(This bit of family humor by Patra Taylor appeared in the June 2010 issue of The Charleston Mercury.
Three months of freedom begins
The morning of the last day of the school year found me counting the minutes until the final bell rang in anticipation of that glorious moment when I…ah, I mean, Benn could finally herald in the long-awaited Season of Freedom, more commonly referred in to in these parts as summer. Arriving at Benn’s school an hour early (he asked me not to be late), I sat in my vehicle along the carpool route enjoying the light breeze flowing through my open windows with delicious thoughts of nearly three whole months of not being jarred out of bed by that annoying beeping of my alarm clock dancing through my head. I knew I won’t be able to de-program myself from waking up at the same early hour as I always do, but allowing my eyes to flutter open of their own accord is a whole lot easier on certain of my vital organs.
Activities schedules are a lot of work
As I sat thinking of the glory days ahead, my almost liberated brain alit upon an interesting idea…a stay-cation in which I would do only what I really wanted to do for seven consecutive days and nights. I quickly realized the real beauty of my idea was that I could plan my entire stay-at-home week by listing all the things I didn’t want to do, and then use that list to back in to a viable activities schedule.
I spent the weekend frantically preparing for my stay-cation, which turned out to be a whole lot more work than getting ready for the trip to Iceland my husband and I took a couple years ago. Who wants to look at a pile of laundry and floors that need vacuuming while you’re on vacation? But on Sunday night, I slipped between my nice clean sheets, snuggled up against my husband’s back, and drifted off to sleep knowing that when I awoke the next morning, I would have already arrived at my destination.
On Monday morning, I quickly realized the first teensy tiny fly in the freeloader’s ointment was that my day off couldn’t really begin until my husband was out the door and on his way to his office. That’s when I modified my original plan to include a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood while Stephen was getting ready for work, if only to emphasis the point that I wasn’t available for interpersonal communication beyond a grunt, nod or blank stare. Once Stephen was gone, I dropped my sloppy ole’ walking clothes on the bathroom floor, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and slipped into a fresh night gown, ready for my day. Then I was free to focus on my pre-approved list of stay-cation activities. Reading, napping, watching Netflix, and surfing the Web could easily fill anyone’s perfect day, with my “work” limited to nagging son Benn into unloading the dishwasher and later nagging son Jackson into reloading it.
I also included an activity on my list I’ve dreamed of doing for many years: fiction writing. In this dog-eat-dog world of hardcore journalism I live in, day in and day out, I’ve never had the luxury of simply making things up. Believe it or not, I’ve even toyed with the idea of writing humor. So I figured there was no better time to begin learning a new skill than while stay-cationing.
As it turned out, old habits die hard, so my days were still largely spent sitting in front of my computer, but according to the rules of disengagement I’d mapped out I did it wearing my unmentionables. All was well until the afternoon of day four when I heard the most horrific racket coming from the kitchen. It sounded like, “We’re out of food.”
“What do you mean, we’re out of food,” I snarled (pleasantly) at my son, Benn. “I filled the refrigerator on Saturday.”
Upon further investigation, I discovered Benn was correct — Lazy Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare. Crap.
I reasoned one quick trip to the supermarket for supplies wouldn’t hurt me. But I was wrong. As I attempted to wrangle my gelatinous backside — which had been permitted to roam free for the better part of a week — into street clothes, two thoughts occurred to me almost simultaneously. The first was a moment of déjà vu followed by the notion that if there was such a thing as past lives, I’d spent at least one of mine trying to tame the Wild West.
The second thought was Newton’s Law of Motion which states, “An object in motion will stay in motion until acted on by another opposing force.” It just so happened that the “object” in my situation happened to be my rebellious butt that had no intention of halting its current rate of expansion until it had form-fitted itself into the seat of my desk chair; and the “opposing force” was a pair of jeans. After several long moments of struggle, I was finally able to secure my entire free-wheeling body back into the confines of real clothes, although I admit there were a couple of touchy moments in the grocery store when I thought I was going to pass out due to lack of oxygen.
I guess every great plan has a downside, or in my case, a backside. But all in all, my early summer stay-cation ranks among my best vacations ever. I plan to schedule another one before the summer is over, right after I buy a narrower desk chair.
As it turns out, I discovered I write pretty good fiction. Go figure.
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