Leap Day

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It’s funny. In addition to the whole four years we’ve had waiting for today, we’ve had two entire months of expectation. Leap Day. A free day. An extra day. The problem is that the amount of pressure of something like that is palpable. I must do something special today or it will have been wasted. Those of us in school or at work today don’t have that craziness going on in their heads. Many of us don’t have it at all.

This morning, I overslept, felt sick and went back to sleep, stayed in bed much longer than I wanted to, spent about half an hour driving around trying to find the perfect place to spend my extra day; my extra special day before I ended up in a usual haunt.

Do I want a free lunch? I could have one, but I don’t really want that place. And I don’t really want a salad. That was the free thing. I also don’t want a cheeseburger. Do I want somewhere I’ve never been before? Then my husband gets mad because he likes to try out new places together. There’s a Korean BBQ place that we both are looking forward to. Should I go to an old favorite? Fast food? Absolutely not. Starbucks? I love Starbucks, but, I don’t know, it didn’t feel right.

After losing half my morning to the internet – totally my fault, I opted for my favorite writing place with no internet: Cracker Barrel. I won’t inundate you with the wonderful ambiance of my local (and almost every other) Cracker Barrel. I write about them a lot; because I like them a lot.

But I really wanted French toast.

And really good Diet Coke.

And no internet.

I hit the country store first – not by choice – a cute hedgehog caught my eye. I was going to take a photo of him for later, but then a green notebook caught my other eye, and then a chocolate frog, and then a ceramic plate. By then my hands were full and it was time to get a basket or get out. I got out, but I’ll probably look around again before I pay for my meal.

The point is, although it was lost in translation, that we take these days that are supposed to be fun and unique and turn them into this stress filled anomaly that makes us not want to celebrate these days. We dread the very idea of them. I know it sounds silly, but I can’t be the only one who sets the expectations too high too often. We do it on our days off from work, on our birthdays, even Christmas and New Year’s. We build the day up in our minds that it has to be perfect, that it has to be a certain way, planned out to each precise millisecond. We must dress a certain way, do certain things and if we don’t, it becomes a disappointment.

Today was that.

I’ve been looking forward to my extra day all month. What would I do? Where would I go? Sneakers or boots? What shirt will I wear? Can I afford to go out for lunch? Do I even want to go out for lunch?

I do realize that I’m the one doing this to myself. Up until this morning I was excited about my Leap Day. But when I woke up and I wasn’t showered and missed church, I wanted a do-over.

I quickly realized that our days don’t work like that.

Life doesn’t work like that.

There are some things we can hit the reset button on, but unfortunately that doesn’t change the past. We can stop and change directions and go forward again, but we shouldn’t forget how we got here.

I could have rolled over this morning and said it was too late to do anything and just stayed in bed watching reruns and scrounging around the kitchen later on for something to eat; maybe a bag of popcorn. In the past, I’ve done exactly that. Moped. Felt sorry for myself because I didn’t get up on time, didn’t take my shower the night before.

I didn’t do that today.

I got my butt out of bed, went straight into the shower, talked with my son, my husband, got dressed, grabbed my keyboard – no bag except my pocketbook for a change, and got out of the house.

It’s a windy day but I pushed through. I made two u-turns to take a photo that I’ve been talking about taking for the last six months. This time of year is the only time to get the tunnel. Then I drove around thinking about what I want for the rest of my day.

On days like this, I have a uniform. I talked a bit about it during last Gishwhes – the John Green item. I put on my uniform; my me mask. I’m trying to be someone else. I also realized that there’s a difference between being someone else for a day and pretending to be something you’re not. I hope to always be in the positive former place.

I’ve also discovered that this is not so much an extra day as much as an additional day. A day to look back and reflect and to look forward and dream.

It’s leap day; I should take a leap.

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