Houston, Part 2

A vision in white appeared . . . . Above it all was Angela’s face, beaming. Mattie felt as if the medics had arrived. . . . The women lay on their sides facing each other and talked all night, like homesick beings from another planet who had been living among earthlings far too long.
— from Blue Shoe, by Anne LaMott

Aimee and I have known each other for nearly 17 years. She’s my oldest and best friend, and when she moved to Texas, right after I finally moved back down to Virginia after three years away in law school, I was heartbroken. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see her very often, that I would miss Ben’s birth and so much of his growing up, that I couldn’t just drive to her house if I wanted to . . . it was all very sad for me. I know, though, that she made a choice that was best for her little family, and I know she won’t always be so far away, and that makes it a little easier. Still, when I saw her car pull up at the airport on Thursday, I cried with relief that we were really together again.

I admit that I worried before I arrived that having Ben would have changed her so much, that all she’d want to talk about was him, that being so far apart physically would have pushed us apart spiritually, but I was glad to see that things weren’t all that different. Being a mother has definitely changed her, but she’s still the girl I remembered. We laughed so much, and talked a ton, but there were plenty of times where we didn’t talk at all, and that was ok, too. I think that’s a measure of a friendship – the way you can just be together without always needing to fill up the empty space.

Anyway, Thursday we didn’t do much (did we?), just hung out at home and went for a walk with Ben in the stroller. We ended up at a playground and I took a couple of spins on a good old-fashioned merry-go-round. So fun. I haven’t seen one of those on a playground in ages. You can thank lawyers for that.

Friday, we hit the Downtown Aquarium. It didn’t take long to get through it; in fact, I can show you everything worth seeing right now, ready?

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Why do they have a boa at an aquarium? I don’t know. I guess it’s part of their “Adventure Exhibit.” Whatever, it was cool – he was so big.

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Now, I don’t eat seafood, but from what I understand, lobster claws are some good eating. I bet this guy would be pretty meaty.

Next, at the “touch me” exhibit, there was a pool with some little sting rays and other small aquatic items that you could touch. I did not touch them. But, there was also a porthole underneath the pool so you could watch the critters from below. From above, it distorted your image:

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Now, look, it’s an aquarium; it should have dolphins, right? I was expecting dolphins, and I don’t think that was unreasonable. There were NO dolphins. However, the “aquarium” (and now I’m using that term loosely) did have this:

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No dolphins, that’s too much to ask. But white tigers? Sure, we got white tigers. Four of them, in fact. Whatever, they were cool, too. I’m just mad about the dolphins.

Finally, we braved the rain and made our way to the Shark Train:

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The train took us around the outside of the aquarium and underneath the shark tank, so that the sharks were swimming above and around us. I know we were completely safe at all times, but it still was a little freaky.

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After that, we headed home. On the way, we stopped so I could pick up a rental car so I could meet J for dinner later that night. Due to baby-related contingencies, I couldn’t borrow Aimee’s car, but when I saw what I got to drive, it was totally worth it:

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2007 Mustang. I don’t know anything about the engine or how many horsepower it had, and I didn’t really like driving it all that much because the hood sat up so high I was always worried I was going to run into stuff, but I loved the way I imagined I looked in that car.

That night, I drove down to Rice Village to meet J and his wife for dinner. I’d never met her before, and I admit, I was a little nervous. I shouldn’t have been. She was lovely; so nice, and it was so great to finally meet her. Seeing J for the first time in 5 years, it didn’t actually seem like any time had passed, but it’s always been that way between us; we just pick up wherever we left off. He looks older, sure, but he looks more like himself than ever, I think. He’s obviously really happy, and that makes me glad. We had a good dinner at a nice Italian restaurant (I had jalapeño fettuccine with chicken and black beans and cilantro, and it was SO good), and good conversation. It’s funny: years ago I wrote something about J – a poem, probably – and at the end it said something like, “my wish for us is that one day we’ll be able to talk like the old friends we’ll be.” And that’s exactly how it was Friday night. It was really wonderful (and thanks for dinner, BTW).

I think one more post on Houston is going to do it; maybe I’ll get to it this weekend (I’m meeting Mo and Sharky in Richmond on Saturday – don’t be jealous, my invisible friends).

Oh, also: dentist tomorrow.

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3 thoughts on “Houston, Part 2

  1. The Tiger cracked me up!
    The shot of him looking so cavalier is funny.

    I have a very good friend who is a new mom (well, he’s 2 now!) and I was worried about the same thing. Time and a few states have separated us, but when we do get together, it’s like we’ve never been apart.
    I love her big time!

    It’s nice to have such friends.

  2. Oh, Janey. He came in all “Hello, counselor,” again, and I just swooned. I told him he’s the only one who calls me that, but that I’m thinking of demanding that everyone address me in that manner from now on. Somehow the fact that my birthday was on Sunday came up and he said, “Happy 21st birthday.” I said, “I’m just a little bit older than that.” He said, “23, right?” I said, “I’ll take it.” He said, “Perfect. I’m 24.” Christ, I love him.

    I did not, however, figure out a way to ask if he’s really married. I did double check that he doesn’t wear a ring, so that’s what I’m going with. I did too well on my checkup, though, so now I don’t get to go back for six months.

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