I've been working hard this school year to meet up with friends for a cup of coffee and some catching up. It runs in fits and starts, but I've been doing it. It gets me out of the house and out of isolation, and since I keep it to one or two other people, it doesn't take me outside my social comfort zone.
Panera seems to be the location of choice. I always get the same thing for breakfast (a bagel) or for lunch (a "big kid grilled cheese"), so the otherwise overwhelming Panera menu is not the obstacle it used to be. (I used to walk in the door, grab a paper menu like a lifeline, and sit down to study it as if for a midterm before getting in line with all the people who glance at the menu board and whip off some complicated-sounding fru-fru latte or sierra-turkey-on-focaccia sandwich. (Just what is "sierra turkey"?)
This morning I met a friend. I ordered a bagel -- no surprise there -- and a coffee (in a to-go cup as I'm prone to spilling). We settled in and had all of 15 minutes before she got a call to come pick up a sick kid from school. Sigh. Well, that's the way of it, isn't it? When you're the parent of a child (or two) with special needs, the odds of making it through a day without a call from school can be pretty slim. Put two such parents together and, well, you know... Ring ring... Ring ring...
She left by way of the trunk of my car to pick up the box of my-family-won't-eat-these-gluten-free-things castoffs. Bless her. And no, I don't want any of them back, thank you for taking them out of my house. I went back in to finish my bagel, check my email, read a blog or two, and to write a post myself. (Hadn't known I had one percolating, but there you have it: I'm not at home being all distracted by The Duchess of Duke Street, the dogs, the dishes, or the daily dinner dilemma. (Today's episode has been brought to you by the letter D.))
After my daughter was released from the hospital, my husband said to me that we could work out a little vacation for me -- a break from the constant horrific stress levels in our house. It's 15 months later, and this weekend, just two days from now, I'm going away with a friend for that getaway. It's not much, just one night in a hotel (with included cocktail hour and full breakfast) and some retail therapy by way of a couple of huge thrift stores outside D.C., but I'm thrilled. The only special needs to be accommodated will be our own!
We've set it up so that our husbands will be successful. They will fly solo with their kids only after school Friday through Saturday morning; then two of the kids will be at a Girl Scout function for nine hours, by which time we'll be home again. And given that the two of us who will be gone are, well, us, we'll have left lists and meals and contingency plans. (Funny how that doesn't work in reverse; when our husbands go away, it's just, "Bye, see you next week, and by the way, can you pick up my shirts at the cleaners?")
With our families set up and our reservations confirmed -- and with plans for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory -- we should be able to decompress nicely, thank you very much!
But we did pay the cancellation insurance because, you know, Ring ring... Ring ring...