My girls were in town this weekend. The grown up ones - Bindy, Tabitha, Quinn and Corina. We were only missing Amy. The big news is that Tabitha is pregnant with her first. She waited until her second trimester to make the announcement. Those are some disciplined secret-harboring skills.
Strangely, pregnancy seems to agree with Tabitha. She's all nice and glowy. I wasn't even sure if motherhood was a natural fit for her - she would agree. Yet when I texted her a helpful reminder to take pics of her belly every month - she replied "haha," a far cry from her usual I'll cut a bitch. Because I'll cut a bitch is exactly how she acts.
You know who else made me do a double-take this weekend - Quinn. She told me she had found a coupon for wine and painting. I tried hard to get Quinn to drink wine and paint with me before, but this time she apparently has a good coupon. Now, if we could just find a mutually agreeable time, no easy feat with our opposite schedules, Quinn and I might be able to finally pursue a few activities. As the only single ladies in our group, who also happen to be heading our own households, working long hours, and keeping budgets, I'm all about doing activities together using coupons. More on that soon. I hope.
Corina was single until recently. Unlike Quinn and me, she used dating websites and went out at night and stuff like that. Now, she's making plans to move in with her boyfriend. Out of our friends, Corina was the one I most imagined to be a mother, and it's something that she still really wants. For now, what she's found is the right relationship.
I have my babies but I wish I had the relationship Tabitha has or be established in a career like Quinn is. I wish I could take the trips that Corina can. And what do I not want that Bindy has. Yet as uncertain about the future as I can feel, I have actually learned how to make German potato salad. Without a recipe, I transform the potatoes I have stored from my farm share into something I put in my kids' lunches, next to chicken sandwiches I make by actually baking the chicken. You heard me. This sort of life compromise, staying present with personal miracles as they unfold while letting the ghosts of wants and wishes flee, seems to be the secret of happiness.
Yeah, so that's funny, right? This is turning into a serious post, which was totally unlike the actual visit with my friends. Nothing is that serious when Bindy's around - she won't have anything to do with stewing in emo. Don't mention any good ideas around her either, like making a plaster imprint of a pregnant belly - she will just give you a look like you're wasting her time. (Just think about it, Tabitha.)
On Saturday around 9 p.m., I took Bindy's and my seven-year-olds up to the pool. No other people were around except maybe four couples who looked to be upper twenties in the hot tub. Or should I say sounded. I sat quite a ways back from them. The self-important sound of self-definition from the hot tub was not enticing. There was a lot of, "Yeah, I can tell that out of all our neighbors, you totally get our vibe" and sharing of how rad each couple was and how many rad things they do and what a rad statement it made about each of them as a couple.
I invited the seven-year-olds to join the others in the hot tub without me. I had already heard how rad it was that none of the couples had children. When the littles slipped in, making the adults move around in a ring to make room for them, I heard one woman gasp, "They're supposed to be supervised!" Her companion pointed me out and I gave a little wave.
Another woman asked the girls about Halloween and I smiled into my magazine as I listened to the long and detailed narratives about what the kids were going to be this year, what they were last year, what their sisters would be this year, past costumes of their sisters, and let's not forget the dogs . . . if their captive audience could even tell they were talking about dogs. I don't think those two little girls got anyone's vibe in that hot tub.
Talking with my friends, I realize we are all facing big changes and reckonings in our early forties. Life just keeps getting more real - and serious. And, the kinds of things I enjoy now would have at one time depressed me . . . really, potato salad?
Yet that figuring-yourself-out couple talk I heard at the hot tub was a gift. It reminded me how lovely it is to not be concerned with being so rad. I couldn't think of a more boring conversation to have than about the vibe of a couple. How much more interesting it is to relax into a thousand unpredictable vibes with an odd assortment of characters from daily life. As much as I hope that Corina gets everything she dreams about and Quinn and I get to paint while drinking wine and Tabitha makes a plaster of her big pregnant belly and Bindy masters parenting teenagers because I'm going to need help in a few years, I know to not let expectations limit joy when other rad things happen instead.