Two weeks ago, I could not wait one second longer to stop working. I had written seven articles over four days — a scenario fairly typical of the rest of the summer — and was simply tired of thinking, arranging interviews and stringing sentences together.
Luckily I had a four-day trip to the beach planned with my kids. We aren’t living too large these days, like most people, but I had carved out a short vacation at a nice hotel next to a clean stretch of sand. Ahhh . . . it was heaven that first day to spread my toes out in the hot white grains, listen to the seagulls beg us for Goldfish crackers, and feel the absence of deadlines.
I started the second day with a long barefoot walk straddling the surf while my kids slept in. Nobody expects anything from me today, I thought gratefully. Nobody, of course, meant editors. No one was waiting for copy or revisions. And no sources awaited phone calls to interview them for articles.
After the walk, I plopped down on a sand dune and checked my emails. There was never a second that my iPhone wasn’t in my possession or less than two feet away, and I did have to answer a couple of short questions about stories going through editing. But how could I mind? I was eating as much lobster and boardwalk custard as my gullet could hold. I could dip my toes in my work and the hotel pool at the same time. Life was good.
The spell broke on the third day when a magical email appeared in my inbox. An editor at a custom publishing company — someone I’d been courting for seven months off and on — had sent a fun, juicy assignment. I wondered if the kids saw the glint in my eyes as I quickly checked out the assignment details over appetizers that night. I wondered if they noticed I was breaking my own rule about no cell phones or texting at the table. But I’ll bet they noticed my smile.
By the time we all woke up the next day, we were ready to forego a few more hours at the beach and just head home. When I got there, our theoretical fourth day of vacation became just another work day, one where I had a new client to impress and a mounting list of contacts to make to set up this week’s stories. The kids were happy to be home (they’re home-bodies, like their mom) and I was ecstatic to sit down at my laptop. Once again, the blurry line between home and home office became nonexistent.
The experience has forced me to admit something to myself that I’ve only roundly joked about in recent months: I’m a workaholic. It took only 60 hours of vacation for the idea of work to go from feeling like a plight to a delight. But I never wanted to be one of those people who lived for weekends and vacations because their work was so stultifying. I never wanted to be someone who wondered what they really should have been when they grew up. And if I’m going to face working 50 weeks of each year for the next 25 or 30 years, isn’t this the better way to be?