Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Musing

For many years I took one month off each year. That month plus, I should add, Christmas day. I worked seven days a week, eleven months a year. The weekends were half days. I'd work nine to five, sleeping in and getting home early enough to play. Come July, I would hunker down with my family on the Cape, bringing a few boxes of work along to stoke the work demon's demands.

A few years back it struck me that this was a too demanding schedule. My wife likes to have me around the house, or so she says. We now live in a rural area on land with always too much to do. So I started taking Saturdays off. This sabbath, a wholly secular event, begins on Friday evening and extends until I head into the office on Sunday morning.

Clients seem surprised that I work Sunday. I wonder how trial lawyers avoid working weekends. If you are in court all week, you need a day on the weekend to sort through the mail, read new decisions, prepare for the week to come. I'm getting long in the tooth; I refuse to work late into the night any longer. Twelve hour days are my limit. Gone are the days when I would boast of long days and little sleep.

So why this post on Memorial Day? It's Sunday, and I took yesterday off to stay at home and work with my wife in our garden. (We're now eating home grown lettuce, rhubarb and asparagus. Soon we will have peas. The garden thrives this year, thank you.) So it's Sunday, and although my wife and I linger over breakfast and the New York Times, come 9 a.m. my feet get itchy. Time to go punch the time clock.

Or is it? What would happen if I took an entire weekend off? I savor the thought like a dieter's contemplation of a rich chocolate cake. So long as I am contemplating reckless pleasure, why not take Monday off, too? How about a three-day weekend? The thought unnerves me.

But it delights my wife. She skips around the house acting as though it were already time to head for the Cape. She knows better than to encourage my directly. I am an old ass. Push me to the right, and the left looks appealing. But I watch the look on her face and once again ask: What did I do to deserve her? I've rambled and rumbled so recklessly through life that I marvel at her gentle enjoyment of me. She sees something in me I am reluctant to acknowledge.

So a three-day weekend? Perhaps. Although I made a quick trip to the office yesterday to meet with folks in crisis. But that was a brief meeting, lasting only a couple of hours. Emergencies happen. It doesn't really count.

The Sun shines today. The dogs bound about happy that all members of the pack are home. My wife glows with a silent contentment. Today's law work can wait a day or so. No deadlines loom. Summer dawns today, and I am going to stay home and enjoy it.

"Objection," the cranky workaholic in me cries.

"Overruled," I reply. I think I will head out to the garden to do some more planting. It's time for new growth.