The line for the women’s bathroom stretched onto the stairway.
If I were at a theme park, the wait time would probably be upwards of 25 minutes. I held the empty Diet Coke cup in my hand, just in case me or the poor very pregnant woman in line ahead of us couldn’t old it anymore.
We’re so used to this, as women. Has anyone ever sat down and calculated how much time we spend in queue for things? Bathrooms, pap smears, equal pay. I’m told we’ll get there eventually if we just cross our legs and be patient.
Until then, we wait in lines full of women checking their phones, some of them joined by men floating along side of them, unaccustomed to and confused about the line. They’re just standing there because otherwise they’d be sitting in a dark theatre alone for half an hour.
“I think there’s only 3 stalls in there.” Heather whispered to me.
I was busy googling “how long is les miserables musical?” and “has anybody ever died sitting through les miserables musical?”
I checked the time.
“Alright, it’s 9:20pm, and it appears we still have about an hour…” I trailed off, watching a guy kiss the woman he was with as she handed him her purse and headed into the bathroom in line ahead of me.
“She’s gonna come back.” I wanted to assure him. “We only pee and wash our hands in there, the toilet isn’t a portkey.”
Wait, was it a portkey? If I go in there and touch something, will it take me someplace warm and sunny and less… misérables?
When we finally get our chance, we pee quickly, and wash our hands and dry them with unspoken speed. Pop culture assumes women just gossip and fuck around in the bathroom. We don’t, because we know the line is long, and we have fucking empathy for the soldiers behind us trying not to piss themselves, instead we work swiftly like robots.
We enter back into the lobby refreshed, lighter, and with a new perspective.
“So do you wanna just not go back in there?” Heather smiles and nods her head toward the stairway leading to our seats.
We silently stared into each others eyes, trying to get a read on the situation.
I went over the pros and cons rapidly in my head.
Pro, the sets are stunning. Pro, this is a world famous musical that everyone seems to love. Pro, I’m here with my bestie and no kids. Pro, there’s a lot of phallic innuendo using french bread and I’m here for it.
Cons, wow, it’s shockingly long. Con, it was already after 9pm. Con, I didn’t expect the whole thing to be sung. Con, I haven’t seen the movie and I cannot understand anything Jean Valjean is singing, he sounds like the teacher from Peanuts and I think I’m missing crucial plot points.
“Let’s get out of here!” We decided, yawning because we’re in our late thirties and just excited to get to the car to turn on our seat heaters and listen to podcasts.
If the universe is Patches O’Houlihan from Dodgeball, Heather is his star student.
I’m the asshole over there on the ground nursing a wrench wound to the face.
Getting my driving privileges back last week is something we had been waiting for, her and I.
You see, we had plans. I was going to have this hysterectomy, and she was going to spend all her days off in bed with me watching Netflix, doing face masks, and eating take out. But then, my surgery was canceled and she had a stroke, and the time I assumed I’d have to spend in the hospital for me, was spent next to her.
Typing it out just there is my very first time putting that realization in my head….
“Plans change.” Shrugs the universe, as it always does.
So then, two months later, I had my surgery and we found ourselves sitting in our own beds, in our own houses, one street apart, neither of us able to drive.
Trapped. Isolated. We were Les Misérables, at least I was.
I don’t have the personality for recovery. I can tell you that’s it’s because I always have to be doing something, but the bigger truth here is that it’s been incredibly lonely, and it’s not been a good look for me.
Andy seems annoyed with me, but I’m annoyed with him not understanding what I’ve lost.
All my friends are on side chats without me, making plans and exchanging best friend necklaces while I was stuck on my back wearing a binder and eating Advil. (There is a very good chance I’m paranoid and imagining this entire scenario.)
My moods are as exhaustive and prickly as they were during my period, but without the need for tampons.
At least when I was menstruating, I could hold up my bloodied hands and say, “see, it’s not just me, it’s all this blood.”
Now I’m just full of manic anger and sadness with no proof except for this jagged line across my guts, and how many times can you pull your pants down in a Target and explain that before it’s weird?
This is normal, I guess. My lone ovary in there left with the task of regulating my whole self with no notice. I feel for her, I do.
I turn 38 in 13 days, and there she is is working hard trying to me make appear like the pulled together woman I’m supposed to be right now. One who wants to have sex (in two more weeks omg), who’s deodorant still totally works all the time, who doesn’t cry during Wayne’s World or scream when everyone misunderstands her.
She’s trying, and so am I.
Until then it’s all bathroom lines.