Of all the blessings in my life, one is my “Reckless Friends”, a group consisting of 7 women who somehow came together as friends in the manner of recklessness, laughter, and being non-judgmental. We could not be more different. We range in age from 40 to 60-something. Some of us work, some don’t. All of us are married except for me, some of us on our second marriage. Our careers and talents are vastly widespread, from private detective to dance teacher. We are lawyer’s wives, mothers, writers, animal-lovers.
But what we do have in common is we are all ladies of leisure at heart who like to have fun and laugh. We support each other through the ups and downs that seem to happen…job losses, sick kids, divorce and other more serious things…death of a family member, estrangement from a child.
I distinctly remember our first “official” lunch because it was right after PC left. The ladies wanted to see me and my BFF encouraged me to go. I was a train wreck then, so overwhelmed and stressed out that I barely remember the conversation. I do remember their faces, where we went (Applebees), where each of them was sitting in relation to me. I remember letting my BFF take the reins in the story-telling and watching the look of shock on this one’s face and disgust on that one’s face.
I remember the little things they did for me…buying my lunch, taking my kids to the pool when I was moving, making me smile in the midst of a chaotic storm. I remember the big things: one of them taking me to the ER when I sprained my ankle and couldn’t drive and had two kids to hurry off to school. One of them drove me to my first court-ordered co-parent counseling session with promises to run PC over if he so much as gave me a cross look.
One of these ladies dressed up and came to court with me one day, for moral support and intimidation purposes. One of them went above and beyond to make my first book-signing happen, and she also is the driving force behind finally admitting my eyebrows look better when they’re shaped, despite the trauma of waxing. Another one put a lot of thought and effort into getting my kids some really wonderful Christmas gifts.
These women all came together on my 40th birthday with a genuine sense of celebration. They gave me meaningful and purposeful gifts…a special bracelet and homemade bookmarks that will go down in history as the funniest thing I’ve ever received. Gift certificates for hair appointments and the grocery store, good wine, funny messages written in cards.
We’ve spent summer upon summer floating in pools and embracing this banter and the inside jokes that can only evolve over time. No one will ever find us as funny as we find ourselves, or understand the hilarity of our reckless corner, industrial-sized beer slushies, the excitement of large font on one’s phone, or the ability of another one to pull an entire outfit, complete with accessories, out of her purse.
So last week, some of us made it to lunch (sadly not all of us) and it was literally a three hour comedy show in which we sipped vodka drinks, dined, and were “that table” that other patrons would look over their shoulders when we got too loud, but with a smile…they knew we were having fun.
Our topics ranged from one’s long ago roofy experience to another’s plan to haunt any woman from the grave who tries to hook up with her husband to my increasing and perplexing list of male suitors (more on that later.) That night, my children stared at me as if I were a mental patient when our group text recounting lunch had me in tears I was laughing so hard.
The point of all this? I can’t even imagine what it must be like to not have something like this in your life. This isn’t even the only group of friends I have, or the ones I see the most. But its a very tightly-knit group, and its based entirely on kindness, caring, and slapstick routine humor. What if you didn’t have people who you could both call for an emergency and count on to make you laugh so hard your stomach burns and you can’t breathe?
Last night was my kids’ Science Fair, in particular, my daughter’s very first. I walked in with a different attitude than last year, when I was forced to watch the PC-and-Trollup show while they kissed and hugged and flirted right next to me. This year, I just didn’t care. I didn’t speak to either of them, but there we were: me, PC, Trollup. Trollup’s ex and his fiancé. And half the school’s kids and parents.
PC, ever the asshole, left ten minutes into it. He took our son, and left our daughter with Trollup. TEN MINUTES. Other parents milled about, socializing, rolling their eyes about how hot and stuffy it was in the gym, ogling over the kids’ projects and helping them explode volcanos and turn purple vials of water into blue. Fathers entertained bored toddlers and moms chatted with teachers. And PC took our son and left, ten minutes into it.
You cannot tell me that won’t scar my daughter, in some very small way. That she won’t remember it, along with all the other ways he’s abandoned her. That he didn’t just chip another piece of the father-shaped hole in her little soul. So, I stayed (even though it was “his” weekend.)
I stayed, and I mingled. I hugged people, I laughed, I saw one of my “reckless friends” and we caught up. I caught people’s eyes as they watched PC leave and Hot Daycare Dad (who has resurfaced) texted me from across the sea of trifold boards. And Trollup?
Trollup, whose amazing fiancé left her with his child and his ex-wife (me, who will not speak to or look at her) and her ex-husband and the woman she was replaced with. Great support system there. And not only that, but she was also left with the sole responsibility of getting a giant project with a volcano and supplies out of the building by herself.
I almost went back in. As I left, after kissing and hugging my daughter and trying to infuse enough affection on her to fill her up for a weekend, I thought about that. Its a classic PC move, he always did it to me. Leaving early, to avoid having to pack up, say good-byes, etc. Taking our son along with him in some pathetic gesture that he was actually doing something responsible by “taking care of him” (sidenote: son has basically been self-sufficient since the toddler days. Really.)
I almost went back. Because the difference between Trollup and me last night was that she had no one. Sure, she talked to people but she doesn’t have a close-knit group of ride-or-die chicks. Even her “friends” don’t speak very highly of her. She was mostly quiet, off to the side, clearly uncomfortable.
The difference is, if it were me, I would have had a village of friends to pick from to help me…and only one of my Reckless Friends was there. I know this. And if no one was there to help me, I would for certain be able to relay the story and receive empathy at our next lunch. I would have come home seething and angry but I would have texted them and they would respond as an army might. I can not imagine not having that.
And I won’t take the credit for this, but after years of promising (and failing) that we would start getting together when it wasn’t pool season, we finally did it beginning with that lunch that seems light years ago, when I was a broken, jagged mess and they rallied around me. Just one more blessing that’s come out of PC’s decision to cheat, lie and leave.
Honestly, we should all be thanking him…perhaps a toast at our next Reckless Lunch!