By Sunday, the mood has changed. It doesn't have to change, this mood, but it does. We have many more hours to spend at the lake, time when we don't have to think about anything but how we'd like our hull to hit the next coming wave, but we fast forward anyway. We think about Sunday night, and the drive home, and the work that begins on Monday and carries into Tuesday and eats our Wednesday and somehow Thursday, too. For those who have weekends to spend at the lake and nothing else, this is how it has to be. If work calls every moment from Monday until Friday, there's no other option but to hang on to Saturday and Sunday while they last, and then turn thoughts and cars back to the south.
And if work is the force that pulls us from the water, and changes our shorts for pants and our sun dresses for work skirts, then so be it. As much as we wish it weren't, success is a general requirement for vacation home bliss, for without one there cannot be another, unless you win the lottery. And if you do win the lottery, you don't buy a vacation home on a sensible lake with those winnings. You buy swords that once belonged to 15th century leaders, and then you buy trucks for everyone in your family, and, if there's money left over, you buy a bait shop. But assuming we're not winning the lottery, we're working, and if we're working hard and smart and long enough, then we get to have a vacation home. So Sunday thoughts that turn to Monday work are not only to be tolerated, they're to be expected. If we wish to play we must first work, unless you're a liberal, then you're working on restructuring the taxation system to allow only the very rich to work so that the very poor can do nothing but play.
But what about everyone else? What about those who don't have to work on Monday? What about those fortunate enough to have a spouse who will work- who will plant and then chop and then bail the hay- do they have to feel as though Monday is a day that is somehow different than Saturday? Why must the towels be washed and stacked inside that large woven basket, and why must the food that might be too old the next Friday be thrown in the garbage that someone has to carry, or drag, out to the road? Why do the beds have to be made on Sunday night and the car packed and the grill covered? Why, if we're not forced to work today, does today have to be any different than yesterday?
There was a time when families would spend their summers at the lake. If not all of the summer, at least some of the summer, where one spouse would go to work in the city, the dirty, loud, smelly city, and the rest of the family would spend their days in and near the water. There was no rush to get home. For the working spouse, Sunday afternoon thoughts turned to Monday, where those shorts would be replaced by that suit, the one with the pleated pants. But for the rest of the family, Sunday just felt like Monday which felt an awful lot like Thursday, and Thursday? No one could tell it from Tuesday.
Friday, now Friday was different. Because on Friday Dad (or, to be fair, mom) would be back, back to captain the boat or fire the grill, back to hear about what he missed out on during that Tuesday while he was working to pay for the events that he missed. He wanted to hear about swimming lessons at the beach and sailing lessons at the club, and he wanted to know who caught what off the pier and how it fought. He wanted to know not just what the others had done, but what he had missed. Summer kept churning ahead, even if he had to go and pay for the others to spend those fading summer days at the lake.
That's how it used to be, and not generally how it is now. Now, Sunday afternoons find almost everyone in a hurry. Sunday afternoons aren't lazy, not even if for thirty minutes you found your way into a dream while resting your eyes. Sunday, the whole darn family is in a hurry. There are bags to pack and grills to douse with water and boats to cover with canvas. There are towels to wash and towels to stack, dishes to dry and rugs to straighten. There's a whole bunch of work and then a car pointed south and a drive home. But for what? Because little Suzy has an appointment at the dentist? Fine. Then drive home on Monday for the appointment, but leave the towels unwashed and the rug disheveled. Leave the cottage as it was on Sunday, and find your way back to it on Tuesday. If there isn't work dictating your absence from the lake, then your absence is not excused.
From my office desk, I can see Monday outside. It doesn't look anything like Sunday. It looks calmer. Lazier. It looks as though today could come and go and no one would particularly notice. Monday isn't a race against the thoughts about Tuesday, it's just a nice day at the lake. You should really find some more time to see what a Monday feels like, because just a few more Mondays from today there will be school and once there is school there is fall and after fall comes winter, and then we're all in real big trouble.