When my alarm went off on Friday it felt like any other weekday. I hit snooze once—okay twice—and then I got up and went through my morning routine.
But it wasn’t a normal weekday. It wasn’t even a work day. Because I was playing hooky!
A couple weeks ago, I got an email from one of my favorite places to volunteer, Food Forward, offering the opportunity to pick blueberries.
“Bummer,” I said, reading through the details. “It’s on a Friday morning.”
As a long time Monday-Friday officer worker, 8:00am – 4:00pm are always work hours. They are accounted for. They are booked. So I almost deleted the email right then and there.
But then…I let it churn a bit.
I am not one for taking spontaneous days off. I like to plan vacations and there’s the occasional weekend trip I’ll extend one way or the other, but other than that, I go to work. I’m clocking in and clocking out and wondering a) why it isn’t Friday yet, or b) how can it already be Friday?
And I’ll admit, sometimes work weeks can get monotonous. They can blend together, making time slip by at the speed of light. Which is why, when I really let myself think about it, I decided, why not?
Why not take a spontaneous Friday off?
So, on Friday morning I got in the car, and rather than head into work I drove out to a farm in Camarillo, feeling smug as I cruised past all the rush hour traffic going the opposite direction.
When I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I met my group of fellow volunteers, who all seemed as happy to be there as I was. It was 73 degrees, it was Friday, none of us were at work. Life was good.
We walked by an orchard of avocado trees to a large tent that had almost twenty rows of blueberry bushes and a few rows of strawberry bushes right alongside them. We were each given a small bucket and told to choose an aisle.
For the next couple hours, I filled my bucket and then emptied it, dying my hands blue in the process. I’ll admit, there may have been a good handful or so of blueberries that missed my bucket and ended up in my mouth—with the permission of the farmers, of course.
At 11:00 a.m., we wrapped up our pick and calculated that we harvested around 90 pounds of blueberries. Which, when you consider that the average blueberry weighs about 1/128th of an ounce, this would suggest that we picked about 184,320 blueberries. Which would fill about 240 six-ounce containers of blueberries.
*pauses for applause*
(for the blueberry picking, yes, but also for the math I just did)
Our blueberries were donated to a food shelter, and we all left with smiles on our faces, grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand, and to spend the morning on a farm.
When I’d first made plans for my day off, I knew I’d be picking blueberries in the morning and wedding dress shopping with my sister in the afternoon. That left me a handful of hours in between to do with what I wished. So, as I got ready in the morning, I packed a bag with a few pairs of shoes, a change of clothes, and a beach towel.
After I left the farm, I headed north to a sandwich shop called Peebee & Jays. I ordered the Chicken & Greens sandwich on sourdough and filled my Hydroflask, then drove to the beach. I changed out of my blueberry stained t-shirt and into a comfortable crewneck and flip flops, then I carried my beach towel and sandwich bag out to the sand and took a seat.
The beach was nearly empty, with only a few people in sight in either direction. All I could hear was the water. I sat crisscross applesauce and watched the waves as I ate my sandwich, occasionally pausing to close my eyes and feel the breeze hit my face, my hair, my toes. The ocean was loud but my mind was quiet.
I felt like I had time to think, to plan, to exist, to relax. A lot has happened this year, and there is a lot more year left to live. There will be a lot of work days ahead. A lot of busy weeks and full calendars. There will be a lot of change—some good, some hard, some both—and a lot of new. But today there was just this. There was just the sound of the ocean, the sand between my toes, and this peaceful feeling that I’d grabbed onto with both hands.
I could have been at work, I could have let that email pass me by, I could have let this Friday blend in with the Wednesday and Thursday before it. But I decided to make it different. I decided to make it special. I decided to play hooky. And I was grateful I did.
If you’re looking for a sign to play hooky, this is it!