Today I left home for an hour and a half by myself.
I tucked Norah in for naps, fed Harriet, kissed Alex, and went out on the town.
Oxford today is cloudy, cold (thirtyish?), and beautiful. I had to run to catch the bus. I haven’t run in about nine months. It felt so good, even when I chugged aboard, panting and puffing, to face the stares of the Composed English awaiting their stops. I dropped in the rear-facing seat and felt like a million bucks. I think I was smiling in self-congratulation when I realized that most of my fellow passengers were either staring at me or pointedly staring away from me. I was about a mili-second from announcing, “I had a baby two weeks ago.” Nope. Too much information. Smile self-deprecatingly and stare out the window. Every one breathes a sigh of relief. There is no Scene. An older lady with an enormous rosette on the side of her stocking cap, occupying the seat nearest me, murmured how difficult it can be to catch the bus. She then asked me if I was American or Canadian, and launched into her life story, which included thirty years of living in New Haven, Connecticut (and which explained her ability to strike up conversation with me).
“I believe I’m rather more American than English,” she said.
I glanced at her mackintosh and umbrella, and the enormous rosette. “Quite,” I said.
In town I flurried from place to place, stockpiling a few treasures for Norah’s birthday party. We’ve invited four or five little girls to come over and celebrate with us on Saturday. We told Norah about it, thinking she probably wouldn’t really understand what we were talking about. She has mentioned it seven or eight times a day ever since. “I have ice cweam at my potty? Cuk-cakes foe No-ah? Ella and Ewin come to my potty? I want my potty!” I’m beginning to worry that it won’t live up to her expectations! I pictured balloons, cupcakes, a little parade or something, a picture or two, and some play time. I think Norah is picturing Mardi Gras.
I haven’t been out by myself in months. The streets are decorated for Christmas and packed with people. I couldn’t believe how quickly I got the shopping done with no big belly, legs that feel good, and no toddler. I didn’t browse in any bookstores, order a cup of coffee, get a massage, or try on clothes. But I caught a bus home sixty minutes later and felt like I’d been out for hours. I couldn’t wait to see Alex and the girls.