. It’s a small, overwhelmingly conservative, earthquake-ridden town in the middle of California. But going there earned me something aside from getting my clothes washed and my meals cooked for free: a new dimension of our nation’s present international entanglement.

Like most other people in my town, my parents support the war. They’re conservative people who raised me to be a conservative, tax cut-favoring, immigrant-deporting, death penalty-favoring, abortion-opposing, Republican-minded individual. Only I dissented. And for me to suddenly have to interact with these flaming conservatives during the most politically turbulent period of my young life made me realize that since I left for college, an entire world of difference has sprung up between Conservative City and Liberal Land.

Reiterating that I honestly do like my parents as people despite our differences in political beliefs, conversations at the dinner table were about as much fun as dousing oil fires with my tongue.

“Have you been watching CNN?”

“Mom, don’t tell me you guys have been watching CNN.”

“How else do you expect us to know what’s going on?”

And my dad’s just as fun, with such cringe-worthy one-liners as “Well, most of those Iraqis want Hussein out as much as we do” and “The worst thing you could do is run around accusing the government of this and that. We don’t need any more trouble right now.”

It pains me that the people who brought me up speak of the war absolutely from the American perspective without any thought of how people from other nations might think about such an international concern. My own parents are making up the disturbingly high percentage of pro-war Americans who make me ask, “Who the fuck are these people, anyway?” People I love are so sure about our government’s motives that they are willing to condone the expenditure of living humans.

And that fucking blows.

One human’s willful destruction of another is the most appalling thing in the world. Nonetheless, my parents simply don’t agree.

Although my mother decided that dinner was officially ruined by the political bent of our conversation, my father had the last word.

“You’re young. You’re thinking about this too idealistically. You’d understand if you were older.”

Maybe my parents used to believe in things when they were my age. Maybe my train of thought belongs to the young, whose ideologies have yet to be pounded out of them through existence during the process of world history. And maybe I’ll be trying to stamp out the rampant idealism in my kids when I’m a parent.

I don’t know if any of these possibilities are true. But if they are, now’s the best time a kid like me can uphold ideals.

Drew Mackie is the Daily Nexus county editor.