I think I come across at least an article a week about how horrible academia is, how everyone in grad school is delusional, foolish, and doomed to professional failure and misery. I obviously have time to read these articles because despite the aforementioned misery (of which I am skeptical), I enjoy the greatest luxury of academia: vacation. I don’t go back till the end of January, and though these weeks have been full of things like purging our home of clutter, they still allow me so much deliciously wonderful time. Usually, James helps out with a surprising amount of the stuff that keeps our house running. But for this month, I am sharing my vacation and giving him a break from all that. This means that we get weekends like the last one, weekends where we have nothing at all to do. During the school year, I spend most of every Saturday studying or grading. During the summer, we spend every weekend busily going from one activity to the next, one wedding or party to another.
But on this drizzly cold weekend, we let nothing sway us from the enjoyment of nothingness. Friday night we spent the evening with friends, playing cards and drinking cocoa, our favorite wintertime pursuits. On Saturday, my older brother was passing through from Charlottesville, and he brought with him my favorite donuts. When we were in New York last spring, I tried some of the fancy donuts from those specialty places and was sorely disappointed. Conversely, in Charlottesville there is a dingy looking bakery run by grouchy old people that makes the best donuts ever. James and I had resolved to be eating healthier… but then donuts. My little brother came over and we made brunch, letting the gray cold day outside hold us inside. I cooked with the door open, not to enjoy the weather, but to prevent our hyper sensitive smoke detector from going off. Icy raindrops splashed on the kitchen floor as bacon popped – perfect Saturday music.
We didn’t really change position much after breakfast, just drifted from table to couch. I redid our living room this past week (more on that soon!) and now all I want to do is sit in it and enjoy the Netflix digital fire. (Don’t judge it till you try it. I recommend Episode 2 “Crackling Fire.”) We read books and magazines all afternoon, refilling coffee and tea and soaking in the stillness. The dryer whirred in the background – after being broken for several months – and reminded me of the everyday miracle of dry clothes.
That evening we braved the rain, heading to Georgetown to use a Christmas gift card at a fancy French place… before finishing across the street and getting ice cream for dessert. I wore the primary color outfit that James gave me for Christmas. He knows me well. We considered hitting a movie afterwards, but the call of the (fake) fireplace and cozy home was too strong and we ended the day like we started it, in slippers and flannels, reading away. When Sunday rolled around bright and clear, we napped in the sun and took an evening walk before ending the weekend the way it began: hot cocoa, cards, and friends.
There are so many blessings in getting out, in exploring and learning, in discovering and experiencing. There are so many blessings in adventure and excitement. But let’s not forget the blessings of staying in, of quiet and comfort, of cozy days and warm socks. This was a weekend of quiet blessings. It was a weekend of comfort food and good books, of working though the stacks of magazines that piled up over Christmas and ignoring the to-do lists that pile up every day. It was a weekend of real rain and fake fires, Sunday sun and late night walks. It was a weekend of the type of nothing that is its own wonderful something.