Two days ago, I wrestled with the Ergo baby carrier, our infant son successfully secured inside, and I headed out to walk our dog. It marked the first time I've left the house on my own with the baby, and it felt great. Although we only went around the block, I felt free, and I liked feeling a whisper of my former, pre-pregnancy, independent self.
As I turned the corner to head home, my phone rang. In some serendipitous turn of events, my agent was calling with an audition. Could I make it to a 4:30 appointment the next day?
What, and miss an opportunity to speak in a grown-up voice in a public place? Of course I would be there.
So yesterday, I planned it all out. I modeled "Casual, Fun-Loving, Mom" audition outfits for my husband. I showered, washed, dried, and styled my hair. I put on makeup, even foundation. I updated my resumé, and printed it on the back of my smiling, commercial, "Buy this Car/Detergent/Peanut Butter from Me" headshot.
Fearing that the humidity would wreak havoc on my freshly styled, Real Person hair, I took a cab downtown, rather than take the train, which turned out to be a good call. Did you see the national news story about the weather that day? The piece with shots of the Empire State Building being struck by lightning? It was raining sideways. There was hail. And the center of the torrential storm seemed to be hovering over 60 Madison Avenue, where I had just gotten out of the cab- only on the wrong side of the street from my destination.
Sure, I'm always prepared, and I had a tiny umbrella in my purse. A flimsy, rickety, tired old thing that would sooner be inside out that be open at all. An umbrella in the loosest sense of the word. This storm gave my umbrella the finger.
I arrived at the audition with squishing shoes, curling, frizzing hair, and running makeup. My skinny jeans felt like they'd taken on a gallon of water. Throughout my audition, thunder boomed and lightning cracked outside the studio windows, drowning out my lines. Still, I was thrilled to be out of the house, doing what I love to do.
And then I began to make my way home.
Since it was monsoon season outside, getting another cab would be impossible, so I headed to the nearest subway stop.
If you've ever been in the subway in the middle of summer, you are aware of the many smells one may encounter there. People have varying standards of personal hygiene. They may be eating Doritos. Perhaps they've just come from doing a Shakespeare performance in period costumes in the hot, hot sun. As a woman of 5'4", I was unhappy to be reminded that my nose is armpit height with most taller people, particularly when they grab onto the overhead bar to steady themselves. Everyone around me was coated with a thin layer of wetness. Was it rain? Was it sweat? Who could tell? All I knew was that the minute I got home, I was sponging off my arms and face, and scrubbing the skin off my subway-tainted hands before going anywhere near my baby.
As I emerged from the 72nd street station, the rain was still pouring, as was what was left of my makeup. I'd given up attempts at keeping my snakeskin flats dry, and instead sloshed through puddles and mini-rivers as I walked the 4 blocks home.
I was beginning to question whether or not making the trip out of the apartment had been worth it. I'd ruined some shoes, made a questionable first impression on a busy casting director, and was experiencing some strange, unfamiliar feelings. Was it...longing? Could it be that, in the two hours I'd been away from him, I was missing my baby?
Vowing to myself that auditions could wait, telling myself I'd been foolish to think I could pop right back in to my former routine so soon after having a baby, something else serendipitous happened.
There, right off the corner of Amsterdam and 74th, was Levain Bakery. There was no line, and the light from inside was warm and welcoming. Smiling adults worked behind the counter, baking the most delicious cookies you've ever tasted. It smelled of heaven and (someone else's) home, and I plopped down my $8 and took home two walnut-chocolate chip cookies to share with my husband.
Yes, it rained. No, I didn't get a callback. But was it worth it?
Yes. To be reminded that auditions and trains and cabs and the city will all still be there when I'm really ready...that was worth it.
And the cookies were pretty good, too.