If you have been reading this for a bit, you know I have an inexplicably obnoxious superiority complex about living in cities. It surfaces about every five minutes during moments such as piling my clothes on top of my wardrobe to the ceiling since we have no storage space, and when I drop my heels off to get repaired every few weeks from sidewalk-and-carrying-groceries-five-blocks damage. A friend was telling me a story the other day about someone she knows who is living “off the grid” in the country. It occurred to me that hippie freaks like that should just move to cities like this. We use public transportation and get life in prison if we don’t recycle. My carbon footprint is about as big as my flat- roughly the size of your bathroom.
But now I can add a new layer to my arrogance and conveniently it checks multiple boxes since it can be construed also as another layer in the baby/mommy wars. On Oprah the other day a woman astutely pointed out that moms will always look for ways to divide and judge: natural conception vs. fertility treatments, natural birth vs. drugs, working vs. stay-at-home, etc. I want to add: city vs. suburb. Jonah is only 3 1/2 weeks old and he already challenges those exurb pansies to a duel. You bring your leafblower and riding lawnmower, we will bring pollution, construction and mom & pop-owned businesses.
You see yesterday we were out at an appointment for J and then to meet up with some other new mums. London cabs are amazing in their design and you can just bring the stroller/pushchair/buggy/pram right in with you- baby inside and all. We of course were using the rain cover. It’s London, people. So I was sitting pretty smug thinking, I have conquered stoller-up-stairs, rain and getting baby in taxi all in one day. Those detached-house mommies have nothing on me! Little did I know what the day would bring.
When I left the pub with the girls, I headed to a bus stop in Holland Park. Adding a bus trip with an infant to my day was sure to bring me world dominance. I waited at the stop when out of nowhere, the skies opened and biblical, torrential, Armageddon rain and HAIL started thundering down. The sky turned black. Flash floods appeared. An 8-year old boy who was apoplectic at the bus stop (is there a clinical name for “fear of floods”?) was practically crawling on top of my head. Just when the scene could not have been delivered more perfectly from a movie set, yes, I am not exaggerating- a truck (lorry) rode by and SPLASHED ALL OF US WITH A TIDAL WAVE OF DIRTY STREET WATER. I actually shrieked. Partially for joy as it all seemed like such a fun adventure for maternity leave.
Then the bus pulled up. The bus that I had frozen to death waiting for. When I got on with my extra human load, the driver asked me where I was going. I was confused but it turns out he was telling me to get off, that there was no room for a stroller. I looked down the bus corridor and all I could see were masses of soaking wet rush hour commuters, smelling like dogs in the rain and looking a little like they would eat me if I held the bus up one minute longer. I was confused. My brain could only process that if I got off the bus, Jonah and I would surely die in a flood of sewer water and fish & chips carcasses. And then out of nowhere…
My English heroine. A sopping wet woman started shouting, “She is not getting off this bus! She has a baby! That is ridiculous! Make way! We can fit this buggy on the bus! This is ridiculous! You don’t do that to a baby!!” And all of the sudden people starting clearing the aisle and getting up from their seats. This would be the part in the movie where the music crescendos and you start crying at the common decency of your fellow man. Although if set in New York, someone would have thrown their chicken bones at my head.
I could have wept. I felt guilty that I got off at the very next stop to transfer to another (empty) bus route. And then I felt angry because it took an hour to get home when a cab would have been ten minutes. But Jonah slept through the entire thing snuggled up in fifteen blankets, a state-of-the-art stroller and rain guard. I was shivering, wet, exhausted and was of course wearing flip flops so may now have 11 different types of foot fungal infections. But we are badass city folk. And I think Sandra Bullock could appreciate this plotline. I mean, no one saw Speed 2 okay. Cruise Control?? Ridiculous.
Yes, I just wrote a short novel about the most boring thing you ever read. But you’re at work and this is still better than solitaire.