When Sam was born, I learned to be a lot more efficient in my utilization of free time. Since Mandy was born, I’ve been almost fanatical about it. Like most sane people, I believe that a balance between work, family, and alone time is critical to maintaining health and happiness. Between a full day’s work and commute, working out (if I’m lucky), spending time with the other people that live with me, and helping get Sam down to sleep, I’m left with just about an hour of recreation time per weekday –maybe up to two hours if I’m willing to cannibalize my sleep time.
As a result, I’ve learned to zero in on my recreation like it were anything else that just had to be done. I have an hour, I’m going to watch one episode of Battlestar Galactica tonight, watch two episodes of Arrested Development on DVD, play Neverwinter Nights 2 for a while, catch up on Quarter to Three forum posts, read for a while, whatever. I don’t screw around. Once that kid is down and Ger is nursing the other one, I’m focusing like a laser on my recreation.
That’s probably why I got kind of freaked out when I traveled to Savannah, Georgia this last week for training and was presented with the stupefying prospect of five to six hours of free time per night. With my kids (and Ger for that matter) taken out of the picture, I almost panicked over what to do with myself. Here’s a list of what I packed on my trip:
- Three paper books
- One audiobook
- Five DVDs
- The entire run of the Transmetropolitan comic
- Nintendo DS plus four games
- Laptop (with Internet access, of course)
- Even a couple of older PC games that would run on my laptop
I almost didn’t have room for my shoes. In the end, I made it through 3 of the DVDs, two of the books, and half of the Transmetropolitan run. Plus I did some web surfing and took two long walks through downtown Savannah, for which I wish i had brought my camera.
This, apparently, is what life without kids or a wife was like. It was thrilling for the first day or so, but then I have to admit I got bored, bored, bored, plus I missed my girls –all three of them. When Ger took me to the airport and I said goodbye to Sam, she burst into tears. I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but that made me feel good. Not that she was crying, but that she didn’t want me to go. Mandy, on the other hand, appeared to not give a crap.
So while I was eating my fancy take-out meal from Outback Steakhouse in my hotel room and watching Family Guy on DVD, I always felt bad in the back of my mind for leaving Sam and for leaving Geralyn to wrestle with two kids by herself.
(And let us pause here to note that “take out” is apparently the only accepted term in Savannah. The first time I went into the restaurant and asked to place a “to go order” the guy just looked at me and repeated “Toooooo goooo oooorrrrrrr duuuuurrr…?” while cocking his head slightly and staring into space. “Yes,” I said, thinking that the emphasis should be on the “duuuuurrr” part.”)
So I’m glad that I have a job that only requires overnight travel once or twice a year, if that. It turns out that Geralyn did fine, even when Sam decided to kick things up a notch by getting sick the day after I left. But regardless, I brought back Sam a Lightning McQueen lunch box and Ger some various things that had been dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with more chocolate. Mandy I didn’t bring anything, because I honestly forgot that she existed.
Ha ha, just kidding. It’s really because she didn’t ask for anything specific.
And speaking of Mandy, we hit a very important milestone just this weekend. I said, for the very first time, these words: “Sammy, stop tormenting your sister.” I’m sure it won’t be the last.