"TOMORROW IS MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY," I reminded my sister on the phone last night. "The banks will be closed. The post office will be closed. It's a holiday! I'm taking a vacation--I'm not going to do a lick of work!"
"So what will you do?" she asked.
"First of all," I said, "I'll sleep as late as I want!" I said it kind of triumphantly, as though it were really up to me. As though I would not awaken when the yard man arose at an hour that would purportedly make him wealthy and wise; as though his dog would find nothing about which to bark; as though no delivery truck of any kind would come backing in the driveway, clunking and bumping and grinding its gears. As though I would sleep right through--and I knew without a doubt I wouldn't--the yard man loading his stallions and mares, kicking and thrashing and voicing objections, into the horse trailer.
But the thing is, this morning, after all of the above--after the clamor and commotion and hullabaloo died down and the yard man drove away with his load of consignments (for the big Draft Horse Sale that he himself runs, and for which he'll be out of town for three days)--I didn't get up. The sky was a perfect stay-in-bed gray. I was starting to drift into sleep when my little white business phone rang; down the stairs I went and took it off the hook. Then I slept. Or at least I dreamed of it, and drifted in and out.
After every last urge for sleep had been slumbered away, I reached for the novel that I've been reading in short clips at the end of each day. This is not a normal day, I said to myself, and I felt deliciously slothful. I opened Cutting for Stone at Chapter 5, and took a deep breath before going back to Ethiopia once again...the plane flaring to a touchdown over shimmering asphalt...
Well, you know, I stayed there in Africa for quite a while, Dear Reader. When I finally closed the book and got out of bed, the sun had advanced far across the sky. (I couldn't see it, as the clouds continued to hang dense and heavy, but I was pretty sure it hadn't stopped; besides, I was hungry).
Well, so then I fixed myself a lovely scrambled egg...and I searched about for something fun to do. I happened to see the overflowing laundry baskets and quickly averted my eyes.
Holiday, holiday, I murmured. Stay on track!
Fortunately, the perfect activity presented itself: I had packages to ready for mailing--a baby gift and a boxful of birthday gifts. My goodness, I could dilly-dally to my heart's content, could shuffle through my collection of vintage stamps, could possibly manage to spend a whole afternoon at this!
By late afternoon, I had wrapped that job up (no pun intended) and I had to keep reminding myself I was on vacation.
I ate numerous snacks.
And drank numerous cups of tea.
I went out to the empty mailbox, just to go outside...and took a picture of the Christmas tree, doomed and waiting in the meadow (my only jaunt out).
As the already meager light began to fade, I hung around the stove and refrigerator, imagining that I might want to cook myself a bang-up holiday meal. Hmm...except I wasn't very hungry.
I picked up Cutting for Stone, and I read for a while. And then I put the book down. Maybe my vacation should end at sundown, I thought.
In a flash, I was up the steps for those baskets of laundry. I was emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor. I was a whirl of activity--
it was just what I felt like doing.
Thanks for the holiday, Martin! I thought. I'll take it from here.