I love Tuesdays.
On Tuesday nights I play poker with my lady friends. The group has evolved some over the three years our game’s been going. Some of us have gotten married, we’ve been pregnant, we’ve nursed our babies at the table and passed them around to be held by someone else while mama deals.
When our babies are old enough to stay home with our partners we revel in getting out kid-free for a night. We bitch about our jobs, our partners, politics, the weather, traffic, everything. We swap recipes and child-care tips and ideas for family outings and where the best clearance racks in town are. Our standard is a $5 buy-in, but when money’s tight (or the tomatoes are ripe) we’ll happily accept a barter item in place of the cash. I love my poker ladies.
As wonderful as Lady’s Poker Night is, the BEST part of my Tuesdays now is the part before the game.
You see, once upon a time, poker was on Wednesdays, and it was early. I just had time to leave work, grab some kind of heat-n-eat or take-out dinner, and head over to the game. So that was OK; I got a night out, baby-free, and a game, and socializing –that’s what everyone says a new mom needs.
It was hard, though. I was too tired to really get into socializing. As a mom and a wife and an employee I had people talking to me and needing things from me all the time, and poker started to feel more like another commitment to be discharged than a respite from the rest of my life.
But then people’s schedules changed, as they are wont to do, and with one thing and another we ended up switching the game to Tuesday nights at 7:30. Well, that left me with around 3 hours between work and game time. I could go home, but when I tried that I ended up getting caught up in dinner, bath, etc. and blowing off the game entirely. No good! I needed my night off, away from home!
One day, I went to the library to return some kiddie books, and decided to grab a book for myself. I took it to the park and ate my take-out dinner and read. It was wonderful.
I started saving up errands. I’d go to the bank, grocery shop, go get some new socks and underwear, maybe get the oil changed in the car. That was better — my time was filled and I was getting my game in, but somehow it still didn’t quite feel right. I mean, it’s supposed to be my night off! I tried meeting up with friends before the game, but it was hard to fit schedules together consistently. And then one day, I went to the library to return some kiddie books, and decided to grab a book for myself. (I know — crazy, right?) I took it to the park and ate my take-out dinner and read. It was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed.
Now, the part of my Tuesday that I look forward to the most is the hours between work and the game. I go to the library, grab something at random from the “new releases” shelf just inside the door. I try not to spend too much time choosing – I’m not looking for the BEST book ever, just something to occupy my mind while I eat. I like to try different cafes, and I get a kick out of mixing and matching the book to the most unlikely type of restaurant. Little-old-lady mystery? Cajun food. Modern cyber spy thriller? Co-op bakery. Cheesy pre-historic romance? Korean stone pot restaurant. Elizabethan fantasy swashbucking adventure? Shrimp shack. Definitely. I’ve already got a book for tonight, a post-apocalyptic vampire novel. I’m thinking tamales.
I order my food, sip my tea, read my book, and no-one asks me to do anything. Nothing gets done — no errands, no socializing. Just pure “me” time. Then I pack up and head off to Poker recharged, ready to swap gossip and jokes and probably lose $5 — or maybe a basket of tomatoes — to my best friends.
Tuesdays for Sanity! Everyone needs a bit of time to themselves. I had heard the advice but I hadn’t really understood it. I thought Poker — the socializing, the comraderie, the not-being-home-for-bedtime was what I needed. And it WAS part of what I needed, but just as you can’t live on toast alone, I needed something more. Time for yourself sounds pretty simple, but it took me almost two years to figure it out. Blame it on sleep deprivation, I guess.