The weather is delectable – just warm enough that the cool breeze feels heavenly. Mom, my younger sister, and I shop for food first – pita bread, lettuce, and a gallon of beautiful, ripe strawberries in a cardboard box. As we head back to the parking garage to stash the food, we pass by a couple selling rosaries on the corner. The elderly man offers us rosaries, but we decline. He says, “For a strawberry?” so we share strawberries with them. We share strawberries, too, with a young mother and her two little girls as we head back to the car.
Then I part from my mom and brother (he’s taking her out to brunch) and my sister and her friend, and I start to walk. The square is packed with people and dogs and vendors selling everything from homemade soap to fresh strawberries. The farmer’s market teems with life – busy and vibrant, and somehow simple in spite of the noise and throng.
I cross the street toward the back of the market, where the products go from ‘mostly food’ to ‘mostly art.’ Most of the vendors are selling abstract paintings or plain jewelry, but I step inside the tent of the Steampunk Sisters. They’re a couple of energetic, talkative women in their sixties, and they sell reclaimed jewelry made of everything from doll’s limbs to watches and buttons and false teeth. I talk with one of them about hair dye – my hair is currently pink and freshly-cut short enough to swing, but she wants to dye her silver hair purple. She compliments my Labyrinth shirt, and we talk about David Bowie. The other sister has tattoos and a quick smile. There’s a necklace I want – a cameo of a skeleton woman – but it’s definitely out of my budget. I buy a pair of earrings that look like teeth, set with a small, gold gem.
I’m in the mood for a chocolate-and-strawberry bubble tea, but the shop is undergoing renovation, so I go to Cool Beans instead. The barista taking my order is my age or a little younger; a nymph with naturally black hair that has been dyed a vibrant aquamarine. She compliments my hair before I can compliment hers, and we talk about hair dye until my drink is ready. She gives me a coffee card and stamps it four times. The barista who made my drink, a woman in her mid-thirties, compliments my Labyrinth shirt. I take my drink (a Karlos – the coffee of the day with two shots of espresso) to the courtyard out back. Most of the tables are empty, so I find a table for two and settle down to enjoy the weather. There’s an old man at the next-nearest table, also doing nothing but enjoying his coffee.
After fifteen minutes or so, I realize I’m hungry. I take the back alley out of the courtyard with the intention of buying something breakfast-y from one of the vendors, but I’m sidetracked by a small woman selling flan. I’ve never had flan, so I buy the smallest size she sells and head back to the courtyard. My seat has been taken, so I go farther down, near the train station, and sit there. I prop my feet up on the other seat and pull out my battered copy of Mere Christianity. As I drink my coffee, a party of four people – two girls in heels and fancy dresses carrying beautiful wildflower bouquets and two men, one young and wearing a suit and one older, with his suit jacket over his arm, walk past. The older man remarks “Great book,” as he passes.
A plump blonde girl in a summer dress sits on the edge of the brick wall, and after a minute she yells, “Hey, Shadow!” I look over my shoulder and see a handsome young black man in a newsboy cap say, “Who’s calling me?” When he notices her, he crosses the courtyard and gives her a warm hug. I had exchanged a smile with him earlier when he entered the courtyard, but I hadn’t paid much attention to him beyond that. The girl says, “The squad is here, but they’re in the bathroom.” They chat for a second and then walk back to his table, but as he passes me he says “That’s an awesome Pan’s Labyrinth shirt.” I grin and tell him thanks, without bothering to correct him. He got the ‘Labyrinth’ part right.
My family gathers back at the courtyard and we head back to the car. My brother and I talk about Marvel while Mom and my sister stop to buy a small, brown, paper bag of toffee. We share the toffee with the couple selling rosaries before we reach the car.
On the drive home, we roll the windows down and sing to loud music as the wind blows our hair and the warm, spring scent of honeysuckle soaks the air. We stop by a plant nursery and I spend more money than I should have on a pot of beautiful blue-green moss.
There are many good days, some very good. Perfect days, however, are very rare – but I’m of the opinion that perfect days like yesterday, a Saturday in May, make up for all the rest.