"Okay," she wrote back, "so you have to work friday, so blow thursday off and come to the beach."
Oh, sure. That's just DANDY. Blow a full day of school for Erin off, like it's no big deal. Mind you, this is my friend, my dear old friend, the ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER with the Master's Degree in Education.
I laughed a bit at the irony and put it out of my mind, briefly. Then I began to think that maybe I really should have Erin take the day off. Oh, but then there's the potluck that her after-school program was hosting that day and I already signed us up to bring the lemonade. I mean, the weights tying me down at home were really formidable.
I thought it over and happened to read some banter from other friends on Facebook featuring quotes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This one was particularly poignant: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it." If that isn't a sign, I don't know what is.
So with an endorsement from an official representative of the California Teachers' Association and Ferris Bueller philosophy on my side, I posed the playing hookey idea to John. "Well, that doesn't sound too bad," he offered, "though you realize she's NEVER going to get into Harvard now."
We arrived at Susan's mom's house by mid-morning on thursday and her daughters had the day planned out for us. Leigh Ann and Lauren love planning things for when we get together, and my girls just idolize Susan's girls since they are several years older.
First, we headed near a beach and rented a crazy monster bicycle contraption which seated all 7 of us. We set off and peddled up and down the long, coastal recreation trail and stopped at various points to look at wildlife out in the water, on the rocks, and on the beaches.
Erin was seated in the middle of the front seat and was chief bicycle bell ringer, which she can do exceptionally well. Over and over and over again. People along the trail pointed and laughed at our twin hood ornaments in the front basket and at the rest of us tourist dorks in the back, laboring to get this seemingly 1000-lb squeaky thing up the slightest of inclines. This is the kind of thing one should do when they lose a bet, but we actually paid money to look this silly. Locals rolled their eyes at us, visitors took pictures. The only tourist on that trail who was dorkier than we were was the old guy who got out his video camera and filmed us as we biked along. But I have to admit, it was really fun.
After biking we headed for the beach at a little protected cove that Susan likes. The water there was absolutely still and there were very few people around.
Lauren and Kate and Allison spent a lot of the time wading in the water. Erin splashed around a little but she and Leigh Ann seemed more interested in building with sand and digging up and collecting snails and rocks.
The girls were fascinated by some snorkelers and their gear.
And Leigh Ann offered to be buried.
We had lunch and snacks on the beach and stayed there for a few hours. Then we went back to the house to bathe the kids and then head out to dinner and then to the ice cream parlor afterwards.
Having spent a truly wonderful day, we went back to the house to gather a few last things and get on the road when I received a call from a coworker. Our former department chief, who retired 4 years ago, died suddenly in the early morning hours of the night before. He suffered a brain aneurysm about a week prior and we all knew he was in critical condition. Since I wasn't at work that day, she wanted to let me know about the funeral plans for the following day. He was only 61.
I spent several hours today with dozens of coworkers and hundreds of others at his very nice memorial service. We were all in shock, so sad for his family and for his very active life being cut so short.
I guess there's a few decisions I'd make differently if I had the chance to do them over again, but shirking responsibilities to spend a day at the beach with my children and with friends isn't one of them.