I have insane work days here in the bungalow, days that sometimes begin at 4:30 am, end at 1:00 am, and are interrupted only when I drag myself to the gym or to Tae Kwon Do with Little Babe, or to take him to camp or to play with my dogs or to check the latest missing persons news story unfolding online or to go to ShopRite or to the Monroe Laundromat (where you can wash your clothes among townies and Satmar Chasidim alike) or occasionally call HOBB (husband of Bungalow Babe), communicate through Skype or text Middle Babe who is studying in South Africa or Big Babe who is writing in Berlin, or have a you-know-I-still-love-you-but-I'm-insanely-busy-what's-new? phone conversation with the neglected MOBB and DOBB (mom and dad of Bungalow Babe), not to mention SOBB (siblings of Bungalow Babe).
Here in the country, it's pretty much me and my computer, me and my phone, me and my BlackBerry, me and the projects and deadlines. And the occasional New Yorker article. Or celebrity magazine. And the Times Herald-Record, the local daily, which I adore. And maybe the book I am trying to finish (currently The Orientalist, by Tom Reiss). My friends instinctively make themselves scarce during the week, either caught up in their own, similar frenzy or knowing that the weekend version of me is much more hospitable.
Situated in the anti-social section of the bungalow colony -- separated from the main section by a steep hill and a road -- it is easy to avoid the 300-plus residents of this summer community who do things like congregate at the swimming pool, play canasta and mah-jongg, go bowling in groups and talk to each other over mugs of coffee and steep myself in the solitary focus of workaholism.
Except for the weekends, which are filled with visitors and barbeques and bike rides on the Heritage Trail and hikes on the Appalachian Trail and movies and the kinds of quaint country activities you might imagine -- fairs and such -- with a bit of high brow culture tossed in, such as Shakespeare on the Hudson, concerts at West Point, plays at Museum Village, local museum exhibitions.
And then, there is Shabbat in the country, an unparalleled joy, a taste of the world to come. We have our Friday night dinner on the screened porched, singing Shalom Aleichem to the deer, bears, raccoons, chipmunks and other residents of the deep, mysterious woods that divide our bungalow from Walton Lake. We take miles-long hikes on Shabbat afternoon and study the teachings of Heschel with our friends. We swim, rest, play tennis, spend hours reading the New York Times in our resin Adirondack chairs or sprawled on blankets on the lawn. We meet our friends' friends. We play Scrabble at the lake, slathering on lotion as the setting sun bounces off the water. We have impromptu conversations with the children of our neighbors. I'm always inexpressibly sad at Havdalah time.
But Shabbat has not happened yet. I am still in the grip of the work week, though about to be released. I've been sitting in front of my computer for hours and when I just got up to stretch, I found myself oddly attracted to the hideous green tiles of my bedroom floor. So I lay down. And took a picture of myself. To capture this moment. This summer day. This feeling. This time in my life.