they’re still there, gathered in overstuffed chairs and a greater cacophony of chintz patterns and floral fabrics than i ever imagined could exist in one room, possibly with a fire going, talking.  and talking.  and talking.  some more than others, though (ahem) perhaps the quieter souls are getting their turn more frequently now that i’m out of the way.  certainly, everyone is getting a better shot at more dessert now that i’ve made my exit, though i don’t know who’s nibbling up everyone else’s cake crumbs anymore.

Friday was a big day for me.  the ultrasound and the relief of good news and the shock of actually, possibly having a little girl – we were told Finn was a girl, mind you, so we won’t be entirely convinced until she’s safely here…but i actually got left alone with the u/s machine for five minutes and after the hundred-odd scans i’ve had in the past three and a half years, i was rather convinced even before the doctor came in and confirmed the news – and a sunny afternoon where i got to be out and about and Dave took Oscar and i for gelato.  good times.  then, with doctor’s permission, i got to hop in the car by myself for the first time in seven long pitiful dependent weeks and i hit the highway and drove into the sunset like i was Thelma and Louise all wrapped into one, nervous and free and under my own steam.  i sang along with the stereo like i was ten years younger and it was Friday night and i was off to party with my girlfriends for a weekend, feeling like for once, all was actually maybe alright with the world.  weaving along by the ocean and little fishing villages, i didn’t feel beholden to anyone, didn’t feel like a lump on bedrest.  i felt happy, and lucky, and sort of bedazzled by the unfamiliarity of it all.

i was amazed that i didn’t run into or over anything.

i made it to the restaurant first. i waited, watching boats on the harbour and chewing my nails, like an eager suitor at the world’s biggest blind date.  and then they spilled in in a bunch, all familiar from words and pictures yet new at the same time.  how weird to know so much about people and yet so little.  how surprisingly comfortable it was, and how entertaining.  and we ate and talked and ate some more and i finished Mad‘s and everybody else’s blueberry grunt along with my own and looked down the table at one point and realized, heh, that’s Bub&Pie and that’s Thordora and they’re here together and it felt rather like suddenly finding yourself at dinner with celebrities, whose lives you know from reading about them in grocery store lineups but there they are, real and laughing.  and we cooed over Hannah’s cuddly five week old James and Kate‘s ever-charming Ben, and then i got Niobe utterly lost and when we made it to the heritage Inn where Laura Ashley and the Victorians went to die, Andrea had joined us and Cin had her hair down and her camera out and we sat up talking and drinking tea and wine and beers until 1 am, musing about what we’ll tell our kids of our wild years once they’re grown.

and did it all again the next day.   and now, gone, i can think of fifty things i wish i’d asked and i almost regret not taking any pictures of my own, except i know theirs will be better.

i liked them.  i’m not by nature a group person, sociable as i am by nature…i’m most comfortable in smaller conversations, intimate gatherings.  but this was good, surprisingly good for nearly twenty-four hours of nine women getting to know each other…sharing histories and establishing commonalities.  i liked their quirks, the personality streaks and charms and idiosyncrasies that don’t come through in writing.  i liked their warmth.  i just liked being around them, all of us different – in history and personality and opinion – but linked by this shared hobby, this penchant for words and exploration of lives.

i’m back home now, back on my couch for another fourteen weeks or so of bedrest if we can keep bebe in that long.  back to poor miserable Oscar with his cough and his ear infection and his nasty recurring rash under his eyes (eczema, anyone?).  back to hun-nee, could you get me a glass of water?  the joys.  but i’m better, more myself than i have been in a long time.  even if i wasn’t taking a wheelchair trip to see Leonard Cohen tonight, i’d be good.  they filled me up, these women, these friends, that chance to be out on my own and with them.

and they are still there and i miss them already. :)