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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

From my Front Porch

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Vacationing alone and time zones

When you are a wife and mom, doing anything alone generally is not an option. Gracious, occupying your own private residential restroom facilities solo for more than one or two minutes at a time is considered a luxury by most moms. For a few days this past week, I had the opportunity to spend some extended quality time by myself and, to be quite frank, it was nice. Don't get me wrong; I love my family dearly, but a little solitude can be good for a mom's soul.

Until suppertime, that is. I have seen other folks do it, but for someone used to eating with five other people on a regular basis, eating alone can create quite the dilemma.

Which is probably one of the very premises on which the mall food court was invented. So I found a mall and a food court, got in line behind a friendly looking woman who seemed to be about my age and struck up a conversation that lasted well into dessert. It turned out to be a very enjoyable meal, even though I struggled with the temptation to reach over and wipe off her face and then cut her food into bite-size pieces. What was really great, though, was that not once did I hear the all too familiar question, "Do I have to eat this?"

My vacation purposely coincided with my fifth-grader's class competition in Knoxville, Tennessee. While my son, who requested I travel with him and remain close by but try to be as invisible as possible, stayed with his group at the University of Tennessee, I was relegated to a local hotel just within phone's reach but duly out of harm's way. At his request, contact with him was limited, but one event of the trip I was permitted to attend was an afternoon competition. I carefully planned my day with a nice lunch and some shopping, being sure to allow plenty of time for the rather complicated drive to the competition venue. Unfortunately, I arrived exactly one hour too late.

You would think that when you are on a cross-country road trip and venture into a different time zone there would be a big blinking billboard indicating something of such obvious importance. If there was such a sign, I missed it. So for more than 24 hours after arriving in the big city of Knoxville, Tennessee, I flitted around town oblivious to the fact that I was an hour behind everyone else. Which would explain why a sales clerk at the mall seemed a bit irritated with what I realize now were beyond-closing-time purchases and why the restaurants seemed emptier than I expected. This is the sort of thing that can happen when someone accustomed to living in a crowd with a hectic schedule is suddenly thrust into a solitary existence with plenty of free time. Since there is no one to tell you to hurry up, you can function pretty well, even if you are an hour behind the status quo and if you don't have an appointment.

A couple of days later, after I had shopped my limit and my son's competition was finished, we returned to Missouri. The nine-hour road trip left us tired and weary, but we were glad to be back with our family. Later that evening, while I was in my bathroom preparing for bed, there was, like clockwork, the sound of a loud and persistent knock at the door.

I thought to myself, "It's good to be home."