Whew. That was a lot, wasn’t it?
Apparently the universe decided that I needed a solid string of stress and bad karma. But then it balanced things out with a weekend that would have been great by any standard, and was made that much better by contrast to the previous days.
On Saturday, Gretchen – who does not have children and therefore has no reason to volunteer to subject herself to such madness except for her inherent sweetness and general overload of awesome – offered to hang out for the day. I had to care for both of my kids and X, because Willem needed to get work done and L was still in the hospital with K. It was rainy, but I needed to get the kids out of the house. So Gretchen agreed to come with us all to the Kids Playground in Woburn, MA – a noisy, bright, huge, loud, intense, overstimulating place. We stayed for three hours, and dragged three happy, tired children home.
As we drove, I remembered that, in the midst of Friday’s madness, Gretchen had asked me to stop by to pick up a mysterious package. It turned out to be her world-famous baked fish, which, Oh. My. God. And it occurred to me that, if she didn’t have other plans for the evening, it would be pretty cool for her and her fiance, Dan, to join us for dinner. Since she had made it and all. They agreed, and we collectively dove in. I spent the weekend being v-e-r-y cautious not to pop the crown off my tooth again, and wouldn’t eat anything chewy or crunchy, but the baked fish is beyond tender.
After dinner and the kids’ bedtime, Willem and I pounced on the opportunity to drag new victims into a favorite card game, gripe rummy. I like Dan, but have found him difficult to get to know. He’s a doctoral student in computer science, which I suppose doesn’t automatically mean that he’s intimidatingly smart and a bit socially uncomfortable, but such is, in fact, the case. But focusing on a new, complicated game helped relax him considerably. I suspect the three glasses of wine before, during, and after dinner didn’t hurt, either. The four of us had a great time playing, just hanging out with other adults and trying out this strange and foreign concept of having couple-friends that are close enough to actually get together with on a casual basis.
That night? Well, some things I just won’t blog. But… thanks, Willem. Love you.
Sunday, the kids got up, quietly got themselves breakfast, quietly ate, and then quietly set themselves up with an age-appropriate cartoon. Willem and I were able to sleep in until 9:30. Bliss.
I got up, took a long shower, got dressed, and got on the road. I had plans to spend the day in Newport, Rhode Island, with two of my closest friends. Carolyn, Jenny and I have gotten together about once a month for lunch for at least five or six years now, long enough that I’ve shaken off any of the old nagging worries and self-doubts about whether they’re doing this because they want to or just to placate me, whether they actually can stand my company at all, and so on. We’ve built a really strong, lasting friendship, and I’m very aware of how rare and special that is.
I was a bit anxious about our plans, which were more extravagant than usual so as to celebrate Carolyn’s February birthday. (Timeliness is overrated.) We had been to Newport once before, and it did not end well. We agreed that Carolyn would not answer her phone under any circumstances, drove my car down to Jenny’s house instead of leaving it in Carolyn’s driveway, and considered ourselves reasonably safe.
We had the best time. I don’t believe, in all honesty, that weekly therapy would help me much with the depression and anxiety of recent months. I have plenty of problems, sure, but they’re all external or unchosen, so my feelings about them are pretty straightforward and simple. I’m sad and frustrated and hurt. Grieving certain lost jobs and plans. I don’t have any deep, unresolved issues (and am not a psychoanalytic psychologist, so I don’t believe I am subconsciously riddled with them on top of my penis envy). I don’t need help sorting out my emotions.
That being said, Carolyn and Jenny are both therapists by training. I’d had several bad months and an especially horrifying week. They listened. I babbled at them like a monkey in a tree.
Eventually, they were able to squeeze a word in edgewise – we were together for ten hours, I had to stop for a breath once in a while – and I was able to vent out all of these stored-up stories and thoughts and events. Then we were able to move on to topics ranging from neurosurgeons with a Boston accent (“I’m just gonna poke a hole in ya head right hee-yah. It’ll hurt wicked bad.”), to sex (do all straight guys fantasize about watching their partner have sex with another woman?), to Mediterranean cruises (someday…). Somewhere in there, we also crammed in a 2 1/2 hour tour of one of the Newport mansions – this time, The Elms. Gorgeous, and a really neat tour setup.
The husbands expected us all home by midafternoon. Jenny was home at 8:00, Carolyn at 9:00, and me at 10:30. Whoops.
Willem was cool with it; he has always encouraged me to go to these lunch dates, even when I get tired or isolative or socially anxious. Jenny’s and Carolyn’s significant others… not so much. Both expressed their displeasure at the horrifying inconvenience of having to watch their own children for an extra three hours. We offered each a blatantly fake and insincere apology, because we enjoyed every minute and would do it again in a heartbeat.
As I left Carolyn’s house, I called Willem to let him know when I would be arriving. We ended up talking, about all manner of things, for the entire hour-and-a-half drive. And then… well, again, privacy. Thanks, hon. Love you.
Not a whiff of a migraine since Thursday morning. Surprisingly little back pain given the amount of physical activity over the weekend. Feeling so undepressed as to faintly remember what normal used to be like.
Just an unbelievable couple of days. I’m so grateful. No matter what this week brings.