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I dressed in an outfit that would make me look put-together (a skirt) while also simultaneously conveying the idea that I wasn't trying too hard (elastic waistband; cat slippers). I carefully applied clear mascara, bronzer and a tinted lip balm, trying to look like the type of person for whom beauty came naturally.
I even shaved my legs.
I hate shaving my legs.
I also cleaned the house. Swept the back room and the living room and the kitchen. Wiped down the granite countertops. Scrubbed the bathroom. Then I made a playlist that did not include the random show tunes, meditation tracks and guilty-pleasure pop songs that actually existed in my iTunes library. I ordered pizza from the best place in town. I checked to make sure we had an appealing assortment of beers in the downstairs fridge. I waited.
The first time I met her, I admired her corset-fit tank top. Her cat-eye frames. Her comfort level around actual cats. The way she complimented the chandelier in my dining room.
But what was even more appealing was her daughter, asleep in a car seat on the floor beside her chair, hair dark and thick and curled across her forehead. She was only a few weeks younger than my own.
God, I wish she was my mom-friend, I thought to myself as she prepared to leave with everyone else at the end of the evening. But I had never been the type of person to take that sort of initiative, and so I watched her walk back out into the night, another missed opportunity.
"It's funny how this is just like a real date," she said after depositing her diaper bag, her computer and her child in my living room.
But we ended up running into each other at another party, and we commiserated over the difficulties inherent in being work-at-home moms. "We should have coworking play dates!" I said, trying to sound as if I were halfway joking so it wouldn't be too pathetic if she didn't take the bait. So that I wouldn't seem so crazy and desperate. But she leapt on the idea. And now here she was.
"It's funny how this is just like a real date," she said after depositing her diaper bag, her computer and her child in my living room. "Will we click?" she continued. "Will we like each other? Will our children get along?"
I was disarmed by how self-aware she was about the entire situation, and how willing she was to be up front about it. "It's been so hard to find mom friends, especially as a work-at-home mom," I admitted to her. "I feel so isolated."
We spent the next few hours in my living room, eating pizza, drinking beer, encouraging our children to interact without killing each other, getting a minimal amount of work done. We got to know an extraordinary amount about each other, within an extraordinarily short period of time. When it was time for her to leave, we faced each other in my vestibule, hovering awkwardly, her with laptop bag and diaper bag and handbag layered one on top of the other on her shoulder, her daughter on her opposite hip.
"Well ... " she said, looking down at her flip-flops.
"Welp," I said, my eyes wide and manic and hopeful.
"I guess this is the part where we say 'I'd love to do this again' or 'Well, that was interesting,'" she said.