Barefoot and pregnant
Never have I been so thankful for an aisle seat near the rear of the plane. The little belly passenger who had been so quiet and still until a few weeks ago decided to celebrate its first transcontinental journey with a series of joyous, bladder-pounding starts and thumps, one of which was powerful enough to dislodge my forearm from my torso. I tried to relax and concentrate on the book in my lap: ironically, Fear of Flying, chosen hastily while heading out the door and absentmidedly bookmarked with an old boarding pass and a laminated St. Dymphna holy card. Sometimes my life comes with an invisible production designer.
I was off to reunite with four college friends, soon to be Honorary Aunts, though they didn't know it until I pointedly smoothed my shirt over my round midsection. "You're so skinny!" Melissa exclaimed, hugging me. I'm not skinny everywhere, I suggested. "I knew it! Ellie told me you were trying." I wasn't trying so much as not preventing, but when you're 24 and having lots of sex, there's really no difference. And your friends like the way "trying" sounds.
Plum Island Blvd.
I sat cross-legged in the back of our rental car for the duration of the drive from Boston to our destination, an unfinished beach house in Newbury, MA, pronounced "NEW-bree," two syllables. Sarah corrected us until we got it right. Five women, five days in a house with exterior walls only and no curtains. Girls Gone Wild, Plum Island 2007! Woooo!
Except that it wasn't. It was laughter and beachcombing and laziness. Jenny had us pose for photos with angry expressions so that we'd look like models. The house was across the street from a liquor store which we managed never to step foot inside, despite my non-pregnant companions' aspirations of drunkenness. Because crossing state lines is more trivial on the East Coast and it is on the West, we shopped in New Hampshire.
Now I miss them more than I did when I was depressed over having no local friends. I spent five days in the company of incredible, chatty women and returned home to find that my life seems very quiet by comparison, and my husband's voice almost jarringly deep. I wish I had studied poetry in college, because my visual studies-trained brain is having trouble with the language of how much love I have for these women. They will make great contributions to law and art and medicine and politics, and they can have me in stitches for days over four-scoop "kiddie" cones, boys named Jamtex, and Jesus on What Not to Wear ("Just because they sell a rope belt doesn't mean that you should wear it!").
There is nothing like spending time with women friends to make you realize how important it is to have other women around. How they bring out your best qualities and laugh at your worst ones in such a way that you feel loved and not really picked-on. How much you need other women to thrive, and how much it sucks when you can't see them every day.
Staying up late telling jokes and stories across a living room is the best way to renew your friendship-marriage vows to stay in touch and see each other more often. There will be another reunion, and another, until we can all afford by buy a big house together.
Because I don't want to be apart from these beauties any longer than I have to be.