I started this essay last year but didn’t finish it in time to publish, and even though this year the Fourth of July fell on a Tuesday I will still share it. First of all, I like to imagine a world where we celebrate the birth of our nation on a Monday every year, and secondly, I wasn’t sure at my age if I should wait until July 4th falls on a Monday again (2022). I’m not into gambling. Or delayed gratification.
The Fourth of July was on a Monday this year, giving me three days off in a row. You may think I planned a big day of activities, but you would be wrong.
I was thrilled to leave my underwear on my bureau Sunday night instead of tossing it into the clothes hamper which could only mean one thing. Monday was going to be my day to recharge: no makeup, no shower, no going anywhere further than my two legs could carry me, and the luxury of wearing yesterday’s Jockeys.
This didn’t happen without some careful planning. A visit with family, grocery shopping, and a late afternoon excursion to Belfast for a taste of coastal Maine made for a busy Saturday. Church and chores on Sunday prepared the way for a holiday without obligations.
On Monday morning, I awoke at 5:30 instead of being startled by the drill of the alarm at 5:17. Sleeping a precious eight minutes longer than usual was a fantastic way for my unfettered day to begin. With eyes at half mast, I brewed the first pot of coffee and went back to bed to sit and sip while listening to birds screeching outside the window, likely responsible for my early awakening.
I rustled Patrick from his repose to enjoy a brisk morning walk while ambient temperatures were still in the low 60’s, with a few sprints along the way to escape the vicious attacks of deer flies.
While we walked, I noticed vehicles hauling boats pass us. I began to think about the people we know who own lakeside camps and marveled at our empty social calendar.
I checked my phone for messages and texts when we dragged our butts back into the house slamming the door on the persistent deer fly that followed us home. Strange. There were no messages.
Like any insecure and shallow person, I began to question my popularity. I make a legendary coleslaw. Why wasn’t I invited to a picnic?
I started to feel restless and uncomfortable in my day old underwear. Are we the only people in the United States celebrating the nation’s birthday at home? Unshowered and lonely?
Patrick seemed to be handling things well as he revved up his chainsaw and began to trim trees in the backyard. When he came in for ice water, he noticed me in a fetal position whimpering into a pillow and issued this warning, “Either snap out of it or put on some clean panties so we can go to the parade!”
The sound of piccolos drilled into my brain, the feeling of heat radiating from asphalt fried my dejection, and the frightening image of clowns jolted me out of my misery.
Suddenly my day spread before me like a banquet, and I realized I have plenty of picnics in my future, plenty of time to be jostled in crowds and be the life of the party. But an opportunity to celebrate an entire day without any commitments was not going to come again for the foreseeable future.
I reached for a book and began to read about exotic lands, adventure, and unforgettable characters. And I didn’t regret it.
How do you spend a summer day without a plan?