Jennifer and Julia, the cure for my rainy-day blues.
This morning I woke up reluctantly. My son wakes me up around 6am on his way downstairs, and I make him breakfast and get him out the door. I’d stayed up late last night. The house was cold. (Wasn’t it just a few days ago when we didn’t even have to turn the heat on?) And unlike most days, when I get the kids off to school and then can do my own thing, I had to actually leave my house. And not in my usual workout gear or ill-fitting jeans, but looking half-way decent to meet two friends for breakfast.
I’m not in any way agoraphobic, I just really like being home. My house is comfortable. It’s very “me.” There are many days when I leave only for short walks to Fiona’s school – usually only in the afternoon, since the best neighbor in the world takes her to school most mornings. I don’t get restless or antsy when I’m home alone all day. I like being alone.
But I also like being with my friends, and since they won’t just come to my house, I have to go to them.
I dragged myself out of bed. Got Jake fed and out the door. Did not climb back into bed as I often do, but instead got a shower and found something decent to wear, muttering “Only for Jennifer and Julia.” I had some extra time so I even contemplated doing something with my hair, but then I looked out of the window and saw that the wind was already whipping along.
When it was time to leave I couldn’t find a singe umbrella. I mean, I own about a dozen. They were all hiding. I didn’t want to be late, so I just left. It wasn’t raining too hard yet.
The trains were ridiculously crowded, and everybody smelled like wet dog.
By the time I got out of the subway in Union Square, though, it was pouring. I headed for a newsstand and grabbed an umbrella. Then I realized that I had no cash (I never have cash!) and got some money out of an ATM, and handed the newsstand guy a crisp $20.
It took him a long time to get me my change. He was fumbling around behind the counter. I don’t think I was giving him any attitude, I wasn’t late and I was staying relatively dry under the overhang. But he apologized to me, three or four times. Finally, he handed me a wad of bills, none of them remotely flat. And then he held up his other hand and said sorry again. His other hand was deformed, in a claw shape. He said he couldn’t use it and that getting lots of bills was hard one-handed (stupid ATM $20 bills!).
I told him not to worry. He said “It’s hard when your hand doesn’t work.” I smiled and said, “At least you are.” I didn’t know what else to say. But my mood was instantly brightened. By someone who was out working and wanting to do a good job instead of feeling sorry for himself. By someone who actually cared that he was holding me up a little bit. By the fact that there were umbrellas being sold within fifty feet of where I got off of the subway in the pouring rain. By the fact that I can just get money out of an ATM without having to think about it too much.
I’m spoiled in many, many ways, I know that. I’m spoiled in that comfortable, middle class, non-breadwinner-with-kids-in-school way that allows you to get to the point where having to actually leave your house in more than sweats seems like a burden, where some bad weather actually makes you wish you hadn’t made plans with dear friends. Where the most difficult thing you’ll have to do all day is put on a little make-up and maybe get wet, and it seems like such an effort.
But of course in the end I was glad I’d gone out. As much of a loner as I am, I do love my friends. We had a spectacular breakfast at Maialino. Afterwards, Julia and I stopped at Bedford Cheese, where I spent another good chunk of the gift certificate my friends had given me for my birthday. And as Julia left the W Hotel for the train station, she asked the doorman to give me a nice umbrella, since my brand new $5 newsstand one was already falling apart.
When I got home, before I lost my momentum, I changed my clothes, put my cell phone in a baggie, and headed back out into the rain for a jog.
It had turned out to be one of the most fun days I’d had in a while, despite the fact that I got soaked – twice. And it isn’t even over yet, because my whole family will be home for dinner tonight – a not very common treat.
All of this on a day when I really didn’t want to get out of bed, and definitely didn’t want to leave the house.
Reading over this post I’m not really sure what the point is. Keep things in perspective? There’s a lot of suffering out there, so count your blessings? Friends are the tonic for ugly, stormy days? Newsstand umbrellas are designed to break within two blocks of leaving the newsstand?
I don’t know. This is my blog, I’m not sure I need to have a point. What I do know is that I’m very lucky, and very happy.
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