Sunday, June 13, 2010


A phantom Andi, a notandi, roams New York City. This woman wears heels with no lingering pain, she instinctively knows how much eye shadow is too much, and she makes a lot of money. For notandi, alone time is not something marked in red on the calendar with lots of underlines; alone time is the norm. Except, of course, when she feels like company and then a packed rolodex - wait, notandi owns a blackberry - provides a list of names and numbers to call, people who can meet at bars without long, complex negotiations with their spouses. Notandi has no idea what to feed a chicken. The last time she cooked a meal it was to impress her mother four years ago. If someone handed her a baby she'd jiggle it for a minute or two and hand it back with a barely disguised smile of relief. Before I fell in love and moved to a dirt road and surrounded myself with children and animals, I had Big Plans. New York City was my oyster and I was going to smother it with marinara sauce and swallow in one gulp. I love my dirt-road life, but sometimes I wonder how notandi is fairing, if she wishes she could go barefoot more often, if she's eating a tad too much ice cream and drinking a wee too much wine. This is not a story of regret. The boys and I saw the last Shrek movie yesterday and while I recognize the temptation, I am not about to sign a contract for a day of freedom in exchange for the life I have now. But. Sometimes, as I'm refilling water buckets and sippy cups, tossing hay and smearing peanut butter over bread for the millionth sandwich, I envy notandi. I envy her freedom, her confidence, her money, her certain type of success. And then a boy hands me a lopsided heart and a good man kisses my forehead and I ease away from thoughts of a parallel life that seems so glamorous, so easy compared to what can feel like never-ending clogged toilets, weekend rain, garden weeds and boiled noodles for dinner again. There is beauty in boiled noodles, there is comfort in feeding the creatures you love so very much. And the rain makes the onions grow tall.

Most mornings on my way to work I pass by this certain woman on her daily run. I have never actually met this woman, though I always look forward to seeing her determined face and the way her long ponytail swings out behind her in sync with her stride. She has become a familiar part of my daily routine; she runs in rain or shine. From the comfort of my car I can only guess what she is like, but I feel as if I know her well. When she runs she is her true self, leaving behind the aspects of life than can weigh her down. For a finite amount of time she is free from constraints, there is a lightness in her step. I only wish I could stop the car, get out and join her. There would be no talking or pleasantries, perhaps only a smile and the sound of our shoes hitting the pavement as the road stretches out before us.

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