Friday, November 16, 2012

When Was The Last Time You Played?

By Robin Kaye

No, I’m not talking cards or tennis or even chess--I’m talking played like a kid on the first day of summer vacation. I’m talking running with your arms out and soaring like a plane. When was the last time you rolled down a grassy hill? Skipped? Made annoying popping sounds with your mouth over and over and over again just to drive someone mad? And for those of us who remember, when was the last time you wrapped your arm around your best friend and did the Lavern and Shirley walk?

For me, it was yesterday. Aren’t you jealous?

Come on, admit it. You’re picturing a fluffy forty-eight year-old woman making an ass out of herself. Part of you is laughing, but deep down inside, you remember what it was like to soar with nothing more than your imagination to hold you up. You remember how much fun it was to roll down a hill. You remember the smell of the grass; picking leaves out of your hair; and how annoyed you’d get when you rolled slightly off-kilter. You remember what it was like to try to sync your steps with your best friend and fall over each other’s feet a time or two before you got it right. You remember how it feels to laugh so hard you literally fall over or pee your pants. You’re jealous—at least envious. I know I would be!
A few weeks ago my good friend, Margie Lawson, the best writing instructor I know, emailed my critique partners and me. The four of us have become friends over the last few years. Margie said she was teaching in Washington D.C. and asked if the three of us—Laura, DeBORah (accent on the middle syllable), and I wanted to take an Immersion Master Class. We jumped at it and then asked if Margie wanted to stay an extra day and go to Longwood Gardens with us—Longwood Gardens, is beautiful—a national treasure—and something everyone should see. I’m talking Logwood Gardens is awe-inspiring.

Margie’s response was “Yay! A play day!” If it had been anyone but Margie, I’d think she was just being cute. But I know her. I pictured Margie literally jumping up and down, yelling Yay! A play day! Right there by her computer. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened. Margie is one of those rare, terminally happy people. I guess if you’re terminal—terminally happy is the best thing to be.

Now come on, I’m not saying she’s happy every second of every day—after all, she’s been stuck on an airplane for hours with a kid kicking the back of her seat, she’s not a fictional character, and I’m sure if I pinched her, she’s yelp. She wasn’t happy when a stinkbug landed on the arm of her chair and her face morphed from smiley to horrified. She slowly rose from the chair and took three giant steps back. But, just about every other moment of the last three days? Oh yeah, she’s been pretty much disgustingly happy—so happy that I want know what drugs she’s on and where I can get my hands on some of that.

Sunday we dove into our writing—ripping apart scenes, cringing, explaining away our literary faux pas, and rewriting to  add power and strip our work of clichés, overused words, and general suckiness—a true literary term, ask any writer. We worked and at one time or another, each of us felt like crying, but we powered through. Writing isn’t for sissies.

Yesterday was a beautiful day—and we knew today would not be, so we packed up the car with our manuscripts, because it was an hour and a half trip. With Margie around, every moment is a teaching moment even when she’s not on the clock. We headed off to Longwood Gardens—a beautiful place to enjoy nature and great food.

When we arrived, we checked out the gift shop and then walked right to the restaurant. We were hungry and spent an inordinate amount of time eating incredible food and laughing. I was surprised no one had liquids shooting out their noses this time. We had my favorite server, Natalie, and I’m sure we were the talk of the kitchen—and not just because Margie is Vegan. We were the talk of the kitchen because we were having ten times as much fun as any other table and Natalie was having fun with us.

After lunch we walked the paths through the manicured part of the garden and Margie suggested we skip. Yeah, that’s right, skip, skip, skip to my Lou type skipping—arm in arm. Laura, DeBORah, and I looked at each other wearing matching she’s-not-seriously-gonna-make-us-do-this horrified expressions. Yeah, well, that doesn’t work with Margie—shortly thereafter we were skipping down the primrose path—quite literally.

We stopped to catch our breath and laughed so hard, the other people who were sitting in the bench beside ours got up to leave. Before we let them run away, we asked if they’d take our picture.

We ran up to the tree houses, watched the geese take off from the pond in military formation, imagined the dry Italian water garden filled with water, the fountains shooting geysers into the air. We walked together through a great lawn, kicking leaves and watching the sun slowly set.

We rushed to the Conservatory because the place closes pretty early, and we played in the children’s garden. No one seemed to mind that we were the last ones out and neither did we. We had the best play day ever! I highly recommend it.

So where would you like to go for your play day and who would you take with you?


  1. Robin, I've been to Longwood Gardens. It's absolutely beautiful. I'm glad you girls had a great time.

  2. I could feel the fun coming from your blog! My sister and I have a play day pretty often. One of my favorites was several years ago when she got a brand new red sports car and we took it to show our mom in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Since we were not of the rich and famous in high school and she never got to be homecoming queen candidate, we decided that it was her time. She sat on the hood and I drove her down Main Street at five miles an hour while she waved at everyone. We didn't have a police escort but at least we didn't get arrested! LOVE play days with her...hmmm, got to go call her right now and put one on the calendar!

  3. Carolyn, that's cute! :)

    I was waiting for my son to tell me that they are having snow in NE...not yet, he said. I want to make snow angels! And have a snowball fight!!! I want my DIL on my side and we can gang up on the AF!

  4. Victoria - I just love Longwood. I've been going there since I was 15 when I moved to the area, and my family and I have an annual membership. We run away from home and go every couple of months. It's a great place to completely unplug.

    @ Carolyn~ That's so great! I really wish my sister and I were closer. But then Laura and DeBORah are sisters and they adopted me--Now if only one of them would get a convertible!

    Terry~ A snowball fight. I haven't had one of those in years. I'm looking forward to the first snowfall now!

  5. Sounds fabulous! I get to play a lot, since I have a little one.

  6. I loved it all. What a lovely, lovely day and great friends to pay with!

  7. I just had a three day trip away with my gal pals shopping and having fun at the Casino in Niagrara Fall NY. We love our "play dates" going across to the US to shop and play.. I feel great after having a lot of laughs and good times with my gal pals..

  8. @ Shana - It was fab! I miss having little ones--it gives you an excuse to climb on the monkey bars and swing.

    @ Ameilia - I'm so lucky to have critique partners who are closer to me than my own sister--and since they're sisters, they've decided to adopt me. With Margie in the mix, we were unstoppable. So much fun!

    @ Kathleen - That's awesome! I can't imagine how much trouble the three of us could get into in a casino!

  9. Unfortunately, it is rare that my best friend and I can get time off at the same time but we always giggle the same way we did in high school and we are prone to act silly. We went through the kid's section of the Huntington Gardens last time we were there...and had a blast! Laughter is indeed the best medicine (0:

  10. Elf2060 - I completely agree. Laughter is definitely necessary. I hope you and your BFF get together to play real soon!