An Ideal Day

An Ideal Day
Photo by Jason Abdilla / Unsplash

My ideal day begins early – rolling out of bed, pulling on some running shorts, and heading straight out into the clear frosty air to run a few miles around town. I love running through town early in the morning and seeing the world come to life – with deliveries of flowers, food, and newspapers criss-crossing the pavements along my way.

On returning home I lean on the tree outside our house to stretch for a few minutes before heading inside for a shower, and clean clothes. Next comes the kettle, a cup of coffee, and a bowl of cereal while emptying the dishwasher. I ask Alexa to play Magic radio.

By now the children are getting up and stumbling through the kitchen with grumpy faces and crazy hair – quietly finding food, filling bags for college or school, and absent mindedly gazing at their phones.

Over the next hour they leave the house one by one. I find myself alone, and set about clearing up the aftermath – returning repeatedly to the bins outside the house with empty bottles, wrappers, boxes, and bags. Finally the kitchen and lounge are clear, and I retreat to the junk room – the place I will spend most of the day ahead reading emails, writing code, and sitting in conference calls.

The webcam on the laptop points towards the tidiest corner of the room. It’s still less tidy than anybody else’s carefully curated conference call locations, but is at least interesting – featuring a Star Wars poster, a scale model of the Saturn 5 rocket, and numerous books, boxes, and brick-a-brack.

Throughout the day I return to the kitchen for coffee. My immunity to caffeine seems to have grown in recent months. En-route I listen out for the washing machine – emptying it as it falls silent, hanging damp clothes to dry, and filling it again with the rapidly rotating wardrobe of our teenage daughters.

At lunchtime I pull on a coat, scarf and shoes and set off across town on-foot to the infant school where my other half works. She has forgotten to take any lunch. There is a garage along the way that sells sandwiches. The route to and from the school takes me through a cemetery. I read the headstones as I pass back and forth – wondering about the lives led by the various names.

Back at home the day slowly reverses itself – with work winding down, and the house slowly re-filling with teenagers, grown-ups, noise, and clutter. Televisions switch on throughout the house, streaming game shows, news reports, and pop music videos.

Dinnertime finds me washing up cooking pots while my other half runs back and forth across the kitchen. She’s the better cook – I’m the better washer-up. I fight a losing battle as pots, pans, plates, cutlery, and more rubbish assemble themselves across the kitchen. I shout to the kids to set the table and silence returns – moments later I am in the lounge, lining up place mats, cutlery, and glasses.

Finally the house slows down. We sit at the table for an hour, eat, drink, and tell the story of each other’s day. We hear about the never-ending drama of school and college friendships, and the various stresses of the workplace. Nobody ever talks about my work – we did once when I complained about being missed out, but it quickly became obvious that nobody wanted to hear about content management, source code, version control, or wireframes.

After another half an hour clearing the kitchen, the evening finally becomes my own. I fall back into the junk room, switch on the computer, and begin writing emails, instant messaging distant friends, and emptying my head into blog posts. I take to imaginary skies for an hour in a flight simulator with friends, and explore pretend exotic destinations together. A little later in the evening I find my other half (invariably in the lounge) and we binge-watch whichever show is being touted by friends on social media.

The day ends in bed, with a book propped on my chest – a few pages read since I last fell asleep reading it. The book is one of many I’ve been meaning to read for some time. I’m getting there. Slowly.

If you’re wondering why my “ideal day” sounds much like an ordinary day, that’s because an ordinary day is my ideal day. A day free of disaster, stress, argument or turmoil. A day where the world continues turning. A quiet day.