“She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be… I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.” – The House on Mango Street
Sometimes my life feels like a waiting game. Waiting for the alarm to ring, the dryer to finish, the kids to go to sleep.
There’s something else I often find myself anxiously waiting for and I’m just going to say it…I’m going to say the thing I’m not supposed to say. I often find myself anxiously waiting for the Fridays when my ex comes to take the kids for the weekend. I do. I know. I’m horrible.
I’m not always counting the minutes to pick-up, but sometimes, like this past Friday, I feel like a caged animal wanting a moment to go to the bathroom without having to conduct a conversation from the other side of the door. Those Fridays are also the same day I hire someone to clean the house. It’s one of my suburban luxuries and one that I’m not ashamed of and for which I would (and have) sacrificed a lot. I wait two weeks for this treat.
The weekend then becomes a whole other kind of waiting game. I wait for the gym to open, the mall to open, the party to start. Sometimes I’m waiting for the weather to get better or the my phone to buzz with a text. At times, waiting for the right person to walk into my life, to fall in love.
This weekend was different. This weekend there were no happy hours, bars, or late dinners. I didn’t go to the movies and I didn’t go dancing. I didn’t wear heels or put on my contacts. As a matter of fact, I think it may have been the first time in my life where I just spent my weekend all by myself. I spent the weekend with the TV on Law and Order and on my iPad recording a voice over job. I went from my bedroom to the kitchen to the family room with reckless abandon. I waited for no one and no one was waiting for me.
At times I got lost in my imagination and enjoyed thinking about the future I’m always waiting for. At times I was lachrymose, remorseful of the futures I’ve given away. At times I wondered how long I could endure this. What if it was forever? What if, this is what the rest of my weekends will be like?
The truth is that over the last four years I’ve made strides to find relationships or companionship at the gym or yoga, at clubs and bars and have found many empty nights and dead ends. And I know it doesn’t seem logical, because companionship isn’t just going to walk through my door, but being alone feels like the only thing I haven’t tried.
Anyway, I stood in the kitchen Saturday morning, thinking that since it’s just me I could live of egg whites and Ezekiel bread all weekend…That I’d wait for the kids to get home so Sofi and I could start making the chicken dumplings she’s been dying to try. By now all the anticipation I had for wanting the kids to leave was replaced by the longing to have them back home.
It was while I was staring at the steamer that I recognized the flaw in my thinking. Why am I always waiting?
It’s a habit of thinking I know too well. Any time I’ve wanted to accomplish anything in my life, I’ve had to battle the demon of thinking I should just wait. I’ve had to stop sitting around with my sadness on my elbow wishing things were different, and convince myself that I’m worth more than my current salary, partnership, weight. Tonight, I had to struggle to convince myself I was worth more than a meal on a paper plate and reheated piece of chicken.
Just that morning I did two loops around US1 before I convinced myself that I was going to do my workout instead of waiting until later, and I had to convince myself that evening once again, that I don’t have to wait for anyone or anything to chop the garlic and the onion, dampen the dumpling wraps and make myself a beautiful meal.
I know there’s something that lies within me that worries if I get so good at being alone, that that’s how I’ll stay. I’ve put off being more independent, treating myself, and pushing myself for fear that no one will want to stand by me, much less share a meal.
Either way, I put out the spread, wrapped the dumplings, set them in the Bamboo Steamer and made myself a something special, something delicious.
About an hour later my ex and the kids arrived in time to taste them and share the meal with me. Sometimes, I suppose you don’t need to wait, you just have to DO, and the people you love and the moments you need simply arrive.