Long Weekend

I walked through my neighborhood yesterday and got a strange feeling. Everyone seemed to be someplace else. It was a long weekend.

Memorial Day and Labor Day bookend the summer, and this Memorial Day weekend everyone in my immediate family actually had three days off. We could spend the whole time being a family. Long weekends are small gifts that allow you to do something special or do nothing.

On Saturday I called some family friends to see if their kids (my kids’ age) wanted to join us for lunch at Pizza Port, but this is a family that has a hard time doing nothing. This time it was “Sorry, but we’re just loading to the car to drive up to Big Bear to go camping!”

Other times they were about to fly to Mexico City to visit friends or headed to LA to take part in a special bike ride when they close down the streets.

This long weekend, I’m doing nothing.

The empty streets of a long weekend were a common thing where I used to live. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN people who lived in the city had cabins at the lake, and on Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends that’s where they’d be. The city streets and sidewalks were empty. Freeway traffic was intermittent. You didn’t hear TVs blaring as you walked past homes.

The lake. It was place and a state of mind for urban and suburban Minnesotans where they’d go fishing and watch the sun set over the water during long weekends or weeks off in the summer.

It’s also a place to get bitten by mosquitoes and where you have a second home to maintain. Not a great thing for people who like to do nothing. Not being raised in Minnesota, I was also never overcome by the lure of the lake. I never felt the need to give another Minnesota man that knowing look as I told him it was time to go up to the cabin and take in the dock.

San Diego is a place where you can feel like you’re on vacation even if you haven’t left town, so more people tend to stick around town on Memorial Day. The beach and Balboa Park, the weather and the inevitable communion of tourists helps you imagine you’ve made a special trip here to enjoy yourself.

But I think an escape from the midlife grind of going to work and taking kids to and from school can make any place where you live seem exotic. It’s a different place, at least. I take long looks at the street and the canyon out back. There’s no rush to be done with breakfast and there’s no place to go.

The wife reads a book and my daughter puts her dolls to bed and tells me to watch after them. My son sits on a skateboard that rolls slowly along the floor. It’s a long weekend, and we’re doing nothing.

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