Somewhere around the fourth episode we watched that day of HBO’s Game of Thrones, I turned to my boyfriend lying semi-unconsciously on the couch and asked, “What do most young people do on the weekends?”
He responded with a chuckle, hoping I wouldn’t continue to interrupt his nap, but I persisted. According to him we’re supposed to drink beer out of bottles instead of cans and watch a lot of sports and just relax when the weekends come around because, well, we’re adults and we can.
But as I continue to mull it over, I’m unsatisfied with the idea that the weekends should be an extravaganza of laziness and want to know, really, what are we supposed to do with our time?
I’ve used much of my time thus far to prepare myself to get to this stage of life. Time was spent in class, doing homework and filling free seconds with outlandish numbers of extracurriculars so I could bolster my college apps and get into school. College and its endeavors were, in a sense, a means of finding a job. But with a job, the end to which I’ve worked, secured and underway, now what?
It’s as though I’ve climbed and climbed my metaphorical ladder and gotten to the top only to realize it’s not attached to anything. I’m sitting at the top with my feet dangling over the edge wondering what to do next.
Up until this point in my life it always just felt like there was more to do, more that could be done, more to cross off the eternal to-do list. And with a to-do list that long, routines made sense of the chaos.
As a child there were chore routines and social routines and getting six people bathed with one shower routines. We also attended the same Mass at the same church followed by the same breakfast at the same restaurant for 18 years—perhaps our family’s supreme routine. Even college, while less routine, still took up a naturally rigid patter.
But what now of routines? I don’t have a house to repair or children to tend or cart from one practice to another in a minivan with little smiling stick figures plastered to the windows. I don’t have too many friends to go meet or events to attend. Even my chores only require a limited amount of time and energy in a small, one-bedroom apartment.
I have two full days nearly every weekend, save Notre Dame home games, to do with what I like. But I don’t know what I like. I’ve never really had the time to figure that out.
So far I’ve dabbled in golf, spent a lot of time at garage sales, attended the world’s largest one-day, outdoor fish fry, watched more movies than I did in my four undergraduate years combined, and wandered every store from Pier 1 to Macy’s to Hobby Lobby, pretending I have enough income to appropriately decorate my apartment. I even have plans to go to a “painting and wine night” where you try to recreate Van Gogh or something while drinking enough to make the admission fee worth it.
Still it’s a surreal feeling to wake up on a Saturday morning and groggily realize I have absolutely no obligations or checkpoints for the next two days.
At one point I romanticized that Saturday mornings would be spent at quaint coffee shops reading the novels I never had time to as a student. I thought afternoons would be spent cruising into neighboring towns, finding a new shop to wander through before enjoying dinner on a patio somewhere. And the evenings would be spent in dim, swanky bars where I’d finally learn to order a mature cocktail and to walk properly in stilettos.
Alas, this Saturday I found myself in sweatpants instead of stilettos, waiting for episode five of Game of Thrones to queue up after an extended nap and a dinner of bread and cheese was consumed while sitting on the couch. As I gnawed on the crust I let the question gnaw at me.
Tara Hunt is an associate editor of this magazine.