I was nursing my daughter around midnight when I remembered to respond to a text I’d gotten earlier in the week from my dear friend Elizabeth. She lives in LA, three time zones to the west, so I didn’t have to worry about waking her up … and sure enough, she wrote back right away.
We live such different lives these days, it’s hard for us to stay in touch sometimes. She works long hours in Hollywood, and by the time she gets in her car to head home, I’m already asleep. When we do connect, our conversations are dropped somewhere in the mountains as she drives out of cell phone range, or they are interrupted by my impatient toddler, or the necessities of dinner and bedtime stories.
But at one time in our lives, as college roommates, we spent most of every day together. Eating in the dining hall, walking to parties in the snow, sitting next to each other in poetry class. Her whistling and singing, which she did almost constantly, became the soundtrack of my daily life (and a pleasant one at that). Later, as seniors living off campus, we threw wine and cheese parties every week in our apartment, disguising its shabbiness with excessive candlelight and moody electronic music.
Just a few days before we moved out at the end of senior year, I watched her flutter around the apartment as she arranged flowers in various jars. The reality of our impending separation sank in my heart like a stone. Then I wrote a bad poem about it. Ah, youth.
Serendipitously, Elizabeth called me just hours after Sally was born to see how I was doing, unaware of the event that had just transpired. “I had a baby! This morning!” I answered. Somehow I wasn’t surprised that she had called. Like there is still a current of connectivity running between us, no matter how thin we stretch it.
We hadn’t spoken much since then, until our late night texting. I asked when the Emmy’s are happening, because you see, she’s nominated for one. (They are tonight.) She sent photos of four gowns and I helped her decide which to wear. By then Sally had fallen asleep next to me on the bed, and I was debating on whether I should move her … Elizabeth wisely recommended I leave her there.
The next morning I laughed into my coffee when I scanned my phone, reviewing our conversation. We had both offered each other advice, albeit for very different decisions. Our lives, it seemed, couldn’t be farther apart. I told myself this was funny, but when I recounted it to my husband, tears pooled in my eyes.
And why? Because I miss her? Because I wish it were me on the red carpet? Because I want her to meet my daughter? Because I’m mourning those late nights in our apartment, after everyone had gone, when we listened to Aphex Twin and the only thing we had to worry about was the hangover we’d have for our 9 AM class?
Yes. All of these things. All of the feelings, as the kids say these days. The irony and the nostalgia and the jealousy and the frank fondness for my own, simple life … it all hit me at once in a beautiful mess of emotion (and probably some mommy hormones). And that’s so much of what life is these days.