Thursdays With Athena
The circle widens, contracts, and rotates from week to week, but the axis coordinates are more or less fixed: five o'clock sharp, my front porch, kids welcome, no husbands, no regrets. The drinks are fancy, the snack is simple. The children are encouraged to play video games and forage from the pantry. This is our time. The Ladies have convened.
Our conversation is a pool with sunlit shallows and sudden depths. We talk about hair and make up, sex, clothes, religion, music, food, and the riddle of being wives and mothers, and still ourselves--the invisible handiwork in our laps that needs untangling over and over again. We hold it up for each other to help tease out the strands.
The laughter becomes deep and earthy. The second round is shaken and poured. Someone puts chicken nuggets in the microwave for the children. The husbands are called, soothed, cajoled, notified. A little while longer. This is our time.
Patrick stays discreetly in the background, steering the boys toward baths and homework. On a trip inside to refill the ice bucket, I tease him, "We are talking about our vaginas. You don't want to go out there!" He raises his eyebrows in mock horror, smiles. The kids slip outside, hovering near the porch like moths around lamplight. I wonder if I should shoo them back inside, if our conversation is too strong for them. They are wound up with excitement. Patrick herds them into the house, but they keep escaping, dancing on the lawn in the twilight, pagans around a mighty bonfire.