Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ghost of Becky Past

There she was. Standing in the vestibule with us on the second floor outside the OB/GYN's office, waiting for the elevator. I always talk to strangers given the opportunity (because really? The only other option is to mutually stare at the fake potted tree.), and she was no exception. Especially when I noticed perhaps the cutest Coach bag I'd ever seen. I complimented her on it with some enthusiasm, and she responded in kind. "I know, right? It's one of my favorites. I have a collection of about 10 or 12, but this one always seems to work." Ah, my kind of girl. Not just chatty, but also willing to share her obsession with hand bags with a complete stranger. As in, not shy. As in, just like me. The elevator arrived and we stepped on, whereupon she got a really good look at Will in his stroller and started exclaiming over him, "What a doll-baby!" She engaged Marty in conversation for a few seconds while I subtly glanced her over. Dark hair in a perfect and trendy angled bob. Great makeup -- probably M.A.C. if I had to guess. Adorable A-line, knee-length sundress in black and bold colors; again, totally something I would wear because we brunettes tend to look pale and ridiculous in pastels. Finally, her shoes were casual and breezy flip-flop flats but sported whimsically large black flowers. Mentally, I gave her an A+ and only then did I think, I wonder what I'm wearing?

I almost groaned aloud. I remembered that I'd barely jumped out of the shower by the time we had to hit the road to make it to the appointment without being egregiously late. I'd given my face a token once-over with a makeup brush, and I knew I'd devoted at least 30 seconds to mascara and eyeliner, so not a total loss there. But then, those precious seconds seriously cut into my usual time with the blowdryer, so I'd had to pull my hair back into an elastic band and tried to tame my bangs with a headband. I knew without looking that I was sporting some major frizz up-top. Ugh. Then I looked down...oh heavens. Beat-up silver flip-flops purchased from Target about 3 years ago? Of course. My go-to shoes that stay by the front door, thus the reason for wearing them now. Black maternity shorts that have been worn and washed so many times, they're kind of a charcoal gray now. A raspberry t-shirt that the maternity clothiers probably intended as a pajama top, but which I was wearing now as street clothes. I thought, please don't let her look too hard. Especially at the hair needing a cut, color, and highlight, or the nails in desperate need of a mani/pedi. And oh my gosh, did I at least shave my legs?

I had all these thoughts in the space of an elevator ride. At the main floor, we all disembarked and cute Coach bag girl was teasing Marty about getting me pregnant twice in a row, and how he owed me a pile of Coach bags in gratitude. We all laughed, then she looked at me and said, "In all seriousness, are you a member of Coach online? Every once in awhile you get a 20% off coupon, plus you can use it at the outlet mall in Sevierville." I said, no I wasn't, but golly, thanks for the tip! She said "No problem, and good luck!" and walked away with a little spring in her step toward her white SUV. That's when I was really struck. Hey, I have a white SUV! I have a Coach bag and cute shoes -- somewhere! Hey, I USED TO BE THAT GIRL!

I got into the car and told Marty, "There goes the Ghost of Becky Past." I told him how, during the height of my successful career days when I worked in downtown Indy, I used to walk to Nordstrom on my lunch hour and shop clearance racks for actually affordable designer labels. How I used to have a whole collection of shoes: sexy boots for winter and oh-my-stars, the tiny little sandals and espadrilles I had for spring and summer. Three years, about 5 moves, and 2 straight years of pregnancy have forced me to shove said shoes in some storage corner or another. Along with my clothes -- half of my closet is devoted to dresses in dry cleaner's bags. My cute dresses, the dresses I may never fit into again -- that is, if they're even in style anymore by the time I'm brave enough to rip open the bags!

But while I thought about it, it wasn't just the wardrobe that I saw -- and recognized -- on cute Coach bag girl, it was the lifestyle. I knew without looking that girlfriend had her cell phone handy, ready to call a friend on her way home, or to Target, or to Starbucks, where she'd pick up a latte in the drive-thru and chat about her day. She might pick up her dayplanner and see what she had going on tomorrow, or the weekend, and try to fit in an eyebrow wax and a lunch date on Saturday. She might even try to get away for the weekend to visit her best friend, so they could go shopping and watch movies and lay around for hours perusing magazines and just talking. I know these things. I know, because I USED TO BE THAT GIRL.

As we drove home, I wondered why I was being so nostalgic. I continued to wonder over the next few days and slowly I've come to a couple of conclusions. First of all, and most obviously, the lifestyle that I was remembering was EASY. And it was FUN. But then, I remembered, it was also very LONELY. I could talk for hours here about the bad marriage, but suffice it to say that home was the loneliest place of all, so I did what I could to keep myself busy elsewhere. I secretly regretted not knowing true love. I not-so-secretly ached for a baby to hold and love and raise. There was so much missing from that life, and I have to be fair about the memories and remember ALL of it.

Second, the lifestyle that I'm living now is HARD. Okay, it is hard for ME. There's just no two ways about it. We didn't plan on having two babies so close in age, but it happened and here we are. (Lucy, when you read this in about 20 years, you must know that I'm ecstatic to have you and that "accidents" don't happen.) Gone are the dresses; I spend my days in maternity pajamas, the only garb I find not completely uncomfortable. Gone are the lattes; I barely swallow half a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The phone doesn't ring because I live far away from every single friend I have. I don't have free time to watch movies; I watch The Backyardigans with my little boy and wake up with its obnoxious tune in my head. I heave and heft my 25-pound child on my hip while carrying his 7-pound sister inside, and my limbs and muscles just ache at the end of the day. And this is all with Lucy still unborn! I know life is only going to get more difficult and challenging before it begins to ease up, and that alone is a hefty burden to bear mentally. I know I will need fortitude and strength -- and HOPE -- in the days ahead.

Which brings me to conclusion #3. I saw the Ghost of Becky Future. It occurred to me that it's possible, and conceivable, and achievable, for me to somehow merge the memory of the lifestyle that was and the reality of now. I know that once I'm no longer pregnant (what's that like?), Becky will get her groove back! And when that happens, well, this is how it's gonna go. I'll pile into my white SUV. After buckling in both my kids into their carseats, of course. We'll hit the Starbucks drive-thru for a latte. I may have Bible songs blasting from the stereo instead of P!NK, but we'll be there. We'll drive to the mall. I'll unload my kids and half a ton of stroller gear and paraphernalia, but we'll sail into Von Maur, dressed in nothing resembling pajamas. We'll visit clearance racks to search for affordable designer labels. And by golly, I'll be pushing my kids around and someone will stop me at the elevator to exclaim, "That's just the cutest Coach bag I've ever seen!"

And I'll smile and say thank-you and share about online coupons, and be grateful for the inspiration that cute Coach bag girl/Ghost of Becky Past gave me, once upon a time, in an elevator.


Debbie said...

Ahh, Becky, this just made me smile from ear to ear!!! THAT'S ME!!! MAN, have I been there - and still am in some ways. You WILL get your groove back, just as I am starting to now. And you're gonna love it, with your double stroller, double java, double the joy in your heart, and the cute coach bag to pull it all together.

I so understand the feeling of having so many friends, yet none of them close. That's something I've been praying about for what seems like such a long time.

I hope you're feeling well with a burst of energy - I'm sure you've been nesting already! I can't wait to meet Lucy!

Kristen said...

Girl, you are one talented wordsmith! You sum up all of the joys and hurdles of motherhood so eloquently. As a former, former THAT girl, I can tell you that I relate more to the slinging and juggling portion now, but I'm oh the happier for it to have our little Anna with us. Someday, dear Becks, someday :)

Kate said...

You know the flip side, too...being the one with the cute bag but the ache when you saw the cute, happy family pushing a stroller. Isn't God amazing? Each stage of life is unpredictable, bearing it's rough spots and its joys; and when they're over, you just sit back and think, "Who would have thought???"
Does that make sense? I'm half-asleep.....

The Mrs. said...

What a great post. I have thought about this and posted about this many times! I get so nostalgic thinking about my single and newlywed days. Life was so much easier but not as rich!