... retiring teachers renew time together
On June 9, 2008, when the movie “Sex and the City” was running up big box office numbers, the Boston Globe published a commentary by Anita Diamant. Entitled “Friends and the city”, the article examined the importance of friendship among women. Diamant wrote, “I speak of women’s friendship, a thing nearly invisible in popular culture where women seem to operate in a near-friendless vacuum.”
Those words resonated with me because I had recently enjoyed an overnight trip to the southern coast of Maine with three women friends. We met many years ago teaching in the Lexington Public Schools. Since then, we have supported each other during losses; we have rejoiced with each other at happy events.
Our jaunt in mid-May was a celebration of two milestone birthdays. I will be 80 this summer and another turned 70 in June. The itinerary, planned by Tina, was professional. I laughingly and lovingly dubbed her the “Tour Guide,” for indeed she acted the part in a most positive way. We each had a copy of the planned route with phone numbers. Tina thoughtfully prepared an itinerary for my husband Russell also, in case he needed to reach me.
On a sunny May morning we gathered in Woburn and took off in high spirits, with Tina driving. En route, as old friends are wont to do, we reminisced about some of the unforgettable incidents and characters we remembered from our teaching years.
Our first “tourist stop” was the Harry & David outlet in Kittery. I bought a package of gingerbread pancake mix, then sat on a bench and observed the passing scene while the others visited two more shops in the little mall.
When we reached York we drove around admiring the carefully tended homes. One was especially lovely. It sported a large green front lawn bordered by a white picket fence. In front of the fence was a row of pink tulips.
Our first meal destination was Billy’s Chowdah House in York. We enjoyed the view of the Rachel Carson Preserve along the Webhannett River. The seafood meal that included luscious mussels was also memorable.
After that satisfying lunch we explored some of Ogunquit’s offerings.
Alas, dinner at a local inn was a bit of a disappointment. The dining room hostess, however, provided a nice touch. I now use a walker I named Ambrose after my first boyfriend. Once we were settled at our corner table with a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean, I asked the charming hostess if she could stash Ambrose somewhere while we ate. She smilingly obliged. When it was time to leave the hostess retrieved Ambrose, leaned down and said to me sotto voce, “I want you to know that Ambrose and I had a wonderful date while you were dining.” I applaud her sense of humor.
A fascinating aspect of the excursion was that little sub-groups kept forming and re-forming. Two of us preferred a cool car. Two preferred going to bed early; the other two were night owls. Pat and I, the early birds, were awake long before Tina and Renée. We had breakfast in the Juniper Hill Inn’s reception area, then changed into bathing suits and walked the short distance to the indoor pool and Jacuzzi. In the pool, Pat showed off her Aquacizes, just as I had demonstrated my “balance” exercises in our room. Eventually the other two joined us for a delightfully refreshing swim.
Following the 11 a.m. checkout we drove a bit further north to Wells. We relished an extremely satisfying lunch at the famous Maine Diner and did some shopping at the Diner’s gift store. En route to the highway, another sub-group manifested itself. Two of us are unwilling to settle for “ordinary” stamps; we prefer collectors’ stamps. Accordingly, we made a stop at a small town post office to buy unusual stamps.
We returned home with our minds’ eyes full of lovely, sometimes craggy scenery and snippets of remembered conversations. The whole experience was a wonderfully warm example of women’s friendships. We had such a great time that we plan to do it again next year, even without any special birthdays.
August 1, 2008