One More Day. No, that’s not the title of a sequel to this novel, David Nicholls’ One Day, one of my 2010 favorites.
The phrase “one more day” has become something of a running joke between my husband and me, because every time we take a trip, I tend to say as we’re boarding the plane home, “We just need one more day.”
I was never much of a traveler. My parents, both on academic schedules by then, would throw us in the car as kids and drive around all summer, but once I was on my own, I pretty much stuck to home, taking a trip or two per year, almost always to visit my siblings and/or parents. I was thirty years old before I had a passport, and then it was only to attend a legal academic conference conveniently scheduled in Barbados.
Once I published my first novel in 2003, however, I started racking up those frequent flier miles. If memory serves, I went to twenty cities or so for my debut novel. My UK publisher brought me to London. It’s not as if book promotion travel gives you any opportunity to know a city. It’s just airports, hotels, cars, bookstores (yea!), and, if you’re lucky, a walk around the business district.
Yet somewhere along that road, I turned into one of those people who likes to travel. I found myself wanting to linger in each city, yearning for time to acclimate to my new surroundings.
But my increasingly uttered “one more day” mantra has me wondering whether I not only like to travel, but need to.
I just opened my credit card bill to learn that in the last month, I booked five different flights, all to be taken before the end of April. Those five upcoming trips don’t count a law-lecture gig in D.C., a book conference in North Carolina, or other short car-trips I’ll inevitably book on weekends.
I say inevitably because, damn, I’ve turned into one of those people — the type who is always thinking about the next trip.
And I’m not happy about that development. There’s a thin line between adventurous and restless, and I fear I’ve crossed over it.
So the question is ‘Why?’ I live in an amazing city. I love and need the company of my husband and dog. I like my apartment and my neighborhood and my cabinet full of cozy sweaters. I miss my array of health and beauty products when I’m living out of a carry-on bag with only a quart-size ziploc of stuff to make me purdy.
Some of my travel desires are undoubtedly healthy and legitimate. I like nice weather.
Whereas New York currently looks like this:
I enjoy the company of friends and family who live elsewhere. It’s usually easier for me to go to them than vice versa.
But part of me realizes that this new desire to travel is distinctly related to the fact that I now work primarily from my apartment. When I was still a practicing lawyer, I spent most of my waking hours at a desk or in court. Once I walked into that courthouse, I cranked. I was a machine. I planned my work, and I worked my plan, all so I could leave at a reasonable hour. I felt freedom hit me when I walked out that door. Coming home was paradise. At home, I could relax. At home, I could turn off and let it all go. Namaste, sistah.
Now? Not so much. Just down the hallway from my seemingly relaxing, minimalist living room is a cluttered office with a to-do stack that averages eight inches high. In that office is a keyboard that I can always — always — have my hands on for just a few more minutes. I can type just a few more words. Finish just one more paragraph so I’ll be a tiny bit closer to the finish line. In just one apartment, I have two computers, an iPad, and a phone, all constantly downloading emails from five different accounts — emails that if answered now, will not need to be answered later.
Home is now the office, and the office is now home. I no longer crank during the day. I go to the gym. I walk the dog. I Facebook and Tweet way, way, way too much. And I no longer turn it off at a reasonable hour. I stay at my desk even after the husband happily declares he’s home. I fiddle with my phone when we’re supposed to be watching a movie. I take academic work to bed with me and read under the covers with a flashlight.
But, man, when I’m on vacation, I draw clear lines. I’ll set a word goal on the plane. The minute my laptop hits the mark, I slam that bad-boy shut and watch me some airplane TV. I check emails but don’t answer them. I read for pleasure. I chill like a vill, baby.
Don’t get me wrong. I love controlling my own schedule. When I’m not being Professor Burke at the law school, I like working at home in my PJs with Duffer sitting at my feet. I’m way, way spoiled.
But I’d like to take the best of my old practice days and pull them into my current teaching-slash-writing existence. I want to return some urgency to my work day and bring the chill back to my evenings and weekends. Even though I’m the boss of me, I want the boss to set some kind of schedule, and I want the employee to stick to it. In short, I want to draw some psychological lines between work time and me time.