I had some fun this past week. I packed in what was for me about a year's worth of social activities without any children.
Last Wednesday I went to dinner with the women of the MOPS (that's Mothers of Pre-Schoolers, for those of you who don't drive minivans) group that I attend. The fun of eating in a restaurant unencumbered by kids was almost completely canceled out by my mortification over the VERY loud and excited conversation at our table. It consisted of women trying to out-do one another--oh, I'm sorry, I mean sharing with one another--by virtue of telling about their pregnancy and birth journeys in as much glorious clinical detail as possible.
It was like sitting around at the old folks' home, but instead of complaints about bad hips and osteoporosis, it was comparisons of length of bed rest, severity of gestational diabetes, and days spent in the NICU after the birth. The one good thing to come of all of it was that I was left feeling pretty blessed for having successfully given birth to two relatively healthy babies.
On Thursday night I came very close to missing out on the fun that was to be had. The boys were being so difficult that I almost felt too defeated to drag myself out of the house. But I mustered up my oomph and went downtown by myself to attend a book reading and signing by Boise resident and author Anthony Doerr. I hadn't read either of his first two books, a novel called About Grace and The Shell Collector, a collection of short stories.
What drew me to the event was what I'd heard about the new book he would be reading from: Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. In the book he chronicles the year he spent on a writing fellowship in Rome with his wife and six-month old twins.
I had expected to be able to relate to the book, and I did. So much so that I was annoyed at not having written it myself. Anyone who has traveled overseas will find it familiar. Anyone who has had a first baby will find it familiar. Anyone who has traveled overseas with first babies will find it even MORE familiar. The difference, of course, is that the very talented and charismatic Anthony Doerr wrote it. I was so glad I went.
The event was held in a beautiful old upstairs room in downtown Boise. Had the event been held in Bend, the demographic would have been exactly the same (some people my age, no one younger, plenty older) but everyone would have been sporting fleece. To my great relief the crowd was all outfitted in "dressy casual" with nary a fleece in sight.
While I was waiting in line for my book to be signed ("To a fellow overseas parent/Love Tony") a distinguished-looking, trim and tanned white-haired elderly man joined his friends in front of me. We were all rather squished together, and he was facing me, and I tried DESPERATELY not to react as he told his friends that he'd just come back from two months in France. He and his wife spent one of those months in Paris in a rented apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis, right next to the ice cream shop. I know this ice cream shop. It was so hard not to chime in.
The gentleman must have misinterpreted the looks I was trying not to cast his way, becaue he apologized for butting in on me in the line.
"Not at all," I said. "I was interested in your conversation because I'm going to Paris soon myself."
He was delighted, asking me when I was going, and for how long. I had to tap him to indicate that it was his turn to have his book signed.
He turned toward Anthony Doerr (who was working on a fresh beer) and I thought Anthony was going to fall off his chair. "I can't BELIEVE that YOU came to my book signing!" He went on in this manner for some time. The din in the echoing room was awful, so I couldn't pick up any more of the conversation other than one emphatic remark: "If you EVER need me to write anything for you, just let me know." He patted the man on the hand as he said it.
Of course I was dying with curiosity. Who was that man?
"Can you BELIEVE it?" said Anthony, as I approached the table. "That was Jerry gobbledygook." Actually, I don't even know if the first name was Jerry. It was so LOUD.
"WHO?" I yell.
"YES!" he replies, with a look that says "Can you believe it?"
I give up.
If any of you out there have any leads, let me know.
Well, on Friday I'd have to say the fun reached its fever pitch. Our friends the Hamiltons came over and, after a dinner of Hamilton-prepared pulled pork and a Martin-provided corn, tomato and avocado salad, the men kept the kids while Amanda and I headed downtown for a glorious evening of girl time. Oh, how we needed it. Oh, how we needed it. Did I mention that we really needed it?
As if my week hadn't been outstanding enough already, Shaun's grandparents came and visited us on Saturday. They were excited to come see our new place and we were happy, as always, to have them. I definitely won the family lottery when I married into having Chick and Laurel as grandparents.
I've had a pretty memorable few days, but it won't exclusively be the outings that stick in my mind. Today Nels took reading material into the bathroom with him for the first time. A farming magazine called "The Furrow." And the image that will make me smile when I think of these days is the one of Nels and Willem in the sunny kitchen, sitting side by side on the tile floor with their legs extended, backs against the red wall, happily double-fisting Honey Maid graham crackers.