A couple of weeks ago I traveled to San Diego for a wedding with my husband and our baby. It was a trip of “firsts” for our family. First time on an airplane with our son, first time our baby dipped his toes in the ocean, first hotel with a baby, ect… Almost all the firsts were filled with proud parent reactions and a gazillion photos taken by me, attempting to catch the specialness of each moment. The only “first” I did not wish to capture was our first time trying to go out late at night with our friends to a swanky sushi spot in downtown San Diego. We drove to an area that anyone in his or her right mind would have taken a cab to (all the baby stuff we insisted on bringing made this seem impossible). We circled the Gas-Lamp district of San Diego (if you haven’t been picture Las Vegas meets Mardi Gras) while girls in short shorts handed out fliers for clubs, bouncers stood on the streets recruiting passerby to come into neon lit hip-hop clubs, while music, booze, and smoke leaked through the air. It took us over an hour to find a parking spot, and my husband and I were beyond frustrated. Several times we had almost turned the car around and returned to our hotel. But no, we had to try. We parked the car, and persevered pushing our stroller through the lively streets, determined to meet up with our friends. We arrived at an impossibly chic restaurant with impossibly chic patrons. As my breasts began to fill with milk for my baby who would need to nurse soon, I could only think to myself…I do not belong here. Tears filled my eyes as I was overcome with emotion. Which emotion? I couldn’t quite tell. Was I sad that my post-maternity look was far from my pre-maternity look? Was I jealous that I wasn’t as seemingly put together as the rest of the crowd? Or maybe I was just realizing that by the time we got drinks and ate with all of our friends, it would be four hours past my usual bedtime, the new family bedtime that ensured we all got at least 6 hours of sleep. I sat down with my husband and child and tried my hardest to engage in small talk with our friends whom we hadn’t seen in a while. I realized quickly, I just couldn’t do it. I looked at my husband and he knew. We had to “call it.” “Calling it” is a phrase I use often to mean ‘wrap it up’ or ‘be done’ with your day. I used to use this phrase at 2am at a bar…now it was 9:30pm and I was “calling it.”
It was awkward, as we had just sat down. But with glossy eyes, I looked at our friends and hesitantly uttered, “I’m sorry, I just can’t be here.” My husband and I could have made more excuses but we didn’t. We just told them that we looked forward to seeing them at the wedding the next day, and that we have to go back to our hotel, that tonight was just too much.
So what’s the lesson here? I’m not really sure to be honest. I think it’s something along the lines of the importance of risking failure, the need to try new things, and the need to be able to “call it” when a situation no longer suits you. I could have suffered through that night; after all, it wasn’t the worst situation. However, in hindsight, it felt brave to hit the eject button just moments after we had arrived. Social graces have their place, but at what cost? How many times do we suffer through events when we could easily avoid the emotional costs? While this one event wasn’t a big deal, I remind myself that our entire life is made up of tiny moments, and it is up to us to decide what we want out of each moment. Those moments are our entire life. That night I realized that my desire for sleep, a calm quiet environment and a baggy pair of sweatpants, out weighed my desire to be polite or attempt to fit in. I realized that it was the mere attempting to fit in, that I found so incredibly exhausting. There are nights when going out with friends feels natural and easy, but this night it didn’t…and I just had to call it.
Have you “called it” recently? At what cost do you stick out an uncomfortable situation? I would love to hear about it!
Thank you for inspiring me, and thank you for reading.