Are all women cursed with an inability to be in balance? No, Jamie Leigh Curtis, I don’t mean your digestive tract; this isn’t a commercial for Activia. Is it part of our genetic makeup? I have the hardest time balancing this many-limbed situation called life. When I’m in the zone for several months with my writing, I can effortlessly cook wonderful meals, decorate, and do laundry, but never seem to find the time to keep up with filing, or do maintenance on my vehicle. I looked at my sad gardens and decided I would take off for ten days to focus on my neglected flowering children. Now, everything in my yard is sheer perfection, but I’m hearing screams of outrage coming from the laundry basket. “Hep us, somebody please wash us. That lazy trollop who put us in here won’t come in the house and do any laundry”. For the entire ten days I spent gardening, I didn’t get my 4-mile daily walk or gym visit in once! Do all modern women feel like an octopus trying to keep all arms in the air simultaneously?
I decided that’s what I want to do when I grow up; be in balance. Have all my ducks in a row, all my balls spinning in the air. I’ll be a whirling dervish of perfection. I watched so many neighbors returning from family spring break vacations yesterday, and thought, how many of them are feeling overwhelmed instead of relaxed and rested? They would have unpacking to do, then piles of laundry, a trip to the store to fill up the empty fridge, getting the kids primed for school today…and on and on. Now, pioneer women certainly worked their butts off too, with probably a rare moment to rest, but they weren’t being bombarded by TV and magazines exhorting them about ways to lose 15 pounds in 4 days and 19 minutes, buy this product and suddenly your life will have that final missing piece that will give you ultimate fulfillment. It seems that doing way more than one person can possibly handle just really isn’t good enough nowadays. And this comes from a R.E.T.I.R.E.D. person!!
I realize I actually spend more hours ‘working’ at my writing than I ever spent slaving away for someone else in an office. It’s like being self-employed and having your own business; you are never really ‘off work’. Between posting two blogs per week, working feverishly on a novel, and just starting to submit to writing contests, there are not enough hours in a month to do what I want to do in a day. But, for at least this one day, as I sit at my laptop, overlooking my perfectly groomed grounds, where every iris, hosta, daylilly, and elephant ear has been divided and transplanted, where every rose bush is on a scheduled feeding, and all annual bedding plants are snuggled into their new homes, I am momentarily at peace. Now, about that laundry…and oh crap, that still incomplete FAFSA application….
Before we move on to more “Texas Toast”, how about the near Triple Crown this weekend for the news media?! First, the Royal Wedding. Too fabulous! Kate is such a regal, lovely girl, and thankfully in such seemingly different circumstances than poor Diana before her. Then, the news last night about the cosmic catapulting of Bin Laden straight into the arms of Satan. If only they had hit their intended target of Gaddafi instead of his son on Saturday, we would have had a trifecta of wondrous things to talk about today.
Segue now to the Saturday following my blind date with Jack. He had sent a limo to the Village to pick me up and bring me back to his place for cocktails before dinner. When I got into the limo, there were yellow roses in a vase waiting for me, and a freshly opened bottle of Dom Perignon. Years later, after many years of cycling through the dating world, I realized that “The Yellow Rose of Texas” bit was a cliche, but at that moment, I was in heaven. Lord knows, the only things I’d ever gotten from Boy were agita and the possibility of AIDS. At Jack’s, without the distraction of broken wine glasses and record albums, I really saw his place for the first time. It was magnificent, with 360 degree views of The Empire State Building, CitiCorp, The Chrysler Building, and both of the World Trade Center towers. Depending on which terrace you were on, you could see the Hudson River or the East River. WOW! Dinner was at a sumptuous Indian restaurant overlooking Central Park, followed by coffee and brandies at the Plaza Hotel, then a carriage ride through the park. I kept pinching myself to insure I wasn’t dreaming, because it was just one week ago to the day that I’d been playing dodge ball with horny hands at the Lone Star Cafe.
On Sunday, I had a gig doing a charity fashion show in Harlem with members of Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe. The instant the show was over, it was back to Jack’s and a wonderful dinner he’d ordered in. I was beginning to feel like a tornado had picked me up and, while not knowing where it would deposit me, I really didn’t care. It was all about the ride. This guy was so smart, funny, sophisticated, and well, seemingly perfect.
One of Jack’s biggest clients in his ad agency was based in Dallas, so he made one or two trips a week down there for creative meetings. Because of that, we didn’t see one another Monday or Tuesday, but he flew back Wednesday and wanted to meet. That was the one night a week that was reserved for “Ladies Night”. All of us who had started out at Wilhelmina and had become friends always got together without spouses or boyfriends in tow to compare notes and catch up on girl talk. I had told Jack that we could talk when I got home from dinner. Imagine my surprise when he walked through the door of the Mexican restaurant about 15 minutes before we were leaving. Being in advertising, he was not the slightest bit intimidated to find himself the only male surrounded by 10 pretty, tall, leggy women giving him the grilling of a lifetime. Apparently he passed muster, and he and I were given the equivalent of a Papal blessing to continue dating.
The next day, Thursday, Jack had to fly to Dallas once again for an all-day meeting; would I be waiting for him at his apartment when his flight got in? There were thunderstorms that night and his flight was delayed. I had gotten to his place just before dark, and had been there alone for several hours. While wandering around, familiarizing myself with the place, I suddenly was overcome by a sense of foreboding, a sense of warning. A chill went through me, and I saw the apartment in a different light. What was glamourous and expansive in the daytime, was suddenly ominous and creepy at night. There were so many windows people could look through, so many doors leading to way too many terraces and balconies. I remembered that Jack’s building did not have a doorman, just a buzzer system, meaning that any stranger with a friendly smile could gain access through the lobby. Once in, they could easily hide in the shadows outside of the little stucco ‘house’ built on top of the 12-story apartment building. No one observing from the street would be able to see them and they would be free to take their time to break into any one of the exterior doors or windows. I shuddered and raced through the apartment checking locks on all the doors and windows, closed against that stormy April night.
By the time the power went out, I had worked myself up into a terrible state. I’d spied a flashlight on a nightstand earlier and retrieved that, but didn’t feel comfortable rummaging through Jack’s drawers and cabinets to try and locate candles and matches. So, I sat very still, waiting for the electricity to come back on. I was sure I heard it, but couldn’t quite make it out. The walls seemed to be trying to tell me something, but strain as I might, I couldn’t make out the words. “Danger? Get Out?” Something was wrong here. Something malevolent was waiting. This was the opposite of Feng Shui, I thought, as the hair began to rise on my arms, along with goose bumps, and a growing sense of dread.