Every Friday night I come home from work, change my clothes and I flop down on the couch. In my head, I have other plans. Maybe clean the house. Maybe sit at the computer and write. Maybe finish reading the book I started months ago. Maybe go out and explore the neighborhood. The couch wins every time.
Dinner is usually up for grabs.
- Pepperoni and sausage pizza with ranch or blue cheese dressing
- Six Old Bay wings, an order of fries, and blue cheese dressing
- A #1 from Chick-fil-A, no pickles with a cookies-n-cream milkshake. Hold the whip cream and cherry
- Ginger snaps and chilled milk
No matter my choice, it’s a predictable surprise. I relax in mismatched pajamas underneath a velvet purple blanket my mom gave me for Christmas. I catch up on shows from days past.
And then, I return to the next episode of The Golden Girls in my Hulu queue. I am on Season 5.
This is what life looks like when you’re 30-something.
And an introvert.
And a homebody.
And hella single.
And an awkward black woman who’s going through some thangs.
The enchanted lives of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia whisk me away from reality and the memories I forget. I am far removed from the things I do remember. That I am exhausted. My list of maybes is nowhere to be found. And I am playing roles in life I didn’t exactly audition for.
“How’s your dad?” best friends ask.
“How are you?”
“Fine….as can be.”
“Are you practicing self-care?”
I know what they’re really asking.
Am I going crazy or nah? Am I holding it all in? Am I channeling energy elsewhere?
I remember the day a stranger told me my father was dying. Old Man Winter whispered into the ears of meteorologists that heavy snowfall was coming. Before that, there was no winter. People didn’t know whether to pack their short sleeve shirts or stock up on cardigans. That day, practically everything came to a standstill. Everything except my tears. The doctor called a little after 10am, interrupting my quest for an extended sleep. My voice was groggy but not manly. His voice was unfamiliar. He brought an unwanted appetizer to the conversation. I was starving for the meat and potatoes.
“He potentially has weeks to months to live,” Doc explained. “Because of the cirrhosis, he could have one bad bleed…” He would go on to use words like palliative care team. And hospice. The rest of the meal was pointless. I needed the check. I brushed my hand against the top of my head, my hair still tucked underneath a scarf. It was supposed to be a free snow day. Instead, it turned into a solemn sweep of white dust on the grass.
Fast forward, and now I know the ins and outs of the hospital. Faces of security guards and nurses are all too familiar. The doctors rotate more than a fidget spinner. I don’t even bother to remember names. Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries have come and gone. My father is not dead. The bleeding has stopped. My mind has not.
I look through my phone for reminders and notes: Buy cocoa butter and Vaseline for Dad.
He is married. I am not. He is 65. I am 31. He has cirrhosis of the liver. I am asthmatic. He’s had more blood transfusions in the last two months than I’ve had dates in the last two years. His current residence is the VA Medical Center. I live 50 minutes north. He is one of 10 children. I am his only child.
Our lives hardly mirror each other. Aside from last name and an unforgettable sense of humor. And yet, here we are. Or here I am playing concerned daughter/ distant caretaker/ somebody’s future loyal-ass wife-in-training. The same person who can barely fix a well-balanced meal that may or may not include vegetables.
I feel old. My knees agree after walking up four steps. As does my back. My memory fades with each passing day. So my phone, scrap paper, used napkins, and journals in my tote bag are crucial.
shower shoes size 12
call Granny to say hi
ask for air fryer for Christmas
Dialogue I overhear
OMG you eat the egg?
I take it off. It’s fake.
How do you make a fake egg?
Everything at McDonald’s is processed
This is the 30 and Over Club. It’s all foreign and unwelcoming to me. On nights when others my age are out and about being social at a Happy Hour, clacking heels on concrete in new cities and countries, or out with #bae posting moving stories on The Gram, I settle for self-care and solitude.
There’s something magical and necessary about traveling to Miami and spying on four old white women whose misadventures were off the air by the time I was six-years-old.
They make me laugh with their shade-filled remarks, shake my head repeatedly at their naivete’ (heyyy Mrs. Nylund), want cheesecake even though I hate cheesecake, and allow me to dream of what life after AARP would be like while living with my friends under the same roof. Most importantly, they help me relax in the midst of chaos.
Every 24 minutes I take a trip to a land far away. A place where to-do lists don’t matter and medical jargon is not the native tongue. A place of sanity that has a 100% judgment-free policy.
And the best part is: it only costs me $7.99/mo.
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Photo credit: NBC