Standing at the entrance of the Christopher Street PATH station our bike trip had come to a standstill. I doubted I had the upper body strength to carry my Russian tanker of a mountain bike and Savanna’s snazzy Aqua blue Schwinn down those killer stairs. I had two choices: turn back now and send my daughter the message it’s okay to give up, or break my neck trying.
I was ready to offer Savannah ice cream in exchange for nixing the idea of biking in Hoboken when I heard a voice from behind. “Can I get this for ‘ya?” it said.
One of the few perks of my job is that my company allows me to work from home two days a week. Translated: Come Tuesday and Thursday, it means two less days commuting on a dirty, crowded subway and having to rummage through my closet trying to appropriate work attire. Yet, the real icing on the cake, is that I get more time with my daughter at a point in time when she still wants to be with her mom and before I’m cast aside and pegged as an annoying life intruder.
“Are you working from home today?” she’ll ask at breakfast on those days, and then make a big fuss when she sees me on the playground at school pick up. Nice.
My daughter will be 9 this month. When I take note at the pace the years are clipping by, I thank God I have a job that allows me to have a flex schedule.
I was in so much pain that my usually swift gait had become a limp-along-shuffle.
The doctor, diagnosing a UTI gone wild, suspected it had spread to either my bladder or kidneys and quickly wrote a prescription for antibiotics. At that point I’d take a script for anything.
On Monday night I took the red-eye from San Francisco to New York, allowing me just enough time to go home, drop off my bags and pull my arse into the office.
The red-eye is one of the ideas that sounds great in theory, but nearly impossible to execute without feeling sluggish and disoriented the next day.
Still, I am not complaining. I realize that I’m damn lucky.
I’ve witnessed close friends battled long stints of unemployment, and myself fell briefly into the freelance abyss. It’s not fun, and as a single mom it’s a concern.
Today, after a long week of work and travel, I push my fatigue aside and thank God I have a job.
It’s 1:30 a.m. but given my obsessive, hyper-alert state it might as well be lunch hour. There’s a loop reel in my head that keeps replaying a work-related event from earlier in the day.
I have a small pool of good, old friends, two of whom are night owls, so pick up the phone and call one. He picks up immediately.
It’s 3:45 a.m. when we hang up.
Back when my daughter was locked in the hospital Emergency Room revolving door, I learned an important lesson: you learn who your real friends are by the people who appear in Intensive Care when you’re sitting there alone. It’s not many.
I have a phone book full of acquaintances, church buddies, media contacts and former colleagues, neighbors and classmates. But the ones I am most thankful for are those rare gems that been there in goods times and bad, know the nitty-gritty details of my life, and still accept me, idiosyncrasies and all.
What I like about the holidays is simple: seeing old friends and family, and receiving Christmas cards, especially if they include photos of one’s kids. What I deplore is the commercialization and excessive, out-of-control behavior it produces.
I can empathize with the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
At the back of my neck sits a mountain of a knot, only unlike Hunch, mine isn’t a birth defect but job-related stress.