Where’d You Go, Mama?

By Jennifer Locke

The full-throated laughter from the people gathered in my living room startled me. Did someone just say something funny? I scanned the crowd. Who was the last person talking?

Then I remembered. It was me.

That’s right. I’m funny.

I’d forgotten.

Adults – real, thinking grownups – responding to me often comes as a surprise. My days are measured in sing-throughs of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” In Sandra Boynton books. In noses wiped; Cheerios swept; tickle fights. I know who I am at home with my twin girls. I’m the one who makes the food, the one who kisses necks, the one they want in the middle of the night. But before all that, I was someone else.

Who?

I have vague recollections of another life. In this life, I put on real clothes and makeup every day and went to an office. I saw other grownups. I’d pop into their cubicles and chat – sometimes for 20, 30 minutes at a time. We’d play pranks on one another, have bits of dumb fun throughout our day. People would laugh at my jokes and ask me for book recommendations. My co-workers and I made liberal use of our lunch hour and patronized every decent restaurant in a five-mile radius. I recall lots of chips, salsa, jokes, and hurried drives back to the office when we realized our absences had most likely become conspicuous.

Where did that person go?

I pampered myself in this other life. I got massages. I got my hair done. I shopped for clothes in real brick and mortar stores, not just on Amazon. There were lots of yoga classes. I went to movies – several a month. One time around Oscar season, my husband and I went to a boutique theater for back-to-back showings of every Academy Award-nominated short film. (The frivolity. The luxury. The free time.) In this other life there were regular trips downtown for operas, ballets, symphonies, plays. I spent a good portion of each week scouring the Internet for whatever cultural happenings sounded like they’d be interesting additions to my weekend.

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