Our mailbox is stuffed with catalogs addressed to someone who does not live here–tons of catalogs that appeal to women who host book clubs just to show off a new cheese knife with a fancy handle or spend Saturdays collecting artisan bread recipes or scour athletic club schedules for the evening Zumba class.
We’re barraged with mail offering desert-print tunic sweaters with elastic belts and plastic golden clasps, cheap wooden necklaces and tiny replicas of tudor-style homes with gingerbread and frosting where wood and nails should be. I do not know this life, these tastes and preferences.
I want exciting catalogs. I want flattering and structured bathing suits to wear when swimming in Thailand. I want a karaoke machine that runs out of stars to rate my rendition of Whitney Houston’s, “Greatest Love of All.” I want a pith helmet and khaki shorts for an African nature preserve. I want cologne that reminds me of a cowboy, equal parts foliage and musk. I’m making this check out to “cash” because I can’t wait to see how I look in a gun-metal colored shark-shaped personal watercraft.
And really, I don’t want any of these things. This is what I’d tell people at parties when I became uncomfortable because I pronounced “coxswain” incorrectly and admitted my real SAT score. This is what I’d tell you if I didn’t trust you, when I know you’ll scoff at the catalogs I subscribe to which feature refrigerators that assemble Italian sandwiches and are automatically programmed to make margaritas with a layer of cubed ice on top of a layer of crushed ice when the Just Because setting is pressed. I’ll order wrap dresses with fabric thick enough to hide my post-partum body. I’ll send for DVDs from everything that entertained me in 1994–The Babysitters Club, Nickelodeon, Ace of Base, books dedicated to the fine art of putting down Yo’ Mama.
And maybe what we should both order is a special time machine that would bring us back to when we were still cordial, when our numbers would appear on our respective caller IDs and we’d pick up, exchange pleasantries. We wouldn’t send it to voicemail where we would just hear a recording–a happier version of ourselves who sounds just like us but these short voices are ones we haven’t heard in a long, long time.