THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2013
I sat in the green room, tapping my heels on the floor. The fake leather vest I had bought at H&M clung to my shoulder blades. I was already sticky with sweat. After a brief wait, I was escorted down a nondescript hallway, people with headsets calling out commands. They sat in carved out rooms that looked like shoeboxes. There were no windows.
“This is where you’ll set up.”
The shithole hallway opened up onto what looked like a movie set. Green screens, desks, able bodies, and a table raised on a platform fanned before me. This was where I would do my FOX TV segment. I unpacked my superfood salad, the homemade dressing and the non-dairy pancakes. I fussed with the plating. I arranged and rearranged, wishing I had my own dishes, my own utensils… wishing I had prepared this dish at home instead of in front of strangers.
Alex, Sophie, and I had flown up to Chicago the night before. We were staying with a friend who had three other house guests, all of whom were sick and weird – or both. I had spent another sleepless night, tossing and turning in a bed that wasn’t mine, feeling displaced. I had only moved from Chicago two and a half weeks ago, and now, here I was, back again, to promote my book. The timing was awesome. Security deposit, first month’s rent, moving costs, renting a truck, two flights, shipping fees? Sure, no problem. We were made of money, apparently.
My publicist arrived a few minutes before I went on. I ignoried the intense urge to curl up and take a nap right there on the floor. I couldn’t think about anything other than what I was supposed to talk about… which was what again? A salad? Pancakes? Like, good foods and stuff?
As I prepared to go on, they asked me to count to 20 to test the mic. I began to count.
“Now recite the alphabet backwards.”
Normally, this would be no problem. But I just looked at them. Didn’t they know I only had three brain cells left? I knew they were kidding, but I was smart – they had to know I was smart!
Instead, I just started counting to 20 again. Apparently, my mic didn’t work. They rushed me back and swapped microphones, unable to test it.
3,2, 1… action.
On to the next activity. The next day was WGN. Arriving almost two hours ahead of time, my bags of groceries and food processor in hand, I walked the premises, taking in the BOZO THE CLOWN set and various other rooms. I was ushered to a kitchen on the news set. I unpacked my things, watching the tele-prompters from the corner of my eye. Did I have everything? What if the food processor didn’t work? What if I forgot what to say? What if they mispronounced my name, despite the fact I had told them it was Reeuh Frye?
I cleared my mind and got ready. As I was preparing for the mic, I realized I had a dress on, which meant I had nowhere to clip the pack to.
“Well, you’re going to have to go up my dress or down,” I told the sweaty guy. Thank God I had worn underwear.
He slipped his hand down the back of my dress, his fingers fumbling to find my bra strap. “This is such a pretty dress,” he said.
Wow, that’s not creepy, I thought. “You should see the bra I’m wearing,” I said. “It’s awesome. It’s a nursing bra.”
We filmed a few teasers (prepping, arranging, and squirting lemon juice in a citrus squeezer that flew into my eye) and then I was ready. The anchor introduced himself and told me he’d been vegan for 18 months.
“Do you feel better?”
He shrugged. “I’m old, so who knows?”
We chatted a bit and he told me he didn’t even want to do the recipe – he just wanted to discuss the book. I looked at him, mouth ajar. I had not only taken all the kitchen utensils to the UPS store to box up, but we had hauled it to the airport, checked it, and taken it up and down four flights of stairs; there were more peanuts and bubble wrap than I could count, and I had frantically chased Sophie around our guest room, ripping the styrofoam from her mouth; not to mention the $300 we spent at Whole Foods to buy groceries and the food segment ingredients, after which we couldn’t find a cab and had to schlep everything back to the condo. We were demoing the damn recipe.
With both TV segments behind me, I made an executive decision to cancel my book release party. We didn’t have alcohl or food or anything to serve the alcohol or food in – we were both exhausted, drained of money, and Sophie, the trooper that she was, just needed some normalcy.
Just the radio with WGN the next day, and then we were on a flight to our new home. Hooray for new beginnings…
And now, here we are.
As I sit here, staring out onto a fenced in backyard, glossed over by green leaves, a peach tree, and birds who, for some strange reason, keep ramming their little bodies into our windows at 4:45a.m., I am calm.
My Smith-Corona typewriter sits to my right, a copy of our new lease to my left. The house is quiet – finally – as Alex left to run errands and Sophie sleeps in her room.
As we finally settle, I am flummoxed by why we didn’t do this when I was pregnant. Watching Sophie traverse her adorable room, squealing in glee anytime someone comes by to see her – it’s magic. I am no longer cooped in my little shoebox condo on north Elston. I can put my feet in the grass and see the stars and breathe deeply.
I can park for free on the street and have dinner with the neighbors and wave when someone walks by. I’ve seen friends and hung out spur of the moment, without planning a month in advance. Let’s just forget the fact that I was sitting with my friend visiting from London, Jamie Susan, and we were discussing middle names. “What’s Sophie’s middle name?” she asked.
“Leona,” I said. I stood up to grab Sophie, as she crawled to the office. “What’s yours?”
She blinked her large doe eyes. “Mine?”
“Yes. What’s your middle name again?”
Holy Christ, it appears I am still stupid. Hopefully some fresh air and the dream of sleep can cure that.
In better news, Alex and I went on our first date in almost a year last night. Eating, undistracted and uninterrupted, felt like bliss. Talking to my husband but more importantly listening to what he had to say without going, “What? What?” like an 80-year-old reminded me of the days of old.
And everyone is nice – so nice that it makes me wonder what they are secretly planning, or what they could possibly want. At night, instead of battling traffic or watching a show, we get outside; we smell our delectable rose bushes and prance around the neighborhood, gazing at the homes of different sizes and breadths. We have studied the history of them, traversed the rolling hills and felt like we were in Berkeley and not the south. We have dipped in and out of shops, met local business owners and had conversations with people on the street.
This feels… right on every level. I am wondering why we didn’t do it sooner – even sans baby, it makes such sense. The stress has lifted. We are excited again – for life, for possibilities, for new faces and old, familiar ones.
We are right where we should be.
We are home.