I don't have a lot of local girlfriends. (I prefer my hoes in different area codes . . . or they have a tendency to up and move, either one.) And in the past when I have, I've been pretty efficient at alienating them in one way or another. Let's just say I have had a very long road to emotional maturity; in fact, I'm pretty sure I'm still on it. Always more to learn, right?
I'm also a believer in karma, and since I've behaved poorly and in a rather inconsiderate manner at various points, I don't really expect a lot from people--not because of the people themselves, but because "what goes around comes around," "you reap what you sow," etc. I'm friends with good people--great people--but I always expect that when I need something, it will happen on a day someone CAN'T help me. Like, the day of her grandmother's funeral or the day of her own booby biopsy--stuff that you can't really reschedule to help a friend out.
In a way I guess my expectations help to foster self-reliance and problem-solving skills; I'm much more likely to work and work to find a solution than ask for help, because I already know the universe is malevolently giggling in a corner somewhere, just waiting to give me my next karmic kick in the ass.
But Thursday evening, the universe must have been preoccupied with dealing out justice to some other repeat offender, because one of the few local girlfriends I have came through for me in a BIG way.
My husband travels sometimes for work, and is kind enough to drive himself to and from the airport--this is especially nice as he usually gets in pretty late. Thursday night was no exception; his flight was set to arrive around 10:30. At some point before his departing flight, he realized that his keys were missing. A series of calls led to them being found, but not in time for him to get them without missing his flight.
Now, at first I was like, "I'll just stick the sleeping toddler in the car and we'll come get you." I was going to be the badass wife who doesn't sweat the small stuff. And then I started thinking . . . .
As ancient as this is going to make me sound, I HATE driving at night. My night vision is not the best, which has super awesome effects on my depth perception and anxiety levels. Plus, there's ALWAYS construction going on around and in the airport. I don't know if I've ever taken the exact same route to get there. (And the airport itself is no cakewalk--or cake drive, if you will.)
By myself, I can overcome (or at least deal with) all of these issues. With precious cargo? Precious sleeping, curly-haired, cherubic cargo? I'm pretty sure I'd need prescription anxiety meds to even get out of the driveway. It's one thing to "risk" my own safety, but his? No, just fucking NO.
Once I realized a late-night family reunion at the airport wasn't gonna happen, I 'fessed up to my husband and told him he might need to take a taxi home . . . which would have left him without a vehicle the next morning while I was giving my students their finals (which isn't really something either one of us is okay with), and then we would have had to drive back to the airport later that day to go get the car, and that would be another day of airport parking that I don't know if his company would pay for (they might do silly things like compare dates). He also didn't seem particularly thrilled with the idea of the cab, which we would DEFINITELY end up paying for.
I shifted into problem-solving mode. If I could just find someone to come sit in the house while I went to the airport and dropped off the car key . . . . Leaving the sleeping toddler alone in the house was NOT an option--I don't care how heavy of a sleeper he is. The friend I used to have as my "to-call" person for this sort of thing is no longer speaking to me (ironically because of a post on THIS VERY BLOG! See? The long road is long, and the universe has added another tally mark), so I started thinking about anyone else I knew within a reasonable distance.
I could only think of two people--neither of which I really wanted to bother. I mean, I adore them both and they seem to like me too, but asking someone, last minute, to come over to your house at 10 at night and just sit there for an hour to an hour and a half--sacrificing her sleep, relaxation, and free time? Uuuuuuuuuugh. I really don't like asking someone to go out of her way--especially not for me.
But this was (to me) an issue of my son's safety, and it wouldn't hurt to ask--especially if I asked in a straightforward manner. I was not going to beg or wheedle or anything. And I would accept the inevitable "I'm sorry, I can't," with grace, dignity, and understanding. AND, I would ask via text--which to me is the easiest medium through which to say no.
Look, I really hate inconveniencing my friends, okay? When you've screwed up enough relationships, you tend to guard the ones you have left rather fiercely.
I texted friend #1. She had a speaking engagement. The universe had struck again, and run off in triumph.
I texted the following to friend #2:
"So, I have a ridiculous favor to ask. I need someone to come to sit in my house at 10 tonight while I go pick up my key-losing husband from the airport."
I was thinking there's no way in hell she's going to want to do this. She has a husband, a young son, and a busy life. The universe has come back for round 2 and it's winding up for a haymaker. My phone boinked (that would be my text message notification noise) and I read her reply:
"I can do it friend ;)"
I was in shock. And then, of course, I started to cry. (Yet another benefit of text messaging--no one has to know how pathetic you are.)
Remember how I mentioned earlier about my penchant for alienating my local friends? Well, this friend knows about that penchant pretty well--she experienced it first-hand a couple of times when we were in grad school. And even though that is all water under the bridge now, it still adds another level of meaning for me. This isn't just a friend doing me a favor, it's a friend I have wronged in the past.
I was sniffling, and elated, and relieved. Hell, I was flying.
I felt loved--like, really loved. Somebody, who has absolutely no obligation to me or repercussions to face for not helping me out, just stepped up to the plate for me.
Then, being me, I double-checked.
"Are you serious? Even though it is so late?"
"Yep - if u need me."
She showed up at ten 'til ten in her jammies and holding her Kindle. I managed not to cry in front of her--I waited until I got into the car.
When I got back, I hugged her goodbye probably harder than I should have. (And of course, I thanked her profusely, AGAIN.)
When my husband got home, he was very pleased to see how happy I was at this turn of events . . . until I said, "I want to just buy her a house or a car or something." (Neither of which she needs, BTW.)
"A car or a house for an hour?"
"Okay, so it may be a little much . . ."
"Yep - if u need me." I'm used to hearing phrases like that from my husband, from my family--basically the people who are REQUIRED to tell you things like that (for which I am incredibly thankful, believe you me). But hearing that from a friend? Maybe I'm finally turning into a friend worth having after all.