Which means that instead of working, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, writing and sipping on a cup of joe. We’ve had quite a few snow days this winter in North Carolina. This morning I got up at 5:45, got dressed in the dark, and just as I was pouring my morning cup of coffee, I got a call saying that school was canceled. It would be easy to get frustrated over yet another snow day, which I’ll have to make up with a day of Saturday school, and which throws me further behind schedule with everything I had hoped to get done. But I just can’t shake the school-kid feeling of glee at getting to sleep in and then play instead of going to school. I find that ever since reading In Praise of Slowness, I really value days like this, which remind me to slow down, spend some time doing things I enjoy with people I love, and to get enough sleep.
I’m on clinicals this week, doing fieldwork in the public schools. I’m also traveling, spending the week in my hometown in Western North Carolina. I’ve really enjoyed being home, catching up with old friends, learning in the schools, and spending time with my favorite little family members…
Cute, no? That’s actually from my last trip home – I’m taking more of those these days, instead of spending my weekends working and trying to get ahead. Getting to see my family is easily the best part of every trip home, and it’s why I asked to do my clinicals in my hometown, combining the things I need to do with the things I really want to do. Paring down has helped me do that. Travel is simpler and easy to prepare for (traveling for fieldwork with no more than 33 things, thanks to Project 333, is much easier!), and I have fewer unnecessary obligations and more free time now that I’ve really started to think through how I want to spend the time I’ve got. For all that I’ve enjoyed the convenience of picking an outfit in the morning, or the simplicity of cleaning a house with less stuff, what I most enjoy is getting to see the twins, make a photo album with my grandma, or spend an afternoon in a coffee shop, eating chocolate stout cake and writing.
And that photo album my grandma and I are putting together? We’re archiving all of her old family photos so that she can show them off, and labeling them so that future generations will know who all of these people are. As we’ve worked on it over the last few days, I’ve seen pictures and heard stories from 60, 70, and even 80 years ago. There’s an amazing shot of my grandma in her swimsuit on Coney Island in the 1940’s. Then there are my great, great Aunts in black and white, gathered out front of the old family homestead. My grandparents’ wedding photos, from when they eloped to Clayton, Georgia, my grandmother in a white skirt suit, my grandfather in a jacket and tie, with my great aunt and uncle along as witnesses. My favorite so far is a picture of my grandparents on a picnic in the mountains, both relaxed, my grandmother laughing. My grandma looked at it and said “that’s the day we got engaged.”She had forgotten that the photo even existed. I’m going to make a copy for myself before I put it in the album, so that I can hang it on our wall at home. Just looking at them so relaxed and young and in love makes me happy.
Today, I’ve not only gotten to hear her family history, I’ve gotten to see it and help preserve it. For my part, I’d have to say that’s not a bad way to spend a snow day!
What would you do with an unexpected day to do whatever you please?