Ten women of a certain age--let's say long past high school--in prom dresses, in a black stretch limo, drinking champagne, laughing at the twinkley stars on the ceiling, and the 70's music on the CD player, and at each other. Ten beautiful women, and Carla the most beautiful of all, in her purple dress and flaming hair with not one strand of gray in it, laughing in the back of the limo.
The driver's name was Sam. He was young and handsome and came from Jordan and had no way of knowing the situation. Ten middle-aged women--except for Gina, who, as Molly said, looked younger than springtime and is actually 27, "but I just went through 54 hours of labor which definitely makes me a mature woman, so put that in your juice box and suck on it!" Nursing her new baby daughter Georgia, her husband and Georgia's daddy following patiently behind in their car.
Ten crazy women, goofy with love and grief, getting off at Cafe Gratitude and ordering, "I am Luscious," I am Terrific," "I Am Sensual." Pesto pizza made with sprouts, pad thai with the noodles cut from zucchini shavings, a smoothie with raw cacao and agave nectar. More raucous laughter as we paraded through the restaurant in our finery and heads turned. There were two or three tiaras. There were high heels worn by women who are normally found in sneakers. My borrowed emerald green prom dress with the halter top showed beaucoup decolletage and I looked, well, hot.
We asked Sam to drive us to Treasure Island. The East Bay glittered like a mess of diamonds on one side, San Francisco on the other. We were in-between, suspended between sky and water, landmass and land. It seemed appropriate. More seventies music, and some eighties. Carla wanted to cast something into the ocean. Sam pulled over and we spilled out of the limo. A charter vus full of German tourists was right next to us. They were taking pictures of the beautiful view. We were dancing and laughing and carrying on. Soon they were taking pictures of us.
Carla somehow managed to wriggle through a hole in the fence. Four panicked women piled after her, screaming, "Are you out of your mind?" She wanted to get closer to the waves, so that her offering would not fall on barren rocky ground, but would be borne away by the ocean.
She made it! Four or five women pulled her back under the hole in the railing. Carla was grinning. We took silly pictures. Ten women dancing wildly. A bus full of tourists from Florida pulled up. We are now going to be immortalized in home movies on two continents. "This is what the crazy people of the San Francisco Bay Area look like." Molly and Wendy and a few others ran through the sprinklers on the other side of the road, waving their arms. It was chilly and foggy out but we were warm from dancing and from remembering our crazy times of youth. We put our feet in a circle and photographed our fancy shoes. Piled back in the limo.
More champagne, and saki. Dark chocolate. I spilled champagne on my borrowed emerald green dress. Laughing and talking and singing along with Styx, Boston, The Steve Miller Band. Gina's recent childbirth reminded the other mothers of their own stories. Initiation. Difficult labors, mystical labors, unexpected turns of events. This baby was colicky, that one was quiet and easy and slept through the night right away. How long ago it was. How fast the time went.
Tired feet eased out of high heels. Carla leaned back against Gina's motherly soft shoulder. Sam drove us back to Carla's apartment, where her father greeted us with homemade little photo albums his wife had put together: carla as a child, Carla as a teenager, as a college graduate, as a radiant young mother with baby Mac. We leaned against each other on the couches, on the floor, reluctant to go home. but it was a school night, a work night. We hugged each other and left, exhausted, jubilant, a little teary.