July 26, 2000
Waiting for Jaymi/Jamie


David and I went grocery shopping the other day to stock up on "supplies" for Daughter #1's visit.

We managed to find most of the stuff on her list without any problem. Pepsi One. Peanut butter ice cream. "Low-fat chips and/or crackers" (to dip into the peanut butter ice cream, I presume). Amaretto coffee cream. Asiago cheese.

Gummy Bears?                         

We also picked up some things that weren't on her list, but which we think she'll like: Torani syrup and seltzer water, to make homemade sodas with ... Luna Bars, and lemon pepper fettucine, and a little jar of gooseberry jam ... and, of course, all of the ingredients for our world-famous Bed Picnic Bruschetta.  (Which, incidentally, has now pretty much evolved into "24/7 Bruschetta." We just make a big bowl of it and leave it in the fridge at all times. I plunked a spoonful of it on my baked potato the other night; last weekend it went into the scrambled eggs, and then later in the day it served as a condiment on a roast beef sandwich. Now I'm considering it as a replacement for body wash.)

The only thing we couldn't find were the really big Fritos. You know the ones I mean? The mammoth, trowel-size chips, suitable for archaeological excavation? Jaymi and I like to put Asiago on them. And I still have to stock up on film and fingernail polish remover and groovy shampoo before she gets here.

So much to do ... so much to do ... so much to do ...

After we got home and I'd put all of her groceries away, I just stood there in the middle of the kitchen and hugged myself in excitement.

She'll be here in a couple of days!!

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All three of the Tots have been here to visit us now ... but so far Jaymi is the only *repeat customer* of the bunch.

She loved her first visit last August so much -- "It was the best trip I've ever taken," she said wistfully, after she'd flown home to TicTac -- that we brought her back down here almost immediately, the following November. And then both she and her sister came down for a few days in January.

I understand what draws her here to the Bay Area time and again, of course.

Besides the climate, and the scenery, and the groovy photo opportunities, and the fact that this beautiful, sun-loving golden child SHOULD have been born a California Girl ...

... besides the tons of *Alone Time* she enjoys for a few days, free of responsibilities, while David and I are at work: freedom to sleep until noon, and to hang around the pool, and to eat cereal and ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, and to peek into our medicine cabinet, and to hop onto the #51 and explore Berkeley all on her own ...

... besides the fact that she gets to hang out with David and I, and enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of a fully-functional, sober, mostly-mature romantic relationship, for the very first time in her life [or mine] ...

... there is the simple fact that I still enjoy spoiling the hell out of her. And she knows it.

She may be eighteen years old and a high school graduate and all grown up and employed and on her own and stuff.

But she is still my "Puss."

This time around? I want to take her to Haight-Ashbury. It won't mean anything to her historically, the way it did to *me* the first time I saw it -- (flashback to ten year old Secra, asking Grandma for a pair of white go-go boots) -- but she will go eleven shades of ga-ga over the clothing stores/jewelry stores/junky little knick-knack stores.

I want to go back to that little Chinese restaurant in the Richmond District and eat Orange Chicken with her again.

I want to buy her a new hairbrush and a box of colored pencils.

I want to take her to get her first pair of glasses ... maybe at Site for Sore Eyes in Berkeley. I'll buy her any pair she likes, even if *I* secretly think they're hideous. We can go to Amoeba Records and Cody's Bookstore afterwards and do a little shopping for used CDs and new paperbacks, then maybe eat chicken flautas at the Mexican café ... the one with the bad clowns sitting on the archway above the door.

We haven't taken her to Japantown yet. Maybe we can finally pick up a replacement Happy Panda Toaster, while we're there. Maybe we can browse through the bookstore, where everything is in Japanese and it feels like you're on a different planet entirely. Maybe we can buy some Hello Kitty stickers. I wonder if she eats sushi?

I want to take her picture in front of an orange tree, and in front of a palm tree, and next to a group of smiling Asian children.

She hasn't been to Santa Cruz, or Fort Point, or Alcatraz, or the Coit Tower. She hasn't ridden on a cable car. Is she still thinking about getting a tattoo? When is the Solano Stroll this year? Does she want to see the ocean this time? Would a drive along the coast be too boring?

I want to buy her some new socks and an ice cream cone.

The Oakland Flea Market might be sorta fun. Or we could sit on my bed and eat bruschetta and watch rental movies. (Or we could watch her graduation video another bazillion times, and she could point out all the boys she had crushes on and all of the girls she hated and all of the teachers who slept together.)  Does she need a haircut? How long has it been since I drew her picture? I wonder if she'd like the cheese enchiladas at The Acapulco?

I dunno. Maybe I'll just sit there and gaze adoringly at her while she sleeps.

I'm worried that seven days isn't going to be nearly long enough.

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Besides grocery shopping, and drawing up elaborate lists of places to take Jaymi for fun, and recording absurd new "mix tapes" designed to drive her insane while we're driving around San Francisco (Tom Jones, followed by Hank Snow, followed by Burning Spear) ... we have spent a huge amount of time, the past few days, cleaning the apartment from top to bottom.

The Castle looks AMAZINGLY presentable at the moment. The groceries are put away. The new shower curtain has been hung. The newly-framed Elvis Costello concert poster has been mounted on the kitchen wall. We have clean towels. The CD's have been alphabetized. Most of the ants are dead. The sofa has been vacuumed. The snowglobes are polished.

(If I could talk David into moving the bicycle out of the kitchen, I would be a completely happy camper.)

Now all we can do is sit back, count the minutes, and wait for her to get off that airplane.

NEXT Thursday.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Jaymi called me in a panic on Monday night. Collect.

We had been leaving little messages for each other via e-mail and voicemail for a couple of days, but hadn't yet been able to connect by phone. Her "please call me" messages had begun to sound increasingly frantic.

"MOM!!" she shouted, when she'd finally gotten me on the phone -- in that 50% Amused/50% Exasperated Voice she has perfected over the past eighteen and a half years of having *me* for a mother -- "You DO realize that I'm not going to be there until NEXT week, right?"

Say whut?

"My flight isn't until NEXT week," she giggled. "I come in on August 3rd. Remember?"

Jesus H. Christ with Early Onset Alzheimer's. She's right. (But at least she was thoughtful enough to avoid pointing out that *I* was the one who had made the stoopid reservations in the first place.)  Apparently she'd been reading my journal entries, over the weekend, and realized that I was operating under the misconception that she would be getting off an MD-80 at Oakland International tomorrow night ... and that David and I should be there to, like, pick her up at the terminal and carry her bags and buy her a hamburger and stuff.

"Next week, huh?" I said morosely.

"Yep," she said. "Next week."


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Am I disappointed?

Sure. A little.

You know me. I want what I want when I want it. A better boss ... an engagement ring ... a bigger apartment ... a faster computer ... breasts that don't flop around my ankles when I'm playing World Cup soccer ...

... Daughter #1, here in my Zip Code ...

... when *Instant Gratification Secra* decides she wants something, it had better happen RIGHT NOW WE MEAN IT.

But it's OK. Dealing With Minor Setbacks appears to be the *theme* of this particular week ... and the truth is, the more I practice, the better I get at learning to handle them. (Seriously!  I don't mean this at all whinily or self-pityingly or self-importantly. The more opportunities I get to practice dealing with delays and minor disappointments without making a big stoopid noisy federal case out of it -- and without dive-bombing into a box of Mountain Chablis -- the better I get at it. The next thing you know, I'll be picking up the phone and talking to Kaiser about insurance options. Sigh.)

Besides. It's only another week, forcryingoutloud. We can clean the apartment some more. We can make more lists of Fun Stuff To Do. I'll be safely past The 72 Hours From Hell by then.

Plus it gives me a little more time to look for the big Fritos.

P.S. to those eagle-eyed readers who have written to ask:
yep. it says "jamie" on the birth certificate ...
... but SHE morphed it into "jaymi" sometime around age fourteen or so.
[don't we all go through that phase?]
i am patiently waiting for it to return to the official spelling ...
... but in the meantime i spell it *her* way as a show of courtesy.
i'm just funny that way.

throw a rock