On the last Leap Day that occurred in Time, I decided to spend the day doing the things I loved most. I grabbed my parents’ credit card that I was only to use in emergencies and set out to the grocery story to procure items for a classic barbecue (with s’mores - I spared no expense) and make margaritas. Getting the tequila was difficult as I wasn’t 21 yet, but who cared on the day of Leap? Not the cashier at the now-foreclosed Marty’s Liquor. I gathered all of my friends at my home for what I was sure would be an amazing summer’s day in almost-March.
It was a cold day in Boston, where I was living and attending school. There was snow falling onto the already white ground as my roommates and I dragged our grill onto our dry, wooden, wrap around porch. This might not have been the safest, but once the burgers were cooked and the margaritas were made, we started to feel more like the season we desired rather than the one we were stuck in. We spent the evening in our snow boots with our graham crackers and chocolate, ignoring our homework and making great memories.
Perhaps it was the smoke seeping into the old New England house or the fact that Leap Day is a blink in 1,461 days that allows us to do things that won’t count toward the natural flow of time, but making those great memories cost me a day’s worth of cleaning up snowy, muddied boot prints on my living room floor, a grade-cut on a three-page paper I forgot to turn in on March 1st and also lost a hundred bucks when no one paid me back for burgers and tequila. It was also discovered that I clearly didn’t know what an “emergency” was, and the credit card was taken away.
I became disappointed that my Leap Day didn’t live in infamy. I did something fun, but I didn’t feel the magic of cheating the calendar or getting away with any sort of trick. I was glad to know I did something fun on the bonus hours we received in the calendar year, but I couldn’t really shake that calling Leap Day “extra” or “bonus” is almost irrelevant because the sun would still go up and down even if we didn’t have a calendar, or a calendar that had an extra day every four years.
We can’t stop time, but adding this Leap Day almost seems like we’re trying to tell ourselves that we humans have control. Leap Day is a reminder that time can’t get away from us because we’ve figured It out. We know what that fat Father Time is up to and what he is doing to trick us all. Perhaps we just need to accept Leap Day as an actual day, an actual part of our time, and not treat it as a day to do anything special.
The idea of having another Leap Day barbecue came to mind, but it just didn’t seem worth it. All that thinking about time and spinning planets four years before had made me lose my Leap innocence. Besides the fact that the magic of Leap Day was gone along with any hope of getting my parents to pay for anything ever again, now everyone has jobs and veganism and doesn’t live on that quiet street in Boston anymore. It seemed that time really had gotten away. I had let it out of my control, at least.
I decided to do all of the things I hated most in the one day of Leap, because it was about time I used some extra hours to be productive; a real adult and not some drunk, burger-eating idealist.
I went to the dentist with a Groupon I had bought and got a cleaning and a cavity filled. In fact, I used all of my Groupons. I bought $70 worth of bicycle merchandise plus a free coffee and beer at the local bike shop. I went to all three of those art classes I’d bought. And I ate the $20 worth of Magnolia cupcakes I’d bought two years ago after watching three seasons of "Sex and the City" and deciding to move to New York. Most of Leap Day, I had a stomachache.
I did my taxes, bought a new bathmat and threw away the old one, which actually was just a square of matted dirt and crystallized shower gel. I called my mom, wrote a thank you note to Grandma for all of the birthday presents I’d received this millennium, and I laundered all of my linens. Yes, even the pillow shams.
Take that, time! I showed you! You gave me an extra day and I spent it doing all the things I need to get out of the way to enjoy the rest of my days here on this strangely spinning orb of a habitat. I will watch each sunset knowing that I beat you; I beat you before the moon could even change its face. And I even had time to organize my sock drawer, which I actually just do for fun these days.
Maybe this Leap Day I was supposed to look back on what has changed in the last 1461 days. I’m older, out of college, living in a different city, and my relationship with my parents has been great since they don’t have to explain to me what constitutes emergency spending. I build my to-do lists by Groupons rather than papers to write, and sacrificed having a yard to barbecue in for living in a city where I can grow a career. I stopped making the mistakes that I made in my junior year of college, gaining a very strict respect for deadlines and bill paying. If Leap Day has taught me anything it is that 24 hours is not enough time to change a life, but it is enough time to make room for more of one. But, I still love barbecues and margaritas. Some things time cannot change.