Now the parking lot is empty, everyone’s gone someplace.
I pick you up and in the trunk I've packed a cooler and a 2-day suitcase.
Cause there's a place we like to drive, way out in the country.
Five miles out of the city limit we’re singing, and your hand’s upon my knee
-The Indigo Girls
It is 8:00 on a Sunday night. My house is a mess, piles of laundry both done and undone surround me, the bathroom could use a going over, the kitchen as well, the scones I wanted to make remain but an idea I had on Friday, the material I bought to sew new napkins is in the closet next to the machine that has not been touched, I should have gone in to the office this weekend but didn’t, and once again at the end of a weekend I wonder how on earth one manages balance in this life. Two days a week away from work isn’t enough.
I want to be up the hill riding my snowboard, or trekking on my snowshoes. Soon I will want to hike and camp. I also want to be in town and go out to dinner, go to the symphony, go for a walk, go to the farmers market, and ride my bike. I want quiet down time to read a book or watch a movie or even, gasp, take a nap. I want to take classes, I want to use my sewing machine more, I want to cook more, I want to spend my free time doing things I love, but then who will do the laundry and pay the bills and vacuum and grocery shop? How does everyone do it? Does everyone do it? Is it merely an illusion that the rest of you have it figured out while I am grossly behind and ill equipped to manage my own life? I tell my friend, Dave, I am writing about finding balance and he gives me a knowing look. I’m astonished, he seems to have it all figured out, but maybe not? What we see on the outside is not always what is real.
It seems to all be about choices and priorities. I had a fantastic weekend and it flew by. Friday night I was out with Maura and Kim, Saturday I lollygagged around on the couch watching "Downton Abby", then went out in the snow and played, then came home with just enough time to shower and meet up with my friends for dinner, then the art gallery, then drinks. This morning I slept in, went bike shopping, and now I am on the computer. It was glorious just playing all weekend, but now I see how behind I am at work and in the details of my home. I want to read a book, it seems like so little to ask but every day is work, then exercise, then dinner and dishes and getting ready for work the next day. I’m not a morning person, I must do as much as possible the night before, and I need my 9 hours of sleep, and then the whole thing starts over again. Timing is almost crucial or the entire, precarious house of cards will blow away like so much dust in the wind.
There is work. There is play. There is rest. There is down time. There is social time. There are times when I feel like I fail spectacularly in every area. What is the worth of each? I love when I have a productive day. I sit on my couch and enjoy the splendor of my clean home, my completed laundry, my full refrigerator, the smell of something yummy in the oven, feet up on the table with a book and a drink. I feel content and peaceful. I love when I have a weekend in the great outdoors and I come home smelly and filthy and beat. I feel like I have lived my free time, not just had free time.
I have never understood people who say they wouldn’t know what to do if they didn’t work. Are you out of your fucking mind?!!!!! Forgive the vulgarity, but seriously, you couldn’t find anything to do? In this vast world of so much to do, you go to work 40 hours a week for lack of anything better? What is wrong with you?! Oh my word, the endless possibilities of what to do boggles the mind, the classes to be taken, the volunteer opportunities in which to take part, the time to spend indulgently on a hobby that you love . . . what I would give, my kingdom for more time. Alas, my kingdom does not amount to much and thus far no one has offered to trade it for more time.
Have I ever told y’all the “woot doot doot” story? I feel like maybe I have, but if I did it’s long enough ago that I can’t remember so I’ll bank on you all forgetting as well. This is my friends story, not mine, but I love it so I re-tell it often. When she was a young girl living at home her neighbors had a young son. Every single day of the summer, EVERY single day of the summer, he would get on his bike in the morning and ride it in circles on the driveway screaming “Woot doot doot! Woot doot doot”! C’mon, how great is that, now that is enjoying your free time. I love when I’m happy enough to yell out nonsense. When I am having a good run on my board I often yell “Yayayayaya”! . . . and why not, I feel great! Today when I was bike shopping I test rode a lot of bikes, nothing can make you feel the joy of youth quite like riding a bicycle, and a shiny new bike to boot. I wanted to scream “woot doot doot”!
Let’s get back to the choices and priorities part of this. My job is stressful, very, very stressful. There is no catching up, ever. The only way to catch up is to work until 10:00 every night. I won’t do it. I did for a while but I have put my foot down, I will only work painfully late once a week and I will not go in on weekends, or I will at least do my best to not go in on the weekends. My choice is to have balance and to live my life and let me tell you people, I love my life. I love going up to the mountains to play, I love staying in town to play, I love everything I do in life . . . except for house cleaning, gross . . . other than that I love everything in my life.
I don’t know how to make it all work. There are days I feel like I’m going to explode from the stress of trying to fit it all in. Add in the fact the I'm a singleton and that makes it even harder, there’s no one to help out. I was grocery shopping at 9:00 p.m. last week because after work there’s yoga, and then after yoga there’s grocery shopping, and then putting away the groceries, maybe eating something over the sink, and then washing the dishes from this morning and getting coffee set to go so all I have to do is turn the pot on in the morning. I can’t call Lucy Lulu and Delilah Jane to ask them to pick up almond milk, they’re cute but fairly useless.
As I begin to wrap this months edition up I see that I have no answer. No epiphany . No ding ding ding, you’re a winner winner chicken dinner, bell ringing. I suppose something is always sacrificed and you have to know what is most important. I need to do a good job so I can stay employed and continue to enjoy the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. So, sacrifice work, yes but not at the expense of work. Sacrifice play time? Rarely, very, very rarely, because play is important. Sacrifice a clean house? Yes, duh. I’ll just get over it. And it can all cycle ya know; work very hard for two weeks before I take one week off of work. Take a day off of work here and there to catch up on my home life. What will I never sacrifice? My friends, family, and loved ones of course. . . never. You all come before funded loans and a clean house and a stocked fridge. I can order food in, I can pay someone else to clean the house, and funded mortgage loans . . . well, I guess I still have to go to work and fund mortgage loan, damnit, but I can choose to limit my hours and just do the best within that.
I haven’t purchased a season pass for my beloved snowboard in some years, and I have missed it greatly. My once okey dokey skills are now rusty at best. I have made a vow with the lovely Maura, we will buy passes again this fall and go up often, for fun and sanity and balance. My old bike is done and I’m buying a new one, I’ll ride it to work on Fridays. I leave work early every Thursday to get to the early yoga class, I go in to the office early on Thursdays to make up for leaving early and that part blows, I believe I mentioned not being an early bird, but I stay true blue to my early Thursdays. You gotta find ways and sometimes, you just have to say no to a clean house and give that laundry pile the Heisman. It’ll still be there when you get back, don’t worry about it.
Get out and play for gosh sakes . . . WOOT DOOT DOOT!!!!!!!