Day 24,847: The Right and Left of It All

In my day job, among other things, I write a weekly e-newsletter. It could be considered a blog of sorts as it’s digital, relatively short, is delivered via e-mail, and is saved on a web site. This week, as the newsletter went out I wished everyone a good, long holiday weekend. I use the word holiday frequently particularly during the end-of-year holiday season as one never knows which holiday people are celebrating that time of year.

This time of year, as we end summer, everyone in the U.S. is celebrating the same holiday. It might be that reason that after sending the newsletter to its second list of recipients I got bold and wished everyone a great Memorial Day weekend. Within seconds, one of the regular readers wrote, “You mean Labor Day, right?”

Of course it was Labor Day, and I semi-chuckled, semi-chastised myself not for getting the day wrong, but for having the nerve to label a holiday incorrectly that I have gotten wrong my entire life!

It Starts On The Left

Let me explain. I am not negligent about the importance of Memorial Day honoring those who have served and paid the ultimate price. I am not unknowing about the significance of Labor Day and honoring those who work harder than many and have struggled to establish important worker’s rights. No, I just have a jumbled brain with a few things.

I’m not dyslexic. I’m ambidextrous challenged. I was born to be left-oriented. I could say left-handed, but I was actually ambidextrous. Had I actually been left-handed, the teachers may have left me be, but since I was equally able to write with either hand, they felt compelled to encourage me to be right-handed. Instead of allowing me to switch hands whenever one got tired, they firmly channeled me to only use my right.

The initial result was a cramped right hand from a pencil held way too tightly and blisters on my right hand fingers. The long term result was that it has caused multiple mix-ups in my head ever since. I can’t always and never can easily tell my left from my right.

When traveling with my family they have learned to follow where I point and not where I say. If I am pointing right and screaming “Left, Left, Left!” to the driver, a wise driver takes a right. I believe this may have lead to my family not listening to other things I am apt to say, but that is a story for another time.

Back to the Holidays

Of course, none of this explains why I mix up Memorial Day with Labor Day and have had to create a meme that Memorial Day and May start with “M” to keep them straight. But, this morning it hit me that I do think they are related.

To Americans, May is effectively the beginning of summer and Labor Day is the end. Children will argue summer doesn’t start until school is out, and the tourism industry will say it doesn’t start until July 4, but the calendar says it starts on Memorial Day weekend.

To me, Memorial Day is the left of summer and Labor Day is right of it, at least as it sits on a calendar, and therein, I believe, is the heart of my unending mixup.

Rights of Passage

Yes, I know it’s supposed to be Rites, but this is about Rights and Lefts that get me to get right things wrong. I have a great sense of direction in that I am great at getting places and remembering how to get anywhere once I’ve gone there. I am also awful at giving directions because although I know I have to go in a certain direction, I can’t easily tell you if its left or right.

Growing up in New Jersey, it meant I was also not good at East or West because we just didn’t get around that way. Now, when in Philadelphia, I can better tell people to go east as its towards the Delaware River, or west as its away from the River.

In Cape May, where I frequently work, the sun sets directly on the ocean as you face South to the end of the State on the beach. Although an amazing site that everyone should see, it made me crazy because everyone knows the sun sets in the West. Anyone familiar with Jersey also knows Cape May is the southern-most point of the state. Except it kinda isn’t. I finally realized from looking at a map that the Cape May Peninsula curves in an angle to the west, hence the fabulous sunset.

As many will attest with glee, my home state of origin does not follow a straight path. It tilts to the …. wait for it … left — particularly in the southernmost region that … wait for it .. tilts toward the right politically.

So I truly come by all my mix-ups legitimately. One might have hoped I would have grown out of it at least by high school or college, but those days are long past. I’m not going to improve. I just have to usually wait… and think… and then it comes to me which side is which, or which holiday is on which side of summer.