It was early and I was already sweating. I helped my wife pack the car, put the kids in their seats, and gave them advice and kisses. I watched the car back down the drive, turn onto the street, and drive into a postcard.
In my mind they were at the beach that instant. As soon as they left my sight they were where they were going and I was where they had left. They were at the beach, and I was shutting the gate. They were running in waves, and I was feeding the dogs. They were building sandcastles, and I was drinking coffee in the heat, listening to NPR game shows instead of working.
And there’s the rub. I stayed home to get work done, but I’m not used to planned freedom and time pulls at me from all directions. When was the last time I worked in the yard without doubling as a lifeguard and a referee? When was the last time I watched a baseball game at noon and drank beer with my lunch?
I work at home. Some days I put in four hours, and some days I put in fourteen. Sometimes I shower, and sometimes I’ll go weeks without shaving. I am afforded the freedoms of containment and convenience, not scheduled purpose . There are no expectations of society inside my home, just a need for shelter and attention. I supply both. I take what I can.
I have a lot to do. I am behind in my work. My yard needs tending. The daily chores of running a household are days behind. If I start now I could make a dent, not finish mind you—these are works in progress. These are bodies in motion and they shall stay in motion, but if I start now I can make a dent. I shall feast upon the small slices of accomplishment.
Would my hours be better spent working on pieces of income or peace of mind? Are they one and the same? Where are the breaks between surfboards and balance?
They called me from the road. My boys said that they missed me. They said that they loved me. They were putting their toes in the sand, and I was standing barefoot in a lawn that needed mowing. They were laughing in the sun, and I was lost without them, sweating over nothing and waiting for the tide to come in.