I didn’t have my first play date until I retired.
We didn’t have play dates when I was a kid. When I wanted to play, I either called ahead to make sure a friend was at home or wandered over to her house. If she wasn’t home, I went to another friend’s house hoping for better luck. All my friends lived within a mile or so of my home, which meant travel from house to house was easy. Once at someone’s house we usually stayed there, because there was nowhere else to go. Obviously, things were different back then.
Yesterday and today more than compensated for the absence of play dates in my childhood. I participated in a play-date marathon. I joined five other women at an artist friend’s house to play with something called clay which isn’t; it’s polymer clay, and is a relative newcomer in the world of artists’ materials. Picture children creating sculptures out of a material that feels like Play-Doh and you’ll understand how we spent our time.
A mutual friend, jewelry artist, teacher and author of how-to guides, Ronna Weltman, hosted us in her home and spent the day showing us how she makes bookmarks, journals, small bowls, rings, beaded necklaces and bracelets. Then she set us loose with clay, sparkly powders, shoe polish, pasta makers, and sharp tools. The only rule was that we were not to draw blood.
The ten-hour event passed quickly. It didn’t hurt that two other players were fabric artists. I could always borrow ideas from them. Nothing else in your life matters when you’re rolling sheets of polymer through the lasagna setting of a pasta maker, mixing red and black clay and hoping it doesn’t turn brown, trying to roll a round bead or stick little balls of clay onto a big ball. You can’t help but focus on your work. It’s a series of Zen moments. Two players skipped work, one traveled from out-of-town and two of us were retired. All of us have responsibilities. None of us left on time and we all asked if we could do it again. Are play dates, like youth, wasted on the young? Probably not, but it seems to me that adults need them as much or more than kids.