BG and I are going to see Lulu and her crew tomorrow. It’s supposed to snow. Two previous visits have been derailed by the mothereffing Polar Vortex + my pathological fear of driving in anything other than rainbows and Broadway choruses. Refusing to be derailed yet again, this text was sent:
OK, planning on coming but will leave as early as possible so as to get jump on any possible snow. Will arrive before you guys get home. Send garage code. Am bringing cupcakes, prosecco, stinky dirty boy who refuses to bathe, and my bad attitude.
How much do I love that Lulu responded by texting me not only the garage code but the location of all the best snacks in the house?
Today BG gave me a picture of a volcano that said “Mama Volcano.” He meant: “Mama, Volcano,” as in, “Mama, here is a volcano for you.” But I am embracing the omission of the comma and shall heretofore be known as Mama Volcano. It explains a lot about the last two weeks. (Mercury retrograde? What?) P.S., Please note that my volcano has a worm on one side and a Christmas tree on the other. It’s Mama Volcano, bitches.
Lily sent me a talking card for my birthday featuring David Hasselhoff. (As one does.) When you open it, he says, “Hey! I’m David Hasselhoff, and I’d like to wish you a very happy birthday. Also, I am not wearing a shirt.” (And he isn’t.)
David delights BG, who likes to open the card approximately 800 million times a day and has recently developed a game where he opens and closes it as fast as he can, so that David can only get the first word of his greeting out. The result is David Hasselhoff saying, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!” on an endless loop. Also, there was the part where BG announced to his grandmother: “Lily sent Mama a card with David Hasselhoff on it, and he’s NAKED!”
Ah, Lily. She’s my ray of Gothic sunshine, and I got to see her over the holidays since we made overlapping trips back to Minneapolis. BG, Mr. Mock, and I had dragged our sick selves there, brewing all kinds of microbes and exhausted from three days without power thanks to a wicked Toronto ice storm. Mostly we cocooned with Grammy & Gramps, but one freezing night Mr. Mock and I ventured out to meet Lily. It was bone cold as only Minnesota can be. Minnesota cold is clear and dry and sharp, a knife that slices away all the bullshit. You can’t be wishy-washy in cold like that: you have to know where you’re going, you have to walk fast, and you might as well laugh and chat along the way because the alternative is paying an inordinate amount of time to your own suffering, and that’s never attractive. I think this is what people mean when they say cold is invigorating: move fast and try not to die.
We settled at a restaurant that managed to be fancy and cozy at the same time—huge crystal chandeliers and mismatched sofas around low tables. (I’m a sucker for the whole Shabby Chic thing. It gives me hope that someday my house will look nice. Hey, I have one of the two categories already covered.) Lily and I snuggled on a sofa in the window while the gentlemen sat on the other side of the table talking about Doctor Who.
To get the restaurant we’d walked from another bar along the Loring Greenway, which is a walkway-urban-planning-thingy that is hard to explain, so you should just google it. We power-walked through the cold, and I looked at all the lights on in the buildings adjacent to it and sighed.
“I’m imagining an alternate life,” I said to Lily after several ridiculously delicious dishes had been consumed. “We never left Minneapolis, and I live in a condo on the Loring Greenway, and I’m a writer.” (Okay, I AM a writer, but in my fantasy I’m a different KIND of writer.) “I come here every afternoon at four o’clock with my laptop and order a Prosecco and edit what I’ve written for the day. And you live somewhere around here, too, so you can meet me at five.”
This fantasy is mostly about missing Lily, about how life is brighter with her around, and about how her proximity gives me a little ping of satisfaction in my chest that doesn’t happen when she’s not here. But, always good with details, Lily picks up the narrative immediately and tells me about her rundown loft on the river. If I hadn’t already had three drinks at this point, I would be better equipped to give you more details about this fictional loft. There might be a darkroom in it, I’m not sure.
The best thing about Lily is that we both know instinctively that even though the point of this fantasy is that we get to be together, we don’t actually live together. Because we’re totally mismatched that way. No, we just overlap a little bit, every day. Writing that sentence makes me cry a little because surely that’s what heaven will be: overlapping a little with Lily every day.
So we spin out our little fantasy for a few minutes: Meet you at five o’clock at Lurcat EVERY DAY! To which we have both journeyed from our respective PERFECT apartments.
It’s so cold that it’s even cold inside. Ice crystals have formed on the window we’re sitting in. They’re blooming in elaborate patterns that make me think of snowflakes.
Alternate lives are like snowflakes: different facets of the same whole. The older you get, the more you realize that the life you have is a product of a bunch of decisions. When you’re young, you think these decisions are super important. They paralyze you with their weightiness. But really, you just muddle through the best you can. If you’re lucky, like I am, you end up with awesome people like Mr. Mock and BG.
But part of the rub of having a lucky, charmed life, is that you start to realize that aging is about coming to understand that every turn in the path means there’s a bunch of paths that you’re never going to go down—that you actually don’t have time to do it all, as you so brazenly believed when you were young and invincible. And even though that’s okay, it’s sometimes hard to let go of all the other possibilities. Aging is about mourning the other lives you didn’t get to have.
But when it’s 20 below and you’re with Lily for one night in an impossibly beautiful restaurant, it’s like the divide between you and your alternate lives narrows. Or like that snowflake: it turns, and suddenly there’s another facet facing up, even though you know it’s going to melt before you can get a good look at it.
It seems like lately the internet is all about us versus them. The singletons versus the marrieds. The stay-at-home moms versus the working moms. Click like, thumbs up, thumbs down.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: aren’t we a lot more complicated in our souls? Aren’t we all of these things at once, like a snowflake turning over? Aren’t we always missing whatever version of us we buried so that we could become who we are?
And wouldn’t it be awesome to meet Lily every night at five o’clock at Lurcat? It would, but in this incarnation, I’m going to have to settle for a talking David Haselhoff birthday card. Happy 40th to me.
P.S. If you are going to Lurcat, eat in the bar. This all took place in the bar. I cannot vouch for the cafe. I think it might be too fancy-fancy.
P.P.S. We ate in the bar, but they let us order off the cafe menu. This is getting confusing.
I texted the boss a little Christmas greeting recently:
I got this back:
Not one to be shown up, I had the last word:
Yeah, I may be old, but I’m still hip with the sexting. Happy New Year, everyone.
There was another slumber party. (Who knew the extremely late thirties were going to be a second golden era for slumber parties?) We skipped the nature walk this time, though we did pretend until the very last minute that we were going to go on one, going so far as to pack winter hiking gear. Then we arrived at the boss’s house, and she uncorked the pink champagne. So what I’m saying is there was pink champagne on one hand, and a nature walk in subzero temperatures on the other.
You can probably surmise which one prevailed when I tell you that an hour later we were cruising to the pizza place and Lulu was shrieking, “I can sober up really fucking fast if we’re pulled over! I’m not taking the fall for you bitches!” (This is where we pause to disclaim that Lulu was not, in fact, driving. She was just being theatrical. The Boss, who was, in fact, driving, had not had anything to drink. Like, at all. Because we knew we had to go pick up the pizza. And because, evidence to the contrary, we’re not idiots. And because she’s the hostess with the mostess, and she knows that the hostess always designatedly drives. Mind you, we did pick up our pizza at 3 pm to take home and eat later, so there’s that.)
The main point of this sleepover was a re-match of last year’s Wii dance off. Me versus the Boss. The odds were on me, due to my landslide victory a year ago, which was, in turn, due to my uncanny ability to replicate the “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” moves (who knew?).
I talked some serious trash in the lead up, but in truth I was a little nervous this time. We were playing over the honour of a man. Kind of like a medieval tournament, but in reverse. And instead of, like, handkerchiefs as tokens of the beloved, there was Google images.
And that man was…Adam Levine. How this happened, I do not know. Somehow, I got pulled into a dance-off over the honour of that Maroon Five tattooed muscle dude.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t get Adam Levine. I could make a list of why, but that seems rude. Suffice it to say the Boss is a fan, and I am not.
After I kicked the boss’s ass, even without having to rely on any Dirty Dancing ditties, Lulu, ever the peacemaker, got philosophical.
I get it. He’s a total pig. If he came up to me, I’d like: gross. But sometimes there’s just the lust, and it is what it is.
Pause while she gazes at the ceiling.
If I knew what it was about him, I’d make a lot of money.
Then the boss and I put a squirrel Christmas ornament in Lulu’s bed, and instead of passing out from fear—she really hates squirrels—she just said, “VERY FUNNY.”
And then it was 10 pm and we all went to bed because we’re big talkers but that’s about it.
So everyone is doing daily gratitude thingies this month, it seems. I had a day off work, so I decided to pay attention. So here is a day’s worth. (Don’t worry, tomorrow we resume our regularly-scheduled program of selfish non-gratitude.)
- No commuting today.
- Hence no hurry to get the kid bundled up and out the door. So we had a 7 am Taylor Swift dance party. The kid, Bear, Mr. Greenius, and I are never, ever, ever getting back together with you. Just so you know.
- The province of Ontario’s commitment to early childhood education, which means my three-year-old can go to full-day junior kindergarten with integrated, affordable day care tacked on at the end of the day.
- Kindergarten teacher extraordinaire Mr. Brink, who coaxes wonderful insights out of my kid, teaches him crazy-awesome songs, and makes him want to go to school.
- Due to accident of birth, I don’t live in the Philippines, and can sit a world away worrying about commuting and kindergarten.
- My bike. Trusty and not-unstylish. Makes the aforementioned commute less awful.
- Funny fake grass as the “winter” plantings in the big planters on the Danforth.
- The guys at the local meat market. They have a big chalkboard that lists “athletes that get free meat here” and another one that lists “athletes who aren’t welcome here.” I don’t recognize most of the names, but when I make a case for Mary Lou Retton on the former, they pull a chair over, stand on it, and add her name—but not after some debate about the ethics of pulling tween girls out of school and making them do gymnastics for six hours a day. They also have tapped the keg in back—it’s Friday after all—and are pressing pints on customers. I decline, but I appreciate the gesture.
- The fact that I can walk to the meat market to buy fancy bacon and also to the newsstand to pick up an arcane publication that I suddenly need (a story for another post).
- Wise yoga teacher who sends tailor-made advice.
- When I walk in the door, Mr. Mock, awesome feminist husband who walks the walk, is doing bath (and has already done pick up and dinner). Both boys are belting out O Canada at the top of their lungs—in harmony.
- For a very brief window of time, I, despite my certified tin ear, am the preferred singer in the household due entirely to my ability to remember lyrics. Mr. Mock can harmonize but he can’t remember the words to Do-Re-Me. I, on the other hand, can belt out all three (long) verses of Rainbow Connection on demand.
- The kid has taught me to enjoy singing again, which I haven’t done since I got old enough to know about my tin ear.
- I basically live in an episode of Portlandia.
- Which I appreciate is a direct result of the taxes I happily pay. Because there is no Tear Party here.
It’s occurring to me that Jon Bon Jovi has been my pretend boyfriend for almost exactly twice as long as Mr. Mock has been my real one.0
Wait! There’s more! I just can’t get the embed code to work right. Go here for the full story:
BG’s Bowie fixation endures. This morning, Grammy took him to school. Our usual crossing guard is Joe, a lovely man who plays his stop sign like a guitar when he’s not actively engaged crossing kids. Grammy pointed out to BG that it wasn’t Joe today, but a substitute. BG did not accept this interpretation, insisting that it was, in fact, Joe. After they’d crossed, BG told Grammy that Joe had just “changed his look. Like David Bowie.”
An almost-four-year-old, commandeering your phone to play a David Bowie video marathon, because he’s obsessed in the way only almost-four-year-olds can be.0
Is David Bowie a boy or a girl?
Is David Bowie a pirate?
Is David Bowie still a boy?
Why does David Bowie’s hair colour change? (Because he likes to change his look.)
Why does David Bowie like to change his look? (He plays different characters. He likes to keep us guessing.)
Why does David Bowie like to keep us guessing? (I don’t know, it’s part of his thing.)
We should stop this one; this one is a little bit scary (Ashes to Ashes).
Does David Bowie have silver nail polish?
I don’t like that guy with the black hair (Klaus Nomi). He’s a little bit scary.
Why does David Bowie have two different coloured eyes?
What is that thing? (It’s a cigarette.)
What’s a cigarette? (It’s a thing that people used to put in their mouths but now we know they’re not good for you.)
Why doesn’t David Bowie have lightning on his head now?
Who is Major Tom?
Why is he in a tin can?