Have you ever played hooky? I didn’t as a kid. Too studious and too afraid of the considerable consequences if my parents ever found out! But now that I’m older, I find I revel in the occasional hooky-playing.
Especially if I can do it with a friend. My friend Cass and I planned a day of hooky for this past Friday. The weather was spectacular. Couldn’t ask for better. We’d decided to go to Newburyport, a lovely, quaint seaside town north of Boston. So off we motored in Cass’s convertible, top down, spirits up, ready for anything.
The main goal of the day was to look at shoes. Cass was interested in a particular pair she’d found online. Wanted to try them on for size. So — first stop, Pennyworth’s.
What a great store! Tons of shoes, good brands, laid-back atmosphere. I of course ended up being the one who bought shoes! (I did NOT intend to buy anything at Pennyworth’s. Heck, I never intended to buy anything at all.) But it was a great bargain, a lovely pair of sandals, and just what I needed — er, wanted.
On to Newburyport proper. Sweet town. We walked along the water for a bit, imagining ourselves on the various sailboats that floated like confetti in the harbor. Sat for a while watching the passers-by. Dog walkers, young lovers, seniors out for their daily exercise — a wonderful diversity of people.
Next stop, lunch. We found a restaurant overlooking the harbor and got a table with a wonderful view. Food was okay, nothing really out of the ordinary — except for the tomato/eggplant soup, which was spectacular. Big chunks of tomato and eggplant in a delicious tomato sauce, more a stew than a soup.
All this while Cass and I talked amicably as old friends do. More comfortable and caring than profound. An everyday conversation that was precious in its very ordinariness. No need to stand on too-tight high heels of formality with a good friend; sneakers will do and barefoot is even better!
After lunch it was time to do a little window-shopping. Actually, Cass was looking for a couple specific items for a trip she’ll be taking. I, again, was not looking for — or needing — anything.
We started at Oldies Marketplace, which is a big old barn filled with old stuff. All kinds of old stuff: children’s toys, furniture, musical instruments, irons; it was all there. It’s the kind of place that starts up a storm of sneezing from about 100 yards away, its mustiness signaling its presence.
After that we started walking about the center of town. Such delightful shops! One of which was a home-made ice-cream shop. Oh dear. They had a mocha chip and a crème brulée ice cream that simply begged to be tried. What’s a woman to do? I could hardly deny the ice cream!
We found a lovely little park with benches in the shade (for me) and sun (for Cass) where we were able to eat our ice cream comfortably. All this time, the weather is perfect for being out and about and playing hooky.
Our day is beginning to wind down at this point, but there are a few more stores to check out. We were going to look in one more store for the few items Cass wanted to find when I espied the bright, shiny reflection of stained glass, which I adore.
Naturally, we had to check out that shop. Equally naturally, I found something I simply had to have. It’s a beautiful stained glass piece with colors exactly suited to my new office. It will look stunning in my window with the morning sun streaming through the colorful pattern.
Fortunately for me, it was time to leave this paradise for the reality of our regular lives. Otherwise I’m sure I would have found countless other irresistible treasures.
The ride home was uneventful. I’m sure we looked dashing, we two, tooling along with the hood down, hair askew, just loving life. Indeed, the whole day may have been uneventful. But the day was one of great import in a friendship of tremendous value.
We’ve all had these experiences of simple-but-profound interaction with those we love. It’s really what gives life meaning and joy and hope and that inexpressibly poignant feeling of being touched ever so tenderly and oh so deeply. I had a wonderful day.
When I wear my new shoes and especially when I look at my new stained glass, I’ll remember the day and my friend