“Oh my God!! It’s almost six o’clock!!!”
And with that my friend Julie blew me good-bye kisses and bolted for the door. “Roy hates it when I’m home late” she shouted over her shoulder, sparks flying from the chains dragging on the asphalt behind her. We’d been enjoying a late two — okay, maybe three — martini lunch when out of the blue she’d imagined the bellow of her master’s voice and felt the crack of his psychic whip.
Until today I’d always envied her beautiful home, her lavish vacations and her next best thing to edible husband. We’d begun the afternoon with a comparison of our daughters — admiring their independence and one-upping each other with their latest accomplishments — their generation seemingly so different from ours. But when I asked what she’d been up to, she responded with a laundry list of her husband’s goings on. Then when I steered the conversation back to her, she smiled and talked about his pending retirement. It was as if she didn’t exist except as a sorry second fiddle to his favorite appendage.
She was no longer Julie; she was nothing — and no one — more than Roy’s wife.
As I drove home, I contrasted her with our friend, Karyn. Three years ago she’d given her ex and his wallet the boot, refused spousal support and charged off on her own. Over coffee she’d beamed as she showed me photos of the sofa she was eyeing for the house she’d just purchased — unassisted. We laughed at how much we loved coming home from a long day at work, whipping off the boulder-holders and setting our girls free. We joked at the sights we must be in our flannels and do-rags as we plopped into our favorite chairs, ate dinner from paper plates, farted and fell asleep on Jay Leno.
And we reflected on how we’d filled our lives with people to see, places to go and work to do so we’re numb to anything but our enjoyment of the freedom our indentured sisters have sold for someone to hold them at night — and pay the mortgage.
And we wondered if — at that rate of exchange — is it really worth it?