Oh, where do I begin? Here we go, I survived! My husband and I had an interesting weekend, and you know when someone describes an event or a weekend as interesting the undertone is, “Get a load of this.” So, get a load of this.
After weeks of planning and prep for our weekend staycation at a four-star resort, it was finally go-time. My husband’s work success, and that of others, was being celebrated by his company, and we were splurging on extras for his very recent birthday.
Friday was spent getting ready, packing up, driving about 90 minutes, completing check-in, and entering our room. Our room. So wrong. We were in a corner of the second floor, the smell of chlorine permeating from the hotel spa directly below us. Opening the window coverings provided no relief. We looked out at an outdoor cement staircase and ramp out to the boardwalk. No one used the stairs, at least it seemed so. I closed the blinds after taking in the depressing, dark concrete scene. Perhaps the quality of our accomodation had something to do with my husband being a bit tardy with his RSVP. Free room at a 4-star, gotta be good with that!
With an hour before cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, I freshened my makeup and put on my dress. This may be too much information for some, but I had tried the dress on braless at home after buying online. Loved it! It was THE one. At the hotel, I wore the strapless, pushup bra that I’d purchased as part of my online shopping spree readying for this evening, overcompensating for my insecurities. Well, one might imagine what difference a good bra does to the fit of a frock. I stared at myself in the mirror. Surely I’d tried this on and really liked it, but now it had a much different length, as compared to my first try-on as well as lengths varying front vs back. If a reader has been following along, they’re aware of the obnoxious attention to detail I have given to every aspect of my evening dinner presentation because I’m self-conscious about the weight I’ve gained since fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and a broken ankle resulted in a couple of very sedentary years. Back to matters at hand, there I was, pushing and pulling the dress to make it look like what I’d remembered. Whatever. After all of this preparation and concern about this evening, I threw up my hands.
Having been the first to arrive at past parties, we decided to stop for a quick drink in the bar before heading to the dinner venue. It was 4:15 pm and there were still 15 minutes before the start. Talk and time got away from us. Suddenly, it was 5:30 and the boss was calling to see where we were. Apparently, they’d begun taking photographs and were waiting for my husband so they could take pictures of their work group. We were beyond fashionably late, and I was already exhausted with my ankle swollen and aching. Speaking of which, here’s a look three months post surgery (without swelling).
As he headed to get the photos taken, I walked into the banquet room. This was the largest group of people I’ve been with since waiting in line for a vaccine. Fortunately, our table was just a couple in from the main doors. I circled, reading nametags, and found mine next to this woman. This woman. I’ve been visiting with her at work Christmas parties and such for 20 years or so because she is the wife of a colleague in my husband’s division. I’ve very much debated whether or not I should describe her and the interactions I have with her. I’ve decided, “Fuck it. She’s not going to read this blog.”
This woman, let’s call her Debbie, as in Debbie-downer. She believes we are friends and looks forward to having someone with whom she can hang in these work-related situations. That would be fine, even welcomed, if she wasn’t a constant complainer and malicious gossip whose delivery of such seems slimy. And there’s no getting away from her for me. My man and her man working in the same office, she’s my banquet buddy.
Having located my name card, next to hers, I began to take a seat, but there she was. “Sara! Oh, Sara. How are you?She sounds as though I’ve just returned after being missing.
My response was wary, “Okay, how are you?” I continued to be seated, place the napkin on my lap, and try to figure out what the hell to do with my newly purchased clutch. She sat next to me with her knees pointing at me rather than under the table. I wish I could describe the worrisome look she has most of the time, her eyebrows scrunched together, expressing faux empathy about your personal struggles, whether you’ve identified any or not. Picture a really bad actor trying to portray someone who is incredibly concerned about you. And all you’ve said is that you’re okay.
She lowers her head and moves it closer to mine. She asks, “Are you on any medication?”
At this p0int, I think she must’ve heard about my broken ankle and surgery from her husband, so my answer is, “Just tylenol now.”
“Yes, I’m off all the post surgical meds. I just take tylenol when my ankle hurts.”
“Your ankle?! What happened with your ankle?!” and after I explain briefly, she cries, “I didn’t know!” (Okay, “cries” is an exaggeration – but not much.)
Enough said about that, she went back to what she meant. “I was talking about depression and anxiety. Are you on medications for those?” I would try to explain why she asked this but other than my oversharing in the early years about the struggles I had, I have no fucking idea why she asked this instead of, oh, “How are you doing?” This. This is what I’m talking about, but it gets worse, much, much worse.
I state briefly that I’m continuing to take care of my mental health and she responds, “Well, I’m on xanax and _____, so if you need one….” (I couldn’t hear her clearly on the second name because she was burrowing into her purse and putting a pill in her mouth. She looks at me and gestures, “Sure you don’t want one?” I wave her off to assure her I’m fine.
Debbie inquires about my sons. I share how they’re doing generally. Her take away is, “Oh, your oldest is still living at home?”
Mama bear repeats, “Yes, he’s got his four-year degree and he’s looking for work.” She nods sympathetically as though it’s so awful that my 24-year-old isn’t living in his own place. I resist the urge to tell her he did live on his own for a couple years until his situation changed and he needed to come back.
When I ask after her daughter, Debbie shares with me that her daughter is getting married. I congratulate her and she says, “He’s half black…..but that’s okay. We like him. My husband really gets along with him. I just worry about the problems they’re going to have in the future.”
Me, “With your family?”
Debbie, “No, problems like when their kids go to school and the other kids make fun of them for being half black/half white.”
After taking a breath I explained that there are so many shades of all kinds, most likely no one will notice or think anything.
“Well, I don’t know about that. I just know they’ll be made fun of.”
This woman. This is what I’m talking about.
The guests take their seats and food is served. As I’m eating my chewy chicken at a 4-star resort, ahem, I glance around the table, noticing name cards alternate by gender – until you get to me. Somehow, my place card ends up next to this woman and her husband is seated next to his boss, a male. Hmmm. Wonder how just in this spot the pattern was interrupted. Debbie engineered my disappointment in being stuck next to her. Figures.
Halfway through the dinner, Debbie’s husband said, “Sara.” I turned to him. “You look beautiful.”
“Well, thank you.”
“Really, you look beautiful.”
He looked at my husband and said, “You too. You’re great, man. Seriously.”
My partner was reciprocating the sentiment, but I couldn’t hear because Debbie was harrumphing and scolding. She looks at me and says, “Can you believe this? Are you okay with this?”
“Two men expressing appreciation for each other? Yeah. I think it’s great. They should hug. I’ll take the picture.”
My ankle was throbbing now and more swollen than it had been in weeks. I indicated to my husband that I was ready to get dropped off at the room when he was done with his filet mignon, chewy filet mignon. He returned to the festivities and enjoyed himself a lot and late. That was it. For all my anxiety and shopping, I was at the banquet for an hour-and-a-half, and I’m pretty sure no one would have noticed if I had a broken nail or used my everyday black purse, and if anyone was surprised by my weight gain, they didn’t tell me.
The rest of the stay continued in the same vein. Saturday, we set out to find a place that was still serving breakfast, as the resort restaurants began lunch service at 11:00 am, discontinuing service of the morning menu. We walked a couple blocks in cold wind and sprinkles here or there. My ankle did not appreciate the trek. We reached the Iron Horse diner, which I was sure would serve breakfast at least until 1:00 or 2:00 pm, but which actually stops service at noon, 20 minutes before we arrived. We ordered cheeseburgers & fries.
As we sat in the large, mostly empty restaurant, waiting for our food, I looked at the memorabilia on the walls from early days of the town and watched people strolling up and down the sidewalks. Into this tableaux of families and small town reminiscence drove three pickup trucks in a row sporting huge flags reading: 1. Election 2020 was stolen 2. Biden is not president 3. Let’s go Brandon and the like. They had their little, 3-vehicle political parade but it didn’t strike me as a high profile event. Motorcyclists driving up and down main street reminded me that not all states require use of helmets. Unintentional Darwinism at work there. About 12 Buffalo Soldier bikers came in together. I didn’t know if they were all smart enough to don helmets and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask!
The skies had grown thick with dark blue thunderclouds surrounding us on all sides and a far away skrim of rainfall to the southwest. Obviously we didn’t want to get soaked in the arriving storm, but my ankle had no hurry in it. We managed to arrive dry at our hotel and I suggested we sit in the bar overlooking the lake to see the weather; we certainly weren’t going to see any of it from our room. The espresso martini I ordered was de-licious, so much so that I ordered one in a plastic to-go cup before we left. Available window seats with the best view were filled, so we settled at a small cocktail table. Unfortunately, the vision of the lake being whipped up by the wind and rain was mostly blocked by the jutting out of the bar, where those prememium tables and chairs were located. Story of our stay – Room with a View of a Building.
Our day was filled with being lazy in the incredible bed and watching movies, which did not disappoint. I will say, though, my dreams have been action adventure movies each night since our marathon. I rarely watch that genre so my psyche is still trying to work it out, I guess. I’m pleased I made it through a very challenging obstacle course beginning the day I panicked in reaction to the news we’d be attending this event. Hours and hours of scouring and scrubbing to make it to the ball. for one hour I’ve got my Prince Charming and I’m surviving Sara!