Hello again, friends! I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday season and is excited to see what adventures this new year will bring. I know that I didn’t leave a note or submit a blog vacation request or anything. I also know that really nobody’s given it a second thought, but permit me the vanity of feeling guilty.
I’m usually an extremely predictable person. My boss begins to worry if I’m not in the office by 8:30 without calling/texting, not because we have set hours, but because it means something’s wrong. OK, maybe deciding to leave my stable, salaried job in order to hike the Appalachian Trail isn’t particularly predictable, but it’s within the range of “occasional crazy” that my friends and family should expect by now.
The reason that I didn’t mention my impending blog absence is that it was on a whim and completely motivated by laziness and ice cream. Let me explain.
The week preceding Christmas dragged me into the ground and not for the usual reasons. It was slow. DC had emptied out. Usually I’m squeezing onto the Metro train during my commute, standing room only. Instead, more than half of the seats were available for the taking. I’ve spent six winters in DC at this point, and I’ve never seen such an apparent evacuation the week before Christmas.
I tried to come up with some plausible reasons. Maybe with Christmas and New Year’s on a Tuesday, most people had worked out their vacation time to accommodate an extra week. Maybe the impending fiscal cliff caused government workers to reassess hoarding their gobs of vacation days. Maybe people were taking advantage of employers’ increasing acceptance of working from home to avoid the commute and get ready for the holiday.
Either way, there I was, the week before Christmas, trying to finish a few taskers before everyone cleared out for the year, but generally I was bored. On Thursday, I talked to my boss about our plans. He was going to be out of town the entire following week visiting family. I said that I planned to go to Virginia Beach (VB) through Tuesday and then drive back up to be in the office the rest of the week. The following conversation ensued.
boss: It’s going to be pretty dead around here.
Jor: yeah, no kidding. It already is…depressing. I sense it’s going to be quiet as a door mouse. Maybe I’ll come in on Wednesday and then work from home the rest of the week if it’s like I think it will be. Is that OK?
boss: Sure. But if you’re going to work from home, why don’t you just stay in VB and work from there?
Jor: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. I was thinking it would be better to be up in DC so I can go for a weekend hike or two and go to the REI used gear sale. I don’t know. Maybe. I’ll think about it and shoot you an email when I know my plans.
(Yes, seriously, I was prioritizing a used gear sale. It’s a sickness.)
I went down to VB on Saturday morning fully intending to go back up to DC on Christmas Day. In fact, I only brought a few days’ worth of clothes. But then I started relaxing and enjoying myself. The stress I associate with DC – my cubicle, traffic, apartment living – began melting away, and extreme laziness set in.
The first couple of days I was there, I probably walked a total of a hundred feet, back and forth from the living room to the freezer for ice cream. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my mom makes gourmet ice cream (often with alcohol, always delicious), and I decided to misplace my self control. (Funny enough, I found it in the back seat of my car on the way back up to DC. It must’ve fallen and gotten wedged when I was packing for the drive down.) I brought a whole load of Lactaid pills, but even then I was testing the limit of my digestive tract. I figure that I may not always have Lactaid pills on me while hiking the A.T., so I really need to temper my body’s intolerance now.
After a couple of days, shame set in, and I at least took Yogi a few miles around the neighborhood.
When it came to blogging, I thought, “I’m definitely taking Christmas off since people are with their families and don’t need more clutter in their inboxes on that day.” That thought quickly latched onto the next one, “Well, if I’m going to take Christmas off, then surely it doesn’t make sense for me to post Christmas Eve. I mean it’s a Monday, and people probably think of it as a four-day holiday this year.”
Within a matter of minutes, I had decided to take the rest of the year off and maybe stop blogging until I leave all together. Clearly, the ice cream had gone to my head. However, I am starting to get stressed about all the things on my list in the next couple of months, so I may decrease frequency between now and my departure for the A.T. if I feel like blogging is taking time away from other tasks.
When Tuesday rolled around, I was trying to decide whether or not to take my boss up on his suggestion to work from VB. But then my mom asked if I wanted to see a matinee (for 5 dollars?! Toto, we’re not in DC anymore) showing of Les Miserables. Well, OK, I can go see the 11:15am Les Mis and then still have time to drive back to DC. Oh, but there was the invitation to the family friend’s house for his Christmas dinner. Hm, I don’t know. Shouldn’t I get back to DC?
I took a quick look at the following day’s forecast, and my mind was made up. VB: 65 and rainy. DC: 40 and sleet/snow. Having been away so long, I’d forgotten how much nicer it is in the winter. Since the city is coastal, the air tends to be less dry, and the breeze tends to keep the dreary clouds at bay, not to mention the warmer temperatures. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I didn’t want to leave.
I’m so glad that I ended up staying. This was the longest I’d spent in Virginia Beach at one time in over five years. Coming in for a couple of days here and there, one doesn’t get to appreciate some of the better aspects of the area. I’ve already mentioned the weather. It also helps that my mom lives in an old neighborhood with many trees in the back.
As much as I appreciate the urban conveniences of DC, one has to seek out natural beauty. On the other hand, at my mom’s house, in the early morning hours, the sun peeks through the branches to the east, and in the winter – the trees having shed their leaves – you can see the light shimmer off the water (there’s an inlet in the distance). Also, everybody waves. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking, driving, biking, gardening, or whether you even know the person; I definitely miss the friendly factor. And, sigh, you can unironically say “y’all” without a passing glance; it’s the little things.
To defend myself a little, don’t think I wasted the entire week and a half putting increasing pressure on the waist of my pants. I was also glad to be able to visit with a couple of friends that I haven’t seen in a while. And I certainly managed to make progress (or lose progress, depending on how you look at it) on several fronts regarding A.T. preparation. I know this is a total teaser, but keep an eye out in coming days for more.
I finally forced myself to leave on New Year’s Day. As hard as it was to say goodbye to Yogi (petting a dog totally lowers blood pressure, for sure), it was time to get back to the real world.
I only have about two months before I head out to the A.T., and I still have so many things to do: finish buying all my gear, move out of my apartment, get back into pre-ice cream shape, start taking a daily multivitamin. Hm. Well. That last one threw you, didn’t it? And on that note:
Happy New Year’s Resolutioning, y’all!