Last spring, I heard from one of my best friends from college that she was going through a bit of a life upheaval. Not like the "I just won $245 million in the lottery and I'm not sure weather to buy an island or have a stadium renamed after me" kind of upheaval, but the "I could use some extra support from my girlfriends" kind of upheaval. As soon as I hung up the phone with her, I dialed DH at work.
"Honey, do you think I could go out to Boston to visit my friend?" I asked in my best Adoring Wife voice. "We just got our tax refund, I could use some of it for the plane tickets."
He didn't hesitate. "Of course!" Then a brief pause. "You're taking the boys, right?"
After I finished laughing hysterically and wiped the tears from my eyes, I gently suggested maybe he could take a few days off of work. I'd only be gone for a long weekend. He agreed, and the trip was conceived.
Fast forward a few months to this past Wednesday night, the evening before my plane left. We put the kids down for bed, and suddenly I found my stomach was in knots. I was nervous, practically terrified! I tried to talk it out with DH, to figure out what was going on. He suggested maybe I was worried about how the kids would do without me, or maybe I was afraid I would miss them terribly.
Which certainly plays into it somewhat. Naturally I do miss them. I look at their grainy, blurred pictures on my dinosaur phone all the time.
But I think it's more than that.
At the airport, I was a complete idiot. You'd think it was my first time seeing big machines with wings and engines that fly in the sky like birdies. I'm staring at the departure screen, trying to find my gate. Boston... Boston... Boston... no Delta flights to Boston.
Okay, take a deep breath and look again.
No Delta flights to Boston.
OMG THERE ARE NO DELTA FLIGHTS TO BOSTON AND I'M NOT SURE WHAT'S GOING ON BUT I DO KNOW THERE ARE NO DELTA FLIGHTS TO BOSTON AND I NEED TO FIND SOMEONE TO HELP ME BECAUSE I'M SUPPOSED TO GO TO BOSTON AND THERE ARE NO! DELTA! FLIGHTS! TO! BOSTON!
I look down at my ticket to check the flight number and departure time.
Because it wasn't a nonstop flight.
Which, naturally, I already knew.
I looked at the screen again, and phew! There was a Delta flight to Detroit. Praise the Lord in Heaven.
As I made my way to my gate, I passed throngs of families with little ones. Little ones carrying backpacks with their names embroidered on the back. Little ones in strollers, sucking binkies and looking as relaxed as I wished I was.
And I felt naked. What was I missing? Had my ticket, had my books, had my iPod, had my xtreme-chocolate-flavor-blasted Goldfish crackers to snack on.
What I was lacking, therefore, was three small boys and one husband.
To compensate for the feeling that I was forgetting or missing something, I developed OCD checking for my purse, which was tucked in my carry-on. I can only imagine what my row-mates thought was in my bag, as I grabbed it every 5 minutes and frantically felt around inside. I'm rather surprised that I wasn't escorted off the plane by an Air Marshal for suspicious behavior. Just goes to show you they'll let any wacko on a plane these days.
Fortunately the flights were relatively uneventful. On the first leg, I sat next to Jon Gosslin in disguise (i.e. he wasn't wearing Ed Hardy), and boy does that man TALK! He was one of those people who spouts a lot of random facts. At first, I couldn't decide if he was full of crap or if he belonged on Jeopardy. Eventually it turned out that yes, he was just full of crap. My layover was a matter of mere minutes, and I was nervous that I wouldn't make the connection, but fortunately there wasn't a problem. On the second leg of the trip, I sat next to a young man who slept the entire flight. (Wow, I can't believe I just typed "young man." Further evidence that I am, indeed, very old.) Anyway, it allowed me to finish reading Life from Scratch, written by one of my favorite bloggers ever, Melissa Ford. Devoured cover-to-cover on the trip, it was such a delicious read. (HA! Get it? It's a book about cooking, and I "devoured" it because it was "delicious." Just wanted to make sure you caught that.)
My friend picked me up at the airport (natch) and we headed out to dinner. Which was incredible. Did I mention I'm not dieting on the trip? My goal is to gain back at least 5 pounds. Hey, they'll have more SlimFast shakes at Fred Meyer when I get back. Anyway, we stuffed our faces (okay, I stuffed my face, my friend is much more civilized) and chatted about Life. I think we were able to tease out the reason that, although I expect to feel FREE and UNENCUMBERED during this trip, I feel... well, not quite that. Not yet, at least.
For the first time in years, I am somewhere that I am neither Wife nor Mother. I am just... Sunny. I am with my friend, who knew me in college as Sunny well before I got married. I am meeting her friends here, who aren't watching me wipe evidence of lunch off the faces of my children, but rather are seeing me as Sunny.
I feel... exposed.
And that scares the crap out of me.
I'm worried my clothes aren't cool enough. I'm worried I won't have anything interesting to say. I'm worried my friend will think, "Wow, you've lost a lot of yourself over the years."
And I guess on the deepest level, I'm worried that I'll agree.
I'm hoping that this trip is exactly what the doctor (now a psychiatrist, apparently) ordered. I've got three days of exploring and tasting here in Boston, then another day spent traveling home. Hopefully during that time I can really start enjoying the fact that I don't have anyone depending on me to pull their pants down so that they can pee, or cut their grilled cheese into itty bitty pieces. Hopefully during that time I can remember how it feels to just be Sunny, for better or for worse.
But, if you'll excuse me now, I need to get going. I'm going to go practice being Sunny during a massage. And mani/pedi. And shampoo and blowdry.
The things I'll do to support a friend and rediscover myself, I tell ya. It's rough.