Long May We Ride

Posted: February 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Mama Posse | 4 Comments »

Today I bumped into a woman at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Berkeley. In that inbred Bay Area way, she’s someone who I almost knew a few different ways–we had the same midwife, a mutual friend, and we took the same hospital tour to show our older kids where mommy’d be birthin’ the new baby.

Oddly though, we’d never met.

And then about a year ago our daughters were playing together at a playground, so we were kind of thrown into chatting as we monitored the older kids and bouncy-walked our newborns (who, of course, freakily happened to be born just a few days apart).

Fate seemed to be matchmaking us, so we exchanged email addresses.

And we got together once. Met up at the same playground, brought snacks, watched the kids play, and talked non-stop. She’s from the East Coast–New York, I think–and talks as fast and as sarcastically as me. We discovered a handful more things we had in common–the tug between the East Coast and West, being the same age, mixed feelings about taking a break from work, yadda yadda yadda.

By the time Mark got home that night I was envisioning the dinner party we’d have where he and her husband would hit it off like a house on fire. I’d planned our joint family summer vacations to Fire Island, and how we’d get matching friendship ankle-bracelet tattoos after some boozed-up Mommies Night Out.

Okay, well not so much about the tattoos really. But I was excited about having met a potentially cool new friend.

At the time–just fresh out of work again and lamenting the fact that the park is packed with nannies and no one who wasn’t getting paid to change diapers all day–I was, I’ll say it, desperate for a good local Mama friend. Preferably one who was around during the days, at my social beckon call.

And to my shock and awe, my casual follow-up emails to the Parallel Life Mama–in which I swear I didn’t mention anything about the blood-exchange sisterhood ceremony I was planning for us–went unanswered. In fact, when I bumped into her at a yoga class a month or so later I was fearful that she’d be embarassed to see me since she was so clearly, well, just not that into me.

Which, heck I’ll admit, stymied me.

I mean, it truly seemed like we had fun together. But maybe she just wasn’t taking resumes for new friends at the time? Maybe she seems to connect amazingly well with a lot of people but inside she’s mentally re-arranging the crap in her garage? Maybe the over-abundance of self-esteem my parents raised me with was finally–at the ripe old age of 41–rearing up to bite me in the ass?

Of course, at the yoga class I still gave her every opportunity to re-engage a best friendship with me. And I think she even did mention something about getting the girls together again. But damn my tenacious optimism. After that class, all I heard were crickets.

At any rate, seeing her today I was in such a different place. No longer longing for a daytime adult conversation that didn’t require me to use a Spanish-English dictionary. No longer starved to compare notes with someone about tactics for managing cradle cap. No longer freaked out about how the stay-at-home mom thing would ultimately play out in my psyche and my personal hygiene.

Because here I am. One year later. Frankly so comfy in this Mama role that I fear Mark will have to pry me out of my Merona sweatpants and happy homebody ways when the time eventually comes for me to add to the family’s bottom line. But more than that, now I’m feeling flush with friendship, and gratefully so.

Tuesday we returned from 11 days on the East Coast. Once we got somewhat settled I started a happy ritualistic process of checking in with my three Mama Posse friends like some OCD ball player running the bases over and over again–text one, call the next, check in somehow with the third, then circle back to the first with an email about some little Kate-ism or can I borrow something or when can we all get out to a movie or other. Maybe not quite so manic as I’m describing it, but certainly there were lots of phone calls that started with excited high-pitched hey-how-ARE-yous.

Unless my Dad is sending them checks or something (Note: Call him to ask about this) I can’t help by kinda sorta think they were as genuinely happy to reconnect with me as I was with them.

Take that, other woman who botched a chance at my friendship!

A few days before we left on our trip I was at our local bakery/gourmet grocery/coffee shop watering hole. The kind of place that guests who visit from places like Kansas short-circuit when they enter and need to lean against a wall for a few minutes to wrangle with the fact that they go to Applebees a lot. Anyway, I’m there and I see a woman from the ‘hood who I’ve done some community work with. She was in front of me in line and asked if she could buy eight small pastry boxes.

When she saw me she turned and explained that she was going to meet her mother’s group. A group of eight woman who’ve been convening since her teen-aged daughter was a baby.

“Isn’t Madeleine in college now?” I asked, curious mostly to know where she got in.

“Yes! She’s in her second semester at Wellesley,” she said brightly.

The woman behind the counter handed her the boxes and said, “No charge. No worries.” (Which only made me love the place more.)

After profusions of polite thanks to the bakery lady, she turned to me. “So yeah, we still get together regularly even though the kids are in college now. And once a month we make care packages. Everyone brings eight of something, so we send out big boxes and the kids end up getting eight different little gifts or cookies or whatever–one thing from each of us.”

At which point I think I swooned with just how sweet and fun and excellent that was, and how amazing it is that she and those women are still all hanging tight.

When I see the gals next–tomorrow at Sacha’s Oscar party, in fact–I’ll have to try to remember amidst the maurauding children, attempts at hearing Oscar speeches, and relentless glasses of wine I plan to consume, to tell them about this idea. Because I have every intention of us doing that some day. I’ll just need their help remembering it 15 years from now.


4 Comments on “Long May We Ride”

  1. 1 Megan Bibbo said at 8:24 pm on February 21st, 2009:

    Oh Kristen! I have tears in my eyes – I’m not sure if it’s because I’m so excited about the fact of actually missing my children and still being friends with all of you and sending them care packages – I love this idea beyond reason – or it’s because I can’t imagine our little kids old enough to leave home and not yearn for their weekly Friday get-together and actually have the audacity to move far away from us. That’s some good writing. I love that you are my friend and I love the idea that you will someday be one of my oldest and most cherished friends- don’t get me wrong – I do cherish you now, beyond words.

  2. 2 Mary said at 8:34 pm on February 21st, 2009:

    Aahhh!! I am tearing up. That was so fabulous. You nailed it. Remember my stories of the awful group I was in before I stalked Sacha in yoga class??? I was actually thinking today how it was only a YEAR ago that I met you at the Oscar party and we didn’t know what to make of each other. How freaking funny.

    And, yes to the care packages.

  3. 3 Tessa said at 8:39 pm on February 21st, 2009:

    I like how you have your “What you are Reading” on the side. Very cool, I will have to check them out.

  4. 4 Dad said at 8:56 pm on February 26th, 2009:

    Rest assured that I have not sent checks to your west coast friends…any friends that you have, you have earned yourself…don’t ever change….

Leave a Reply