Monday, June 13, 2011

24 hours in Portland with Holly

My eight-year-old and I did a quick 24-hour visit to Portland this past weekend. The weather was cold and drizzly, which was what prevented Tim from wanting to go with us, but Holly and I had a wonderful time together despite the weather.

My college roommate, along with the third of her four daughters – her 13-year-old – drove from their home 45 minutes south of Portland to join us for dinner. Although we usually see each other every summer, we’d missed last year’s usual get-together, so we had tons to catch up on. Her eldest daughter just completed her first year of college; her second daughter is wrapping up her first year of high school. She told me about attending her 25th high school reunion in Sanford, Maine. (“No, no one is impressed at all that I earned a Ph.D. No one there knows what a Ph.D. is.”) Even without milestones, we can chat for hours without drawing a breath; it was rewarding as always to just talk and talk.

As a big treat, Holly got to stay up late watching “High School Musical 3.” I caught up on email while she watched the movie; we both went to bed after 10. She slept Sunday morning until 9:30, which gave me more than two hours to sip freshly brewed coffee and read both the Boston Globe and the New York Times on my Kindle. It was one of the most lazy and enjoyable mornings I’ve had in months.

After breakfast, we painted our toenails. Yes, it’s a cliché thing to do on a mother-daughter weekend, but I had just bought a new pair of sandals that really require painted nails, and Holly assured me that she was the only third grader currently going au naturel in the nail department, so we both indulged in some Glittery Mauve.

And then we headed to the Old Port Festival. Several blocks of downtown Portland were blocked off from traffic for this annual event, and despite the drizzly chill, thousands of people showed up. We heard some good live music among the three stages set up around the neighborhood, and we saw people eating an amazing variety of deep fried foods off of paper plates (Holly being no exception, of course: fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar for her, which actually seemed fairly conservative compared to the ubiquitous deep fried pickles being sold throughout the festival).

Eventually we needed to head home; Holly had plans to go swimming with a friend in the late afternoon, a thought I must admit I found reassuring as she slept ‘til 9:30 and I wondered how she was possibly going to fall asleep that night. Swimming is always good for tiring kids out. With just the two of us staying in the condo for only one night, it didn’t take long at all to clean up, and by 1:30 we were in the car heading south on the Turnpike.

Not everything worked out exactly as hoped this weekend. The weather was disappointingly chilly, and the forecast of rain kept us from bringing our bikes, which meant we couldn’t go for a ride together and also I couldn’t go running, since the plan was for Holly to ride alongside while I ran. But there was time for running when we got back to Carlisle, and all in all it was such an enjoyable weekend. Maybe Holly and I will look back and remember it as a really special time together; or maybe in the larger context it won’t seem unique, since we do spend time in Portland alone together once or twice a year when no one else is available to go with us.

But in a way, that was what was so special about it: the fact that nothing we did – the pedicures, the music festival, even the visit with my former roommate – was so unusual as to be inherently memorable. Unique or not, I’m just glad we went and had so much fun together. How it fits into the context of our memories with the passage of time is something we just don’t know, but the fact that we had a great time with each other this weekend is a certainty.

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