I have late-onset social anxiety. Taking a vacation in my hometown of San Diego heightens my anxiety of running into someone I used to know. When I’m there, I run in and out of Target with sunglasses on. Costco is even more risky. But there nearly no risk at all in taking a vacation anywhere in the Pacific Northwest because we never run into anyone we know there.
After a busy couple of days of driving and sight-seeing in Seattle, my kids were exhausted. But because we had just arrived at the park, and I was tired of being cooped up in a vehicle, I wasn’t about to let them nap in the car. I had to employ some heavy love & logic. I picked up my 4 year-old by the collar of his jacket, plopped him on his feet in the parking lot, and sternly instructed him to walk to the park so we can have an enjoyable family picnic, dammit.
But he played the injured card. He screamed and cried with such fervor that I kept looking around to make sure I wasn’t going to be affronted by some concerned witness. Pretending to ignore his performance, I walked on toward the park, praying that my strong-willed child would follow.
Then the baby started in. Here I am in the middle of a park with a crying newborn in my arms and a wailing 4 year-old in the distance. I notice a line-up of stylish parkour participants looking in my direction.
Embarrassing, sure. But not unusual.
Then I hear, “Mandy? Is that you?”
No one ever wants to hear those words while kids are not in line. Which means those words are pretty unwelcome on any given day at any given time. I looked up to see Hilary, one of my closest friends from college, walking toward me, while her whole parkour class looked on.
You have to know Hilary to know how comical this is. Hilary is a former actress. She is at all times perfectly coiffed, even during a parkour class. She is stylish and child-free. She’s straight-up Georgian, and was in Seattle only for that weekend.
Usually when Hilary and I get together (when our paths cross in California) I try to make sure my kids aren’t present so I have the best chance to put my best foot forward. Not only was I embarrassed that my good friend saw me (and my brood) in that state, but as I scanned her parkour class, I noticed three more old friends from college among us. Quadruply embarrassed.
It was like a f*cking surprise college reunion. I didn’t go to my high school reunion or my college reunion. But if I had I would have damn well made sure I had left the wild card kids at home.