I write a lot about the philosophy of stealing a day from fate because I believe it is an important part of our mental health, both individually and collectively, to step out of our everyday existence and see what might happen. It’s not always easy to walk away from a job you are doing or a relationship that you are in, even for just one day. Sometimes it can seem difficult to get away for a few measly hours. For me it is tougher still to play hooky from self-imposed goals or chores.
For the past few weeks, I have immersed myself in the tasks that come with moving from one part of the country to another. Our move is a couple of months off, but we are downsizing in a major way so the business of sorting through every single item we own is a mentally punishing undertaking that is best begun early in the moving process. We are paring down our belongings to fit into a space less than half the size we have been living in. When I am awake, I sort things into piles: keep; sell; give away. When I am sleeping, I dream about sorting things into those same piles. I fervently wish that I could wake up and find that we had a massive yard sale while I slept and made enough money to pay for our gas from Portland to Austin. So far, that hasn’t happened. Every morning I wake up and the stuff-sorting fairies have done sweet nothing and so I begin each day with strong coffee and a bunch of things to jettison or to pack. Our house looks like a sorting bomb went off: vague heaps of objects on every surface in every room. If I have a current decorating style, it is Chaos. And chaos is a tiger that needs taming. If only I could find my whip. I know I laid it on a pile somewhere…
In the midst of a glorious Portland summer, I tell myself to listen to my own words of wisdom and go do something different. And then I say that I don’t have time; or that if I pack three more boxes I can take a break, steal some time away. The best I have come up with is to stop working most afternoons around 5:00, take the dogs and an icy beverage to the backyard to enjoy an hour of summer.
Yesterday I gave myself permission to lock up my chaos tiger, hang up my tiger-taming whip and have brunch with Brian and some old friends. I got to steal a day from myself for a change. I returned home from Sunday brunch at Beast and I can report that it was a revelatory experience. In a food-lover’s city like Portland, Beast still stands out for me. When you begin a brunch with a custardy blackberry clafoutis and top it with maple-glazed bacon, paired with a wine that seems to have been born for that very purpose, you just know in your little black heart you are having an epiphany. I felt my heart grow lighter just gazing at my plate.
It was the kind of meal Brian and I call a “splash-out”: those times we dress a little nicer than we usually would to eat out, we pay a bit more money, and we eat more slowly to savor each morsel, each sip. We were fortunate to be joined in our day-stealing by good friends, Mary and Nigel, who we have known and loved for 26 years, and their son Niall, who, in a couple of days, will move across the USA to Boston for college. Today was a perfect day to celebrate old friendships and new beginnings.
We all have a few friends (at least I hope you do) who we can go years without seeing and still know we can pitch up on their doorstep in the middle of a rainy night and they won’t even ask if we will be spending the night. They just know we will and they welcome the chance to spend time with us. Mary and Nigel, and now their boys, Niall and Collin are friends like that. Not just friends, they have been chosen to be part of our family; a part of our tribe. They are generous in spirit and in deed; the ones who turned their home into summer camp for our dogs so that we could go traveling and know our pups were cared for. The people we hug hello and goodbye even though we just saw them last Thursday. They are excited for us about our move to Austin even though they know it will mean not seeing them for a while. Maybe a long while.
Stealing a day from fate (and myself) yesterday was a gift that keeps replaying in my thoughts: a marvelous meal on a day of sublime weather, in the company of terrific friends. I am energized from my day off, stronger and happier. My tribe is a powerful one.