We were standing out on my parents’ front lawn this afternoon, me, the kids, the parents. Kicking around a soccer ball and trying to stop Fresco from running into the road. These people pulled over and crossed the street. It was the parents of one of my best friends in high school.
I’ve mentioned her to most people I know. She was the smartest girl on the planet when we were in school together. She is now a pediatric neurologist. Someone I used to be friends with gets to look at children’s brains. Fuck me, that’s so amazing.
I haven’t seen her parents in a long time. I am thinking it has been 10 years. But of course, parents have that underground grapevine that keeps them all in the loop so I know what my old friend is up to and her mom knows what I have been up to.
“Oh my god!” she said. “I don’t even recognize you!”
“Ha ha,” I said, “yeah, it’s been a while.”
“It’s the haircut,” offered my mother.
“No, you look SO SO DIFFERENT,” she said, staring at me like I had horns, “so … MATURE. You looked the same for so long. But now you look different.”
Is she saying I look old? I do feel old. But how old is old? Right now, right this second, I think I feel 50 but then I’ve never been 50. I don’t think I look 50.
“So, these are my kids,” I said, gesturing to the kids, who are, of course, adorable but definitely look like they might make a person more, yanno, mature.
(Well. Except when I sink to their level and start trash-talking. But let us not go there.)
“Yeah!” she said, “I’ve seen them. I’ve seen pictures. They’re great.”
And we chatted for a while. And then she saw Saint Aardvark, whom I did not know she had ever met or seen.
“Wow! Is that your husband?”
“He looks different too. You both look. So different. You used to be so slim, both of you. And now, you’re…so mature.”
Aha! She doesn’t mean old, she means fat. Got it!
We are totally fatter, me and SA. When we met each other, I weighed 40 lbs less than I do now. I don’t know how much he weighed, I never asked, but he is bigger than he was.
O’course I’m pretty sure I was underweight when we met. We were in our ’20s. We lived on beer and noodles and we went dancing a lot.
And before that, in high school, well, I was skinny. Elbows and ribcage skinny. Despairing of ever filling out a bra or a pair of jeans skinny. But not anymore.
So yes, she remembers me differently. I am guessing.
I wonder if my high school friend looks the same as she did. I wonder if 10 years of post-secondary education can compare to marriage and motherhood in terms of making you look more mature. Of course her mother sees her all the time.
It was an interesting choice of words. I think of myself as many things, among them, “tired,” “responsible for two nap schedules,” and “definitely fatter than I used to be, so what.” But to hear all of me, all of what I look like standing in front of someone summed up as “mature” was a bit jarring. I totally don’t feel mature. Fooey on you, lady! Next time, you mean fat, say fat. You mean old, say old. You mean awesome with reproductive power, say that.
I suppose she could have said matronly. That would have been worse.