The Hour or the Second
On the street I am lingering, I need to be in motion, but instead of walking in a straight line, I am circling; pacing, in a short length of four steps and then returning to the place I started. I need to be somewhere in fifteen minutes and I am thirty minutes away. I am debating if I don't show, will it matter?
Two weeks ago I got the invitation in the mail. It was wrapped in a pale baby blue envelope and when I read the return address, I was startled. The invitation is unexpected.
When my girlfriend and I still played with dolls, I considered mine intelligent enough to love poetry, and my playmate would consider her doll a stunt dummy in training. Childhood was more than twenty years ago. Dolls have been long packed away and pretend parenting was traded with real life, when I turned twenty three. I had a beautiful daughter that challenged me as a person from the moment she took in her first breath and every exhale since. She didn't turn out to be like my doll, she didn't love poetry, and every time I made a rhyme, she rolled her eyes and giggled. Through her high school years, we would discuss her assigned school poetry readings and when stumped at the depth of the meaning of it all, she would question me, her mother, for guidance, to which I would reply a dramatic dissection of the piece, again eyes would roll and a giggle, before she decided I knew nothing about poetry and would give herself permission to interpret the piece herself. I love her independence and encourage her to do the difficult things, but never exposed her to daredevil parenting antics that my adventurous playmate of my youth exposed me to.
I opened the envelope and read the invitation. It was a postcard invitation. One side was pink and the other side was blue and a big question mark separated the two colors. Immediately I grieved the invitation. It would be difficult to select a shower gift. More than the unknown gender of the gift I hesitated when I saw the RSVP at the bottom. I am horrible at meeting deadlines. Each time I see a deadline, I make note of it, then don't uphold the deadline date. I have to make an elaborate "Sorry" story when I do RSVP. I don't know the reason I do it, but I never fail to miss a deadline. People have made it clear to me that I will be late to my own funeral. It doesn't matter how much nagging is sent to my ears; I remain idle until I am late.
I did the deed. I went to the baby superstore languished over what would make a good impression; I remembered the best baby shower gift given to me was a stepstool from my aunt and uncle. I decided if I loved the stepstool, it would still be a non gender gift that would be appreciated for the toddler years. One stepstool and diapers later, I reviewed the invite again and I surprised myself when I was not late to RSVP, and did so immediately to a voice message.
The day has come and I debate again if my gift is impressionable or not and I am pacing with a wrapped stepstool in one arm and a gigantic package of disposable diapers in the other. To people watching my indecision, I must look as if I am awaiting labor of the child this very day. I believed that the invitation was sent a bit early, for a birth, but knowing the personality of the expectant mother, there would be at least two showers a month until the arrival of this first born child. I considered again, if I might wait to go to another shower in the future or even hold the gift until the birth.
I don't have social anxiety. I didn't expect the invitation, because at our last social engagement, the soon to be mother and I squabbled over the soon to be father and his intentions. The mother and father of the unborn are not married. I expected a wedding invitation before the baby shower invitation. I really hate it when friendships are conflicted over boyfriends, but it never fails. Despite this fact women have not learned to maneuver both relationships until compromise is agreed upon. Never less, I love her. I don't love him.
My feet decide to go forward and I arrive at the party. I deposit my gifts in the pile of others and mingle with the guests until I find the mother to be. She looks not pregnant. Eager to know the date of the baby's arrival, ask, " When are you due?" She laughs and says, "My baby is already here, playing in the back yard, come have a look." She takes my hand and leads me to the backyard. I don't see a child being passed from guest to guest. I must look confused. My friend bends over, and I think she must have a cramp, so I am immediately concerned. She pops up, "Meet my baby, CiCi!" She squeals. I gasp, and can't stop the oohs and awe’s spewing out of my mouth. Wide eyed, I see she is holding a fluffy white poodle. This shower is for her new puppy!
My gift is ridiculous.