My foyer has become a dance floor.
And I was dancing on Saturday, as usual, drink in hand, spinning in infinity, to the opening tune of “One For My Baby, and One for the Road.”
Typically I’ll grab anyone who has dared to step foot in my apartment, which has become something like Grand Central Terminal, and drag the poor, unsuspecting saps out to the square patch of hardwood; make the gentlemen step in time.
I’ve become my mother.
My friend Dileep came to town over the weekend to see his college choir, the Cornell Glee Club, sing at Lincoln Center. “I haven’t been to Alice Tully Hall, ever,” he said, “But I’m particularly curious about the rennovation.”
“You’ll be impressed with it,” I said, twirling on my dance floor, holding a highball of Glenrothes. He raised an eyebrow at me from the blue chair next to the geometric endtable. He was wearing a tuxedo that was buttoned but not bow-tied.
“Are you ready for a cocktail?” I continued, rocking in time to the music, “I have scotch…and a bit of sherry…and…scotch. I’m afraid my drinks cabinet is a bit bare. Andrew took the liquor and I haven’t replaced it.”
“I’ll have a scotch, then.”
“One ice cube.”
“One finger or two?”
“Two. Of course.”
I thought back to our younger days; almost ten years back, now. When Dileep still had hair and I had no lines around my eyes (this is a recurring theme, these damned crows feet.) When we could drinkdrinkdrink and only occasionally get hungover. When we once drank tequila for eight straight hours after our very first law school final, and sat and stared at each other the next day at one of those high cafe tables in the old Law Center cafeteria in the Georgetown basement, smelling the burnt soup and food smells and just…wondering.
(And probably hoping not to puke, too.)
And now, we were grownups. With grownup problems. Like unemployment and divorce and recovery and mortgages and baggage and shit.
But there I was, pouring cocktails and dancing in my foyer and wearing lowrise jeans; and there he was in a tuxedo, and things might as well have been as normal as they ever were.
Which is to say, not a bit normal at all.
He’d almost lied to me earlier in the day–a lie by omission–saying he’d had lunch with a friend, which I’d assumed to be one of his many college friends. Instead, it had been my ex-husband.
Andrew, for his part, had been one of our law school friends. We’ d had a study group of six; four of us married each other; the other two graduated at the top of the class. Dileep was one of those graduates.
“I had ten friends announce their pregnancies this week,” I said, nonsequiturally…in my usual, haphazard way.
“Make it eleven,” he said, “Katie’s expecting number two.” Katie is another of our law school friends, from the same study group Andrew and I were from.
I stared at him and rocked in a slower beat, clutching my cocktail. “Oh yeah? I guess…I guess I’m just feeling very divorced these days. It’s a weird kind of pain.”
“You didn’t want to have kids with Andrew anyway.”
“No. No, I guess not.”
We sat in a long silent moment.
“How do you think I feel,” he said without it being a question, “I’ve never had the option of marrying.”
“You at least had a starter marriage.”
The words stung. I hate those words; I hate them almost as much as I hate it when people ask if I’m having a divorce party; like my marriage was some kind of joke. Like this isn’t an unbearable pain, sometimes; like I don’t hate the gamut of emotions I run daily; the contradictory feeling of relief and fear and failure that floods me sometimes hourly.
“It must be similar to what I feel; to what I feel about having the option of turning to my partner and saying, ‘Baby, it’s time,’ foreclosed to me right now; of not knowing if that’s ever going to happen now.”
“Papa Loves Mambo” came blasting through the Bose unit and Perry Como suddenly broke the mood.
Then the doorbell rang, and Bill came bursting in.
“Care to dance?” I said.
“I hate this song,” he replied, as he helped himself to my drink and spun me around and around.
And around and around and around again.