Just Another Night, That’s All It Is

“Now who are these people again?”  R adjusted his collar and gave his reflection one last glance in the mirror.

It was New Year’s Eve, 2006, and we had been invited to my girlfriend Sue’s house for a party.  I hesitated to accept the invitation.  First of all, it was a “kids included” party, and I wasn’t sure how Michael would fare.  It was of course very generous for her to invite us, because she knew what a handful having Michael at her home could be; we’d visited her pool several times last summer.  Secondly, I had never been much of a New Year’s party person.  My entire idea of a New Year’s Eve bash was built upon movies like When Harry Met Sally, where fancy people dressed up in fancy clothes and pretended like life was wonderful and the new year was full of hope and promise. I was always more along the lines of that Barry Manilow song about New Year’s Eve:  “it’s just another night, that’s all it is.”

The honest truth is that I was nervous.  While I had met a few friends at the kids’ schools, I hadn’t really seen them much outside of the teachers’ workroom or the playground.  This would be a grown up event, where adults engaged in conversation about things other than the children; my insecurity made me waver and feel worried about what I could possibly say to strangers.  What did I do for a living?  Well, the few hours a week I was working at the childrens’ art studio didn’t really qualify as a career.  The unpaid website work I’d spent the last seven years doing for first Rick Springfield and now Kyle Vincent gave me a lot of skills but not any sort of a real job; I could say I did freelance work, I supposed.  The best answer, the one that left the fewest amount of awkward silences or strange explanations was that I was simply “at home with my children”.

I hated that it was the truth.  I couldn’t believe how I’d ended up here, in Connecticut, with me playing Suzy Homemaker and making sure the meals were cooked, the dog was walked and the children were ferried to their after school activities.  I used to wonder what those women were like that volunteered at the school every week; didn’t they have anything better to do than cut out laminated hearts during the day?  I remembered when I would have to take time off during the school year, wandering around in the daylight as if I were playing hooky or engaging in some sort of delicious deviousness to not be at work during the day.  And now, here I was, totally dependent on my husband for our livelihood and crowing about the hundred bucks a week I’d started bringing home from the art studio.

I had been valedictorian of my high school class, and here I was, doing things that anyone with a pulse could be doing.  I knew it was a luxury to be home with my kids, I knew we were lucky that I had the ability to be available at any time for Michael when he melted down at school or forgot his books or lunch.  R had a good job and seemed to be doing well at it, but somehow I didn’t feel like part of that equation at all; I felt like I was plodding through my days trying to figure out where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. My insecurity felt like a fog that I couldn’t see through or find my way out of.

“The host is my friend Sue; her daughter was in Melinda’s kindergarten class last year.  She’s the one that was nice enough to let us come to their pool over the summer, remember?”

“Not really,” R answered truthfully.  Of course he didn’t remember.  He’d been at work.

“You’ll like them,” I answered.  “Her husband sounds a lot like you.  Big job, travels a lot.  She’s at home with the kids, like me.”

And in that minute, I realized why I’d gravitated towards this woman.  She and her husband were just like R and I, except for one huge difference.  They both seemed secure and satisfied in the arrangement.  Subconsciously, I was sure, I was trying to find my own path and peace in my new life by examining hers.  If she was content with her life, which was so similar to my own, then I should be able to be as well.

“Well let’s get going,” R answered.  “I hope you’re right.”

I hoped so, too.

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One Response

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