It began last week, when the Engineer told me that there was an upcoming social event for company employees and spouses.
"Should I get a sitter? What should I wear?" I asked, already mentally going through my closet, trying to think of one item of clothing I had that wasn't stained.
"Nah, I don't think it will be a big deal. Everyone is going right from work and it sound like it's a pretty laid back affair. I wouldn't bother getting a sitter. " He responded.
Last night: "Have you found a sitter yet?"
He rolled his eyes like I was having another one of those blonde moments (that I can't really blame on being blonde, since I'm, well, not). "For the social tomorrow!"
"You want me to go?"
"Of course! Everyone's going to be there. I think it's a pretty big deal."
Immediately, I contacted six babysitters through trusty sittercity.com. One by one, the replies came in to my inbox, "Sorry, can't make it." Then, right before I went to bed, one said she could make it." I heard from her again this morning, "Never mind. I have a lab that I forgot about."
I swallowed hard (and also tenderly, since I was starting to manifest flu symptoms at this point and my sore throat was killing me). I had one more number I could try: a sweet, grandmotherly babysitter from shul who is always in high demand among the other families in the community. Amazingly, she was available! I spent a full fifteen minutes getting ready, even digging out a vial of mascara from the bottom drawer. Then loaded the kids up in the car and dropped them off at the sitter, receiving a matronly pat on the shoulder and a, "Have a lovely time, dear."
I tried to shake the flu-induced haze and cranked the heat in 'Ol Blue all the way up, hoping it would stop the shivers. Down to Magazine Street I go. Glad I'm not heading that way, looking at the oncoming traffic. I got off in the interstate in the shadow of the Super Dome and promptly missed the first slight left turn. I missed the next turn as well due to the actual street name being different than the street name in the directions. No, my GPS fails me! Then came the roundabout. Why, why? Meanwhile i fielded several calls from my punctual husband, and when I finally parked and walked as quickly as possible despite my stiff joints to the door (realizing it was the wrong door; I wanted the one on the other side of the building), he was standing on the curb waiting for me. We rushed to the door and asked to be admitted for the show.
"Sorry, the doors closed 4 minutes ago."
My husband slumped against the counter. "You're kidding me. I left the show in order to help her my wife get in. Can't we just slip in the back?"
"No, I'm sorry." She said curtly. "It helps to be on time for the show, that way we could let you in." My face flushed with the chiding. The only place to wait was a very hard (and cold) metal bench and it was 40 minutes until the show let out. We sat stiffly. Then he took a good, hard look at my glazed eyes. Maybe he felt the fever radiating off of me. "I think you should just go home."
"Yeah. In this state, you're probably not going to be much of a socializer. You should probably just go home and go to bed."
I shifted on the bench in indecision. On one hand, I was so upset that my four-minute delay had cost him his ticket to the show and I didn't want to spend the evening standing awkwardly next to someone who was annoyed with me. On the other hand, I know that I have a spare battery of social energy that would be activated as soon as the crowd poured in. During my bridal shower, I was running a fever of 101 and I still had a grand old time.
"If you felt sick the whole day, you probably should have taken that as a clue that you shouldn't come." Really? This was supposed to be my Cinderella moment. What happened to Prince Charming?
"Alright." I managed a half-hearted smile as I stood up and fished for my keys. "Sorry for making you miss the show."
"Sorry you're not feeling good."
Ever noticed that when you have a sore throat, it really hurts to cry? So, in the spirit of pragmatism, I halted that after the first sob behind the wheel and tried to relax and while I started for home. I guess that's where more of New Orleans was headed, too. Halfway there, I glanced in the backseat and saw three empty seats and, for the life of me, I couldn't remember where I had left the kids.
I'm home, safe and sound, having successfully found my kids at the babysitter's. And I'm comforting myself with the fact that at least I have a good story to tell.
Sometimes, it's just not about me. I really wanted the night out, to be somewhere sophisticated and to meet the Engineer's colleagues. But for reasons unbeknownst to me, I didn't get to have that...despite doing everything in my power to make it happen. So - again - I'm given the chance to learn how to be content wherever I find myself at each moment. To accept that I'm a player in a story that has many star players other than me and to keep telling myself that everything is a message from Hashem. I'm still trying to decode this one as I slide my feet out of my glass slipper.
Addendum: I heard a knock on the door and opened it to see a bouquet of my favorite flowers. "I picked up your prescription," said Prince Charming as he walked in.