Monday, May 17, 2010

PJ Friends

When we were young, really young, maybe 8 or 10, we used to dress down and go to Pajama themed birthday parties. My kids now like them too. They even have Pajama day at school. They dream of their much anticipated first sleepover. Not gonna happen but they don’t know that yet.

I’m not sure where it all comes from, this excitement about spending good times with our friends while garbed in our favorite PJs. But it sure was fun, in a comfy intimate way.

I don’t get invited to PJ parties anymore. But I still look for my PJ circle of friends everywhere I go.

I was talking to my friend Alex, and after a lot of whining from my side, she finally conceded. Though it is easy for some of us to make friends the minute we set foot in a new place, it’s the intimacy we need with our friends that we miss the most.

This is the kind of friendship that can only mature with age, and a heavy build-up of fun memories. Unfortunately for Roamers like us, those friendships that age to satisfy our taste, are the ones that we constantly have to leave behind.

They are my PJ friends. They’re the friends who are so good in their hearts, so clear in their minds and so accommodating in their gestures that at some point – you can’t really tell when exactly- you open up to them in a way you could have never done with friends back home.

Let me explain….

I moved to Jakarta and became neighbors with “O”, after a short while, and for space and money reasons, we decided to invest together in one washing machine. In three short months, she and I became washing buddies, sharing dirty laundry and slightly cleaner secrets with every spin of our new machine.

In New York, There were “H” and “A” and a larger group of amazing friends. In two years, we were all camped out in the same hotel rooms, or our own living rooms, literally socializing in our PJs and not bothering to change either clothes or silly attitudes in each other’s company. It was that comfortable!

We had our “Diner” moments; this occasional “girls only” rendez- vous at the neighborhood diner at 4 AM, sipping at stale coffee while spilling our frustrations and angst out. It’s funny, but every once in a while, one of the girls would send me an FB message saying: I need a Diner moment now. That’s all she has to say. She knows I understand. She knows I can relate.

Back to Jordan, it took longer, but towards the end of my short stay, I had established a solid network of PJ friends. All with kids already, our most intimate exchanges were always late at night, watching a movie with dear F and sharing a large bucket of ridiculously fattening Caramel Pop Corn; having coffee with R, completely at ease despite our half washed faces and sleep puffed eyes after our kids’ drop off in the morning.

Midnight visits to M’s and sipping hot tea on a chilly night on her terrace bring back the soothing taste of Chamomile while my frequent argileh escapades with F at Bianca cafĂ© are the ones I crave the most.

I’ve been quite fortunate in Westchester, actually blessed is the right term to describe my life and my new entourage. They bring out the crazy, non challente, impulsive girl in me. I’m actually surprised she’s still there. Thought I’d lost her somewhere between moves. It’s truly liberating… and fun. It’s the stuff that makes the best memories. Like Alex says - every time my whining starts getting to her nerves- we’re in a good place here.

But I’m still waiting. Patiently idling away the hours, the days and the weeks for this moment when – one or maybe some of my new found friends will reach that level of comfort around me, and I around them, and become my PJ friends. Only then will Westchester truly feel like a warm welcoming home.

For now, I’m looking forward to more BBqs, karaoke lunches, dancing parties and wild nights out in the city, dressed in Sevens and fancy tops, my social PJ still safely tucked inside my closet waiting for that moment to be donned with pride.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Parallel Lives

How do you cope with the loneliness that engulfs you the minute you set foot in a new destination? How do you deal with nostalgia, and the pain of leaving those you’ve come to love, behind? Again? and Again? and Again?

You could spend your time exploring the new place and meeting new people.

Done that! It helped but didn’t really work.

You could chalk off your previous life and send it along with boxed up memories buried in the furthest brain hole away from your consciousness.

Done that too, didn’t work either!

The space between my brain cells- the few active ones that is – is so fluid that the memories just keep popping up in my dreams and at various silly moments, especially when I’m at the grocery store. It doesn’t help either that I have to do groceries almost every day.

So I devised a plan.

I don’t have to leave any previous life behind… except the ones I didn’t quite enjoy. I can take it with me wherever I go and rolling out whenever the urge takes over.

Then I mapped it out.

I’ll live New York through the dream job I never had but at times when I’m writing, I can pretend that I’m actually writing for a purpose.

I’ll live Amman through all the new telecom gadgets in my possession: Skype, Twitter, FB and my BB. I stay connected, renew my virtual subscriptions and stay up-to-date with all the happenings.

I’ll live Cairo through my family and the updates I get from my school friends. I’ll know all the details, see all the photos and pretend that I’m familiar with all the hot night spots, the latest baby additions and the cutest new boyfriends on the menu.

So if you catch me at Trader Joe’s staring at the pasta rack and not really picking any box, don’t ask if I were OK; because at that moment, I’m probably having lunch at Centro with my former colleagues from Amman, or maybe lounging by the Nile at Sequoya with the girls in Cairo.