Friday was a busy day. The first client would show at 9am. Elizabeth would see four clients and then clear up the office for the weekend. She would put away some paperwork and take out the trash and leave for the weekend.
By 1:30 she had seen her clients and felt as if she had watched soap operas all day. There was cheating, lying, and betrayal. She had tried to offer therapeutic solutions but no one was willing to hear any of it today. It was frustrating. Elizabeth was ready to leave the office and leave everything there. Her life wasn’t exciting but at least it wasn’t filled with drama. As she was driving home her cell phone rang. She saw that it was Crystal, her best friend, and she was surprised. Crystal usually didn’t have time to talk and Elizabeth was intrigued about the call.
“Hey! Am I calling at a bad time?”
“No. I just left the office and am heading to the house. What’s up?”
“I needed adult conversation! I tried talking to the TV but it doesn’t respond appropriately.”
Elizabeth laughed and asked, “Really? We haven’t gotten that far with technology, huh? Where are the kids?”
“They went with Mike’s mother for the weekend. They left about an hour ago. You’d think I would welcome the silence but it is a little overwhelming. Have you eaten?”
“Not yet but I am starving. You want to meet somewhere or what?”
“How about we go to Mason’s Café? Always good stuff there.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea! I am craving a wrap. I have to change clothes first, though. I’m in therapist clothes and I want in regular old Elizabeth clothes.”
Crystal laughed and said, “How about we meet at your house and I’ll drive. We’ll eat and then just do whatever. Sound good?”
“Sounds good. Do you think we’ll be able to go to the grocery store? I have no food.”
“Sure. We can do whatever. Mike is working until about 6 tonight. One of the other doctors called out today and so he is seeing his patients, too. We may need to swing by his office to drop him some food. I’m going to text him and see if he wants anything. OK?”
“Sounds good. I should be home in about 20 minutes. If you get there first, use your key. Bye.”
Elizabeth beat Crystal to the house and she changed into jeans, t-shirt and a sweater and some boots. She looked at her hair and pulled it out of the bun and let it fall. She hated her hair falling in her face so she did pull it back a little. Crystal walked in and yelled, “Where are you?”
“Back here! Just about ready. Trying to get my hair to stay back a little without pulling it into a ponytail. I have had it pulled so long today that my hair actually hurts.”
Crystal came to the bathroom and assisted in pulling her hair back. “You are like Superman. You have different looks. I think you need some new clothes, though. How old is that sweater?”
Elizabeth shook her head. This was a usual conversation. Crystal was always trying to help her with life. Today was wardrobe. Next week would probably be decorating. Elizabeth usually conceded because Crystal had excellent taste. But she had to put up a little fight. She didn’t want Crystal to think she was a complete pushover.
Over lunch they talked about life, politics, family and every other subject under the moon. They were good enough friends that even if they disagreed they could do it amicably. They agreed to disagree on certain subjects. Sometimes they had a friendly argument but it was never anything serious. If they didn’t agree they were fine with it.
“Liz, I have a question,” Crystal said with a hesitation in her voice.
This automatically put Elizabeth on edge. Crystal usually just said what she wanted to say and didn’t lead into it.
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Hon, you haven’t been doing much lately. When are you going to start living your life?”
Elizabeth sighed and asked, “Have you been talking to my mother again?”
“Why do you ask that? I am asking because I care. I know that you have been unhappy and you’re getting stuck and I don’t want that for you. You help people all the time and you never do anything for yourself.”
“Crystal, I appreciate your concern. I do. I have thought about all of this, too. And I am considering some things. But right now I am just not in a place where I know exactly what I want to do. I am thinking and when I know what I want to do, I will let you know. What I want to do in the near future is get food for the house and clean it. I may get some plants, too. I’m not sure. How’s that? I’m not laying there crying all the time. I promise. A lot of times I come home just tired. Now do you feel better?”
Crystal smiled. She trusted Elizabeth to tell her the truth.
“Yes, I feel better. And are you sure about plants? The last ones you had died a terrible and painful death.”
Elizabeth laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. I heard there are plants that can take even the worst abuse and I was thinking of seeing what those were. I know I don’t need high maintenance plants.”
They spent the remainder of the afternoon shopping. Crystal made Elizabeth buy a few new clothes to spruce up her wardrobe under mild protests. They went to a nursery for plants and asked questions about the hardiest plants and explained how Elizabeth was a serial plant murderer. They decided to start off with the easiest ones and got a philodendron and a jade plant. Elizabeth decided if she could keep those alive for a month she would try other things as well. The final stop was the grocery store. Crystal tried to take over shopping but Elizabeth had to reign her in and remind her that she was shopping for one person rather than four.
“Sorry, Liz. I feel like I am shopping for a small army at times. It’s really different shopping for one, isn’t it?”
Elizabeth sighed and responded, “Yeah, unfortunately it really is. I can’t buy a lot of things because they’ll go bad. Some of my meals are more snack-like because I almost don’t see the point in cooking a complete meal for one person. I know I need good food, but it is a lot of hassle to cook something like lasagna for one, ya know?”
Crystal frowned a little and said, “Yeah, I can definitely see your point. How about the next time I make lasagna I have you over? That way you get to visit with your family and you get great food? See? Kill two birds with one stone! OK?”
Elizabeth laughed and agreed. That’s what she loved about Crystal. There was an ease to their relationship. There was no expectation or motive. It was just love and camaraderie. They had been friends forever. They met in middle school when Elizabeth was the new girl at school. She was quiet and shy and so scared. No one really wanted to talk to her. They thought she was snobby. Crystal saw past that and realized it wasn’t snobbishness at all and that it was just shyness. Crystal took her under her wing and they were instantly friends. That was almost 30 years ago and they were still the best of friends.
As the unloaded groceries at Elizabeth’s house, she brought that memory up. “Crystal do you remember when you and I became friends?” Crystal smiled and said, “Oh yes. A few girls thought you were such a snob and I kept thinking that your actions didn’t seem snobby. So I talked to you. It turned out that you were just shy.” They laughed and reminisced about old times. Crystal brought Elizabeth out of her shell through the years and Elizabeth was the voice of reason through the years. They were opposites and yet their friendship worked.
“So what are your plans for the weekend, Liz?”
“I have to do a lot of cleaning. I have been so tired lately and have been working later in the night that I have been neglecting some things. So tomorrow I plan to just spend the day here working around the house and tending to things. How about you? You’re going to be kid-free for the weekend. What are you going to do?”
“Well, tonight Mike is going to be exhausted so I know he will crash when he gets home. I am not sure about tomorrow. I have tried to ask him about us doing something like a real date and can’t get him to commit to anything. I think he and I are both a little confused about not having the kids in the house. We’ll figure it out I am sure. Sunday we will go to church and get the kids from his mom. She’ll be ready for the reprieve. And probably just hang out around the house. You’re welcome to join us.”
“I might swing by Sunday. I’ll let you know. Mom wants me to come over. I just don’t know if I am up for another of her self-improvement days.”
Crystal laughed. Elizabeth’s mother, Maggie, was about as subtle as Dolly Parton. Maggie loved Elizabeth and thought her daughter deserved everything in the world. She just didn’t always consider that what she thought was everything and what Elizabeth thought was everything was actually different things. Crystal loved them both dearly and considered Maggie as part of her extended family. She just had to take Maggie with a grain of salt and laugh about some of her antics. She knew that wasn’t so easy for Elizabeth. It never was when it was your own mother.