Then when we got together in March, Tara was nearly nine months pregnant. Hindsight tells me it was probably poorly planned. Since our home bases now extend from Florida to Indiana to Virginia and Maryland, we had trouble selecting a central location and decided on Annapolis. It’s not really about the destination anyway. Fortunately.
Annapolis, waterside and low-lying as it is, experienced a downtown flood. We were able to circumvent the standing water to venture to dinner and a brunch, and we all got mani/pedis, but then found ourselves starving and putting a hurting on a bread basket (or three) at a steakhouse at 4:30, which meant, obviously, that we’d need to cancel our dinner plans at an upscale wine bar (why did I think we would be up for an 8:00 reservation at a wine bar?). When we returned to the room, we watched a pay-per-view movie, had a makeshift baby shower, and talked into the night. I seem to remember there were tears. Tara, uncomfortably pregnant, slept propped up in the recliner and said it was the best sleep she’d had in weeks.
Two of my friends announced the happy news of their pregnancies on this trip. We wandered around the city in the perfect fall weather, walking into the American History Museum three minutes before it closed, only to be brusquely escorted away from the (awesome!) Julia Child exhibit. We walked in to a restaurant for dinner, since we couldn’t decide and were too late to make reservations. One thing about these weekends—there is never a shortage of good food. My non-pregnant friend and I had delicious sangria before we decided to go to a movie, admittedly, a luxury I am not often afforded. I chose 50/50, the dark comedy about a young man with cancer. We sat, four across, crying. I’m not talking about a few tears—this was the ugly cry at its worst—there were audible sobs. When we left the theater, bleary eyed, not only did we not feel like doing anything else, we didn’t even talk much to each other. Who picked that movie again?
At brunch in Georgetown the next morning, the waiter, upon hearing we were all on a night away from husbands and kids said, “Well, when the cat’s away…”
“Umm…we’re the cats,” I said.
On all of these trips, the company is the thing, not the locale or activities. Still, I’m not sure what I expect. Sex and the City we are not, but it’s not like we ever really were. Since graduating from college, we've gotten married, acquired real jobs, and had children. And we're tired, so very tired. I’m not denying late nights in my past, or the occasional regrettable decision, and I'm not saying I don't know how to have fun anymore. I would never deny my lasting penchant for unruly, Elaine Benes-esque dancing, even if I don't get to do it as often anymore. But maybe this is what it is to be responsible grown-ups, that even when afforded the opportunity to let loose, we don’t. Not really.
Or maybe all of this is why I need these friends. I need the new ones to help me navigate the waters of being a mom, a wife, an adult. I need them to remind me that I’m not alone in all of this, and I cherish their company on this road. And I depend on the older, similarly disoriented ones to remind me that it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I was reckless, a time when I stayed up until four just because I could, a time when I drove through the night to the beach just to see the sunrise. I knew how to throw a good party that did not feature an arts and crafts table. Then again it did feature crappy beer, bad food, and really obnoxious former frat boys who were not nearly as entertaining as the little girls who frequent my living room dance parties now. So the progress is not all bad.