Thursday, I was in my office trying to grade some literature essays after class. My head hurt. My eyes ached. I struggled to concentrate. I remembered a coupon I’d received for a free coffee, so I dug that out of a desk drawer and walked to the library for some caffeine. The sun outside was bright and hot. I was at the end of a difficult week, the last full week before fall break, and I was limping to the finish line.
The last couple weeks have been long, difficult, and stressful. I’ve been feeling frayed. Perpetually tired. On my way home from class Tuesday, I stopped to buy bubble bath and nail polish. A feeble attempt at helping myself make it to the end of the week.
But make it I did. The coffee Thursday afternoon perked me up enough to finish some grading before an Ann Hood lecture across campus.
And as I sat in the dim theater and listened to Ann talk about writing and reading and grief and knitting, I felt quiet and thoughtful. My eyes relaxed, and my headache eased away. The talk was inspiring and emotional and the perfect, perfect end to the week and beginning to my fall break.
After the talk, I chatted with some coworkers at a reception back at our building. I ate cheese and crackers. I felt lighter. Then I drove home, picking up a pizza on the way, and watched as the sun set over the river, lighting up the clouds in a blaze of orange and yellow.
My break so far has been restorative. Friday I did little other than read a novel, play tennis, and take a bubble bath. Jesse and I talked about our dreams. I watched A. and M. for a few hours, and we played outside in the balmy end-of-summer evening air. Yesterday, I had a nice long talk with one of the best human beings on the entire planet, Simona, and we too talked about our dreams. It’s so wonderful to talk to someone who understands how necessary it can be to have impossible dreams, and to be trying to make them come true. Everyone needs a Simona.
This weekend, Jesse and I have been painting our bedroom. It has been a bright orange–an exciting, happy color. But lately, it’s felt overstimulating, overpowering. We’re painting it gray. Neutral. Soothing. We’ve got a couple coats of primer on the walls, and we’re just about to start the color. It feels good to paint the walls. A new start. Exactly what a break should be, a time to rest and a time to recharge and a time to connect and a time to start over.