On Saturday afternoon I allowed myself to be persuaded to go to the Washington County Fair with my girlfriends instead of staying home and cleaning. It doesn’t sound like such a hardship to spend time with my friends, I realize, but after being laptop-free for over a week I had this plan that I would get all the cleaning done on Saturday and then be free to write all day on Sunday and it was hard to give that up.


We used to go to the Fair every year, but it’s been a really long time since I went. And one of my friends hadn’t actually been to this kind of fair before, with cows and crafts along with the rides. It ended up being the perfect mix of resurrecting old memories and making new ones. All of the usual food booths right where they should be, the familiar smells of the barns, the blues band on stage next to the covered picnic tables – if Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts had been the closing band in the grass amphitheater it could easily have been 1990 instead of 2010.

But this time we actually went on the rides, too, testing our stomachs on the Spider and the Tilt-a-Whirl, and the silver one whose name I don’t remember. And despite her lack of confidence in her own skill, one friend managed to earn 150 points on the last round of Skee Ball so all three of us walked out with a plush toy to remember the day.

It was wonderful. I have no regrets about going.

Of course, I also don’t regret ending my day with my friends after the fair instead of continuing on to happy hour and the movies. They’re very good friends, but for some reason on this particular day I had to repeat several times that I wanted to get some writing done and wasn’t free all day.

For a variety of reasons I didn’t actually get any writing done (although I did get the cleaning and laundry taken care of), and I admit that’s a little frustrating, but what I’m really taking away from the weekend is that it doesn’t have to be and either/or, all-or-nothing kind of thing. If we’re open to it, there is almost always some kind of balance that can be struck, so you can have the little purple unicorn with a silver horn sitting in a place of honor on the bookshelf, and a clean house, and maybe some word count to go with it.

The important thing, I think, is to take a deep breath and listen to your instincts when the calendar tries to get crowded. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you’ll get back to them, rather than giving them an answer on the spot. Give yourself time to think it through. Decide where your priorities are, and make sure that, whatever you do, it works for you.

2 thoughts on “Making Time for Unicorns

  1. I'm glad you got to go to the fair. I think they can be a lot of fun. We're going next weekend to the Kankakee County Fair; my stepson has a number of things on exhibit through 4-H. He's 18 now, so this is the last year he can do it as a 4-H member. He's excited. He's blooming into quite a Manga artist and has entered several drawings.

    I think fairs are, as you say, a thing of the past; but I also think it's a tradition worth preserving. Their very low tech nature is what makes them so special – the focus is on spending time with the ones we're with, and looking at crafts made by hand. I think enjoying those things is becoming a lost art and I like it when there are still efforts to preserve it.

  2. What a delightful title! Unicorns were such a favorite that I almost convinced myself that they really exist. 😉 And this reminds me that I need to go to a fair this summer before it's too late. Most importantly, thanks for sharing this brilliant take on balance. I couldn't agree with you more!

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