Here’s what I did today; I purposefully took my two five year old daughters into Tiffany in Oak Brook. Truly.
Long, long ago when I was in my early twenties I was in retail management for a swimsuit retailer in Oak Brook. I had an employee who I will call Daisy. I will call her Daisy because she’s an international spy and if I used her actual name I might get a call from Homeland Security. Really.
Now, for visualization purposes I will tell you that Daisy is more of a Tiffany or Jessica; I just happen to know she has a long and abiding love affair with Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) and I’m pretty sure she’d be annoyed with Jessica or Tiffany. It’s not meant as an offense, she isn’t cookie cutter; she’s definitely one of the most unique people I know.
When I met her though….well, she was the biggest pain in my ass. She was 16 or 17 and she was from Oak Brook which loosely translated means; bored, snotty teenager from money. She was what you might call “high maintenance”, she came in late, needed days off, blah, blah, blah. I’ll give her this though, she always took initiative and was just all around smarter than the bevy of Oak Brook girls that came and went through that store and I was always a little impressed that she bothered to work at all.
On one occasion I was asked to let her go if she wouldn’t work Saturdays and I just couldn’t do it (I’m pretty sure I ended up working Saturdays instead), there was just something about her. Yes, she was a pain in the ass, but she was trustworthy and constant and infectious. She moved across the country for college but whenever she came home she would pick up shifts and help me out at the store. In 1997 I had Aidan and I think I was her first friend with a baby; she was wonderful to him. Eventually the company closed but by then she had already moved permanently across country. For 13 years we saw each other a time or two a year and spoke occasionally on the phone, eventually we became real friends. Recently, she moved back to the Chicagoland area.
Very honestly, I was worried about maintaining our relationship. Daisy is single and self-involved in that way only single, childless people can be. That is in no way meant as an insult, I think that’s what you’re supposed to do when you are single and childless. And she is self-involved, not self-absorbed or selfish; she is one of the most generous people I know. I just worried that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to focus on the things that are interesting to her, but like most things, it worked itself out.
Turns out I was wrong for two reasons. First of all, Daisy is a real friend; she’s funny and entertaining and engaged. When she re-met the girls after not having seen them for a year or two, I told them, “Girls, before I met you two, Daisy was the only real princess that I ever met”. Several weeks later when Olivia was torturing Grace with the fact that princesses are not real I heard Gracie scream, “DAISY IS TOO REAL”. My children adore her; Aidan calls her “Mom Too”. Secondly, letting Daisy talk about her is like therapy for me. I’m interested, she’s interesting but it doesn’t have too much of an affect on my day to day life, it’s just relaxing. I support her, she supports me; her friendship is an easy and unexpected gift.
So back to Tiffany and how in the world I decided I should take my children there.
Daisy’s boyfriend is a sword fisherman on the east coast. He’s coming in a couple of weeks for a visit and wants to get Daisy a Valentine’s gift. His budget is pretty high, higher than she is really comfortable with (Note to Daisy, take it now while it’s still available, before your future children suck it all up). We went shopping together today to get some ideas so I can point him in the right direction.
I have several pieces of jewelry from Tiffany (and a broken vase). All of them are sterling silver; all of them were given to me before I was married.
So after much lecturing about not touching the glass and not running, we went in. I avoided eye contact so as to keep the fear in their eyes out of my head. I was nervous enough on my own.
The girls shouted things across the store like, “well, how about THAT? They have YELLOW diamonds here” and “hey, how about this one, it’s BIG”. But, they did it fairly quietly and when we left the saleslady took them aside to tell them how good they were and how many kids come in the store who are not good at all. Lady, you’d have my business…if I had any to give.
I had a moment of envy standing there, picking out jewelry for another woman. Then, as I turned to bend and pick up with my bare hand the chewed piece of gum that had fallen out of my child’s mouth and onto Tiffany’s floor, I had an epiphany. It continued as I carefully folded the piece of chewed up gum into a Target receipt (furthering the imagery of how far our lives are separated financially) and placed it gingerly in my purse; I had experienced a fleeting moment of envy for the romance and spontaneity of the past while Daisy is right at this moment hurtling towards the life I already have; true love, husband, kids. Our friendship has come full circle. I get to go along for the ride while she makes her own dreams come true, and I feel very lucky to count her a friend.