"Babe, what's the point of taking vacation if ..."
"I know, I know."
The remainder of the day I played with widget options for my soon to launch new blog, went to the dentist for a follow-up, and then baked pumpkin pie. In my true style of underestimating how long it takes to properly create things In Real Life, I forgot that one must let dough chill before rolling it out. This not so minor detail, and some general wonkiness I encountered with my dough, put me back about 2 hours. I went to bed well past midnight.
Wednesday we drove from the Bay Area to Anaheim to spend Thanksgiving with Jesse's family. We encountered pockets of heavy traffic, which irritated my husband to no end, but which I found rather convenient--it afforded me more time to catch up on trade newsletters and articles I had sent to myself to read when I'd get an extra moment. At one point, I noticed an email request from my business partner and figured, "Hey, I'm in the car, so why not just crank it out."
I worked on the laptop until my power died, then enjoyed the throngs of people stuck in gridlock for the next few hours.
Thursday I really did take the day off. We took a long bike ride on the tandem of Jesse's aunt and uncle. After lunch, I sat on the couch next to Jesse to watch the football game with his grandfather. Next thing I know, I'm waking up.
"What just happened?"
"Enjoy your nap?" Jesse said.
"That was weird. I wasn't even tired."
Both Jesse and I knew what had happened--what happens every time I have enough time off to absorb the fact that I'm on vacation--my body shut down. For the remainder of the day I felt bone tired and disoriented, like I was just waking up. Every few minutes I checked my Blackberry for email, out of a nervous habit. With the exception of a few Facebook and Twitter alerts there was nothing. Not having anything new pop into my inbox made me a tad agitated. It felt like there was something wrong. I had to remind myself that it was Thanksgiving. When we arrived at Jesse's aunt's for dinner I put my Blackberry in the glove compartment.
Friday Jesse was up with the sun. I found it much harder to wake up. I sauntered into my in-laws' kitchen and started to pick through the New York Times. I helped set up a wireless router, and then around 1 pm felt this sudden panic that I was letting the day pass me by. Jesse had mentioned that his parents wanted to see an exhibit at the contemporary art museum in La Jolla.
"When are we going to motivate?" I asked Jesse.
"I dunno. I thought I might study for my (licensure) exam for a while."
"We need a plan, Jesse! When are we going?"
"When later today? The sun sets at 5!" My voice became more and more urgent.
"Fine. We'll leave at 2."
At 2:15 we left for the museum. None of us were that impressed with the exhibit, but I was glad to be out and a tourist, taking in the sites on the waterfront. I was already thinking to myself, "Where are we going for dinner? Do we need reservations? When should I squeak out a blog post?" I told myself to shut up. We watched the sun set. I'd done nothing productive, and it was OK.
Saturday I squeezed in some exercise before friends arrived for brunch. I felt more energized than I had been, despite the fact that I had had a work dream that woke me up in the middle of the night and I couldn't fall back asleep for hours. It wasn't a scary or traumatic dream, just one that required a degree of thinking. I found it strange to wake up at 3 in the morning in a state I find myself in during, say, a team meeting: Fully alert and ready to report information.
We did some shopping that afternoon, or browsing, anyway; I found that I wasn't inspired by anything at the stores. Later, I tried to blog and realized I was a blank slate, no words were appearing that I considered compelling enough to write down. I thought to myself that it was a shame, really; I finally had some time to blog, and I couldn't think of a damn thing to say.
Sunday we drove back up from SoCal, and I caught up on more trade newsletters. It occured to me that there were only so many to catch up on before it made sense to let some information go. I listened to hours of CNN on satellite radio and wondered, "Did any of these people take the weekend off?" It seemed that there were many people whose jobs required them to be even more available than mine did on holiday weekends, and I felt grateful and guilty.
We got back home earlier than planned and even a bit unsure of what to do with ourselves. I had planned to start working as soon as I got home, but as a personal dare I decided to think about my long weekend--what I did, not what I didn't do. And write it down, even the seemingly mundane stuff, so that I would be more aware of how I spent my "free" time. I asked myself, how much of it did I actually spend on being free?