I was on with Ronia for New Year’s Eve, which fell on Shabbat this year. We had a lovely dinner with friends and Ronia’s mother, but after Ronia was in bed I felt my loneliness of separation in a way I usually don’t. I decided to call people (I use the phone for friends and family on Shabbat) who I haven’t spoken to in a while.
The only person I could get a hold of was an old housemate of mine on West Coast time, who had not yet gone out. The big news: She is getting married! And planning to have kids! She thanked me for not laughing.
I didn’t laugh, but I did get wistful. This is my friend I affectionately call “the Ladette,” who did quite a bit of dating in her time. One of her first acts of casting off her adolescent shyness was to give me her number when we met on a bus. About to leave on a trip for Israel, I never called her, and forgot all about it when we became housemates.
We later became great platonic friends, scandalizing the Thai restaurants of Seattle with our loud gossip. My own gossip was mostly theoretical at that point, as I was engaged, but I enjoyed her more eventful life.
And then I got married, and moved out of the house. She started dating the guy who took my room, causing some scandal. They lasted (though never got married themselves or planned to have children) until this year, when my marriage ended, so did their relationship. My friend stunned, her partner, so mild-mannered, was in love with someone else.
We spoke then, sharing that manic freedom that was descending on us. And then a few weeks later, we both started dating somebody new. And now, she is getting married. She will be an excellent mother, I would send Ronia to her daycare without hesitation. But I am sad to lose her as a childless person, I always think that we parents are so dependent on the awesome and child-free people in our lives to form our “village,” Hillary Clinton-style. Even on a different coast, I considered her part of mine.
I am also worried about the time line, so similar in its velocity to my own. I worry she will “fail” as I did, we are so similar. And about the voice in my head pointing out that I can’t get married now because I still am. I am envious of her child-free breakup, even though of course I love my child, appreciate her mother, and am glad we can’t demonize each other. And I love my current relationship in all its unconventionality.
I play my historic role of skeptic, telling her things to look out for. I figure her female friends can handle the gushing. She does not feel judged. The guy sounds awesome, a local farmer who is traditional enough to want them to have the same names, but flexible enough to change his. With all my wistfulness and fears, I am happy for us all.