Those of you following me on Twitter may have noticed that I spent the weekend in Ohio. Yes, that Ohio. Land of ….hmmm. Stumped. It’s easy for me to rag on Ohio because…well, Philly is such a hot, hot, hot mecca of coolness. But Ohio may as well have been the South of France. I couldn’t have had a better time.
I flew out to Cincinnati under the guise of celebrating Alison’s birthday on Saturday. For those playing along at home, Alison is my college roommate extraordinaire. She is the friend with whom I can dance in my pajamas, speak secret languages, and know instantly what she is thinking with just a raise of an eyebrow. Our birthdays are within ten days of one another. 42 this year. And while I went to Ohio presumably for her, it was just as much for me.
I needed to breathe and, for me, the only suitable air was in Cincinnati.
I needed to step away from my routine, from my weekends, from school projects, from home projects, from grocery shopping and from Sunday school. From coordinating, compromising, consoling, cajoling and coercing. I love my life, but the thought of taking a break from the hustle of it all for 48 hours sounded heavenly. Still, I needed permission, which Dave gave me, (almost too quickly, leading me to wonder if perhaps he needed a little air as well.)
So I stepped out of my crazy life and into Alison’s. And her life is just as nutty – but it was her craziness, not mine. And I happily tagged along, playing the role of wing man instead of captain. We purposely made no grand plans. No shows or fancy dinners or exchanging of gifts. We learned a long time ago that there is nothing better between friends than the mundane. It is the fodder for commentary, perspective and laughter.
We shopped and cooked and shuttled her kids – all familiar activities to yours truly. And sure, I could have done that in Pennsylvania. But we filled in the spaces as only close friends are capable. Had I not gone to Ohio, I would never have giggled like a teenager at the attractive butcher at the farmers market, eaten leek and Mascarpone cheese souffle from Alison’s oven, or watched Maddie in her first gymnastics meet of the year. I caught up with Rob on his work, talked to Josh about Madden football, and helped take the family’s picture for their 2010 holiday card. And there is always dancing to be done in Alison’s kitchen.
I didn’t need to breathe just any air this weekend. I needed to breathe the same air as Alison. I craved quality time to chill with my friend without any distractions. There was a time in my life when such a desire to leave my life — even temporarily — felt selfish, but now not so much. As parents we tend to forget that we, too, are human and from time to time need to be taken care of – even if we are the ones doing the caring.
For those of you in need of a little restoration, I highly recommend the 48 hour life swap. Find someone you love and jump into their routine. Or have them jump into yours. Enjoy life as we know it — together. And what you might find, as I did, is that the exercise is less about swapping your life and more about reclaiming it.