Before I moved out to suburbia to start a family (which, because we didn’t have a child until eight years later, made me feel like I had been banished to the far reaches of the world) I lived in trendy, urbane Hoboken, NJ, across the Hudson from New York City. OK, so maybe it’s not as trendy as Brooklyn, but it’s still filled with bars, restaurants, and people. I do want my kids to be raised in the suburbs, like I was, but I often feel very isolated out here, especially because I don’t work outside the home. I miss the people, the hustle and the bustle.
I miss not having to get in a car to see my friends. I miss getting together for brunch, for dinner, for drinks. I miss pre-partying in someone’s apartment and then hopping in a cab or on the Path train to go to the city. Which is exactly why I was so excited to be having a real, honest-to-goodness night out for my friend’s birthday last weekend.
My parents came over to watch LM – they were staying over so we didn’t have to rush back – as I carefully decided what to wear. Back when I was a party girl, I wore jeans, or, if I really wanted to get dressed up, black pants. Now it seems like dresses are the way to go. I crafted an outfit very different from my every-day garb, and as I laid it out on the bed I caught a glimpse of my frumpy self in the mirror: yoga pants, oversized sweatshirt, rumpled hair (even though it was five o’clock), glasses. This is going to be a transformation, I gulped. I hope it works.
After showering, shaving, blowing out my hair and applying makeup (which always makes me feel like a clown because I hardly ever wear it; but then when I go out and compare myself to other women, I still look bare-faced), I put on my undergarments: Spanx, black tights and, ditching the nursing bra (hurrah!), one with actual underwire. I chose a black dress, black booties and a chunky necklace I borrowed from my mom (is that sad that she has more appropriate going-out jewelry than me?). I was ready to go.
My husband and I drove to Hoboken, luckily found street parking and went up to my friend’s apartment. Voices wafted down the hall as we approached the door, which opened to reveal old friends I hadn’t seen in years. But while talking to them, it felt like no time had passed – wasn’t it not that long ago that we had all gathered at that very spot before heading out to the bars? A visiting friend said that it felt like everything was no more than two years ago, although in reality it was more like ten.
I noticed that the other women were dressed in much the same outfit as me – mostly dresses, although there were a couple of fancy pants. I was glad I fit in. One of the men remarked that all the girls were wearing black, but then one friend exclaimed, “Not me! I’m wearing navy blue!”
We piled into cars to take us to the city. The squished-in cab ride also felt very familiar, and we joked and took selfies as we drove through the Lincoln Tunnel.
The restaurant we went to was Buddakan, known for appearing in the first Sex and the City movie. My friend informed us that the very table we were sitting at was the one that was featured in the film. This was not the first time I’d been to a spot that had appeared on the iconic show, but somehow it meant more to me now, as if it was a validation that I was still cool.
As we chatted, that sense of belonging you only get with old friends came over me. It’s hard to figure out exactly why we don’t see each other much anymore – some of us got married and (eventually, in my case) had kids, some didn’t; some moved away. But it’s difficult enough to keep up with our day-to-day tasks, let alone keep up with friends whose lives are different either in circumstance or geography.
I miss them all, though. I miss the feeling of being a part of something, of always having them to rely on, to hang out with, to go places with. I have a really great group of mom friends who I do those things with now, but they are still so new that we haven’t quite reached the level of companionship you have with people you’ve known for 20 years. Hopefully as our children grow those ties will be formed and I’ll have yet another gang of girls with a shared history and a deep bond.
We left the restaurant planning to go to a modern-day speakeasy, which my husband (aka Foggy Daddy) thought sounded pretty cool, but we ended up at another bar, which he did not. It was underground but played dance music (not FD’s thing), although it was not too crowded and there were places to sit. We danced and drank some more, but by this time it was after one, and FD said it was time to go. Feeling like a child being told what to do, I pouted, not wanted to leave my friends. But we said our goodbyes and got in a cab back to Hoboken, and from there drove back to the ‘burbs.
We didn’t get home until after three, which must be a record for how late I’ve gone to bed since LM’s been born (not that I haven’t been up at 3 AM; I just haven’t stayed up until that time). I rolled into bed, only to be awakened two hours later by my early riser. As I picked him up and we snuggled, I thought how much I had missed him in the hours we had been away.
Was it worth the tired fog I was in the next day? To return to the way things used to be for a night – yes, it was.
Do you have the same friends as before you had a baby? Do you sometimes miss having a different, pre-baby lifestyle?