21.4 Friends

Frantic cleaning and wrapping last minute gifts on Winterfest Eve was usually the norm, but Mary sat in her empty, festive home waiting for 11 a.m. to roll around. It felt weird to be so calm. She and Asia had not hung out in far too long, and they decided to take a break before the holiday and go to the spa. The late morning began with relaxing in the sauna. Not much conversation happened. They had all afternoon for that. Quiet was what they needed–Asia especially. After their muscles were loose, and minds cleared, they joined a yoga class just minutes from beginning.

Neither Asia nor Mary practiced yoga on the regular; they jogged. But, Mary’s life had filled with so many new things since the divorce, and jogging was not high on the list; her body reminded her of that fact. The error she made presented itself in the stiff muscles which didn’t allow her to stretch as far as everyone else. She may have been a small woman, but her size did not correlate to fitness. Good thing no one could see her struggling in the back of the class. The more she struggled, the deeper the embarrassment seeped in. She was the smallest person in the room and the most limited while Asia, the largest person in the room, was the most flexible aside from the instructor. With a new year upon her, and a new chapter already in progress, she had to make fitness a priority in the future.

While she took a quick breather, the door opened. Two people with cameras came in and took pictures of the woman on the front row. Mary and Asia were talking when they entered the room, so she didn’t notice her. It was that movie star, Edith Ward; she would recognize that floppy, blonde bun anywhere. Mary wasn’t one to get star-struck, but it felt strange to be in the same place as a celebrity. Why would someone of her status attend a yoga class in a place as common as a Willow Creek gym? Maybe she thought the paps wouldn’t find her there. She was so wrong.

Whether or not the gym was a public facility, it was just plain rude to interrupt the class like that. Would they follow her into the bathroom and post pictures of her on the porcelain throne on Simstagram? Was anything sacred anymore? The ruckus made Mary think about Phoenix. Was this the direction her life would take? No privacy and living in a glass house? The Joneses weren’t celebrities, but Mary was painfully aware of what it felt like for people to watch her every move and for personal business to be public knowledge. That was not what she wanted for her child.

When the class ended, the ladies went to the main level for overdue conversation and a refreshing beverage. At least Mary needed one for she worked so hard.

“How’s Kaiden doing since…you know.”

“Oh…he’s all right, I suppose. He doesn’t talk about it, of course. But when he first told me, he seemed rattled by it.”

“Poor dear.”

“I’m not exactly sure which part of the situation rattled him the most, but I assured him that we would never force him to do anything he didn’t want to do… And, if he ever got anyone pregnant, he can come to us, and we’ll help however we can.”

“That’s good of you,” Mary said in a faraway voice. The situation was far too familiar, and her heart went out to the two youngsters. In a way, their situation was worse because they weren’t in a relationship previously. At least Mary had feelings for John, and he enjoyed laying with her.

Mary didn’t know Kori well enough to speak about it, but maybe the child would appreciate knowing her situation wasn’t unique and that it didn’t have to be the end of the world. At the same time, how could she speak to Kori, whom she didn’t know, when she barely addressed her daughter whom she knew? Truthfully, she never really spoke with Phoenix about anything unless she raised a question. Striking a balance between being that overly involved helicopter mom she used to be and someone who allows her children be who they want was difficult. Perhaps she had taken the laissez faire route too far. Hopefully Phoenix didn’t feel neglected or like Mary didn’t care.

“What about Phoenix? Are they still friends?”

Mary sighed. The situation between Phoenix and Kori felt like going through the teen drama of old, but it was much deeper than that now. “It’s hard to say. She hasn’t said she ended their friendship, but she hasn’t made any effort to see her either. I’m worried about her, Asia.”

“How so?”

“I mean… I don’t know. My child has never reacted to things as I expect, so hopefully this is simply her way of coping, but she’s so much more sarcastic about everything now. Everything is a joke. If she’s not at work, or at her dad’s, she’s on the computer writing out new comedy routines!”

“Hmmm… I think it’s healthy.”

“How? She should speak with someone.”

“Well…we all know she has a terrible temper. Instead of be raving mad, she’s taking that fuel and being productive with it. That’s what comedians do. They take their pain and turn it into something everyone can laugh at.”

Mary shook her head. “I wish I understood. I would die if a room full of people laughed at me!”

Asia giggled. “But, they aren’t laughing at her. They’re laughing with her!”

Mary rubbed her forehead. “What does that even mean?”

Asia giggled again and pat her on the back. “Ok, let’s talk about something less stressful before we need the sauna again. Soooooooo, how are things with Reed?”

Mary knew for sure she was in love for real this time. A simple mention of Reed’s name was enough to disarm her.

“Good heavens, Mary! You’re blushing!”

Asia was the only person who could see her that way. She hadn’t told her yet, but Asia had become the most dear friend she ever had. Mary wasn’t the easiest person to be friends with, so Asia probably didn’t feel the same way. But, at least she seemed to tolerate and pretended to enjoy her company. For Mary, that was enough.

“I love him, Asia.”

Asia’s hands flew to her heart.

“Being with someone who loves me back… I realized I’ve never been in love before.”

Asia squealed. “I’m so happy about this!”

Mary cleared her throat. “I… I have you to thank for this.”

“Me?”

“I came to you so many times to talk me out of going out with him, but you pushed me into it.”

Asia swatted at her. “I didn’t have to push that hard. You wanted to go out with him. You wouldn’t have come if you didn’t.”

That was true. She wasn’t a pushover anymore. Mary did what was right for Mary. Her decisions were quick and pointed though sometimes it took a while for her head and heart to catch up with one another.

“Oh! I didn’t thank you for the invite. I have to admit I’d been fretting about what to do about Winterfest. With the children going to John’s, I’ll–“

“Don’t be silly. You’ll never be alone as long as we’re friends.”

A feeling of relief mixed in with excitement and triumph crested on her like a giant wave. Asia didn’t just tolerate her! She had a friend. A real friend! That was something to shout about, but it would be un-Mary-like. So, she cleared her throat. “Well… That is certainly good to know. Please do tell me if I should bring anything.”

21.3 Everyday People
21.5 Old John

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