Saturday, January 27, 2007

The darkest hours

Once upon a time, when I was an incidental student and frequent waitress, Sundays and Mondays were my favorite days of the week. As anyone who has worked in restaurants knows, a typical Tuesday-Saturday week generally offers the best chance for tips, so that's when I worked. And, of course, the pressure of restaurant work increases astronomically between Tuesday night (mostly regular diners, a fairly light crowd) and Saturday (regular diners showing up at the last minute, review hounds eager to put a recently reviewed spot to the test, and buffoons who apparently never dine out and therefore think that every single party ought to be able to dine on the dot of 7 p.m. [they also complain that the chardonnay is "not cold enough" or that the fat-ass California red wine they bought "isn't oaky enough." Too many Saturday-night diners are philistines, pretentious boobs, hoi polloi--and they clutter up the place, excluding the well-behaved, appreciative regulars who tip a lot. But yes, I digress...]). Sundays were for morning coffee, the Times, a long walk to a second-hand bookstore, and maybe dinner at one of the small restaurants that was open on Sunday, where most of my fellow diners were other restaurant workers. Monday was laundry, shopping, housecleaning, and generally preparing for the Tues-Saturday slog. They were my days, and I cherished each hour.

When I met my husband, and once I was no longer working in restaurants, Friday evenings became another favorite. After I took a leave from my graduate program (to teach full-time at the lovely college where I am now tenure-line) and he became semi-gainfully employed, it was a tremendous pleasure to come home Friday without feeling any pressure to "go out" that characterized my first post-food-service years (something about the distorting view of the world as a place where all people do is eat out). Some nights we did "go out," but generally to a neighborhood place (our old neighborhood had a huge variety of easy, comfortable places), and then, maybe, to a favorite used bookstore, where I would browse the literary criticism, pop CDs, marked-down fiction, and mysteries, while he explored everything from religious doctrine to biofuels or cookbooks. Even if we stayed in (as we did for a long time, back when _Homicide_ was on TV) there was something so right about just being home, in our cozy little house, together, with everything we loved most in the right place, and the promise of the weekend stretched out before us. And coming home to my husband and daughter, in the brief, glorious weeks after her arrival and before his stage 4 diagnosis, was incomparable for the sense of completeness and quiet joy it gave.

Now, I dread Friday nights. I come home tired and cranky to a cold house, with no dinner planned [yes, of course that's my own fault], a tired, whiny child, edgy pets, and a weekend of chores and work laid out before me. I have several hundred dollars of credit at "our" favorite bookstore, if I could bring myself to use it. As often as possible, I try to get out of the house on Fridays, lest the looming emptiness remind me too unbearably of what we have lost. Saturday morning, there will be chores and duties: pets to exercise, or bathe, cages to clean, laundry to do, a week's worth of mail to sort. These things are not consolations; they merely mask the emptiness with mindless busy-ness.


At 2:06 PM , Blogger Yankee, Transferred said...

Oh. It must be so hard. I'm thinking of you.


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