Something I have come to realize recently is the importance of downtime. It sounds obvious right? Everyone needs to relax and unwind, but sometimes we forget exactly what that means. In the last month Alan and I have gone to two music festivals, hosted a 40 person engagement party in our home, picked up three couches and a mattress, moved all kinds of furniture around, and strung up lights from the top of our 20 foot roof down to the tree in our backyard. It doesn’t sound so bad, and it wasn’t. The festivals were full of amazing art and our engagement party was a ton of fun with our nearest and dearest in attendance. The home improvement projects have been good too. They are something I’ve told myself I wanted us to work on together; something I have felt will make this house feel like my home. However, in all that constructive chaos there was no time to rest.
I should also mention that when we got home from the Philippines in early October we ran into an unforeseen bump in the road. Our downstairs roommate and friend, Hank, was moving out. For the last year and some he has occupied the semi-full basement apartment of our house. Now he has moved in with his girlfriend and we are stuck with a dilemma. How do we make up for his rent? This problem required a fast reaction as it is too big of a house for only us two to be occupying. After much discussion we decided that the easiest and quickest thing to do would be to furnish the apartment and put it up on AirBnB. With our action packed weekends already booked up we were forced to use our weeknights to work on furnishing the basement.
All of our time together became frantic. We were always going somewhere or doing something. After a long day of work, Alan would come home only to start looking at the Craigslist ‘free’ things posts so we could collect furniture for the basement. Off we would go to load up the truck with a mattress or couches, etc. For me, after being alone all day, keeping myself preoccupied with house chores or writing or rock climbing I wanted time to relax together, but we couldn’t. Finally the weekend rolled around and I would think, ‘finally, time to unwind and have fun’, and fun there was plenty of, but unwinding… not so much.
During the week I began to feel a certain amount of distance between myself and Alan. My temper was short and I wasn’t as excited about being together. We had fallen out of step and it took me some time to realize what exactly went wrong. It can be hard to recognize that going out and having fun isn’t the same as time spent resting and relaxing. Even though our, ‘work’, was being balanced with our, ‘play’, we were constantly on the move and we completely exhausted ourselves.
Finally, this past Friday the 28th, we finished collecting all the necessary basics for the basement to be ready to rent out. That night I made us a big dinner of lamb, potatoes and salad and we got to eat and drink some wine and watch a Halloween movie together. Things started to feel normal again and I realized how burnt out we truly had been. Since our arrival home from the Philippines we had been on a non-stop schedule and both our nerves were worn and frayed. Just being able to have a nice meal at home and watch a movie instead of organizing the house or entertaining or going to a big party was exactly what we needed.
Though it may seem like an obvious lesson, I think people forget it a lot. Relationships are not always easy sailing and being self-aware of what drives your emotions is important. Stress, exhaustion, fulfillment, and sense of purpose are all factors that affect one’s treatment of others in their lives. Next time I feel like jumping to harsh words or am feeling under appreciated maybe I will suggest cancelling our Saturday plans instead. Nothing can replace downtime and sometimes you just need to put the chores list down, turn off your phones and curl up on the couch.