monday, the fourteenth of may, two thousand one
The sidebar has jetlag.

I told my secretary I would probably be late this morning. She asked, "What does that mean for you?" Since my normal arrival time would be considered 'late' to everyone else, I told her around 11. I didn't set my alarm when I went to bed last night (I didn't get home until 11:30, and like I going to sleep without knowing what happened on TXF?) but I woke up at 7:30 anyway. And just how motivated do you think I am to get to work before 11?

Right. So I'll write a little instead. About my weekend. Which was everything I expected, and much that I didn't.

I walked in my house around 8:00 Friday night. My parents were at the theater, but my grandmother was there. She lives about two hours from my parents and they had brought her down to spend the weekend with us. So we had a nice visit for an hour or so, then I went up and took a shower, and returned downstairs with my book to await my parents.

Finally, just after 11, they walked in the door. My mother looked momentarily confused when she saw me in the living room, as something was certainly out of place. Then there was much laughing and crying and hugging.

Mission accomplished. She was surprised.

She came upstairs while I was getting ready on Saturday morning, confessing that if she had known I was coming, she would never have suggested getting my grandmother for the weekend.

Sounds cold, but it was true for both of us. If there was a way we could have gotten rid of my father for the weekend too, it would have suited us just fine. We prefer each other's company over almost everyone else's. I laugh as much with her as I do with my silliest friends.

My father is jealous of this, but there really isn't anything I can do about it. He gets upset because my mother and I talk on the phone for an hour and then he'll get on the line and I don't have anything to say to him. It's just the way it is. We're girls, my mother and I. Our bond is going to be stronger no matter what.

So we stayed in the bathroom much longer than we needed to. I demonstrated the use of all my new MAC products, and we tried some of them out on her. Then she sat on the lid to the stool and I sat on the floor (it's carpeted) and we talked some more.

My father ended up going to play golf -- nothing, except maybe a funeral, but certainly not the presence of both his mother and his daughter, will keep him off the golf course when the weather is decent. So the three of us women sat on the screened-in porch with our books and conversed occasionally and read occasionally and my mother and I snuck off to the store at one point, again taking way longer than we needed to.

Then my father came back and we spent the next eight hours playing cards, with a slight interruption for dinner. First was a round of Hand & Foot, which is a variation on canasta. Then I taught them all how to play euchre, and there was a couple rounds of that. Then there was Tick, a rummy-type game. And then it was 11:00 and we all went to bed.

Before church Sunday, my father announced that he wasn't going to take my grandmother home until after my plane left, which wasn't until 6:30 that evening. So I told my father over brunch that my mother and I were going shopping for the afternoon, because I needed to spend some time with just my mother, probably leading him to think that I had some girl thing I actually needed to talk to her about, and it was fine with me if that was the impression I gave.

I don't know why I was so desperate for alone time with my mother. I just was. She had been telling me how homesick she had been for me lately, and I was missing her as well, and somehow I knew we just needed to be together with no one else around.

So after we got home from our lovely brunch at the Hershey Lodge, we changed our clothes and snuck out. First to Bed Bath and Beyond, so I could show her the sheets she had already offered to buy me, when I was in the BBBY in Kansas City, on the phone with her, looking for a particular kind of curtain she wanted. We spent almost 45 minutes in that store, and the only thing she bought was an OXO scrubbie (after I extolled the virtues of this particular kitchen tool, namely that because the sponge part twists on, it will not pop off like the rectangular ones do when you're using it to shove crap down the garbage disposal) and a tile and grout brush that she decided would make a good lint remover. (Seriously. She had gotten napkin fuzzies on her dress at brunch that wouldn't come off, so she's brushing my shirt with this grout brush when a BBBY clerk wandered by and decided to test our theory on her apron, and it worked beautifully.)

Then we went next door to Border's in search of a cookbook she had already and wanted to get for me. It's the Better Homes & Gardens New Dieter's Cookbook, and it's fabulous. One recipe per page with a nice big picture (invaluable for those of us who believe defrosting something in the microwave counts as 'cooking') and all the pertinent nutritional information. The recipes are simple and look very tasty.

But, they didn't have it. We looked at magazines for a while, then I decided I was craving an Italian soda, and my mother had never had one before, so we went in to the café and sat down. And stayed there for over an hour, not just chatting, but bonding.

I told her about France.

We had seen a print in BBBY, a collage of French things -- a ticket stub for the métro, an old picture of the Louvre, a letter with the stamp cancelled -- and while we were looking at it, my mother said, "You really need to go there."

So I told her, the whole plan. That I was already saving, planning to go next spring, working it around my career timeline. She seemed excited for me, even the part about going by myself, which I thought might freak her out a little.

We talked about her and my father, and how she's dealing with his ever-increasing case of Grouchy Old Man. We talked about my brother and his girlfriend, about whether they would get married. We talked about my friends who were getting married this summer, Elise and her fiancé who is more than a few but less than many years older than her, and then about a woman at The Firm who was my age and married someone who was 50.

And she said, "You know, I really think that's how it's going to be for you. It'll be someone older, and you'll get to know him, and you'll just know, and you'll probably get married pretty quickly."

And I almost cried with relief.

I had actually already had a conversation like this one with my friend Laura in L.A. She's 31, and she said she always thought she would marry someone older, and we discussed how it was more likely that the men we married would have been married before, and if we wait much longer, they'll have kids as well.

But hearing it from my mother was different. I wanted to cry, right there in the bookstore café, because I knew she hadn't given up on me, and suddenly I didn't want to give up on me either. And she told me it was okay if I didn't want to have kids, because your life can be just as full without them, and that made me want to cry too, because even though I have always seen myself as a mother, I've been starting to wonder if that is really the role for me.

Finally, we headed home. As we pulled into the garage, she said, "This afternoon, this was worth the whole weekend." And then we hugged, and then I did cry.

And I've thought about what she said the whole way home last night, and I really think she might be right.

There aren't going to be fireworks for me, I don't think. There won't be parades and fanfare and bunting. There won't be high drama, psychoanalyzing of conversations, late nights with friends saying "What do you think he meant when he said (blank)?"

I will just meet someone. Someone who has been around the block a few times, someone who is a little bit tired and a little bit wary. He will be smart, and he will be kind, and he will like movies and coffee and bookstores and beaches and dogs, and that will be enough. The ground won't shake and the stars won't shoot and sonnets won't be written. It will be peaceful, quiet, gentle, simple, true. And it won't take us long to figure out that it's right.

My mother gave me a gift on Mother's Day, instead of the other way around.

She restored my faith. By reaffirming her faith in me, in my future, she made me once again believe it could happen.

Just when I had lost all hope.

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