“Come on Jessie; let’s go to State Street, one of your favorite places, and have coffee at that cafe you love, come on!”
I did love Canterbury back then – the coffee shop/bookstore/bed and breakfast. (Presently it is A Room Of One’s Own, one of the most gorgeous bookstores in Madison right off of State street)
I worked at Canturbery while in college back in…well…a long time ago. Trudy Barash, the most lovely, brilliant, sincere and book savvy woman I ever met in my life, was my boss and let me watch authors from above in the atrium of the bed and breakfast. I sat for hours and hours, month after month doing homework and listening to authors promoting their books. I coveted that time, It was magical and solitary. Plus, I thought I was very dark and stormy up there, hovering over authors unbeknownst to them – it was college and I now know I was NOT as dark and stormy as I thought; I digress.
Back to present. I had just given birth for the first time 14 days prior, and had not yet left my house; my body was doing strange, transformy, drippy things that made me want to stay exactly where I was – at home, with my baby, Boppy pillow, my breast pump, two more Boppy pillows and the privacy and safety of my house. My oldest and dearest childhood friend Heather was visiting with her baby from Florida. I am sure she was given some sort of directives from my husband that went something like this: “GET HER OUT OF THE HOUSE, PLEASE!”
So after two hours of packing my diaper bag and getting us all in the car we arrived at the bookshop/coffee house. My favorite table by the window, looking out at State Street, was free and we made it ours. We ordered our pastries and coffees, took babies out of their “buckets” and stroller and I felt clean, social, capable of motherhood on every level, courageous, successful – and then I noticed my carrot cake seemed to have liquefied and I realized the liquid was sweat that was streaming down my chin onto not only my baby’s face, but obviously my food! Then all hell broke loose. My two week old began to cry and all the receptors that make it possible for me to feed my child from my own body began to go on high alert. ‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘Here we go. I can do this. ‘ I covered myself up with my breastfeeding cape, and tried the football hold; when my daughter’s legs kicked the cape on the floor I tried the cross cradle position and placed napkins over her face and myself. Her left arm also decided the napkins had to go and a shrill cry came from her tiny body that I had never heard before. Heads turned, 20 to 30 pairs of eyes tried to NOT look at me while looking directly at me.
There I was, dripping sweat like an Olympic gold medal athlete. My baby’s hair was slathered in salt water; coffee and pastries a concept of the past. I looked around the café, propped my feet up on the table and silently mumbled, “Enjoy the show everyone, meet the girls.”
Heather and I dissolved into tears and laughter. What else can you do after that?
Tears and laughter.
JESSIE LOEBFEBRUARY 03, 2017