Mike wakes me up Wednesday around 11am and I’m nowhere near ready to be awake. Mrs. picks him up and I sleep until almost 1. I wake up starving and just in time, because Dad is taking orders for hoagies. Everyone stares at the menu, trying to decide, and when Dad finally calls, they’re closed. Cheesesteaks it is. Fine by me. Haven’t had either of them in a long time, because they suck in California. We sit at the dining room table with Mom, Dad, Aunt Jackie, Court, and Sarah. When I’m done eating I want to just sit at the table and talk, but it’s already 2:30 and we’re having Girls’ Night at Jackie’s at 4. I need to shower and get ready.
I was supposed to go to Colette’s beforehand to see her new house, but I’m running so far behind. Thankfully, she had a late start today too and is fine with me not stopping over. Stevers pick me up and I ask them to stop at the liquor store so I can pick up some wine. After that, they put some makeup on me so it looks like I have a black eye. They do it to themselves, too. The day before Christmas, Jackie sort of passed out while she was at CVS and got a really bad black eye. Had to go to the hospital and get blood work done and everything. She was self-conscious about it, so we all decided to come tonight with black eyes.
She and her fiance, Pat, had their house built and this is the first time I’m seeing it. It’s beautiful. And big. I rush to the front door because it’s rainy and cold. Gross. I’m greeted by Jack and her puppy, Mitch. He is a cutie and excitedly jumping on us. Colette, Kelly, and Jenn are already here. We all say hi and hug (Kelly hugs me like I didn’t just see her last night). Everyone starts to arrive. We’re only missing Heather tonight, because she had a family thing, so there’s 11 of us. We sort of just hang out, which is all we ever really need to do. There’s always something to talk about. Christie arrives and I get to meet her son, Adrian. He’s a tiny little thing, and if I was nervous to hold Brand, I’m way more nervous to hold Adrian. He’s so little! And adorable. It’s so crazy to see my friends as Moms. Christie seems so happy. He’s sleeping right now, but I just want to look at him. I stand over him with a glass of wine in hand, when Mitch jumps up and basically headbutts my glass of wine. It shoots up and then all over my shirt and the carpet. New carpet. Only me. I feel awful because I spilled wine and Jackie feels bad because of Mitch and puts him in his cage. Poor guy. He’s just excited to have so many people here!
Jackie lets me borrow a shirt, so this gives me the excuse to get my own personal tour of the house. It’s so nice. They’re still in the beginning stages, so they have rooms to fill and walls to paint, but it’s really looking good already. I can’t imagine filling up this much space. It’s overwhelming. Jack offers to wash my shirt. Well I think it’s hand wash only. “That’s OK. I have a hand wash option on my washer.” Of course you do. This is the coolest washer and dryer I’ve ever seen in my life.
Schultz arrives, and she didn’t bring her baby, Ben, because he’s sick. I’m super disappointed, because I really wanted to meet him, but Schultz promises to stop by my house with him before I leave. I think Lauren is the last to arrive, with Brand, who is sleeping and looking too cute. When he wakes up, I’m much less reluctant to ask for him this time since I’ve already held him once and I was just holding Christie’s newborn.
As always, we talk about nothing and everything. At one point, the girls ask if I’m going to stay in California. Yes. Kelly wants to know the top ten reasons why California is better than New Jersey. “Nevermind. Say the top ten reasons you miss New Jersey.” I don’t remember everything I say, but here’s the gist of it: Less traffic, Wawa, everything isn’t 45 minutes away, friends and family, knowing where everything is (well, more than California, I’m always lost), cost of living, knowing people everywhere I go, gas prices, having a backyard, field hockey. There’s probably more, but that’s ten.
Instead of a pollyanna, we decided to do a white elephant, which is funnier. Not only that, Jenn has this story/game that makes it fun. Christie didn’t bring a gift, so she reads the story. The rest of us sit in a circle with our gifts. In the story, any time she says right, you pass right, left pass left, or across pass across the circle. So it gets a little crazy. We’re smiling and laughing the whole time. When the story is over, the gift you end up with is yours. We all open them one by one. It’s fun.
After the last person opens her gift, Lauren Stever hands me a card. “This is from all of us.” Whattttt. Geez. You guys really shouldn’t have. I open it. The front is a picture of two girls talking to each other with talking bubbles. The first girl says, “Where’s the Christmas party at?” The second girl says, “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.” That girl is supposed to be me. That girl is me.
I open it. There’s a stack of cash inside. I throw it on the ground. I’m not taking that. LStever tells me to read the card out loud. I start reading it to myself and realize I’m not speaking. Oh, sorry, OK. Heather wrote it. I can tell by the writing. “Lindsay, Even though I can’t keep a secret, we still decided to go with the original plan and put our money together so that we can see your lovely face again real soon. Use this to book another trip home. We love you and without you all of us would not be as close as we all are! Merry Christmas! Love, and they all signed it.
I’m fine while I’m reading it, but now I can’t say thank you without getting emotional. I try to cover my face because I’m embarrassed, and LMonny is there with Brand, handing him to me. And there’s this baby, just wide-eyed, not knowing what’s going on. He’s just there, and I take him and talk to him and God dammit, it works. That cute little Brand makes everything better.
Oh man, where’s my glass of wine? I can’t take this. I really have the best friends in the world. Like, ever. They are so amazing. I’m lucky to have them, and this was one of those moments where it hits me in the face. I pull myself together quickly, thanks to Brand, and we wind down and eventually head out. Kelly drives me home. I’m tired and not feeling great, but I still want to hang out. Do you want to come over? “Sure!” So Kelly comes over, and then the Stevers. The twins are out, but we’ve been texting about hanging out, so they come home right after we do and it’s time for games. Mike and I got my parents this game called Party Lines (A provocative bluffing game). It’s an old school game that isn’t even made anymore. Someone gets a card and there are four options on it. They get to pick one. It’s the beginning of a sentence. Ex: My worst fear is… When I was 12, my favorite pastime was… Everyone writes an answer, then the person who’s turn it is reads them all aloud and decides which comment belongs to which person. It is seriously so fun. I know Kelly’s answer almost every time. The weirder the better. Jeff is playing, but for some reason Sarah decided not to. She is walking by, doing things, in the living room or in the kitchen. She keeps making hilarious comments, of course that I can’t remember now. Every time she does, we say, play with us! But she says no. She’s really reminding me of Mom.
Before we know it, it’s 2:30. The Stevers leave, then Kelly. Sarah and Chris go to bed, and I telepathically tell Courtney she better not leave me with Jeff. Seriously, this kid could go all night. We all walk into the kitchen, me and Court for a glass of water, Jeff to talk. I already told Court I’m not staying up with him tonight. He looks at us. “You guys are going to bed, aren’t you.” Yes Jeff, we are. “Let’s play the name game.” Huh? OK. He starts a name. We go around a couple times. I realize I’m standing there with my glass of water in hand, still playing this game. I’m going to bed, Jeff. Goodnight. Courtney and I do. My bed is amazing. I feel like crap. I’m glad I’m still home.