The Careening Weekend Adventures of a Depressive Nature-Loving Extrovert on an Upswing

Last weekend, I had three days off. I got zero things done on my to-do list.

And it was one of the most productive weekends I’ve had in months.

Here’s a breezy rundown of a freewheeling weekend itinerary that I largely improvised as I went along. Hope you enjoy the ride! I know I certainly did.

Tobias [does not put me in a] Funke

We started the weekend by getting caught up with some lions, giraffes, sloths, ostriches, gibbons, tigers, alligators, and capybaras we like to visit a few times each year. Plus two brand-new hyenas that weren’t laughing, but definitely seemed like they were smiling. I’ve got to say, being near Greyson and Violet has that effect on me too.

Our favorite wildlife park, Lake Tobias, gives our kids as much pure joy as Hersheypark. The weather was sensational, the family vibes were serene, and most of the animals seemed like they were in a pretty good mood despite their captivity. But, um, I could be projecting on that last point. It was a sun-kissed, blissed-out Friday and gave the long weekend some immediate momentum.

(Side note: That heading was an Arrested Development reference. If you figured that out already, then good Gob.)

Next-Door, Next-Level Neighbors

As usual, the kids bounced with their next-door neighbor buddies on a trampoline a few times during the weekend. It’s our neighbors’ trampoline, not ours, but we should probably pay them a monthly subscription fee. I’m not going to bring it up, though. I want to keep riding this gravy train.

I took delight in taking the kids to watch our 9-year-old neighbor play in her soccer championship. We’ve loved her and her brother since they moved in next door, right after we bought our house in 2015. And it was a delight to see our friend in action —helping her team win 2-0! — and to show our own little 4-year-old soccer girl what soccer will look like for her in half a decade. (Players spaced out around the field! Everyone knowing where the edge of that field is! A goalie tending the net!)

You know what’s also a delight? Having next-door neighbors we love and trust. People with similar values and parental approaches, who will look out for our kids (while we look out for theirs). It takes a village, and we enjoy the company and the camaraderie of our fellow villagers.

Parks, and Also Recreation

Over the course of the weekend, and in my ongoing quest to show my kids every park in southeastern Pennsylvania, I took them to parks #70 and #71 on a list I’ve been compiling on my iPhone since early 2021. We also revisited park #9 on that list for maybe the 13th time.

One of the new ones we visited ended up having an underwhelming playground, but you know who remained fully whelmed? Greyson and Violet. They’re the most unjaded park critics I’ve ever met. Two thumbs up, time and again! Their appreciation for simple pleasures inspires me.

At another park, we brought our swim trunks and waded in the shallow water at what we have dubbed “Caspian Cove.” (We name everything after our favorite band.) I enjoyed multiple spirited conversations with other people who were enjoying the same hideaway; more on those chats later. After cavorting for 40 minutes or so, Greyson slipped on a slimy rock and fell all the way into the water for the first time ever, which threw my sweetly sensitive boy for quite a loop. But I helped him bounce back, and the day was quickly salvaged. No harm, no foul.

We are, to put it mildly, obsessed with parks. Or more accurately, I am obsessed with parks and have managed to pass that obsession along to my kids.

The Extra Version of Me

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an extrovert. Mental health ebbs throws me for a loop in this realm, but even when I’m funked up, at heart I’m still someone who craves connection, who wants to see and be seen. And when I’m myself, I savor a good conversation like a sommelier savors a fine pinot noir. So here is a bird’s eye view of some of the chats I found my way into last weekend.

I talked to a woman from Maryland who’s a hardcore backpacker and climber. She just won a 1-in-100 backcountry lottery to camp in the highly coveted, highly protected “Enchantments” section of the Cascades this summer in Washington state.

My kind of person.

I talked to a man and woman at the aforementioned “Caspian cove” who I thought were 25-28 years old and dating. It turned out they had 5 kids (!) including an 18-year-old (!), yet are still 5 years younger than me (!). They are only able to grab some together time once a week, so where do they go for their weekly respite? A tiny wooded cove at a state park. So I say again:

My kind of people.

I talked to a Hispanic woman at a park who was lovingly setting up a party at a pavilion. The party was for her 8th grade daughter and her friends who had just graduated from middle school. She was warm and jovial, and I saw that she had laminated inspirational quotes to put on the tablecloth-adorned picnic tables. (My favorites were by Winston Churchill and Dr. Seuss.) I warmly wished her well and she warmly exhorted me to enjoy my kids being young. And so one last time I’ll say…

My kind of person.

And those were just 3 of my exchanges last weekend! There were others. There are always others. The world is bursting at the seams with spirited conversations waiting to be had, if only we can muster the spirit to have them.

I’m deeply grateful to be filled with that spirit at the present moment. A spirit that happily haunted two straight idyllic weekends.

Weekends I spent mostly away from the confines of my home.

But both were well worth writing home about.

2 thoughts on “The Careening Weekend Adventures of a Depressive Nature-Loving Extrovert on an Upswing

  1. Takes me back to living in a small town in northern Jersey not too far from Manhattan, where our daughter was able to walk to school from kindergarten on up to high school. We regularly visited the Van Saun Park Zoo, which had a big cage you could walk into that was FILLED with butterflies for just a week or two, until they were all released. And an old-fashioned corral with a big horse in it, and a sign on the fence that said “HORSE BITES” to make sure you didn’t try to pet the big guy. Our daughter was surrounded all day by her friends, many of whom she’s STILL in contact with 13 years later.

    Liked by 1 person

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