I’m back in North Carolina, and glad to be back. My reaction actually surprised me; I opened the door to my house with a bit of trepidation, but it smelled like–felt like–home from the moment I stepped inside. I’m still not fully unpacked from the trip, but I made a start of it last night, and already did the necessary errands around town this morning to get my mail, buy another clipboard after I left mine at Mom’s, and so on.
That said, it was a wonderful trip. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this trip was pretty much designed-slash-planned to be neither designed nor planned. Back in Baton Rouge, I saw people who put forth the effort to contact me after an initial “hey, I’m in town” blast to old friends and coworkers, and didn’t worry about the rest. There were lots of days spent lazing around my mom’s house, solving puzzles or watching Broadchurch, and I ate out probably half as much as I typically do when I visit.
There were a lot more lunches and dinners at restaurants in Fayetteville, but the visit was still pretty low-key. Dan and I spent a lot of time playing couch co-op Diablo III, which is just about as non-committal as you can make a videogame. Any less thought involved (at the low levels, at least) and you may as well be “playing” Cookie Clicker. The only really planned outing was to Crystal Bridges, and the plan for that changed several times throughout the week as other things came up. In previous times that would have stressed me out. But, no, we went on Sunday and it was really nice. I could have stayed for hours and hours more; I love museums. But it gives me something else to look forward to on the next trip to Arkansas.
All along the way, my general response to any planned outing, get-together, or choice of meal was “sure, why not.” Back in Louisiana, the few evenings with Stuff Happening were strictly first-come, first-serve, rather than my previous attempts to satisfy as many people as possible, even if it meant shuffling a lot of things around.
And the lesson? That old way is for chumps. Cutting scheduling down to the barest minimum doesn’t just make things less stressful, it makes them more fun, because there’s room for spontaneity when before there was too much “oh, no, I’m meeting whoever at whenever, I can’t do that”. Keeping it simple also kept it pleasant, and when your trip has God-awful drives all around it, you can do with as much pleasantness as possible.
(Also, no matter how much I kvetch about the drive, it’s still better than flying. You lose a day either way, but most airlines don’t have the ability to satisfy a craving for a Blizzard, or a desire to just get out and not be moving for a few minutes, at 30,000 feet.)
So my future plan, even for the Big Holiday Visit, is to keep it low on planning and high on “yeah, sure”. I’ll try and make sure the one big game night happens, but that’s about it, and if even that falls through I won’t be too sad. Heck, I played Concordia four times while I was in Baton Rouge, which is roughly infinity percent more than I expected, and half of those games were spontaneous ones with the neighbors. Who knows what other fun I’ll discover later this year?