A Day in Northampton

by mathhbratt

A friend and I planned a girls’ day out on the last Friday of my Spring Break. She had to take a personal day off of work, so we planned it well in advance. Planning far ahead is usually a recipe for me canceling because of the anxiety that builds, but I think I had enough other stuff going on to distract me from that. The morning of, I was a little panicky, but I was still recovering from the “hug” incident and giving back my silver beetle the day before. Here are some highlights of the outing.

Because we live in different towns, we decided to meet at a park and ride and then take my car. I got there first, and my husband texted me needing me to call our car insurance people so he could pick up the SUV he is leasing. I was still on car speakerphone with the insurance lady when my friend arrived. The insurance lady was super slow and condescending. It was an annoying experience, and I felt awkward I had invited my friend into my car but still hadn’t greeted her yet, because I was still talking to the insurance lady.

When I got off the phone, I gave my friend a little Rory stand for her desk. (Rory is the “star” of Jenny Lawson’s, “Furiously Happy.”) My friend’s boss is a real jerk and makes her life miserable. I thought a happy Rory on her desk ready to give her high fives whenever she wants might add at least a little cheer to her work days. She gave me a copy of “You are Here.” She told me how excited she was when she saw it and that she just had to get it for me for my birthday (which is today, but we added our celebration to our girls’ day), but then I had told her in another conversation I had bought it for myself, and she was bummed. I’m so glad she didn’t change her mind and not give it to me! This is one book I wouldn’t mind owning several copies of! I couldn’t decide what color to make the itchy sweater, but now I get TWO shots at it! I am so happy about this!! 🙂

After our gift exchange, we headed up to Mass. I am TERRIBLE with geography and anything related to using spacial intelligence (it is my lowest intelligence according to learning style tests I had to take when learning to become an educator), so we had her navigate while I drove. It was SO much less stressful than using regular GPS and driving in a town I am unfamiliar with. And it was raining. We had great conversations on the way up, and then we started our journey at the cutest hippy coffee shop ever. This is where I got to drink the yummiest soy cappuccino ever. Why are all the awesome things always too far from home to add to daily life?

After this, we went walking around what I am assuming is downtown Northampton. There are so many cool stores there, and my friend knows all of them. Here are some things I found during our adventure:


I saw this at a store named Kestrel. This seemed like a super chill version of Rory (even if he is riding a buffalo instead of a cat)

After Kestrel came Pinch. I pretty much just wanted to take the entire store home with me.

The cat was trying to nap, so I resisted the urge to pet him. I told him it was nice to meet him and took his photo and then left him alone. The crow? I am still wanting that crow!! He’s $74, though! He is available on Pinch’s website, but I just can’t spend $74 on him, even if he is super awesome.

Also at Pinch I found these plates. I first saw the super fancy otter. He called me over to meet his family. I don’t know who the artist is of all these portrait plates, but I think he or she would be super awesome to hang out with.


They also had this. I was really curious and amused.


I wonder if this guide to troubled birds could be used on troubled humans…



We went to a chocolate store that ended up being really disappointing, and then we went to Faces. This store had so much stuff in it! But it was kind of perfumey, so we didn’t stay too long. One of the things that really caught my attention here was their sock display. It was cheery and creepy and wonderful and weird all at the same time.

After shopping we went to Bela for lunch. I was super excited to try this place, because the chef has a perfume allergy similar to mine, and she does not allow customers in who are wearing perfume. I wish we could have that policy at our restaurant. Northampton is far more populated and is full of hippies and fun people that would really fit with our restaurant. Where we live? Not so much. So we can’t afford to tell anyone “no perfume” and expect a positive response.

Lunch at Bela was awesome. The service was really sweet, and the vibe was healthy and chill. Everything on the menu was vegetarian with several vegan options. My friend picked up the check as a bday gift to me. This was a great thing in more ways than one, because it turns out Bela is cash only, and I was without cash.

After lunch we went to Hungry Ghost Bakery. Oh Em Gee! If you ever get a chance to go here, you must! The smell of warm bread in my car for the rest of the day had me wanting to rip open my bags and devour it, covering myself and my new car in glorious bread crumbs! I showed restraint and waited until I got home, but yum! This place is amazing!

Last but not least was the co-op. I wish I had a store like this in my town. Northamptom’s vibe and offerings reminded me a lot of Portland, OR but more pretentious even though everyone is dressed all hippy-ish. Anyway, the co-op was amazing, and I was able to buy dinner ingredients and was also inspired to bake a pie with the rhubarb and berries they had there. A customer had dropped a bottle of tea tree oil, and the place smelled of melaleuca to add to the already amazing ambience of this place. It was awesome!

By this time, we had been out and about for almost seven hours! I don’t really understand how it went so fast. I know drive time added to the day, but yeah. Seven hours. It was time to head back so I could get home and decompress and she could get to her yoga class. We had more great conversation on the way back to her car and then went our separate ways.

It really was an amazing day. Of course, the next morning I woke up feeling like I’d cry all day. I guess what goes up must come down. This is exactly why I fear happy moments. Every time I’m happy, the sad comes back to balance things out. But my sad is heavier than my happy. It’s like sad rules the teeter totter (see saw…. whatever you call the plank balanced over a fulcrum) of my emotional balance. And if I sneak some happy in, the sad gets mad and reminds me who is boss.

I have no regrets, though. I spent yesterday decompressing and even baked that pie!