Saturday, October 11, 2014

Best Day Off Ever

Back in June--before we had gone back to the States for four weeks of R&R--I had requested yesterday off with plans of making Columbus Day weekend a four-day weekend. A few weeks ago, as my boss was making the schedule, she asked me if I was off on Friday.

I replied, "No.Why?"

"Because you requested it off."

"I did?"

I had forgotten that I had asked for it off. So we made plans to go out of town, drive a few hours south to visit the old Dutch fort at Tranquebar and see the temples in Tanjavur, maybe spend a few nights at a hotel by the sea, swimming in the pool and sitting in the bar. But we've had to pull back the last couple of months; we kicked our renter out of our townhouse in Jupiter in hopes of selling it. We have a contract and a closing date, but we've had a contract and a closing date before...I am remaining cautiously optimistic.

Instead of packing up the car and heading south along the coast, I got up as normal and washed the dishes, made breakfast for the kids, and packed Pete and Sam lunches. I walked Sam to the school bus and dropped Pete off at pre-school. Elise and Clem came with me and we went straight to Sangeetha for a breakfast of idly, vada, pongal, sumbar and chutneys--coriander, tomato, and coconut, the usual triumvirate.

Afterwards, the three of us went straight to a handcraft store on Anna Salai. On the way, stopped at a traffic signal, Sundar plucked at the back hairs sprouting from beneath the collar of my shirt and said, "Lots of hair. Very healthy." I am not quite sure what we were talking about, but I am positive his comment was a non sequitur. I was speechless, and Elise giggled to herself from the back seat. He continued--in true Sundar fashion, "Muslim men very hairy. Very bad smell."

Ok. Wow, Sundar.

After shopping, we headed home, and Clementine went down for nap. I picked Pete up from school, and the two of us played legos for most of the afternoon, until it was time for my weekly Spanish call. I am trying to leverage my Portuguese proficiency into official recognition by my employer of some fluency in Spanish; we will soon begin thinking of our next assignment beyond India. Something closer to the Western Hemisphere--maybe less than a 24 hour flight--might be nice. Mexico? Lima? Madrid?

I spent 45 minutes talking in Spanish about coffee. As soon as I hung up the phone, I cracked open a beer and poured Elise a glass of wine. I microwaved dinner for the kids and Elise and I. All in all it was the best day off since I skipped class sophomore year of high school and ate fried chicken behind the Chasewood Publix.

I don't know what it was about that year, but it was by far one of the hardest of my youth. I was disconsolate. I remember sitting in algebra on the verge of tears, missing my mom badly, wanting to be anywhere but in class. It was the second time I remember going to counselling. She sent me to talk to minister at the Methodist church we used to go to. I don't remember what we talked about, but I do remember that when I met with a counselor after my mom and dad got divorced (perhaps court-ordered?) we talked mostly about Chewbacca and I put together the same block puzzles I put together in fourth grade to get into the elementary school gifted program.

I skipped school often. Mostly with Tom Glucksmann and Thad Ryan. Sometimes, by myself. We walked along canal banks, through backyards, played on playgrounds in the middle of the day. As mentioned, we would end up at Publix, pool our lunch money and buy sodas and a box of fried chicken and sit behind the grocery store by the dumpster, then head back to school grounds just in time to take the bus home.

Those weren't happy times. I don't have fond memories of Thad or Tom. They teased me endlessly, and in retrospect, I don't quite know why they let me hang around with them...or why I wanted to hang around them. Even then, I guess I suspected on some level that they liked or respected me, but didn't know how to show it. I think Tom is know teaching in the Bahamas. Thad fell off a ladder in a stock room in a Manhattan Restoration Hardware after dropping out of law school and died. I found this out shortly after moving back to Florida from Colorado.

Sophomore year was a locus of emotional ennui; just offshore, the sea floor buckled and pushed up against the ocean, and a tsunami of sorrow washed over my little hamlet. I took days off, but it didn't help. Not like now. Things improved. I found swimming, and put high school behind me as quickly as possible.

Work as been hard; we have been busy, and a difficult summer transfer season has taken a toll on office morale, but it is nothing like it was sophomore year of high school, and unlike then, there is nothing that work can throw at me that an unplanned day off can't cure. 

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