I had spent the past few days preparing a Friendsgiving for 16 women, pleasurable hours imagining a fun, relaxed evening that would include boisterous conversation, a golden turkey, fluffy potatoes, citrusy cranberries, pumpkin tart and maybe even a little bit of dancing.
It was about two hours before everyone was set to arrive when this thought crossed my mind: “I must actually be getting to the point where I know what I’m doing. In fact, this really isn’t a very hard meal to pull off if you plan ahead.”
Famous last words.
Yesterday, I will have hosted Friendsgiving.
Har har; I love funny time tenses.
To explain, I’m writing this on a Tuesday, the meal will be Thursday, but my blog will post this Friday, which is when it gets to you.
This year, nearly 20 girls will be at the table, ladies whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting as part of our neighborhood group, the Gin & Juice Club. We get together about once a month, and it’s one of those gatherings that I always look forward to attending before arrival and feel happy about and comfortable with after getting home.
Women will tell you that is not always the case with girl get-togethers, which can start with dread but end up being good, or start with anticipation but go horribly wrong.
This is because women are very, very complicated.
It was a purchase that only occurred because I cleaned out the junk drawer.
No, not because I was rewarding myself for the spiffing — though, now that I think on it, that does merit some type of remuneration.
It was because I found the $50 Amazon gift card in the midst of the purge, a shiny little find that made me realize that the purchase was meant to be.
So I traipsed — oh yes, I did traipse — to the dining room and hopped — oh yes, I did hop — online. And there I spent the next 45 minutes reading reviews on doggie car seats, two of which I subsequently bought.
A woman walks into a T.J. Maxx holding a giant stuffed hamburger. She heads to a cashier and asks the teller if she can please have a refund. The cashier is polite enough not to laugh at said woman, but does stare at her for a second, absentmindedly rubbing the hamburger’s lettuce frill. Then, engaging the woman in small talk about the upcoming frost, she processes the return. The woman goes to the back of the store, picks up a sizable stuffed banana, hikes it under her arm, and heads back to the cashier line.
I was that woman last week.
“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” — Albert Camus
I am full-on fall this year, my friends, full freaking on. In fact, if it gets any fallier around here, my husband Frank* might faint.
In the six weeks since she’s been in college, Gabrielle Baker has:
- fallen down steps in her physics class, resulting in a foot injury that prevented her from driving home over Labor Day weekend.
- broken her iPad screen.
- fallen off her bike and badly scraped her knee.
- scratched her car while trying to parallel park.
- been in the E.R. with an anaphylactic reaction to tree nuts.
Life has not, in short, been kind to our little Gabrielle lately, and she’s had to learn a lesson that we all, eventually, must face: Adulting is hard.
In turn, her parents have also learned a hard lesson: Cleveland is far.
Last Friday, my best friend Kristin took me on a hip parade of Winnipeg’s newest and best places.
It started in the area of the city called the Exchange District, named for the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and other commodity exchanges that, from the 1880s to 1920s, helped catapult the city’s growth and turn it into a major Canadian center. After World War I, though, the area faltered and, because it was eventually named a National Historic Site, became frozen in time, with many of its 150 heritage buildings sitting empty.
From 2001 to 2004, I worked in the heart of the Exchange District and, almost once a week, I would make the trek to the Underground Café, where I would order the very best veggie burger on the planet. On my walk, I would stare at these empty buildings and feel both nostalgic for a time I had never known and deeply sad that nothing present-day seemed able to fill them.
I am headed to Winnipeg tomorrow morning and, oh boy, am I excited. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I have lived away, there is just nothing like going home.
I was brainstorming with a student this weekend about her college admissions essay, and found myself asking this doozy of a question: “What kind of person do you think you are?”
As polite as this kid is, she couldn’t help but squint and look at me as if I had two heads. I recoiled slightly and realized I sounded exactly like a stupid, stodgy adult. In fact, I could practically hear her response, which was (and rightly should have been): “Lady, if I knew that, I sure wouldn’t be spending my Sunday afternoon with you.”
But it got me thinking. What is it about self-introspection that makes it so tough? What is one’s character, exactly? And how can you ever really know if you actually know yourself?
I was standing in Gabrielle’s dorm room desperately folding t-shirts. It seemed, at the moment, that my life depended on this growing stack, so I pulled 100 percent cotton from a suitcase and I folded. T-shirts advocating coffee consumption. Ones promoting unicorns. Ones boasting Sherlock Holmes. Ones with stripes. Ones with watermelons.
All in a stack.
One after another.
I folded and, buddy, I folded.
If that stack were neat and pristine, then I would stay neat and pristine.