I’m still laughing at friends’ reactions to an earlier blog naming all the things I planned to do this summer. I finally get it. The books I’d like to read total at least 4,000 pages. I’ll need to write about 150 pages more to finish the first draft of my novel. And those are just the first two categories on my things-to-do list. We’re not talking so much about a few projects as about the Long March or some equally arduous journey. No wonder some readers said they felt tired after reading my summer plans.
Creating impossible lists of ways to occupy my time during school breaks has afflicted me since childhood. Even then I experienced angst during the first few days of summer vacation, not because I had any particular goals, but because during the last few weeks of school the anticipation of the freedom ahead was so exhilarating. After spending every waking minute imagining the exciting ways I’d spend my summer, I always met the arrival of the event paralyzed by indecision. Of all the fun things I wanted to do, where should I begin? I’d call a few friends who, inevitably, would be busy or already packing for their family vacations and then I’d wonder what to do next. Eventually I’d walk to the library, finding a temporary escape from so little structure in my day, until the rhythms of summer kicked in and my friends came home.
The-first-day-of-summer-break malaise followed me into adulthood. One year I accumulated enough vacation to take off work for a month. My husband came home on day three to find me in tears. I wanted to be active. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish, but I laid on the couch, like Hamlet, frozen between action and inertia. With no appointments or meetings ahead, I didn’t know how to best use unstructured time. None of the choices seemed suitable, maybe because my head was still at the office and my body was lying on the couch, with neither body part sure about how to reconcile with the other. By day five I had recovered and discovered that these transitions take time.
Today is my second day of school vacation. So far things have not gone according to plan, but then they never do. After completing my things-to-do list yesterday I took a nap. Today I slept in and met my Spanish friend for coffee and our bilingual practice sessions. Then I went to the mall. I have a few hours before I meet some friends for margaritas. Now where did I put that list?