Baby,  Boston,  Essay

morning off


Frequently on Saturdays I have to take two or three hours to pause and jump free, as a swimmer would into a pool, for a clean kicky dive with the bubbles rushing past. There have been book cuddles and hugs and kisses and infant fingers grasping my hair and trailing across my chest. Every time I do a downward dog, Lux clambers below my arched abdomen and shouts “tent tent!” Every time I stretch out my arms in child’s pose, she climbs onto my back and joyfully shouts, “I’m riding you like a horsey!”

I’m not a runner anymore but I will be someday soon. I spent a number of years pounding the pavement at all hours of the day, running miles upon miles in the hot and cold weather, in the dark on cold mornings or in the late afternoons as the bugs gathered near the trees. I imagine I’ll take it up again. Perhaps in my thirties, as I like to say. I’m not sure how much I’ll manage to do in my thirties but the list is rapidly lengthening. I’m a better long distance runner, meaning I pass more people if you give me more time. I’m good at the long game and good at coming up from behind.

But back to the children. A run would do it, but for me in the city, it’s very nice to drift away for a few hours and flip quickly down the sidewalk with both arms swinging freely at my sides and the sun in my eyes and a place to go in mind. It’s nice to slip narrowly through an opened shop door and weld your way delicately between display tables, no stroller wheels to mind, no chattering to acquiesce your mental space to.

Here’s a dreamy itinerary: take the train to Central Square. Stop by Piccante for a horchata. Walk down Inman Street, get a chill at the overgrown homes and the old fashioned Cambridge living happening before your eyes, and take a left to go to Dwelltime. Order a cappuccino that must take at least ten minutes to make by their standards, and a few of the delectable macaroons. If they are pink, it’s from the rosewater, or the strawberries. Stop in at the fabric store Gather Here, and think about women owning small businesses and how wonderful they make them. Continue on your walk to the Cambridge Public Library. Take a right inside and pick out every magazine you’ve wanted to read for the past month to page through. Find a seat in front of the enormous glass windows that frame the even larger sprawling lawn. Leaf through beauty tips to your heart’s content. Walk to Harvard Square. Stop for a tranquil moment at Oona’s and debate becoming a lady who only wears jackets from the ’20s, with heels. Stop at Follow the Honey and taste, in succession, several of the best honeys you’ve ever had. Get a text that the girls are up, and hop on the T, homeward bound. The funny amazing thing is that it takes me so little time to reset. I think that’s why parents talk about looking at photos of their kids when they are asleep. They already miss them, though it’s been just an hour or two.

This one is for the narrowest time slot: nestle into the open corner table at a coffee shop. I have four shops within walking distance so I can leave the apartment while the girls nap and still come back refreshed in time for the family to do something together. The coffee shops downtown have a speedy jive to them—so many people are passing through in a rush. When I take a table, with a book to read and mug in hand, I feel the envious eyes narrowing. Such simple thing, but you would think I’d set up a hammock with a side of strawberry daiquiri for the looks people rushing through give me. Get with the program and hurry on, they urge. No no, not me, I say. I’m doing something else here.



  • Connie

    Thank you for sharing! I’m new to Boston and thus new to its many charms as well. I’m bookmarking the dreamy sequence you’ve detailed for when spring arrives in Boston! (soon, I hope) Please share more! I love reading about your experiences with this city.

  • sara

    oh that all sounds heavenly. the dreamy itenerary would be dreeeeamy, but even the narrow time slot coffee jaunt sounds great. so nice to live within walking distance to cool spots that you can sneak away to reset and refresh…

  • Susannah @ The EarlyBirdPress

    Loved this. I hear you. Before having children, my idea of “resetting” involved solitude and quiet. Now, when I escape for a couple of hours on the weekend, I inevitably head to a crowded space. I like being in the world without my children for a bit.

  • Melanie Yarbrough

    You just described some of my favorite days of living in this city (though I usually prefer Darwin’s to Dwelltime). But you’re right, even just a few stolen moments at a corner table in any coffeeshop will do.

  • Julie

    I love the idea of a morning off, and you write about it so beautifully. My parents did this in the reverse when I was growing up – my dad always took my sister out of the house on Saturday mornings for donuts and exciting errands like dropping off the dry cleaning while my mom stayed home and took a bath and got to putter around.

  • Blaze

    Such lovely writing as always! Sounds like a wonderful morning & makes me wish I lived in Boston to have such fun places to explore. We do Farmers market every Saturday but I need to adopt this tradition sometime during the weekend!

  • noelle

    I’ve been spending mine with those 10-minute cappuccinos (sometimes cortados) and friends who don’t have babies who just want to talk about food, but after reading this you have me convinced I need to try a morning alone. The coffee is a must though.

  • Shelby/Lady Gouda

    I really, really liked this post, Rachael. And I love the idea of writing down a dreamy Boston/Cambridge sequence…. inspired to write my own – and then go DO IT.

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