Friday, July 6, 2012

July Fourth Weekend: Freedom From Stress

by Rose A. Valenta

Why would anyone want to get into this mess on their day off?

News stories are cropping up all over the Internet about the fluxuation in the price of gasoline and how people are scaling back on trips and vacations for economic reasons. This weekend thousands of folks will be hitting the shore thinking that they have economized by not going to some exotic place like Hawaii or Aruba.

Why go anywhere?

Maybe it was my upbringing or being married to a Philadelphia Policeman for 20 years, who usually had to work on holidays, but I have gotten rather used to avoiding mob scenes and traffic as much as possible. Finances have very little to do with that. I even go to the supermarket during off-peak hours, who needs the lines and the stress? I can buy hot dog and hamburger buns more efficiently at 10:00 PM and there will only be one person ahead of me at check out.

Every day, I travel to the office for an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I have a whole audio book collection to relieve the stress. Public radio doesn’t broadcast the good shows like Garrison Keillor, Car Talk, and You Bet Your Garden during rush hour, shame on them. So, I pop in an audio book and listen to great American history novels like Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, or the entire Earth’s Children Series in 21 Days and enjoy myself.

One day, I was laughing so hard at a remark Bessie Delany said about some smelly drunken white guy (my sentiments exactly), that tears were rolling down my face as I paid the toll on the Turnpike.

“You Okay today?” the guy asked.

“Yeah, I’m glad I’m not riding Bessie's train,” I answered.

He laughed and looked at me over the top of his trifocales (cash, cars, and 18-wheelers) checking my pupils and the back seat for drugs.

Another day, I was listening to motivational speaker, Loretta LaRoche’s “Lighten Up,” where she tells people to chill and feel juicy.

“How are you today?” the same toll taker asked.

“I feel juicy!” I responded.

A few minutes later, not being quite sure if my remark could be misconstrued as sexual harassment, I glanced in my rear-view mirror checking for troopers.

When my husband was on active duty, we usually celebrated holidays on his days off. Our schedule was far from normal. Sometimes, we celebrated July 4th on the 9th, Labor Day the weekend after, but every four years, we managed to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas when everyone else did. People wondered why I would cook a turkey on the Saturday following the holiday.

“Are you Jehovah’s Witness?”

“Didn’t you get enough last week?” they would ask.

Long story short, I rather liked missing all the holiday traffic and crowds; my husband’s dangerous job had its perks after all.

Many people don't understand this because most women don't send their husband off to work with a brief case full of directives, handcuffs, and a .38 caliber handgun; hoping he doesn't end up in the ER before dinner is ready and the smoke detector sets off the fire alarm.

This week, even though my husband is no longer on active duty, we decided to stay home, rest, and watch TV. He always likes to put the traffic report on and say a prayer of thanks that we are not in the middle of the mess trying to remain calm with St. Joseph's Wort, Snapple, and an audio edition of Dave Barry. It is sort of our way of celebrating the Declaration of Independence away from tourism and insanity. They broadcast fireworks on cable and I have a CD with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overature. I can mute the TV and combine the two. Plus, I'm thankful to have him home safe.

This year, we bought sparklers to take to the Grandchildren on July 8th and we are having a family cookout without the stress of holiday traffic.

God Bless America and happy July 4th weekend everyone!

© 2012, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

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