#1, to Mary and Jen, the “Golden Girls.”
The three of us interned together at Shearman & Sterling in 2007. Our “office” was an internal conference room with no windows. Jen would be furiously working all the time, yelling at Mary and I to keep quiet. Mary and I never understood why she was always so stressed out; back then, summer internships at large firms like that were largely a joke. They wined and dined you, and as long as you weren’t a complete moron, you would get a permanent offer of employment upon graduation. At the same time they handed you the (paid) internship, they essentially had handed you a guaranteed six-figure salary the day you finished law school. Meanwhile, Mary’s first words to the two of us was that all of her friends were exclusively men. There was little indication she was going to make an exception for us. Me in particular she immediately identified as “girly,” and I’m not sure I had ever really felt “girly” before that moment (I typically feel sort of “masculine,” even as I wear dresses and make-up — but not next to Mary, who while also feminine, has way more edge than me). Her boyfriend at the time was a one-man band whose stage name was “Trainwreck Washington.” As a way to see the more interesting parts of the city, I’d eagerly go along with her to his various gigs he had in dive bars across lower east side, including “Banjo Jim’s” in Alphabet City (it no longer exists). He had a way of attracting colorful characters, being one himself, so the writer in me was curious to observe.
Anyway, put three people in a windowless room for enough hours a day under some amount of stress, and I don’t care how different you are — at some point, you realize you’re all deliciously the same, and you connect at a really deep level. That’s what happened to us. We stayed in touch during our last year in law school, and upon graduation, we reunited at the firm. We chose different practice groups, and we each had very different experiences. My career took off almost immediately; Mary struggled; Jen did well but worked way too much.
A lot has changed since then. I was married when I met them. They watched that marriage fall apart, and then they watched me fall apart. Mary meanwhile called off an engagement during that time. We all left the firm. Jen to become a professor; Mary because she never much liked the work, and even now is still making peace with it as at least being a way to make money; and me to try another corporate firm before settling where I am. And of course, now I’m remarried, have joined a cult, etc.
Since the first year we met, we’ve had a running theme of being the “Golden Girls.” Mary is Dorothy, Jen is Rose, and I’m Blanche, I think, though it’s not a perfect fit. We’ve sang the theme song out loud at many a bar, and at Jen’s wedding (on her wedding video). We’re not best friends anymore, and I don’t get drunk at dive bars anymore. But when we get together, I get such a sense of comfort and belonging. We’re three misfits who found each other.
Anyway, this past week, Mary sent us an email about “Golden Girls” granny panties. It was, of course, a joke, but it reminded me that I neglect our friendship too much because of all the “differences” I perceive between us now — the same “differences” that were washed away from all those hours spent together the year we first met. In a way, the two of them are like family; and like family, I spend more time “approving” or “disapproving” of their lives or their choices than I do just connecting. Mary had mentioned a while ago the three of us getting together for dinner with our spouses in Astoria. A big, Greek dinner. We all agreed it would be a good idea, but it sounded like one of those things that you say but doesn’t actually happen.
So, yesterday I sent an email asking that it happen, and throwing out specifics about dates and location. It was a small action, but an effective one. They both responded, we settled on a date, we settled on a place, and we’re all excited about it. I’m apprehensive, of course. The three of us easily fall back into a comfortable connection with each other, but having our spouses present poses a challenge. It will be interesting, though, and that’s enough for me to be on board.
#2, to Jimbo. I cooked him dinner, as I do every Sunday night. It started out as request by him, as he was taking care of us most nights but wanted to even out the workload a little bit. Because of my longer work hours, we settled on me cooking one night a week (though these days sometimes I cook Thursday nights, too). The first night I did it, it was disturbing how turned on he got (lol). Something about having a little woman in the kitchen cooking and cleaning really did it for him (men.). But truth be told, I sort of enjoy it; the act of cooking itself I find enjoyable. I’m not any good at it, and I have no natural ability for it — I google literally everything (I googled how to make “over easy” eggs once when Jimmy wanted me to break breakfast; the directions I found, which were painfully specific, were still sort of confusing for me — so I watched a video of it on YouTube — three times). I like the physicality of it, though. The fire of the burners, the boiling of the water, the smoke, the smells, the textures of the food. It gets me out of my head, and it’s nice to have the finished product be a warm meal I get to serve to the person I love.
#3, to myself. I don’t know that I consciously contributed to myself yesterday. We did a lot of nothing. The only time I left the couch was to go to the grocery store. I guess the main gift I gave myself was laying off, giving myself some room. Do nothing today. It’s okay. You’ll pick up where you left off tomorrow.