My freshman year in high school two of my friends suggested we skip school to go see Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I had no interest in the movie, but for some reason I agreed, and discovered that--besides the unpleasantness of sneaking on and off campus--skipping school was entirely my cup of tea. Having gotten away with it once, I began to skip school often, justified in my own mind by my good grades. Being a rather risk-adverse teenager, my outings were fairly tame: I rode the light rail to the large downtown library to browse, walked quietly by the homeless punks hanging out in Pioneer Square, sat in on my friends' classes at MLC (Portland's alternative public school where the teachers apparently welcome stray children into their classes). I wasn't a good liar, so I made it a habit to tell my mom when I cut class--setting a stellar example for my younger siblings whose subsequent school skipping activities were more likely to include shop lifting, pot smoking, and train hopping.
Playing hooky has become a life-long vice, or love, depending on how you look at it. I delight in stealing time for myself when I'm supposed to be elsewhere, doing something serious and official and un-fun. Time becomes more precious and satisfying, it's like getting the extra daylight savings hours year round. Of course, skipping as an adult lacks the glamour it had in my young adulthood. It's not really fun to stretch an office lunch hour when going back late just means I'll have to stay even later. And now, as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, I can barely find activities from which to play hooky. But I do manage: for example, there is church.
This past Sunday, as Charles was getting ready for liturgy, I lingered in bed. Charles doesn't like arriving late, and so he had dressed Isaiah and headed out the door with time to spare. I heard him loudly bless our apartment and his journey (a five-minute walk) to church as he left, and I wondered if this was in the hope that his wife would soon follow him. For awhile I entertained thoughts of arriving before communion, but even that was making me feel confined, so I gave up pretensions of going altogether. Instead, I did nothing, mostly. I took a long shower. I sat wrapped in my towel in the streaming sunlight and slowly applied lotion. I thought. I thought a lot. I made coffee. I read a little. I did the dishes and slowly tidied up the apartment. I even made the bed. I felt absolutely wonderful.
When Charles returned with Ike, he suggested that instead of missing church I take Saturday mornings for myself. This seemed to be a good idea, and I agreed. But later I thought it's skipping church that makes the time so delicious. And it's not that I don't like church--I do! I love our little parish, my friends there, not to mention our world-class coffee hour. The draw of missing church is that I'm playing hookey. I remember sitting in the sun outside the chapel at St Vlad's, late for liturgy as usual, talking to Jenny. Jenny, of course, had come out of church because of baby Anna--a completely legitimate excuse. I, on the other hand, just liked missing church. Our conversations were all the sweeter because the church, a few feet from us, was packed with praying people.
But maybe I can find other ways to get my hooky fix. Yesterday I hired a sitter to continue some urgent freelance work. As I was trudging through the snow to my little office, I passed a coffee shop. I felt annoyed that whenever I have a sitter all I do is rush rush rush to work, to the store, and rush rush rush home to feed Ike. I swung around and headed back to the coffee shop. I sat in a window seat for an hour, sipping chai, reading The New Yorker, and leisurely watching the snow fall on my neighborhood. Ah, it's so delicious.