As any Sex and the City fan can attest, some of the best conversations unfold over the highly fetishized, highly beloved institution known as brunch. Nothing sets the tone for a memorable discussion like bottomless coffee, nutritional recklessness and maybe a cocktail or two.
Today’s brunch was a tame affair (well, if you can call anything that features a mound of pork and waffles topped with a fried egg “tame”) during which my companion and I sank our teeth into the (equally meaty) subject of work-life balance. The two of us mark opposite ends of the spectrum – she’s a corporate marketer with workaholic propensities, and I’m a creative gypsy who preaches the pursuit of happiness – but we can agree on this: Weekends are for pleasure, and we refuse to sacrifice them to anyone else’s definition of the term.
Observing this credo requires both a knowledge of what fulfills you and a belief in your right to pursue it. When you live in a city rife with capital-C Culture, it can be easy to feel as though you’re doing it wrong. Choice becomes paradoxical, and Culture assumes a strangely narrow definition. What? You’ve never been to Ground Zero? Er, no, I haven’t. Sorry I’m not sorry I’m not sorry.
My leisure time consists of the following activities: eating, drinking, exploring. I don’t see Broadway shows. I don’t go to museums or festivals. I’m not opposed to these things in theory, but I often forget that they exist. I love being surrounded by so many options, and there may come a time when I feel more driven to seek out traditional sources of Culture, but I prefer people to landmarks and attractions. Culture is a state of mind, not an exhibit at the Met.
I’ve also slowed down on making plans in advance. I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy doing things alone. I don’t mean sitting alone in my apartment; I mean actually doing things alone. Around 7pm last night, I was sprawled on my couch in a post-errand coma when I thought to myself, Rage. So I got dressed. Made my way to a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try. Nabbed a seat at the bar. Chatted up a thirtysomething NYU professor who was thrilled to shower a curious youngster with suggestions and advice. Paid for my food (my drinks were generously comped) and, with a slight buzz and few more items on my bucket list, made my way to a bar down the street. Repeated the process with a restaurateur from San Francisco and a Pilates instructor from Toronto. All platonic; all fascinating and fulfilling. Rage, indeed.
I did eventually meet up with friends, but I treasured that early evening anonymity. Venturing out alone allows me the freedom to go where I please for as long as I please. It forces me to entertain new ways of thinking instead of rehashing the same old ideas. I sometimes turn down plans with friends in favor of these solo adventures. On less glamorous nights, I sometimes turn down plans with friends in favor of nights at home.
Instead of feeling guilty or wondering what this says about me, I’ve become more comfortable with my loner status. When I schedule a packed weekend, I end up feeling drained and overwhelmed. When I hold off, I usually end up reaching out anyway, but I do so out of desire rather than obligation. Selfish? Maybe. But I’d rather be elusive than flaky. I think being possessive of my time makes me a more present, more interesting friend when I do engage.
So yeah, that was brunch. Which I scheduled in advance and likely would not have initiated in my haggard morning state without accountability to plans made midweek. Devil’s advocate, just for kicks!
What does an ideal weekend look like to you?