But the fact that vacations serve as a release valve means that we — and our employers — can let that pressure mount the 49 other weeks of the year. Knowing I’ll finally be at the beach next week makes it that little bit easier to put in an extra hour of email each night. It makes me think, as I face down a sink full of dishes, “I just have to get through tomorrow, and then the next day, and then ….”
When I was growing up, my dad — whom I adore — worked all the time. He was one of the first people I knew to have a cellphone, and the only one who used it to check in with the office while riding the chairlift on ski vacations. But I have this one memory of him that I can’t shake. I was about 7. We were playing whiffle ball, thwacking it across the backyard. I remember it because it was an ordinary weeknight, not a holiday or vacation. I don’t know why he was home so early, except that he wanted to be and because it was a perfect summer night in New England — where every now and then there is a day when the air is such a perfect temperature that it feels like no temperature at all, when it’s impossible to imagine that anywhere could be better than right where you are.
This summer, I want more days like that.