I made my first call about day care yesterday and, boy, was that weird. I mean, the call itself was fine. But just saying those words: "Hi, I'm doing day care research for my baby due in October. Do you accept infants?" was totally weird. My tentative plan right now is to drop the baby off at a day care place in the neighborhood about three mornings a week so I can have a little time to keep up with Dear Wendy and various other writing and editing projects. I hope to start this when the baby is around 3-6 months old, and I was told that if that's my plan, I need to get on waiting lists for day care now. As it turns out, I probably should have gotten on waiting lists about six months ago.
The lady on the other end of the line was nice enough. She explained that she accepts babies as young as three months old, but that she wouldn't have an opening for an infant until next summer. I guess at that point I should have asked some more questions, like if she's open to flexible scheduling and what are her prices and how many kids does she watch and can I come take a look at her place (it's just right around the corner!), but this parenting thing is so foreign and strange that I felt like I was playing pretend ... or, like, making a prank call or something, so I just stammered, "UhOkayThanksBye" real fast and hung up.
I used to do that a lot in college — make prank calls, I mean — back when I lived in the dorms and you only had to dial the last four digits of any phone number to reach someone else on campus. I'd never prank, you know, an adult with real responsibilities and stuff, but prank calling other college kids was always a good time. I thought of it as performance art, and it was just one of many of my "art projects." I also used to scream "announcements" at the top of my lungs out the window, like weather reports and updates on available parking spaces. And when I was a freshman, I'd drag a chair into the dorm elevator and sit there for an hour or so and "take notes" as people got on and off the elevator. If anyone ever asked what I was doing — and surprisingly few people did (I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to engage me in conversation) — I'd tell them I was working on an assignment for psych class. I did learn a lot about human behavior through these various ... activities.
This time of year always makes me think of college. Well, this time of year and the height of fall, when the leaves are all changing color and you can almost smell the scent of school books in the air. But my college town was always best in the summer, and I loved nothing more than sticking around when the campus cleared out and three quarters of the students went back home for summer jobs or internships and chillin' with their high school buddies. For me, home was right where I was from May to September. Those of us who stayed in town owned that place. We knew it the way the other students never would — the long drives out in the country with the windows down and the music blaring; hours spent in the best seat of the coffee shop, sipping bottomless cups of joe and reading books right off the shelf; sneaking into the campus fountain late at night for a quick swim under the stars; the way the air smelled at dusk in July. It was home.
Summer in Brooklyn is pretty good, too. I've only had a small taste of it so far — last summer, I was too new to really settle in — but I like it here. It feels like where I belong. But I'm 34 now and on the verge of parenthood and summer will never be like it was when I was 20. Sometimes I have moments that feel similar, and when I do, I'm reminded that I'm still the same person. I have all these adult responsibilities now and this transition period between being ME and being a MOM is a little unnerving, but I'll always be the same person, right? This is the question I ponder a lot lately. I think I know the answer, but like a lot of things, I imagine it's something you don't know for sure until you're in it. And I'll be in it soon enough.