My children were born in Providence and we lived there until they were six and eight years old. My friends and I pushed strollers together and passed clothes from oldest to youngest as the years went by. We tried to promote kindness and tolerance when fights broke out among the children. Sometimes it felt like we were raising a brood together. We all had different schedules and watched each other’s kids when we worked outside the house. We gave each other support. “No, you’re not the worst mom in the world,” we’d say when someone divulged self-loathing about her lost temper the night before at bedtime. And when someone couldn’t afford to buy organic veggies, we’d say: “Fuck organic. It’s overrated.”
My youngest child and I were visiting colleges this week and spent a night in Providence.
“There’s the place you took ballet!
There’s the library we pulled books home from in the red wagon!
There’s Seven Stars with the warm rolls you loved!”
No, no and no. She didn’t remember specifics.
But I remembered.
I remembered tea party potlucks and long walks on the East Side and the RISD museum and the Atheneum and sculptures on the Brown campus and the restaurant we owned on Wickenden Street and the cabaret we did there at night and I remember performing and teaching musical theatre and I remember Montessori and I remember hard things too–really hard things…..unspeakable things……but mostly what I remember is the feeling of being immersed in vibrant small-city life with friends who made good times fun and bad times bearable.
Some of the other moms and I are still close. We talk about different things now. Divorces and deaths and our parents getting older. We talk about paying for college and the student loan debt we wish our children didn’t have to accrue.
So maybe I’ll move back to Providence next year. Maybe I’ll start looking for a job soon. I mean, it’s a place my children still consider their sort-of home, a place where they have best friends, where I have best friends and even my little dog, Beesly, has a best friend.
(His name is Teddy.)