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What’s in a Weekend?

October 5, 2010

The concept of a weekend is ancient, dating back to Biblical times; the idea behind it began as a day of rest for the soul and reflection (ahem, no boozing). It was modernized in 1926 when Henry Ford was the first factory owner to close for both Saturday and Sunday, allowing workers time with family to balance out the grueling five-day work week (or to spend their hard earned money on things like cars, how Machiavellian of him).

Throughout my adult life my relationship with Friday night until Monday morning has always been of the tortured variety. You see, I’ve worked at places like 24-hour cable news networks, and boutique public relations firms whose idea of a weekend off on a regular basis is pretty much non-existent. And for the most part, I was fine with that. At the time, I dealt with on-call situations like, say, a space shuttle blowing up and me spending an entire weekend down in the tapes library looking through archival footage of congressional testimony from the Rodgers Commission to locate the portion where o-ring erosion is described on the record by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, searching for the five-minute portion that isn’t an absolute snooze-fest, as if it were the norm.

But, now I’m the boss of me. As a freelance writer, I get to pick and choose how I spend my time, and I want my weekends back. Or better yet, I want to create the weekends I’ve rarely had the pleasure of experiencing fully. I think these things happen when you start to pick up the rubble. This past year has felt a bit like a building imploding, starting in September 2009 with my husband’s nine-month layoff, and heading directly into June 2010, when my mother’s second battle with cancer began.

My weekends, for both of these monumental life changes, shifted tremendously. With the layoff, I worked a ton on the weekends. I got a part-time job for about eight months, and I also picked up a lot of side writing projects. One, in fact, had me moonlighting on the weekends a ton at a neighborhood bar (ahem oldest operating strip club in Atlanta) for a coffee table book on which I’m collaborating with a photographer about The Clermont Lounge (side note–you’ll be hearing much more about this project in the near future). To currently—I’m traveling on the weekends to be with my mother during treatment … all of us are. My brother, sister-in-law, two sisters, close friends of our family, and aunts are all taking turns to be with my mother to ensure she’s not alone in her fight.

But, what I’ve found is that once you pick up the pieces and start rebuilding, it all sort of fits in a different place than it did before. More often than not, it has a stronger foundation and the layout has changed significantly. Our family certainly has … we’ve weeded through an ocean of superficial distractions and gunk this past year, for sure. But, I’m ready to integrate a tiny semblance of normal back. Or at least what will be our new normal. One that likely includes more Sunday Suppers (ours are called Sunday Night Dinner or SND) with our closest friends making way for molasses-paced Monday mornings. Or maybe our weekends will be filled the way my brother’s are, as he and his family make big breakfasts and pour over The Dallas Morning News and stacks of pancakes.

Or the way my twin spends hers, going to gallery openings, working at a charming bakery, running along the Pacific coast with her roommate’s Labrador. When I was single (barring previously said breaking news situations), my favorite way to start a weekend was to pretzel myself for 90 minutes in ridiculously intense yoga classes every Saturday morning. For now, I’m okay with letting it take shape, to see how this puzzle fits together and how the architecture unfolds.

So, what do your weekends look like?