Reaching the Double Nickel

Reaching the Double Nickel
I shivered in the parking lot at my kid’s school with four other moms. Originally, I planned to peel out of there before anyone could see me, but Leeanne caught my eye and then I saw Shannon, and before I knew it, I was parking the car and walking into the huddle. School drop-off is like a cocktail party without the cocktails, a party that takes place outside in 20-minute intervals over the course of many years. We watch our kids grow up and we watch each other grow up, too. It didn’t matter that these ladies would see me in jeans I bought during the Reagan administration or that I wasn’t wearing a scrap of makeup. It was the hat. I didn’t want them to see the hat. But there I was, out of the car and feeling awkward, debuting my new hideous style. The fact was I was lonely. Between traveling for treatment and being sick in between therapies, I hadn’t seen anyone other than Gary or Lauren in a very long time. That little huddle of women was irresistible. I tugged the Burgundy wool tighter over my baldness and wished I had unruly curls playfully teasing the sides of my face or that my skin had the angelic look of the models on all those cancer sites. The models who sell skullcaps somehow look beautiful, the light catching dewy complexions and peaceful smiles. During my first chemo sessions, I tried freezing my head, but it didn’t work for me, so I lost my hair anyway. My eyebrows and nearly all my eyelashes were gone and my face seemed worn out. “Sorry about the cancer look,” I sheepishly said when I arrived at the circle. Saying those words out loud felt like shattering glass in an empty room. I looked around and registered a fleeting image of shock on their faces, the recognition of the change I was undergoing. All my life, I’d
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