By JEFF PICKELL
There was a time, many moons ago, when weekends were made for relaxing. Oh, how I yearn for those days.
It’s about 11 a.m. Monday, I’m back in the office typing away, and I don’t feel the least bit refreshed from my weekend sojourn to my parents’ house in Highland. If anything, I’m wound up tighter now than I was when I left Morenci Friday night.
The trouble started with the weather. When I departed at about 6:30 p.m., a light flurry dusted the fields locally, but I heard reports on NPR that the rest of the state was getting hit a little harder by the slush. I pulled off at the Food and Fuel in Jasper and reached for my phone—for safety’s sake I wasn’t going to be doing any speeding, so I wanted to tell my mom not to wait up for me.
But the phone wasn’t in my pocket. I’d left it back in Morenci—20 woeful minutes away. I had a decision to make: I could forge on without my phone, but if I slid off the road or crashed into a tree I’d have no way to call for help short of flagging down an approaching car. Alternatively, I could go back to Morenci and grab the cotton-picking thing.
I erred on the side of caution and went back, adding another 40 minutes to the trip. Aside from that, I made it out of the county without incident. US-23 north on the way to M-59, however, was a deathtrap. I counted seven cars stuck in ditches.
The snow had stopped, but that didn’t make the going any easier—there was no precipitation to help wash the build-up of salt and grit from my windshield, so every two minutes I had to spray it down with wiper fluid. This turned everything indecipherably blurry for a tense few seconds before I could see again.
I was relieved to make it home by 9:30 p.m.—just in time to meet my friend Jimbo for some pool at a pub down the street. A few casual games turned into a three-hour grudge match when we bumped in to some old foes. I didn’t return until 1:30 a.m. and, gah!, what a dumb decision that was. I had to get up at 8 a.m. and burn rubber to Howell to pick up a prescription if I had any hope of making it back in time to join my parents and Darla the dog on a 5-mile hike at the local park.
That was another ordeal. About halfway through, Darla’s paws got iced up, so mom had to carry her the rest of the way. By this point, we were all miserable. The hills were icy and extra tiring to ascend. Afterward, with piteously sore feet, we decided never to walk those trails in the snow again.
I spent the afternoon in Brighton making Christmas returns and finding merchandise to spend my Christmas gift cards on. It was crowded and my friend Tony annoyingly wavered over buying a boxed set of Alfred Hitchcock movies.
“‘North by Northwest!’ ‘Vertigo!’ ‘Rear Window!’” he said. “Fourteen movies for only $100. How could I pass this up?”
After Tony finally decided he didn’t have the bucks for the movies, I unloaded him in Milford and headed back to Highland for dinner and a movie with my laundry. Then I again set off—this time to my friend Dickey’s for a small get-together. I made it to the end of the driveway before hitting reverse and gunning it. No way, José. I wasn’t going. I was gassed out. I needed rest.
I fell asleep watching the “Seinfeld” DVDs I bought earlier.
Darla woke me at seven the next morning. Time for another walk. We forewent the trails at the park for a longer, albeit flatter, route through a nearby subdivision. By the end, I decided exercise isn’t fun and vowed to die young, fat and alone. The rest of the morning was devoted to miscellaneous errands. The afternoon was devoted to a nap that ran a little too long.
(So, I guess I did get some quality rest after all).
By the time I woke, the roads were a mess and I just didn’t have the constitution to make the trip back to Morenci. I tuned in to the AFC championship with fleeting interest before retiring to the basement to watch “Battlestar Galactica” with my brother. That lasted about 11 minutes.
I was asleep by 10:30 p.m. and up by 2 a.m., checking the clock in the kitchen at half-hour increments to make sure I didn’t oversleep my 6:30 a.m. departure time.
Now, here I am, back in Morenci, feeling both exhausted and ashamed. Exhausted because, well, I’m exhausted. Ashamed because my weekend was probably less hectic and more fun than that of 75 percent of the people reading this.
“Grow up, kiddo. That’s life,” I’m sure some of you are thinking.
It sure is. I learn it a little more each week.- Jan. 24, 2007