I have a really unnatural devotion to the MTV show "The Hills." When I dissect it in minute and painstaking details with my friend Eliza, I sometimes feel like our hip twentysomething coworkers overhear us and wonder, "Why is that frumpy lady talking about a show for teens? Also, why is she still wearing a maternity dress? Wasn't her baby born months ago?"
Look: I'm old. And tired. My day started at 5:30. I fed Sam and made it back to bed for an hour, before a sleepy Madeline kick-started the rest of my day with a sharp jab to my rib. Downstairs, I roused Eric from the spot on the couch where he passed out watching TV at 3 AM. I fed Sam again, checked my emails, ate some cereal, then raced upstairs to get ready in fifteen minutes. I sped to work, nearly missed my train, and stood for the entire 70-minute commute. I made it through a day of meetings, made the same 70-minute commute home, tried to listen to my babysitter's story about a fight with her husband while Madeline ran around the living room chasing the dog with a stool. I paid the babysitter, checked the mail, corralled the dog and a half-naked Maddie back into the house, and wrangled the kids upstairs so I could change. Back downstairs again to feed Madeline, bathe Sam, and try to sneak in a slice of cheese and a couple of peanuts before I trudged back upstairs to change PJs, brush teeth, tell stories, soothe a fussy Sammy, placate a crying Madeline, and, finally, tuck everyone in. Then I cleaned the toilet, started a load of laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, took out the dog and the trash, and checked my bills. I may or may not see my husband when he comes home from work tonight around 2 AM.
So what does any of that have to do with "The Hills?" Plenty. Because in five minutes, I'm going to go sit in my living room and watch this week's episode. And while I watch, I will take a little mental vacation, back to a time when I was 23, single, and living in Los Angeles. Sometimes, especially lately, I long for those days. I wish I could wake up at 1 PM on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do for the rest of the day but lay on the beach, perfect my tan, and plan what to wear for the evening's adventures. I want to walk into a party and wonder where the evening might take me. I want to kiss a cute stranger. I want to get drunk and make a fool of myself and spend a whole Sunday afternoon rehashing it with my roommate Jeannine over a brunch of greasy fast food.
Only, of course, I don't really want those things. Because my life wasn't a reality show. I was broke and a little bit fat and every single time I kissed a stranger, I spent a week wondering if he would call me. All of that was just a prelude to this--the better, richer part of my life. The part where, some Saturdays, I'm half-awake at 6 AM, cuddling under the covers with Madeline while Eric gives Sam a bottle on the other side of the bed. It's just that, every now and then, I like to reconnect with the person I used to be--the one who didn't own a single item of clothing featuring an elastic waistband. So give an old lady a break.