06 April 2009

Where Did All the Fun Go?

Do you remember the time in your life when all your responsibilities for the day could be filled in about 20 minutes?  Get up, make your bed, feed the dog and clean your room.  The rest of the day was yours.  And each day seemed to last forever.  They stretched out for ever in front of you.  LIke an eternal adventure you never knew in which direction it would blow.  Stretch 3 months of those days together and it became forever.  You'd suck every opportunity out of every last minute, too. Roll out of bed at 9 to a warm breakfast and then off to swimming all morning in the ocean until your hands turned blue and your lips would match.  Then running up to lay on the hot sand until you thawed out and finish it up with a lunch of a jelly-jelly- sandwich and a thermos of warm Strawberry Falls Kool-Aid.  Or sitting out on the curb in front of your house past 9 on a warm summer night with a few friends you just met that day trying to stave off the moment your mom would appear in the lighted doorway to call you to come in for the night.  When all was about fun. Every minute was about fun.  Where is all that fun now?
   My last Thursday looked a little more like this. Up at 4:30, out to the garage for 40 minutes on the bike trainer, shower, get kids fed and ready for school, find missing shoes and mismatched socks, chase
Eli around the house to get his birds nest of a head to look a tad bit more like an intentional hair style all as we are walking out the door.  Groups of 35 11 year-olds asking 472 questions an hour for 5 hours.  Off at 12:30, stop by home to switch cars, get sandwich to eat in the car, hit the pharmacy to combat the latest cold and the local district office to get Shea an inter-district transfer to get her to a better school next year. Running late.  Fifteen minutes to get to a meeting 20 minutes away and no gas.  Avoid El Camino Real which is a zoo at lunch time.  Wrack my brain for an alternate route.  Fake it. Turn right on Rancho Santa Fe Road.  It hits Leucadia Boulevard, right? 

And then just for a moment, there it is again.  I had never been on Rancho Santa Fe before and it's like driving through an old mountain town with old houses on big lots and  tons of open space.  And as I start down the road it all starts to slow down.  Just seconds in and a field of wildflowers catches my eye and I'm instantly back in the Spring of my Sophomore year at UCSD.  Just about every weekend I would drive home to Seal Beach.  I would sit the whole time and just stare out the window.  You see, there was this portion of the drive where the side of the 5 was literally coated with wildflowers, bright orange and yellow.  And they made this warm, soft, carpet of color that made you want to pull over, get out and just lie in it.  To feel the fuzzy flowers hold you up to the sun that would bake your skin.  I could lie there for hours, thinking about nothing, fully engulfed in the sun and the flowers.  It was a good time in life when I felt like I had all I wanted and hadn't hit that part in life where the responsibilities start to encroach on every aspect of everything I do like the late afternoon high tide that comes up and slowly eats away all of the footprints and sandcastles and holes that the summer visitors had made.  It creeps up, and wipes clean the whole beach until there's no signs at all that, once, earlier that day, fun was had there in that very spot.
This old song came on the radio from the early 90's.  Its name escapes me, but it was one of those songs that was overplayed on all the stations until it really framed that era.  Perfect, just perfect, I thought.  And the flowers continued as I drove.  Another field over on the left, a patch behind that old church, a few scattered here and there.  And then Leucadia Boulevard.  Make a left. Find gas station. Gift card won't work.  Don't take Visa. They take debit, I think there's $4.30 left in the account.  I hope there's $4.30 left in the account. Put in $2.50 just to be safe.  Check time. Need to be at the meeting four minutes ago. Like those odds. Sit in an hour long meeting trying to improve math placement standards that have already been decided and solidified.  Race home to cook dinner, clean up, showers for all, pack lunches.  Pray and put kids to bed. Read stories. Get kids water.  RAce out to put in an hour tutoring.  Come home at 8:15. try to have a coherent conversation with T.   Collapse into bed and wonder where my day went. Start all over again tomorrow.
I think it might be time for a change.

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