Some people like taking a break and "getting away" when the stress hits and life feels like too much to handle. I, on the other hand, can't really complain about my life, so I randomly decide to "get away" whenever I want to, without regard for whether the days are good or bad. It's fun, spontaneous, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Yesterday, for example, I decided I needed a slight change from my regular commute. I exited the freeway soon after the Benicia Bridge, stopped at the overlook to take a photograph of the "Mothball Fleet" out in the harbor, and then continued on my favorite winding road alongside the freeway. I rolled down the windows, pushed the button to slide open the sunroof, and turned up the volume on my Switchfoot CD, easily matching the speed of the cars on the freeway to my right.
It's a beautiful drive, that one. I stopped a couple more times to take photos. Our father taught us well, raising us to love cameras and photography. My sister and I rarely go anywhere without a camera, while our brother is a drama student/film major who knows everything there is to know about movies and art.
I had to smile involuntarily at one juxtaposition: bicyclists furiously peddling down a rise, followed rather too closely by motorcyclists hunched over their handlebars. There were mountains directly to my left, and marshland across the freeway to my right
A quick stop for gas, and I was on the road again.
Forty-five minutes later, I stopped by at the public park. Discman and Gavin DeGraw CD in hand, I walked over to the playground and clambered onto a swing. The little girl on the swing next to me looked about five years old, and smiled freely when I grinned over at her. Awesome, I thought, There's one less person I need to teach the cheesy grin to.
I had been planning on swinging as high as I could go, and then amusing myself by kicking off my shoes and seeing how far away they would land. But I forgot that part, unfortunately. I was so busy concentrating on my CD and how much I was enjoying myself, that it took a couple of minutes for me to realize that the little girl next to me had initiated a subtle swing war. As I glanced over, she grinned mischievously and began pumping her legs to swing even higher. I couldn't help but laugh.
I stayed at the swings for an hour, watching elementary school students playing soccer, a young mother doing yoga, scores of children running through the playground, a toddler rolling down a hill, adults rollerblading along the concrete walkways, and teenagers perfecting their moves at the skate park.
As she gathered together her children, the young mother turned back momentarily to wave at me and called out something. I didn't hear what she said, since my headphones covered my ears, but I saw her mouth distinctly formulate the words, "Have fun!" I waved back, watching her walk away, and wondered how old she thought I was, with my headwrap and flares, dangly earrings and flip-flops, swinging away as if I were eight.
My friend, D, today referred the swing sessions as her "therapy time." I'd like to think I'm a lot more well-adjusted than D is, but I need what I call my "quiet time," too. So here's to random scenic drives and swing contests with little kids. Try them sometime.