Thursday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Thursday, September 11, 2008

One of my best friends recently stepped away from her desk at a fancy New York law firm for a few days to visit us. She'd never met Gram and hadn't seen Juniper since November 2006. A gulf had formed between us, I'd feared, one filled with screaming-child-infested waters and the sharks of the New York dating scene. In her New York world she works long caffeine-driven hours, dropping into her tiny apartment only to change into something stylish and expensive before heading out for a late night at bars and clubs where they don't even sell beer so men have to buy her those drinks that come in pretty colors and funny shaped glasses. And they do buy them for her, because she's gorgeous. She's nearly six feet tall and skinny and Swedish. Basically her life could be a new cable legal drama starring Kelly Kapowski about a bunch of cutthroat legal idealists working hard and sleeping with each other to ease all that stress.

At least that's how I imagine it.

And that's just it: I can only imagine it, because her life and mine couldn't be more different. I have certainly never considered leaving work at seven p.m. "going home early," and the highlight of my social calendar is getting two small children to fall asleep at least an hour before I pass out on the couch.

I was embarrassed for her to witness our lives. I tried explaining that it feels pointless to pick up in the bathroom when your three year-old is just going to dump all the toys out again in twenty minutes, but of course she said she hadn't noticed. I was self-conscious of my hair, which hadn't been cut in four months. I tried to hide the spit-up stains on my clothes. But mostly I was embarrassed for being so worn out so much of the time from a life that was so mundane.

Of course everything was great while she was here. It was like we'd last seen each other a few days earlier. On Saturday we went shopping for jeans. I hadn't been to a store that carried clothing items priced over $20 in over a year, mostly because that sort of shopping is all located in the suburbs and my husband is on some kind of campaign I don't really understand about not spending any dollars outside the city. Whatever. We went to the most decadent indoor shopping mall in the area, a behemoth that straddles two sides of a busy thoroughfare in the suburb of Troy. The one and only time I'd been there before, Jim swore to me that if I ever made him go there again he would spend the next three days composing an epic poem about the difficulties of returning home from the farflung strip malls of Ilium.

So when the chance came to go shopping there with my friend, I nabbed it. When we arrived, she eagerly threw on my sling and plopped Gram into it, leaving me to try on jeans and handle the easy task of watching only one kid. After a few hours in the mall, I managed to find the perfect pair of jeans and a few other nice things. By the time we got home I was energized and ready to throw on my new clothes and go out for the evening with one of my favorite people in a place that wasn't my living room. After the kids were tucked away in their beds, I turned to her and asked where she wanted to go for dinner before we went out for cocktails.

"Dinner?" she sighed, collapsing back onto the couch. "Can't we just go to bed?"