Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sunday dread

I was working vehemently on not wasting time–just waiting for the next week to begin. I needed to feel a measure of empowerment. Friday evenings brought relief in the form of X hours until re-engagement, and I knew that feeling very well. Saturdays equaled a celebration of stasis, and then when the sun woke me on Sunday, I knew it was only six or seven hours until the Dread started.

I used to think this kind of thing was especially powerful for those involved in the education industry, but I realized it was a self-pitying approach. It wasn’t that a percentage of us felt awful for the upcoming work week. It was all of us. Before the classroom, my “Friday” was whatever day my stretch of sequential work days came to an end. There was a time more than a decade ago that my “weekend” was Monday and Tuesday. Even thinking about it now makes me sick and furious with myself. “How about it?” a sneering voice asks. “Do you want to go back to Monday and Tuesday off? I didn’t think so. Now do what you have to do and quit whining.”

I guess a central problem for a lot of us is something like this: at what point do we stale? Do we have to keep working on alternate plans? I’d really rather not live my life as a series of countdowns, but it seems that today is going to be just that, at least for the next couple of hours.

Two, if by mountain

Wednesday was tough. By the end of the day, a stop for a drink was in order. The Irish pub two blocks from our new place happened to have all-day Happy Hour midweek. Done deal.

The atmosphere was a little more upbeat than the previous Saturday, and we made quick conversation with a friendly gentleman from Alabama whose travels during his career took him to Montana, which piqued my interest. He had spent some time in Missoula, and we spoke of Kalispell and Whitefish, among other wonders. We chatted in general fashion while we finished our first beers, and after we ordered our food, we made small talk for a few minutes.

On Ashley’s other side Jim took his seat, and he was halfway through his first bottle of beer before all three of us reacted lightheartedly to something on one of the fifteen televisions in the bar. That was all it took. 

Jim was immediately likable, in a way you can only understand if you have met someone who has lived an entire life in a remote mountain outpost in northwestern Montana, and then traveled south to live another life in sweltering heat and semi-retirement. 

We laughed about snow–going to bed during camping trips on July and August nights, and waking up to several feet of clipper-driven flakes–the kind Arkansans will never see. Per year, I had never met more than one person who had visited places in Montana, yet here was a second person within an hour.

Jim explained the process by which we might become to be known as Damned Yankees, as opposed to regular Yanks. “It’s the element of time,” he smirked. “Takes, oh, about four years, I’d say.” We made small talk about his family and ours, how it came to be that we were in the Little Rock area, and the easy kind of talk that bar patrons secretly love to share. I wrote a note on my phone to Tia, our bartender, discreetly asking to pay for his beer. 

We finished our final pints and I shook Jim’s hand as we left. Tonight was his anniversary, and as we celebrated our three weeks together and the survival of our third official work day, Jim has four decades of marriage to toast. 

Here’s to forty more, Jim. May these southern lake sunsets light the way to the mountains for you one more time.