I’m taking a personal day. I put it on the calendar and circle it with a wide tip red Sharpie five or six times. I am not messing around.
I want to be alone. In silence. Surrounded by beautiful things. Somewhere the under-10 set won’t be hanging around. A place without other mommies. A place without changing tables. I need to exit MomLand.
And I am not interested in spending more than a single Andrew Jackson if you know what I mean. I don’t have the cash for a spa treatment or a shopping spree or live musical theater.
That leaves three choices: 1. Day drinking light beer in a bar 2. Day drinking in my car. 3. An art museum
I cross bar off the list, because it doesn’t offer the guarantee that not a single person will talk to me. There are simply too many outliers being an unaccompanied woman in a bar during the day even when you’re middle-aged and cranky. Especially when you’re middle aged and cranky.
I cross day drinking in my car off the list, because, well, I really shouldn’t have to explain why.
Art museum it is.
I like art. In fact, I might even hold a degree in art history. I can tell a Matisse from a Renoir, an Assumption of the Virgin from an Annunciation. It’s all stored in my brain somewhere underneath the knowledge of which colored Nike Elite’s belong to which child.
Plus as a mother, I can appreciate the practicality of preserving nice things behind glass. And I’ve perfected the art of staring into the middle distance looking interested in my surroundings – a technique I employ at sporting events five out of seven days of the week.
This is going to be great.
When I get to the museum, I brush off the free audio tour, because I want, I crave, the kind of silence that can not be found with a historian whispering in my ear.
I see very few children (Score!), and when one comes within 25 feet of me I simply slip into the next gallery (See you later suckers!).
Without any agenda or purpose, I wander from place to place. I follow my own whims. Mine, and only mine.
I’m thinking that if I give myself time and space alone something interesting might happen to me or I might have a complete thought or have some sort of revelation about the meaning of life or the universe might send me a message that can only be received in complete silence.
I am due for this kind of a moment.
But after about 30 minutes of wandering around and waiting, I realize that I might be expecting too much from this freakin’ art museum.
My visit is made up of moments of a different sort.
I can not get over how curvy the naked women in these paintings and drawings are. Serious thighs. I mean huge. Humungous. They could house two or three supermodels through fashion week. It makes me feel good, fuck it, great about myself. Even my thighs aren’t that big! Score for me!
I order a $15 salad and $15 glass of wine at the museum cafe. I try to eat very slowly as the salad is four pieces of frisse, a half dozen nuts and the smallest piece of cheese I’ve ever seen. I chew every bite 100 times and sip daintily at my wine. But I’m still hungry. Starving. And a little drunk. Good thing there are those leftover enchiladas in the fridge at home.
But I can’t go home yet. Even though I’m so, so done with walking around and looking at this art. Painting after painting of Jesus is making me seriously consider converting to Judaism. My Instagram feed is about a hundred times more interesting.
I get a cup of coffee (I am now well over budget) and sit for a bit staring at the people walking by and eavesdropping on their conversations. Maybe something interesting is happening to them? Oh shit, I just made eye contact. Pretend like I’m reading the side of my cup of coffee.
Content is very hot.
I think, No one in the world knows exactly where I am at this very moment. This is how people disappear. Who would play the True Detectives in my disappearance? I watch way too much TV.
When I get home, I’ll round off this day with a yoga class. Or maybe I’ll watch two episodes of Mistresses in my yoga clothes and Google Alyssa Milano’s due date. Look at that, she gave birth months ago. You learn something new every day.
Add it to the list of things I did not learn at the art museum.
But the quiet. I will always remember the quiet. You sure as hell can’t get that anywhere else.
When Kaly doesn’t have her nose in a book, she wrangles and referees two elementary age boys and blogs about her often humorous efforts to lead a mindful, connected life. She’s the co-founder of Harlow Park Media and is the author of Good Move: Strategy and Advice for Your Family’s Relocation. Her writing has been featured on sites such as Mamalode, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, In The Powder Room, and Scary Mommy. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.