The pictures sneak up on my when I least expect them.
They fall out of a book I haven’t opened in years, or peek out from underneath a folder on my mother’s desk. Why are they here? Chance, I’m sure. But there they are. Pictures of my ex-husband and I at our wedding. Tears in both of our eyes, his arms wrapped around me in the tightest hug, confidence in our eyes – knowing we wanted each other.
After leaving him, I couldn’t bear to look at them. I would see the pictures and tuck them away, back into their hiding places. I made myself save them so Benjamin could have them. So, that one day when he has questions upon questions and wants to “see” that his parents were truly in love at a moment in time, for the reason of creating him – he’ll see that he was a product of something beautiful. And fortunately, for him, he never witnessed what came after that day.Now, five years later, I can look at the pictures. Hold them in my hand. Bring them closer for inspection. I look at the girl who thought she was a woman in the photos. I remember exactly what I was thinking, too.
“This is forever. I will be with this man forever and although I’m scared as shit about that, I love him and love is enough.”
I don’t call myself foolish. I don’t even feel any shame for making such poor judgment. In that moment I followed my gut which was steering me down the path I’m on now. And in that path, Benjamin also has a father who loves him very much.
The night before leaving on a trip to Athens to drop Benjamin off at his father’s for a sleep over, I find myself at my dining room table with three other moms of boys. Two of them, one single and one a formerly single mom who is recently and happily married, live on the same street as me. The third, Elizabeth, lives Downtown but has come to spend the evening all the way up here in our suburb built in the 1950’s. It’s an old suburb in that sense and all of us live in the same, yet slightly modified, cape cod homes. “Charming bungalows” a realtor would call them.
Our children’s elementary school is right across the street, where they are all playing at the moment. Or are they there? We’re not really sure where they are at the moment but we know they’re safe because that’s how this neighborhood is, everyone looks out for each other. Children actually play outside all of the time and know each other and each house it seems has a young family inside.
The three of us who live here are trying to encourage Elizabeth to join us. We make jokes about the neighbors and what they must think of us single moms living on our own, mowing our own lawns, taking out our own trash, chasing our kids in the street when they’ve run off again to play with each other. We laugh and then all three of us who do live here agree that we never, ever want to leave.
And I feel my gut again.
That familiar tug. I feel that this is the beginning of another chapter. I work with my guys all day at Cement, but you need these women. You need friendships with other mothers. The night ends with plans for future parties down the street. We are all going to form a party swap, hoping that collectively all of us will have enough friends to bring that it will feel like an actual party. And maybe some clothing swaps as well. And the wine nights, those will be happening again on a regular basis.
Either way, I feel like I’m 10 again. I’m so excited to have met a handful of people who my gut is telling me are absolutely good for me in every way, and who will be around for a very, very long time.