...for a different kind of girl
silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.
"so...you come here often?"
i've come to the conclusion that making friends as an adult is a bit like dating. a frustrating, distressing experiment that i've found myself thick in the middle of lately.
a little background. i'm quite comfortable being the girl who sits in the back row, whispering the correct answers but too freaked out to raise her hand to speak them aloud. the girl labeled 'stuck up' and 'a bitch' because 'painfully, insanely shy' would have been too easy a moniker. naturally, it makes sense i ended up on a career path that involved me talking (gasp!) face to face with actual people, no? trust me. it wasn't an easy leap.
however, i've grown up. i can talk to you without the potential for vomiting on your feet (you're welcome). when the opportunity arises, i can wax loquacious about pretty much anything and pull off the major accomplishment of actually sounding like i know what i mean.
so i've been putting that skill to task lately while spending time hovering around other moms at my children's various activities and practices. it's during these times i've realized we're all doing the 'mommy dating dance.' platonically flirting. sizing each other up. laughing at silly, not necessarily funny things. watching our brains spin to come up with anything to say during those moments of strained silence. wondering if maybe, just maybe, this one has potential and can turn into something real. i have to admit i was momentarily flustered when a mom at storytime this week turned to me and said, "oh, your son has the exact same beautiful, big brown eyes as you!"
yeah. it's fun.
before you get worried about me and think, "ah, poor, sweet girl! she has no friends!" trust that i'm pretty good in that department. i've maintained friendships with both sexes for years. loyal, i tell ya. got a secret? you can trust me. need to whine about what your precious angel and/or spouse did today that pushed you over the edge? i'll listen and toss in my own anecdote if it'll help.
but the majority of my friends are those i've had for some time. perhaps we did the 'friendship courtship' thing, too, and i just didn't realize it then. now it's painfully obvious it's not as easy as it should be to connect with someone. especially when we're watching ourrespective children bond over something as simple as the fact that farting must be the greatest gift a person can do with their body (naturally, i disagree, but that's a post direction i've not gone in yet).
when you're a kid, all it seems to take is a tiny sliver of likemindedness and you've found your friendship soulmate, your 'best friend forever.' the moms i've been flirting with lately, well, we're taking things a bit slower. on our third date, we finally decided we should take the big step and see each other outside of our kids' sports practice. telephone numbers were exchanged, schedules discussed. it was all very quasi-romantic.and so our date plans are in place. a visit to a pumpkin patch. naturally, our preschoolers will be chaperoning. they serve as the 'out' you may need should the date go badly.yeah, it's a big step. maybe actual friendships will be borne from the experience. i'm open to anything, really, because it is tough to make friends as an adult.but the best thing about this type of dating? even though by the time we take our pumpkin patch excursion we'll be on our fourth "date," i'm pretty sure i won't be coerced into letting the other moms see my boobs and get lucky when the afternoon is over.well, unless i'm complimented on my beautiful, big brown eyes again.and if so, well, that's a post direction i've not gone in yet...
my mom has never been one to immerse herself in today's popular music. she admits without shame present-day ownership of the freddy fender, glenn campbell and carpenter's greatest hits albums she and my dad ordered from columbia house back in the day. i'm sure there was a great deal of thought put into their purchase.
"what 13 albums can we order for a penny that will thoroughly disgust and embarrass our daughter?" mom no doubt pondered diabolically after i'd gone to bed that night.
"how about air supply?" dad likely answered, totally in on the humiliation tactic. "or maybe roy clark? you know how she gets when 'hee haw' comes on."
so you can imagine my surprise when she firmly told me not to delete 'london bridge' from her computer as i was cleaning up some files for her.
this is the woman who to this day pronounces the name of one of my favorite groups as 'inks' rather than INXS and curbed my ability to listen to prince's 'purple rain' soundtrack when she heard the words to 'darling nikki' ("did he just say? is he talking about...." she sputtered when she heard the song pouring out of the gigantic earphones i hid behind. "oh, you are not listenting to that, missy!"). and now she wants me to keep a fergie song on her computer so she can load it to her ipod and listen to it while hitting the treadmill at the ymca.
and not just the radio edit. no. mom totally goes for the 'oh shit' version.
"how come every time you come around, my london, london bridge wanna go down..." she sang while leaving the room.
am i a music elitist? no. and i have to admit, i was somewhat proud of her for knowing the words to the chorus. usually, she makes up words.
but i do find it disturbing to think that songs i've grown a bit fond of for their catchy yet throw-away lyrics are some of the same songs my mom likes. we're not supposed to have anything in common, let alone music! especially music that hints at sex, for god sake.
excuse me a moment while i compose myself from that thought...
while making sure 'london bridge' stays in her cache of music (tucked nicely among her george straight, alan jackson and tony bennett) she added to my pain by popping her head back in the doorway and asking, "what's that song by that cute boy whose so popular now? you know that one that goes 'i'll let you whip me if i misbehave'?"
yeah. and so i was forced to add 'sexyback' to her playlist. go 'head mom and get your sexy on.
luck's all in how you look at it
pick up time at the elementary school is always an adventure as parents push and shove their SUVs and minis through the parking lot in hopes that today - success! - they get to be first in line. a little hint? don't acknowledge the person trying to edge their way into line ahead of you. yeah...you taste that? that's the taste of victory, baby!
surviving today was a coup for me. prime parking secured, i hopped out and fell in step with another victorious parent, a man also briskly walking with shoulders hunched up as the rain began to fall with more force. i gave him the polite 'nice day, huh?' smile and he offered the same to me.
then, at what appeared to be the same time judging by the looks that had to have flashed across our faces, we realized we were more than two people who'd gotten lucky in the school parking lot.
we were two individuals who'd gotten lucky in my bedroom in a former apartment in a former town in a former life.
hello, fate. nice of you to drop by.
as my mind rushed through the array of 'well, what do you say in this situation' choices, he offered up a very simple 'hello,' my name following easily behind the greeting.
immediately i was taken back to how we met years ago. a brief exchange among friends that resulted in an exchange of telephone numbers ('we're meant to be,' we laughed upon discovering the numbers differed by only one numeral). we had easy conversation. he'd show up quietly where i worked to surprise me. charm me with compliments about my eyes and gifts of baby roses left by my apartment door on my birthday.
it took forever for him to work up the nerve to kiss me. i'd nearly given up hope when, as i prepared to leave his apartment one evening as the sunday night tv movie credits rolled ('ghost' if you're curious), he reached for my arm and pulled me back.
did my toes curl? did i suggest staying to "watch" the news?
ummm....not really. but i didn't give up on him.
within days, we settled in at my apartment and the night progressed like a very formulated plan. fabulous dinner, silly laughter. awkward kissing on the couch. when i asked if he wanted to go to bed, we went without a lot of words.
and it was nice. like vanilla ice cream is nice...if vanilla ice cream is all you have in the freezer. i'm a girl who likes, let's say, super double chocolate candy bar supreme with caramel sauce and a cherry on top. and ok, if you insist, whipped cream.
lots of chances were had. different things tried. i offered up many ways to find me charming aside from my eyes. yes, we got lucky and then some, but we didn't melt the ice cream.
eventually, we realized that the closest we'd be to each other was only the fact that our telephone numbers were one numeral off. the relationship faded on it's own, no hard feelings, no assumed broken hearts. he moved out of town and i eventually did, as well.
i just never realized we moved to the same town. that all these years later this is where we'd meet again. the elementary school parking lot. in two kickass parking spaces.
after our hello's and brief, semi-interested 'how are you?' responses, i slowed my step a bit and let him get ahead of me. by then, our respective children were bounding out and it was time to make the mad rush out of the parking lot. i couldn't help but think 'still vanilla...' as we waved politely goodbye, knowing that the chance of bumping into each other again is great.
and that was followed by the brief thought that i did get lucky.
damn you, sci-fi channel
"I wonder if it's possible to have sex in zero gravity," he said, all serious at 2 a.m.These are the issues that keep my husband - and thus, me - up at odd hours. Sure, I've been unable to sleep many nights, leaving my mind to wander over such inane questions as "why is jessica simpson a star?" but i tend not to blurt them out when he's in some deep slumber.so, rather than actually have gravity-assisted sex (for by then, i was wide awake and something should be entertaining me at that hour), he continued."i think it would probably be difficult. obviously you can't get any traction."obviously. sigh."traction is important. you know that, right?" he continued, posing a question (unlike my jessica simpson query) that could actually be answered."yes, traction does have it's merits," was my muttled response. "i promise not to laugh at you again the next time you have to stop to grab your shoes for added resistance only if you promise to warn me you're going so i don't fall ass first off the side of the bed again. now...can i try to go back to sleep?""i suppose you'd have to strap yourself down somehow. maybe tie yourselves together," he continued.for a moment - maybe 10 - i was unable to answer, thinking about someone from my past who, in all his gravity-filled goodness, loved to test that theory out with me."i guess i'm never going to know, huh?" he repeated (perhaps for the fourth time), busting me out of my silk scarf and blindfold moment.just like i'll never know the answer to the questions that plague me about jessica s., i thought."no, but maybe tomorrow we can consider the ramifications of wormholes and the benefits of going back in time," was my consolation.time that could get me my lost hour of sleep back...or perhaps another long weekend complete with scarves.
my oldest son recently turned nine. an acquaintence, eyeing the photographs we had done to mark the event, remarked that he appears 'good and half-baked.'for a moment, i wondered who is the dealer in my son's fourth grade class, and is that what he's doing up in his room by himself with the door closed, listening to 'kidz bop 10' (yeah, i love the use of 'z,' in place of the 's', too. it's so very urban...). the last time i heard the phrase 'half-baked,' i was in high school, urging my crush to put down the bong while AC/DC's "back in black" roared in the background. a well ingrained fear of my parent's disappointment in me should i turn out 'bad' made me the 'good girl' who hung with the high school stoners of my day. i was so 'claire' to my crush's 'john bender.'yeah....lame. and who am i kidding. i was so the epitome of allison, the alley sheedy character - minus the dandruff - it's scary. almost as scary as the fact i know the name of that breakfast club character.before i could recall the lyrics to the classic tune 'givin' the dog a bone' from the above mentioned album, the acquaintence, noticing my blurry confusion, informed me that my son, at nine years of age and now half-baked, is officially at the halfway mark of escaping my clutches.impossible. i just brought this child home with me. then i realize in the blur of his first haircut, new school years, lost teeth, the disappearance of the baby dimples on the back of his hands, a near religious love of 'star wars' and encouragement to pick up and try again, this chubby baby has turned into a lanky young man. he won't admit to needing my help now. in nine more years, that really comes to an end.we have this habit, my son and i. every morning, as he walks down the street toward the school bus, he turns around after every fifth step and waves goodbye to me. sometimes it's barely three steps. we started this routine on the first week of kindergarten and it continues to this day. yes, there are days this habit grates at me and my waves are really just hand signals urging him to go on.but i'll miss it. and now i'm very cognizent of the fact that it will be over before i want it to be, and i have to figure out a way to slow down the baking process. if for only just a bit.that, and well, give him some kind of appreciation for "back in black" that doesn't involve him begging some high school crush to pass it to him, already...
in head first
i used to write for a living. people paid me paltry sums of cash to recount with lovely metaphors the reunion of long lost siblings and the excitement of elementary students experiencing the first wave of school. i've faked my way through weekly columns and feature editions on midwest farming practices - no small feat considering this suburban girl, having grown up among rows of lookalike houses, figured out just what conservation tillage was and offered up smart editorials on ways to save the family farm rich enough to earn awards and get picked up by the associated press.i have awards and certificates and nice little cards sent to me from ladies who appreciated my work and the masonic men who invited me like clockwork to their installation meetings for the customary - and quite boring - "grip and grin" photos. these recollections of my past, along with the diploma trumpeting me as qualified to be a journalist, now sit in a storage container in my basement.i don't write for a living any longer.does that concern me? do i long to account for monthly council meetings or oversee a staff of reporters willing to take that low paying first job because they're going to blow out of there quickly? not really. today i stay home with my sons. a joy and a frustration wrapped into two very rapidly evolving explosions of light and personality. in a sense, they barely need me now. i know they won't need me forever. because of that, i have things to figure out.do i miss writing? good question.i keep journals that are too painful for me to go back to. i write letters to someone i love(d). i sign parental consent forms and tackle weekly 'to do' lists. and now i'm trying this. much like i feel as though i'm the only person on the planet who has yet to read 'the da vinci code' (and, despite working in a bookstore, no, i have no desire to, and will sometimes lie when people ask my impressions of it. yes, i gush about how it captures you. um...required to push the books, people...), i've gotten the impression i'm the only one without a blog about something.so now i am. blogging, that is. i won't be reading that mass market tome anytime soon. i'll do this to figure out if i want to write again. if i'm supposed to write again. or whatever. not sure what it will be. maybe it will be boring. maybe no one will read it. maybe. to quote someone who has told me repeadetedly to do this, 'you're dipping your toe into something that begs the splash.' we'll see if i make a ripple first.