Summer arrived on schedule, and I’m not ready. Everything moves more quickly when you get older.
I remember summer as long, wonderful, leisurely days full of picnics, reading in a hammock, and fishing trips. Of course, we got out of school in May and didn’t go back until after Labor Day. This year summer arrived, quickly followed by the Fourth of July and before the Fourth actually happened, there was a flyer in my mailbox about the back-to-school tax holiday.
I want the world to slow down. I want time to smell the flowers. I relay my frustration to Nurse Judy, my lazy alter ego, and she, of course, places the blame squarely on me.
“It’s your own fault,” she says accusingly. “You get yourself so involved in so many things, you have no time to relax. People of your age don’t work. They retire.”
“I’ve retired,” I say. “I’ve retired many times.” “Yes, but then you get another job at less or sometimes no pay and just keep working. How many jobs do you have now?”
I begin counting them on my fingers. Yes, there are a lot. No wonder I’m tired all the time. Why am I doing this to myself? It dawns on me that maybe she is the reason.
“You are the one that requires the fancy clothes,” I say. “You are the one who always is bored. It costs money to keep you entertained. I have to work to make money.”
“What about all the jobs you do that don’t make money?” she asks. I think about this. “Again, it’s you. You always want to be around young people. You love that they love you. It’s because of you I’m on all the boards I am. It’s because of you I write for the paper. It’s also because of you that I write books but don’t have time to sell them. You love the attention, any attention that comes your way.”
“Well, take the summer off,” she says. I decide I will do just that. I buy a fancy lacey hammock. I pile all the books I haven’t had time to read near it. I am about to try it out, but the grass needs cutting.
I take care of the grass, which takes me three days. Now I’m ready to relax, but I notice all the inside plants are drooping and need watering. That takes time, but I hustle through it, only to notice that the porch is filthy. I carry all the furniture off the porch and unhang the hammock. I roll up the carpets and take them out. I hook up the hose and hose out the whole area. I certainly wouldn’t be able to enjoy reading amid spider webs and spiders.
While waiting for the screened-in porch to dry, I decide I may as well clean the front porch, as well, since I have the hose hooked up. Next, I hose off my dirty little car. This day is over and I’m dog tired. Tomorrow I’ll relax.
That night it rains. My hammock and all my carpets are soaked. I spread them out to dry. I look at the dusty fishing poles standing in the corner. Maybe I’ll go fishing. Nurse Judy hates fishing, but she is anxious to get out of the house.
We drive to the store to buy some bait. We need hooks, sinkers, and bobbers, as well as some new line. Nurse Judy buys a big sun hat. Back home, I begin trying to rig the fishing poles. I am not good at this, and it’s time for lunch.
“Let’s have a picnic for lunch,” I say. “We’ll go down to the pavilion.”
“Yay!” says Nurse Judy. I make salad and sandwiches and iced tea and pack it in my wonderful unused picnic basket.
We drive to the pavilion. It begins to rain.
“So much for summer vacation,” I say. “I’m going to work.”
By Judy Conlin