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Betsy Block

Stories without recipes


Note: This piece originally ran last summer. (Actually, it ran on 08/22/06.)

(Andy: "So you're doing a re-run?"

Me: "Yep. You got a problem with that?"

Andy: Recoils at the tone of my voice. But I've been home with a sick Maya for five days, and today school is cancelled due to snow, but that actually turns out to be okay because, as of Wednesday morning, Maya's fever is back. I'll use any damn tone I want. Happy Valentine's Day.)

Speaking of romantic, I wrote a teeny-tiny piece for a roundup in the Globe last week; you can read it here.

When I first wrote this piece, the Globe had just sent me and Andy to a new inn on Cape Cod. To read that very short report, go here.

To find out about the book I'm writing for Algonquin Books, go here.

If you'd like to receive (infrequent and very short) e-mails when I have pieces on, sign up here.

Otherwise, new post up every Wednesday.

Andy did the most romantic thing recently.

We'd booked our beloved sitter for the weekend and managed to snag one of the last rooms in town in enchanting Newburyport, Mass. These weekend getaways are ridiculously stressful to prepare for, but always well worth the trouble.

This weekend was no different.

Not only did we have picture-perfect New England summer weather, along with 48 glorious hours to ourselves, as well as one of the area's most beautiful beaches, but the town was hosting a free, town-wide festival. There were street performers and sales and festival food everywhere you turned. The adorable waterfront park had free live music both nights we were there.

We ate claw-only lobster rolls, custom-made and drizzled with butter (no mayo!), right by the water. We lay on the sunny beach for hours without getting up. We drank beer at lunchtime. We even saw fireworks on a warm, cloudless summer evening (but don't tell five-year-old Maya, who's never seen them and badly wants to).

And yet, there was something missing. Dare I say it was - the kids? Maya is about to start kindergarten in a couple weeks and I'm feeling it: my age, the kids' fleeting childhoods, how quickly and mercilessly life races by.

Andy is a patient and understanding man, which is great because otherwise I'm not sure we'd have lasted this long. And so as I ached for the kids and he reveled in our freedom, we allowed each other the space to have our own experiences - or something like that.

All I know is that these weekends away are precious and rare, and frankly, with all my angst and midlife crises, I kind of blew it. I realized the severity of my mistake as soon as we got home (naturally), because within 15 minutes the kids were whining, fighting and generally making us miserable. Unfortunately, it was too late. I couldn't replay the last 48 hours, this time without the drama and anguish. Gimme that beer on a sun-drenched deck by the water and this time I'll appreciate it, dammit.

It was not to be. However, I still needed a beer. And so, within a couple hours of our reentry, we were fleeing the confines of home to take the kids out to dinner. Not to reward them for their ill behavior, but rather to try and break the spell of bad moods and payback (which is, it turns out, a bitch after all). And to get a few drinks in our systems.

At dinner, I ordered the house draft. It was interesting. In other words, I hated it. But you know what? By the time I'd finished it, it tasted all right. Still, "I think I'll get something else next time," I said.

"You didn't like that one?" Andy asked, all straight-faced and cool.

That's when I realized: Somewhere during dinner, he'd switched our beers. I, as usual caught up in a million thoughts, hadn't noticed.

Sunsets and days at the beach are lovely. Weekends in a B&B? Great. But when I'm 95, I'm pretty sure I won't remember much of that. Instead, I'll be dreaming of a covertly swapped beer, along with the man who swapped it.