My best friend and I speak every morning. We call each other from our cars on the way to work. It’s the best time really. No home life or work intrusions to distract us. Sometimes it’s a two-minute check in. Sometimes it’s a long chat that ends only when one or the other of us is at our office door. We talk about what we’re wearing, we talk about the day ahead, we sometimes talk a bit about work and exchange vital information or just gossip about what’s going on around town and I usually ask what her infant daughter is wearing and doing that day. But most often, we’ll start our chat with the fantasy conversation of what we would say to each other if we were not women who work. We imagine a life in which we call each other in the morning to discuss our daily plan – will we meet for a hike or at exercise class? Will we go to coffee after at Le Pain or at Joan’s? And will we have meetings for the various charities we have time to dedicate our energy and passion to that day or perhaps just visit LACMA to see the latest installation? Now that she has a baby, our plans include picking the child up after school and including her in the latter portion of our leisurely ladies-who-lunch day.
This all started because one morning as I was dialing her number (speed dial “B” on my berry), I noticed all the women walking in my neighborhood. I was running a bit late that morning. It was about 9am. And there were droves of women in twos and threes walking through my neighborhood, chatting and looking very fit. I should mention that I live in a neighborhood in the hills adjacent to an excellent hiking path. So it wasn’t unusual to see people walking. I just hadn’t noticed before how many women walk in leisurely groups at a time when the rest of us are headed to or already at work. So when B answered the phone I immediately assaulted her with, “who are these women?” “Who are you talking about” she asked with a laugh in her voice. “Who are these women who walk at nine in the morning when the rest of us have to get to the office? Why do they get to walk? How did they figure out their lives like that? I want to walk at nine am!” We talked about the women, talked about what the rest of their days might look like, talked about what it would be like if we didn’t work.
And thus was born the ritual of the conversation in which we fantasize about a life in which we get to take a late morning walk, or go to the gym, and go to lunch, and dedicate ourselves to causes we care about, and get our nails done on a weekday. It’s a silly ritual, really. And in truth we both like being working women most of the time. The fantasy is a “someday” fantasy and not a “today” fantasy. But its fun and it’s a good distraction from the anxiety that can build on the drive to work. And I still want to know who those women are that get to walk at nine in the morning and what they do with the rest of their day.