As the single mother of an active 7-year-old, my idea of a really good time is changing by the minute. Back in my 20s (a time I refer to as B.S. — Before Sadie), I would spend my week mapping out a detailed web of activities designed to ensure that I spent most of my weekends out of my comfort zone, and in the company of friends.
Two decades later and I find that day after day of driving an increasingly precocious “tween” from piano to playdates prompts me to fantasize about long, lazy weekends by myself. No kid, much as I love her. No Spongebob. No macaroni and cheese.
As single moms go, I’m lucky. My parents are always up for an in impromptu sleepover when I’ve hit my limit on laundry and the question “Why?” I try not to take advantage, but once a month or so, I indulge in the fantasy, pack the progeny off for Pawpaw’s and grab a little “me” time. And, much as I love the Cliff at all times, I adore it even more when I grab a lazy day all for myself.
When I wake up on Saturday, I throw myself into the shower and I stay there until the hot water runs out — a luxury of epic proportions if you have a kid who isn’t ashamed to bogart the supply. Book in hand, I then make for the Nodding Dog at the corner of 7th and Bishop. Brewing my own coffee would take effort, I rationalize, and my pot always gets cold before I finish the last chapter. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sinking into the big green armchair, sipping coffee and smelling the cinnamon rolls as they come out of the oven.
When I leave, many, many cups later, I’m caffeinated and ready for the rest of my day. Now that I have the energy for shopping, I head up the street to my favorite retailer in all of Bishop, Dave’s Place, and a chit-chat with the man himself. It pays to check in at Dave’s regularly because the contents of his shop change so often. Every time I head in, he’s just picked up some funky estate sale finds I may not be able to live without — and when I’m penny pinching, Dave’s happy to fill me in on the neighborhood gossip.
After tucking my treasures into the car, I head home and grab any leftover bread I have on hand and hit the road for Kidd Springs Park. Sure, I feed the ducks with Sadie all the time but it’s a totally different pleasure when you’re alone. For starters, I don’t live in fear that she’s going to fall into the water — and, then, there’s the satisfaction of getting to throw the bread myself. I can easily lose a couple of hours on the bench closest to the water, counting turtles or looking for cloud shapes — two pastimes I can’t recommend enough.
When I finally drag myself away, I’m ready for a late lunch or early dinner. As a girl who spent a decade in Asia, that means it’s time for Thai and the spiciest, least kid-friendly curry I can get my hands on. Which leads me back to Bishop Arts and the folks at Chan Thai, who are always happy to indulge my request to make it hotter. It’s impossible to explain the joys of tom yum or mussaman curry to anyone who doesn’t have to face plate after plate of chicken nuggets, apple sauce or cut-up fruit. You’re just going to have to trust me.
Lips on fire, it’s time for the last stop of the day: happy hour, and it’s decision time: a peach bellini or two across the strip at Vitto’s, or a frozen margarita a couple of blocks down Davis at Gloria’s. In summer, the peach usually wins out but I’ve been known to imbibe a quick cocktail at both places before heading home.
If the sun is down as I leave the district, I’ll cop a squat on one of the benches facing Bishop and indulge in a little people-watching in the glow of the twinkle-light trees that line the street. After a few minutes though, the alcohol kicks in and it’s time to head home for my blissfully empty bed and a few more chapters in my book.
I’m alone. I’m recharged. I’m happy as a clam. And I never once thought about leaving our hood. It simply doesn’t get any better than this.