Light filters through sheer curtains silently shivering in the morning breeze. I roll over and smell the downy clean pillowcase of this unfamiliar five star hotel bed. My biological clock screams, “It’s late in the day!” but does it matter? Ah, spring break. If I listen carefully enough, I can hear ocean waves lapping against the cliffs below our stucco window. The salty water saturates the air with a familiar scent only associated with Caribbean beaches… and slowly…. Slowly but surely, the bear-like snoring beside me reminds me that yes, this is all a dream. Sigh.
Unlike so many other fortunate souls, my spring break involves a series of article-reading, paper-writing and vacuuming. With graduate school so close to completion, I decided to finish all my semester assignments during my one week reprieve from work in hopes that once I return to The Grind life will be more tolerable. Playing the role of full-time teacher and half-time graduate student sometimes takes its toll. I wake up, throw coffee down my throat, put in my eyes, and sit down at my desk to begin yet another assignment. Article Number One: Relationship of Preschool Special Education Outcomes to Instructional Practices and Parent-Child Interaction. Terrific. Abstract, introduction – What’s this? A smelly-brown-and-pink four-legged friend whining at my feet for attention. How can one resist?
After a few minutes of puppy fun and doggie talk the work resumes. I find myself bargaining with my Other Self. “Okay, Self,” I propose, “if you finish this article by nine o’clock you can vacuum the living room. Ready? Set. Go!” Off I go on the road to achieving my Self-imposed goal. The day continues much in the same manner. Two Selves conversing, token rewards, boxes checked. Day after day, I chip away at house cleaning and assignment completion dappled with occasional puppy time.
Mid-week the phone rings. I curse the distraction from entering data into a table – a menial task that has thus far proven much more daunting than originally expected – a task that will allow me to clean the bathroom if completed by noon, an ominous twenty-two minutes away.
“Hello?” I answer, when really I want to say, What do you want?! My friend Cesca’s high-pitched voice greets me.
“Wanna go to the beach with me?” she asks. I can sense the excitement in her voice. This new tone emerges more frequently in our voices now that we’re approaching the thirty-year-old landmark. It’s the tone of voice that screams, If we do this it proves we’re not old yet! Her last-minute proposition on this balmy, warm Wednesday triggers my internal soundtrack; it’s playing Monty Python’s, I’m Not Dead Yet.
“The beach?” I ask, suddenly absorbing the reality of her words. The beach? Where sand and water meet? Where sun and skin rejoice as they reunite after months of separation? The beach! This exciting proposition opens a new possibility to my Spring Break.
“I dunno, I really have a lot of work to do…” I hear the words leave my lips and enter the phone as if spoken by my Other Self. Work to do? It’s not even due until a few weeks from now! Who says you have work to do? Fie on you, Self!
As Cesca mentions the thirteenth reason why I don’t have to do the work I’m doing, I come to a shocking epiphany: I don’t want to go the beach. I don’t want to relax and soak up the sun. I don’t want to travel at all. Being at home, while not exotic and tan-creating, is exactly where I want to be. I enjoy the work I’m doing, the things I’m learning, and being able to play with my dog. I enjoy cleaning my house and working on the garden. I enjoy the satisfaction I get from completing schoolwork early and knowing it will prevent immeasurable amounts of stress in the future. And cleaning my house? It’s a simple task that provides endless hours of satisfaction. I feel in control of my life if only within these few walls.
This epiphany comes, quickly followed by a review of the word “masochism.”
As I return to my reading, wondering whether I qualify as mentally sane, I survey the area of my own Spring Break escape – papers spread about, computer open, snoring dog on the couch, and a beautiful green and blue day out my window accented by yellow daffodils in the yard. It may not be the Spring Break that impresses my friends or colleagues when I return to work, but right now, home is a perfect place to be. Besides, who needs a real beach when my imaginary one is just a dream away?
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