Last night I went to Long Island with my best friend to see her sister, Molly, and Molly’s baby, Adrianna, in Hicksville. Molly and the baby moved down there from Boston to be with the dad, who’s a grad student at SUNY. They live in a little cozy, weird house that belongs to the grandmother of someone they both grew up with. There’s a whirring mechanical chair and a bar on the door outside, stuff meant to help old people. But the old person moved out and now this new family has moved in.
Maybe they’re a little lonely. Molly especially, home all day with the baby while Soren is at school. Last night, a bad part of me wanted to zoom in on that loneliness, so it might help qualify their life to me. They have, suddenly, so many fundamental things. But is a baby enough? Can it compare to all of the busy, crowded stuff I’m so determined to do? It might! She’s a beautiful kid. A Gerber model if ever I saw one. She’s a very baby baby, I said to my friend as we waited for the LIRR home.
I first met Molly during the summer fourteen years ago. Then she was my friend’s older, scarier, rebellious sister, with a constantly stoned Alabama boyfriend. I spent a few nights that July and August sitting in their backyard with them, sisters and boyfriend, and reveled in being able to make Molly laugh, feeling a power in endearing myself to this older girl who wasn’t my sister, but may as well have been. Molly has always held that weight for me. She’s mysterious and withholding, hard to get a read on. A really nice girl when you get to know her, but a good challenge at first.
And now she has a daughter! This small, smiley thing. A thoughtful baby, we decided. She’s figuring things out, while she hovers and bobs in whatever corner of the room she’s being held. And Molly is so good with her. A natural, easy mother. Not too precious, but gentle, and kind, and familiar. My friend said on the way home, “Well she’s been with her every day for four months, so she knows her very well by now.” Which of course is true. But there’s probably something more? I think she’s just very innately good at it. Because she wants it, and there’s this wonderful creature asking so openly for all these easy and difficult things.
Tonight I got drinks with my old boss and my old coworker, who are really just my friends now, and it was good to get a little thick with wine and smooth over old professional worries, to peer blearily into whatever future the dim light of the bar was showing us. We were all the way west, almost at the river, a neighborhood none of us really ever go, so it all felt a bit stolen. Like we were hiding out for a brief hour or two, before heading back to whatever trenches, good and bad, we’re kicking around in.
And it was so warm today! When I forced myself out of the office to get lunch, Molly text messaged me and said thanks for coming over. I wrote back, saying that I hope it was the first of many visits. They have a backyard, so summer barbecues are hopefully in the offing. I put my phone back in my pocket and stood for a second in the warm line of sun cutting through Times Square. Of all the places to be! Thousands of people milling around, enjoying what felt like a pretty miraculous day. I wonder what any of us who were there just then will remember about it, years later, if anyone thinks to ask.