Sneak Peek Saturday: Summer of Georgie, installment #3

Read Summer of Georgie one scene at a time!

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Dan is upstairs in the home office when I get back. The room is small, painted a pale salmon color with a muted gray striped rug covering most of the hardwood floor. On the walls hang a vintage, black and white photograph of a Tour de France mountain stage, and a framed Rushmore film poster, which until last summer had hung in my previous office on Boston’s Beacon Hill.  

Along most of one wall is a two-person workstation. The theory behind the idea (Dan’s) was for it to be a place where Max and Shannon could do homework. In reality, the surface is perpetually covered in paper. Junk mail, bills, those endlessly annoying four-page “Explanation of Benefits” forms that follow every physical, sick visit, and dentist appointment. ATM and grocery receipts are stuffed inside a short cylinder which is supposed to be for pens. The pens, instead, are…I don’t really know, actually.

Dan is on the opposite side of the room, at an intricate roll-top desk made of honey-colored oak he inherited from his dad. The ornate piece should conflict with the sleek workstation, but it doesn’t. Or if it does, no one has had the nerve to tell me. And I probably wouldn’t care if they did. This desk is where we keep our laptop, our printer, and our checkbook. Dan sits on one of the office’s hard plastic wheeled office chairs from Ikea. These chairs, in fact, do contrast with the rest of the office. Life is flawed.

I have a love-hate relationship with the office. After years of watching much younger couples on TV purchase enormous homes with luxuries completely foreign to me – like guest bathrooms and man caves – I love being able to say phrases like “my home office” and “it’s up in the office.” It feels grown-up, like I’ve made it. Which, at 46, is a long time coming.

But I quietly hate the clutter. The tsunami of paper screams “Fraud! Fake adult!” Dan claims to despise the mess as much as I do, but not for a moment do I believe that he links it in any way to his adult credentials.

“Hey,” Dan says, standing up and swiveling the chair in my direction. He’s freshly showered, and dressed in his boxer briefs and dress shirt. His dark brown hair is still air drying, causing the ends to flip up slightly. “I queued up the summer spreadsheet.”

“There’s a spreadsheet? No way,” I say. Dan is one of a team of accounting managers sorting through billable hours at a law firm in Boston. There’s always a spreadsheet.

He pauses, not sure if my teasing is good natured or annoyed, and appears to go with good natured. Which it is, this time. “I’ve got to be on the 8:20 train, but take a look. I have it laid out in chronological order by week, with the deposits paid and the balance owed, and the start and end times for both kids.”

I walk over to take his place in front of the computer, and step on a plastic binder clip on the rug with my bare foot. “Fuck!” I yelp, hopping onto my other foot. I spot the offending clip and kick it under the workstation. “God damn binder clips are the Legos of the office world. This room, Dan. Seriously.” 

“Just sit down, will you? We only have a few minutes.”

A surge of irritation courses through me, sharp and hot. Is an “are you OK?” too much to ask? I swallow it and sit down. I’m not looking for a fight.

I take a look at the spreadsheet. 

“How the hell are we supposed to get Shannon to the stable and Max to zombie apocalypse camp?” I say, peering closer to the screen. “They start at the same time and are 15 miles apart. What is it with camps starting at nine and ending at three? That’s enormouslyconvenient for working parents.” The pit in my stomach creeps back. Fraud! Fake adult!

“I know,” agrees Dan. “Shuttling to and from is going to be…interesting. Let’s talk to your parents tonight. They can probably help. And we’ll hire a sitter.”

“Or,” I reason. “I could drop Max off at the Hudson Hotels. He can do my job and I’ll take his place at zombie camp. I would rock zombie camp. I know exactly how to survive the apocalypse. I’d –” 

“Focus.” Dan nods to the screen. 

I turn back to the computer. “So these summer camps are costing us, what, four thousand bucks? Ish?”

He nods. “About that, yeah. Plus the cost of the sitter we’ll have to hire to bring them.”

I roll my head in a slow circle to ease the tension out of my neck. “Huh. An extra couple of hundred a week to hire a sitter to bring my children to camps they hate while I get flagellated at work. Yeah, that tracks.”

Dan’s eyes crinkle in empathy, and I secretly forgive him for the binder clip mishap. “I know, Georgie. It sucks. But it’s helped. It’s really helped.” He searches my face for another few seconds, then stands up. “I gotta finish getting ready.”

“But you look fine,” I say, staring pointedly at his bare legs. “I like the black socks. Wear them with your Tevas.” 

I close down the laptop and head to the bathroom to shower. An upside of my current job is the added time I have in the morning to get ready. With just a 10-minute drive, I can focus on the kids first and then relish the quiet of the house during the half hour grace period between dropping Shannon off and leaving for the hotel.

I lather my hair, thinking about what I have to do at the hotel’s Communications Department today. It’s Friday, so the weekly newspapers will have run the most recent round of press releases. There will be media tracking logs to update, stories to share in our social media outlets, and one or two to include in the newsletter, which I also have to finish today. There’s also a meeting today on logistics for our annual charity bike ride in September. 

And reporting on any new book sales for your fearless leader, Frank. That comes before everything else! 

“Are you going to be with me all day, Grouchy Gilda?” I ask the voice out loud. 

That’s up to you, she says.

“What?” Dan’s head appears through the slightly open door.

“Nothing. I’m talking to myself.”

“Oh. Anything good?”

“Porn monologues. I’m just getting to the good part, too.”

“Dang, just when I have to leave,” he grins. “I’m heading out. Have fun smashing the patriarchy.”

I laugh and blow him a kiss. “See you tonight.”

Turning the water off, I slide the shower door open and grab two towels. I twist my hair up in one and use the other to dry off before wrapping it around me for the handful of steps to the bedroom. Robes are for Real Housewives. Dan has left my “getting ready coffee” on my dresser. Half and half, with a drop of maple syrup. I sip it and open my closet door, surveying the array of white and navy. My eyes fall on a pair of white capris.

It’s going to be humid later; you won’t want any buttons pinching at your waist. They’ve gotten a little snug.

“True. Good call, Gilda. And thanks,” I mutter, and select a navy and white striped skirt with a comfortable elasticized waist. “And my favorite white sleeveless blouse is clean, too. Woo hoo!” I glance out the window to make sure none of my neighbors are outside to hear me.

You’re nuts, Gilda says. But in a good way.

“Back atcha,” I say, slipping into a pair of black low-heeled sandals.

I finish my coffee as I look into my jewelry box, finally deciding on the silver chain with the starfish and Nantucket basket charms that Dan gave me a few anniversaries back. I pair it with silver hoops and the fun, quirky, silver and green sea glass ring that I impulsively bought for myself on a weekend trip to Cape Cod. 

I give myself a final glance in the mirror. 

“T.G.I.F,” I tell myself. “Thank God I’m Fabulous.”

I almost buy it.

∞∞∞

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