As you age the landscape of the weekend changes, it flattens and droops, deflates into a soggy morass of weeds, lawnmowers and hedge trimmers, unwashed dishes, a pot of water boiling over into a noisy hissing burner, piles of laundry, work without reward, without end, mindless labor in pursuit of the elusive treasure, domestic tranquility.
A silent lament washes across neighborhoods all over the country; “is this all there is?”
Thousands of years of evolution and we battle landscaping and sheet pan casseroles. Sure, that seems petty considering the terrors and privations our ancestors faced. We live longer, in climate-controlled comfort, and time is still our master.
As a child weekends were golden. Bowls of cereal in front of the cartoons. Friends and bike rides and exploring the wild, forbidden landscape of the river banks. Saturday was a glorious adventure that was over before everything was done.
Graduation, and a job hunt, the loneliest time ever recorded. Nobody ever felt so unwanted, unloved as a person seeking employment. Facing the icy, angry stare of a person who holds the power of hiring can freeze time and make seconds drag, burn, twisting the stomach into knots, until it’s almost a blessing to not get the job. You can walk out of there with a smile and a bounce in your step. “Dodged that bullet.” You think. Time is an ally, and you have a mountain of it.
Weekends were wild debauchery. Booze and pills and partying, dancing and drinking and carrying on.
Then, you land a job, get married, buy a house, have children and nothing is the same.
Your days are measured in tasks, make breakfast, pack lunch, commute, work, drive home, soccer practice, dinner, dishes, laundry, vacuum, drop into bed exhausted, repeat. Then, at long last the weekend comes, and you can mow, mulch, spread lawn treatments, de-thatch, aerate. Who knew grass was so needy?
It is. And so are bushes, hedges, tomato plants, cucumbers, rose bushes, peonies, just pick a flower, put it in the ground, or pot, and prepare to become its servant. Unless you count dandelions as a flower, they don’t need your help, they can take over a neighborhood, the city, eventually the world. Probably the reason they call them a weed and not a flower. If it doesn’t require an enormous amount of time, labor and incalculable expense it’s a weed, as defined by the Home Depot, Lowes, Scotts, Miracle-Gro Cabal.
Winter isn’t any better. There is snow to shovel, ice that needs salted, windows need scraped, firewood to be toted and burned. School grabs your children and forces them to jump through homework hoops, projects, plays, sports. How many times have the words “I don’t care if you know the answer, show your work!!!” been shrieked at a defiant child who only moments ago threw his/her carrots in the trash when you weren’t paying attention because you were too busy trying to figure out how to get the burned chicken off the bottom of your new two hundred dollar cast iron skillet that you told your wife you had to have and swore you would cherish and care for as if it were your child. Stupid facebook cooking videos, anyway. This thing is ruined, nobody could ever work cook with something like this…
Admittedly life is much better than it was for our ancestors. A season-long battle with crabgrass is not nearly as risky as hunting dinner with a handmade spear and a few rocks. Plus, making the spear was probably a bit of a struggle, no tools, no YouTube videos explaining the optimal method of fashioning a stone spearhead. And they had to make their own string to attach it to a stick they had to find, no co-opting a broom handle. Still, thousands of years of evolution and this is where we wound up, competing with the neighbors for the greenest yards, comparing tomatoes with co-workers, sweating over lawnmowers and thatch rakes.
Still, time should have more meaning, and there should be a little more of it. Weekends should have more time off. Call me old-fashioned, but I need a drink and a plate of chorizo-covered super nachos. It would be a nice day for a long nap, and a casual stroll, but instead the landscape needs to be weeded and the bushes around the patio need trimming, and the people across the street upped the game by adding a flower border on the driveway, bastards.