Used to be on a Friday night I'd have a fabulous, wild night all mapped out. There would be a club to go to in the city and a dress small enough to fit inside a paper lunch bag. My friends and I wouldn't even consider walking out the door before 11:00pm. We'd dance, do vodka shots, meet boys - maybe make out with them - and then make our way to our favorite all-night diner for bacon and eggs at 3:00am. We had jobs, but no real responsibilities. We had big plans for our future, but no meaningful obligations. There were no discussions of mortgage rates, health insurance plans, or the severity of the state's draught.
One night, I ended up at my ex-boyfriend's house. Except that it wasn't really his house, it was his parents', and he was camped out in the basement. I knew where they hid their secret house key, so I took it upon my tipsy self to use the key to sneak in the house and crawl into bed with my ex, who didn't mind the intrusion. The next morning, he shook me awake and whispered, "You have to hide in the closet in case my parents come downstairs!" So hide in the closet I did while listening to the muffled sounds of his parents getting ready for work upstairs. Once we knew the coast was clear, we both snuggled back in his bed and slept some more.
I was telling this story to a friend a few days later, laughing about our predicament. "I mean really," I said, "He's 25 and I'm 23, yet I'm hiding in his closet so his parents won't find me." There was an older man, maybe mid-fifties, standing in front of my friend and I as we were talking about this, who turned around and said, "I think we all go through that phase," with a soft laugh.
That phase--of lust and love and all the imaginings of a so-bright-we-need-shades future. That phase of looking forward to Friday nights for fun and frolic and maybe even a little mayhem. On this day twenty-five years ago, I'd just be getting started.
But it isn't twenty-five years ago. It's today. And right now, on this Friday night, I'm looking at a dining room table covered with a stack of picture frames, packages ready for the post office, wadded up tissues, and a roll of packing tape. I'm staring at the laundry basket full of clean, folded clothes, the same one that has been sitting there since yesterday. I'm noticing the long row of dirty dishes, assembled single file from the stove to the sink like obedient tupperware soldiers.
Tonight, my husband is tucked in his office working on a new photography website I've helped him build. I'm catching up on some work tasks, but I also spent some time playing with Tilda. While snuggling with her on our bed, I took a flea comb to her hind legs and tails, where she has been itching a lot lately. I'm happy to report I found none, and I loved the way she relaxed in the nest of my careful attention.
While gently pulling the comb through her fur and examining the comb, I laughed at how happy I felt in my heart. Here I am on a Friday night with no club to go to, no tiny black dress, and no plans beyond writing a blog entry and making myself available for my husband's questions as he familiarizes himself with Squarespace. Here I am on a Friday night - literally lifting up my dog's tail and inspecting her butt - feeling all those things my younger self longed to create. Contentment. Fulfillment. Joy.
Tonight, the laundry basket full of clothes won't be put away and I'll probably be in bed by 8:30. Given the choice to either go out on the town and party like a rock star or curl up next to my husband in bed with a movie, there is no contest. My favorite place in the world is just a few steps away, where my husband, Tilda, and I will fall asleep to the sound of each other's breathing, and let our dreams wrap around each other like vines.