Meet the husband. Obsessive runner, drinker of good beer and coffee, musician by heart, lover of the outdoors, “foot in mouth expert,” Replacements fanatic, excellent father and the best man I know. When he wants to rant and rave he does and now the blog is no exception. Here is today’s allegory about his favorite time of year.
Please allow me to introdu…wait, no; that’s a Stones lyric. A little background may be in order, though. I am “the husband.” You know, the one you sometimes see replying sardonically to one of my wife’s posts (or your comments). I run to live and live to run, and am pretty competitive for a middle-aged guy with a day job. I’m a typical middle-class American boy–I root for the underdog, unless they’re playing the Cowboys; am happiest when I’m fourteen miles from the nearest pavement wearing a backpack, or up to my elbows in grease working on my old project truck; and loathe both nonthinking conservatives and tax-and-spend liberals with equal and unmitigated fury. I’m also a retail manager.
Yes, good old retail, with the predictable mix of weird hours, rude customers, and mediocre pay. There is, however, a payoff. The world is mine, almost exclusively, on my days off. I get family time at 2:30 on Tuesday, or 11:19 on Thursday, or some other time that you’re in your cubicle and your kids are in school. Who else gets to go to the zoo at 10:30 on a hot, early summer day and then come home, mow the yard, and splash around in a kiddie pool with my baby girl–on a Monday?! It’s almost like being a musician again, except now we have health insurance.
A musician, you say? Once upon a time. For a good eight years, I was a working singer/songwriter in the Texas Hill Country. I miss living there. I miss the freedom and the traveling. I miss being able to say and do damn near anything I want to. I don’t miss making my money in a bar, living off of gas-station burritos, or having to whore out and play tired old classic rock songs to fill the tip jar. I also didn’t feel like being the 40-year-old guy living in a van down by the river.
All that time as a Hill Country musician taught me two things: one, how to live off of the same food for a month, however questionable its status; and two, that early summer is the BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!! Down there, you get some river time before all the tourists show up. Here in the real world, as a retail manager, you get some hot-weather pleasures without the screaming packs of school kids and the teeth-rattling stereos in the high-schoolers’ cars. Nothing compares to running through the misters at the zoo with Mia on my shoulders screaming for joy, or a long run behind the baby jogger on a seventy-degree morning–especially when it’s 9:45 and the city maintenance workers are looking at you with withering expressions of jealousy. It’s hot enough to grill, but if I need to run to the store for charcoal, I have only to dodge a couple of senior citizens in the vitamin/Ensure/compression socks section on my way to a register with no line. Peaches and watermelons are in season, and yet I don’t have to fight for space in the park when we slice into one at a picnic. Did I say BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!!!!! yet?
All good things must come to an end, however. My good thing ends in the next few weeks as school lets out for the summer. My once-quiet locations become hives of activity. Tuesday afternoons are no longer our family time; they are everyone’s. If we take a trip for a couple of days in the middle of the week at other times of the year, it’s less expensive. Now that summer approaches, we have to pay the same peak-season prices for lodging and gas that everyone else does. I guess it’s the natural order of things, and others need time off too. It does, however, lead me to ask one question, one which would have incited me to riot in my younger years: Can’t we consider year-round schooling, at least until Mia is five?
Have a great summer–in about three more weeks.