Fresh Dirt Wine Women and Chocolate
It was my first time. In a women's group I mean. I hadn't written down the access code to get in the gate. Shit, this was gonna make me so late. They were gonna think I was one of those weirdos trying to draw attention to myself by being perpetually late. I tried the gate and it was ajar, how odd. Ok someone was careless and didn't pull it all the way closed. The meeting was in the back house so I went nowhere near that scary and formidable front door. I shot a fisheye at the manicured roses as I stepped onto the grass like some twitchy, upscale burglar. I walked to the side of the mansionand
oh shit! Another gate, another access code I didn't have. Story of my life! They were probably watching me right now as I struggled to become one of them, my heels sinking into fresh grass. Was this some kind of initiation, some mind fuck? I knew firsthand how twisted women could be. In junior high, I had pretended to faint so my best friend wouldn't try out for cheerleader with Tracey Johnson. Anyway, what the hell was I doing here? They all had perfect lives, were living their dream, never bitched about their in-laws and didn't have a drinking problem.
I tried the gate, it was open. That couldn't have been a coincidence. Maybe they were really doing something important here. Maybe they didn't fuck around. My front door was always left unlocked. Or maybe they just felt sorry for the newbie. I tip toed to the backyard and noticed perfect cherry tomatoes overflowing in pots. The sun hit them just so and they giggled at me as I walked past in my cheap high heels. She starts her garden early every year. She has her shit together, honey, they chortled. Shit, I hadn't even thought of starting a vegetable garden yet. I was still recovering from Christmas with extended family and it was April!
Suddenly, I was standing in front of an open door. There were just a few of them there! I wasn't late. Well actually, I was but they didn't give a shit. A woman with knowing eyes approached. I felt like she could see all the way up the corridors of my life, all of my misfittedness in one glance. But even so, it was something she could handle. She kind of winked, I'm Marilyn she said, Welcome. Another one approached, Catherine she smiled like a teenager full of mischief. I'm Deborah, another one with eyes that sang. I went to the ladies room and felt a huge sense of relief. Jesus, most of the time, women talked in a nervous wall of words. I looked at the decoration in the bathroom and thought, Is it possible that I'll become friends with these women? Will there be a time when I leave the door open when I pee? I looked in the mirror and washed my hands. I wonder when the owner of this mansion will show up? I'm sure I'll know her immediately when I see her
she's a philanthropist, all philanthropists have that look.
More women had arrived and we went around the room to say something about ourselves. I was mesmerized. It was like looking into a mirror but not. It was different talking. Different than in the outside world. When I talked, they listened. So I talked. I talked too much but they didn't give a shit. I already knew three of the women in the group but they weren't here yet. They were late. But no one gave a shit. We were grown ups. I had pictured them here and me sitting near them before the meeting even began, sort of telling me what to do. But by the time Dari, Minnie and CJ walked through those glorious open doors I was doing fine, all on my own.
Marilyn asked me what was the happiest moment of my life. I looked into those eyes that were looking back at me I was like a stray dog deciding whether to jump into a car of strangers. And I jumped.
Happiest moment, I'm in China, and my daughter's little legs wrapped around my waste for the first time. And how on the 2nd day I stayed in the hotel with her and figured out how she drank. It was out of a bowl not a bottle. And my reason for being in the group came out tooto focus on myself now, since my daughter was 10. I saw heads nodding in agreement, yes they said. Yes to infertility, yes to adoption, yes to unrequited dreams, yes to pouring everything into being a mother, yes to packing her lunch so tight it was like a fucking rubix cube trying to make it all fit. And yes to finding a new path, a new goal, a new corridor in my life. I was supposed to have done all that stuff that I did in the past. I saw respect for putting my daughter first all those years. Understanding for being neurotic about her health, her food, her school, her LIFE. And I told them about my one woman show and I heard no snickers of scorn, no chortles of judgement that I must either be a narcissist, or a big loser because no one would perform with me but myself. I saw respect and what I said meant something. My goals had witnesses. Beautifully human, childlike yet grown up humans, beautifully flawed witnesses. I felt the tiny corridors of my life open up to the light of the day. My garden was ready for planting.
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