We had some people over for dinner tonight, and by “some people” I mean “friends of Otto’s” and by “dinner” I mean “sort of a barbecue where we all hang out on the porch for most of it.”
The house is not “done” by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s close enough that we were able to take the unopened boxes and shove them out of the way, more or less, and after I vacuumed and Otto finished pulling down the painter’s tape waaaaay up high that’s been there for, um, three weeks (shut up) it almost looked like we live here for real.
These were all people I’ve met before, good and nice and funny people, but the entire thing made me feel somewhat melancholy because in spite of that they are not MY people. They are Otto’s people.
I vaguely remember, now, this phenomenon of marriage where you start classifying your friendships as his, mine, and ours. And because I moved away from everything that was MINE, right now there is only HIS.
“But they can be your friends, too!” says Otto. “They’re great people!” And they are, and maybe some of them will become OURS, but none of them will be MINE, because they are, primarily, HIS.
Maybe this isn’t an important distinction to men. But to most women, I think, it is. It definitely is to me.
It has been not quite a month since I left home (“This is home,” says Otto. “It will be,” I reply), and the painting is done, the moving is done, the damage control with the kids is… well, I won’t jinx it by saying done, but it’s well under control, let’s say, and now is the time when I look around and realize that I am lonely for my girlfriends.
Tonight after we ate I stood in the kitchen with a couple of women—friends of Otto’s—one of whom just had a baby a couple of weeks ago. She looks amazing. I mean, simply PHENOMENAL. She is skinny, she is well-groomed, she looks rested and happy. I made the mistake of complimenting her on her apparent miraculous recovery from birth and first-time motherhood.
“Oh, well, I made a decision, you know, that I wasn’t going to be one of THOSE women,” she laughed. “You know, the ones who say they haven’t showered all week because they can’t manage it. What is that? Life goes on, you know?”
“I have friends who after they have babies, that’s ALL THEY CAN TALK ABOUT,” the other woman responded, “and it freaks me out. You give me hope about having kids and still being NORMAL.”
And so I listened to these two young women continue talking about how becoming a mother doesn’t have to change anything and I suddenly felt SO OLD and unhip. Not that I ever actually feel hip, you understand. Maybe I felt even less hip than normal. Whatever. I actually DID manage to shower every day after having a baby, but I also generally spent that shower standing in the water SOBBING, and this conversation made me feel like I had been stupid and weak to find motherhood overwhelming.
Then again, I had never been as self-confident and gorgeous as either of these women even before I had kids, so there’s that.
Not My People.
Last night I went out to a movie with a new acquaintance; I suspect the invitation was a southern kindness, and I’m grateful for it even if no real friendship grows out of this association. I was actually nervous before we left; I jokingly said to Otto, “I hope what I’m wearing is okay! I hope I don’t have to put out!”
“Oooookay,” he said, “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this.”
We had a nice time, and I feel stupid feeling nostalgic for my movie outings back home. (Hey Heather, did I used to complain about you asking questions during the movie? I totally missed that last night.) I also feel like my mind was in overdrive, analyzing every comment, every mannerism, trying to determine if this woman might be one of My People.
I had a nice long chat on the phone with a friend tonight, and she wanted to know if I’m settling in to married life okay. There are so many things about it that I love; now instead of a nightly phone call and then going to bed alone, I get to proclaim, “Now is the time when we sit on the couch and eat ice cream!” That is definitely far superior. Dinners are, in general, much more fun what with another adult at the table, and also the dishes magically take care of themselves most nights, which is handy.
The problem is that Otto can’t—and shouldn’t—be my whole world. (Duh.) I need friends, LOCAL friends, not just my old pals on the phone where we pretend we’re chatting like we always did, right up until the end of the call when we get sad because we realize that instead of seeing each other in a day or two it will likely be months before we get together again.
I know My People are out there, here near my new home, but I’m not really sure how to find them. I’m trying to be patient until the kids start school and Otto goes back to work, because then I’ll actually be able to get back to a normal work schedule and then the idea of getting out on my own won’t seem quite so overwhelming. (Right now, even going grocery shopping by myself feels like an ordeal. Don’t ask, it JUST IS.)
In the meantime, I guess I will just have to keep baking things. Maybe My People will have an easier time finding me when my ass has expanded to roughly the size of Atlanta. Yeah, that’s the ticket.