Thursday, September 15, 2005


I’m alone with my thoughts, a Pacino film, a plate of gorgeous, roasted peppers, a hunk of Manchego, a glass of Spanish rose’. I’m not wearing two coats of mascara or a hint of perfume; my neck smells of nothing more than Dial soap. My face is bare, exposed—the shoulder-length blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. Tonight, I didn’t worry about purses and panty lines and lipstick on my teeth. The white tank and terry cloth slippers suit my couch just fine—

Two mice just darted across the kitchen floor, ducked into the radiator.

Never had to worry about those down South… but, it’s all a trade-off, right? I’ll take a mouse or two if I can keep my foreign film theatres, fresh ravioli store, gilded reading room at the 42nd Street library, off-Broadway plays, run-ins with Benjamin Bratt in Union Square, wine bars on Clinton Street, midnight writing classes, evenings on my terrace with quirky neighbors.

Tradeoffs, tradeoffs, tradeoffs…is this what adult life is all about? Is “having it all” a myth concocted by Hollywood? When I was in high school, I would run down to the bay, stare across the dark brown water until it reached the green of the Gulf. I told myself that I would do it all, have it all. There was the journalism career, wealthy husband, apartments in Paris and Rome, famous friends… the list went on and on.

Mamma made concessions. She quit a successful career in journalism to take care of four kids—me, my two sisters, my father. She left her typewriter (yes, back then they used typewriters) for the stove, the washing machine, the neighborhood bake sale in July. No more trips to her favorite castle in Ireland or to the tapas bars of Madrid. The life she knew ended so her family’s life could begin. I vowed that I would never give up anything (Me! Me! Me!); “compromise” was not in my vocabulary.

Now, I concede more. Instead of a helicopter out to the Hamptons, I take a commuter plane back down South for a slow weekend of dinners by the lake, babies, walks around the farm. I have a five o’clock toddy with my grandparents instead of champagne with the Italians at “Da Silvano.” I visit Southern Boy in Birmingham instead of telling him to come to the City. Is this growing up or am I on the slippery slope to forgetting about me and remembering the needs of everyone else?

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