Like birds on a wire.

I’m not like these other women.

One is a trained violinist and her husband is an award-winning movie writer. I mean of movies I’ve actually seen. One used to manage Churchill Downs and knows Tom Brady. The other married a man from a wealthy, established local family and the other has a husband who’s a successful hedge fund manager and drives a massive Infinity even though she only has one child.

Ericka, how did you get here?

Let’s start with the ending of this story first. These women are all beautifully lovely. They like me, on a deep level, and even though the outer them is intimidating, the inner versions have depth and stories and hearts that question their own purposes and places in their country club worlds.

I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting an opportunity to roll my eyes and walk away.

Instead, we meet nearly every day after preschool ends, a preschool that costs as much as my child’s future college education. Our children love each other, which gives us a common bond. So there we stand on the sidewalk, like birds on a wire. Watching what we’ve made play like they can trust their mothers’ decisions.

I’m the one living the lie, keeping up with the Joneses because once upon a time, I was the Joneses, and now my life is much like clinging to the side of the Titanic, pretending to float and not sink.

But boy, are we sinking.

It’s the time of my nightmares, edging close to my literal come to Jesus moment. The feel in the dark plagues me, but my own deceptions wrap me warm these late afternoons.

One day, I’ll be able to drive a fancy car too.

Years, later it’s not the cars or clothes or elaborate birthday parties that stick with me. It’s the line of women standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the cold, our coats making barely a dent in the thick chill around us. How we talked about God and Jesus like they were things we’d really like to have one day. How we talked about loss and heartache like they were things inside our cabinets, dusted them off, held them out with hearts in our ears.

I know now a person is just a person, clothed in the trappings of a lifetime of expectations. And all I want to do is hear those hearts.

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