One day this week my sweetie and I took advantage of a gap between her yard projects and the kids (grand-kids) returning from school and did what most other self-respecting and outdoor-starved PNW'ers do on the first few really nice days of Spring... head for one of the scarce dining/drinking establishments with outdoor seating along the mighty Columbia to soak up some views, some rays, some snacks, and perhaps a craft beer. The experience really puts the mind (and body to some extent) into a proper receptive state in preparation for the warm days of summer.
Figuring there'd be crowds, we arrived at our chosen joint after the noon crush. The first clue this wasn't going to go as hoped was the lack of parking spaces... the lot was plumb full. I dropped Dar off to elbow her way to the front of the line and get the scoop, while I found a parking place a block and a half away.
Of course we were time-constrained -- had only a little more than an precious hour before our presence was required back at the house when the kiddies get home from school. So when we got the news that it'd be a minimum half-hour wait before an outdoor riverside table would be available we grudgingly accepted the offer of an inside table with a river-view... sort'a. It was OK but we both stared longingly at the tables out on the deck, in the sun, as we nursed our beer and humus plate. "Com'on... enjoy what we have and make the best of it."
It was then that it hit me just how much we take our personal freedom for granted. Almost any other time we have a notion to take an afternoon break like this, we would've had no problem waiting for that outside table. We're not used to dealing with schedules or other restrictions on our time any more. The day just flows and we just flow with it. But so many people, by necessity, have to deal with the notion of time... must get to work on time; get out of work in time to get kid to swimming lessons; pick up other kid from karate; rustle up dinner quickly so everyone's fed and happy before running off to PTA meeting; get home in time to let the dog out; meet kid's bus after school; then there's soccer practice, play dates with friends, family and school functions, and all the house-work and yard-work that must be done before the neighbors start talking. It's just all so overwhelming. We did it. We did it for many years... so many years ago. I think this, glorious freedom from time constraint, is perhaps the single biggest positive feature of our life right now.