Friday, October 26, 2012

Playin' Hooky

I never used to need much of an excuse to play hooky.

But with age and responsibility, I’ve gotten rusty at it.

I had ample opportunities in High School. One advantage of sticking it out in the Deep South public school system during the late ‘60’s/early ‘70’s was the constancy of uncertainty. By that, I mean you never knew when a spontaneous Race Riot might combust and create chaos. On more than one occasion, there was enough chaos to warrant calling home and exaggerating fear for one’s safety. “We’re all going over to Maggie’s house to wait out the storm,” we might tell a worried mother, as she listened to updates on the radio.

But we didn’t go to Maggie’s. We high-tailed it to a place called “High Shoals” and celebrated our escape with a (thankfully archaic) beverage known as “Hoppin’ Gator.”

In college, I didn’t even need that much of an excuse. Late night? Oh well, sleep in and get the notes from someone more studious later.

Then came marriage and children. It’s hard for parents of young children to play hooky. After a while, it’s just not worth the trouble. With teenagers, it’s well nigh impossible unless you want them to make the same mistakes you did.

So the art is gradually lost.

At the current stage, with multi-generational care-taking, it doesn’t even seem like a possibility.

But is that really true?

Or have I just lost my spunk and spontaneity? Have I unconsciously fallen into the fallacy that fun is somehow selfish? That I’m not allowed to take time off from the daily duties and to-do lists?


My husband has owed me a bike ride for quite a while. (The story is way too long to go into.) 

Finally, after years of pleading, he agreed to get my aging bike repaired and accompany me on a ride down the greenway beside the river that flows through our town.

First, we had to follow his normal Saturday schedule, and visit the local organic farmer’s market. We ambled around sampling the products. Engaged in good conversation with interesting people. Inhaled tempting aromas in the crisp morning air. Listened to the live indie-folk music.

It made me step outside of my box. Forget about my worries. Live in the moment.

After loading up on fresh greens, gorgeous, fat pumpkins, and aromatic, organic (locally produced!) skin products, we drove to the starting point on the Greenway. Husband forced me to wear a helmet. And then we just started riding, no end-point in mind.

He asked if I wanted to turn back a few times. (I admit the hills were hell.)

But we finally got to the end of the beautiful path.

We started to turn around and go back, but something made my usually time-conscious, goal-oriented spouse ask if I didn’t want to explore a little more. The end of the trail was at the entrance to a local nature park. We kept riding, having flash-backs of the last times we’d been there: birthday parties of our little girls in the ‘80’s.

Then we ran into people we knew. There was a grand opening of the new nature center. We were coaxed into a tour. (I kept wondering when he was going to say, “Okay, I need to get to the office now,” but it never happened. We stayed for the party.

The ride back to the car was exhausting for me. But at the end, I felt as great as if I’d run a marathon.

Surely, now was the time I’d be dropped off at home so that said spouse could do something constructive with what was left of the day.

But, no:

he asked what I wanted to do next.

Walk around our fun and funky downtown? Look into some new shops? Eat a late lunch atop the theatre where I attended Saturday matinees as a young child?

Yes, yes, and YES!

Listening to good music, sipping a cold beer as we waited for our order, looking out over the city from a bird’s eye view, I felt as if he’d taken me on an overnight trip to Europe.

Later, we went to spring my mother out from the Retirement Home, and grilled steaks overlooking the lake in our backyard.

We wanted to share something of our escape experience with Mother, so we all went to the State Botanical Gardens and absorbed some more beauty after church the next day.

It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. The most freedom I've felt.

Sunday afternoon, I surveyed the piles of junk lining the walls of the upstairs hallway. I groaned at the mountain of discarded clothes in the closet. I thought of all the things on the List I have to get done before retuning to L.A.

But I didn’t regret playing hooky all weekend for one single second.

Duty is always calling. Sometimes you need to turn a deaf ear, and run away.

Spur-of-the-moment. Do something unexpected.

Go on. I give you permission.

...for in losing ourselves in the spontaneous joyful moments, we savor a taste of heaven.


“…It is only in our “hours off,” only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for “down here” is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

(C.S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm)


Does anyone have any creative ideas about how to play hooky? Want to share a story?


Trish said...

You have inspired me! I am working on my second master's and have been so busy at work that I have not taken any time for me and my husband. Well, guess what?! this week-end no books no work just going and doing . . .whatever! Thank you for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures, especially that orchid. Love how you said you sprang your mom from the home; like a prison break. You have given a lot to others, so good for you for playing hooky.
Browsing for books or furniture relaxes me. Take good care!


Laurel said...

Know what I did? I rented an "excavator." It's like a mini bulldozer. Know why? Because I decided I wanted peonies. We had them two houses ago and I am ruined forever for a yard without them.


You're supposed to dig a hole 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide to amend the soil and make sure it is well drained before you plant the tuber...1-4 inches below the ground!

Also, I ordered 8. I committed. (Or should have been committed.) I rented that thing to dig through the red brick that the drought has made of our Georgia Clay. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! I was like Bob the Builder!

Then, yesterday, I moved something like 800 pounds of dirt. By hand. By myself. If those peonies don't bloom, and it might be three years before they do!- I will be grrrrrrrrrrrr

Allison said...

I just gave myself permission to do this, this past Saturday. It happened to be our 11th anniversary and although we'd planned to go out to a fancy, too expensive restaurant, all I really wanted to do was stay home, watch the Dawgs beat the Gators and eat yummy soup. No laundry, no cleaning. Just hanging out with my husband and our son. We planned no plans and it felt wonderful! Just what I wanted for our anniversary...Allison

Kim said...

I love it all!

Let's start a playin' hooky club!

Now I'm looking for creative ways to do it in L.A.

I'll let you know...

Love, Kim