Is it bad that I acted the doting mother fusing over sending her daughter to work tonight? I kind of feel like having a sense of humor about this is the only way we're going to get through the next year with our sanity, but Harmon is not ready to joke yet, and just gets miffed when I say he should enjoy the experience of being young and sexy and paid to travel. He didn't spend his life building a reputation in an intellectual and academic field, he says, to be a glorified waitress! Like I'm eager to have a year of my twenties replaced by someone else's forties, and if he's a waitress, what's that make me at the ticket counter?
Well, it makes me half of what seems like a really admirably close mother-daughter pair. Alicia never moved out of Magda's apartment, and why would she? It's not in a bad neighborhood, the train to work is nearby, and if she's going to be away for days at a time, she's probably better off having a roommate who will actually be around, so why not Mom, who doesn't seem to be charging rent if what I can tell from Magda's checkbook is correct. Especially since, looking at the photos on the fridge and their media accounts, they seem to do a lot together. Heck, when this Jeremy/Arthur guy offered Alicia a free vacation to reconsider thnings, she took her mom. Not that I'm approving of the blackmail part of it, and I wonder how much of Alicia's willingness to do that comes from Magda (and whether she was just between boyfriends), but that's kind of cool.
From what I can tell from the people I've met at work, Magda has worked one job or another at the airport for twenty years, never really getting promoted when she was younger because it took he years to really master English while raising Alicia alone, and the when Alicia was older and Magda's English improved, there was always someone younger and more career-oriented - although, on the other hand, everyone knowing Alicia from times Magda couldn't find a babysitter or just showing up to bug Mom at work made things easier when she applied for a flight attendant job. Working there probably kept Magda in this fairly small apartment for a longer than she should have been, but folks seem to like and respect her, too. It's kind of nice to have that working for me as I parachute into her life; they actually seem to have been worried something happened to her and Alicia. I have been telling them that we/they were comically stranded on an island in Casco Bay with just our/their bikinis and a cooler of bottled water and beef jerky, even though Magda made sure to email an apologetic request for more vacation time and Alicia was on a leave of absence in real life.
(Surprisingly enough, when I tell that story, the reaction isn't entirely people imagining Alicia, even when you take the middle-age-and-up pilots out of the sample; I'm apparently more of a MILF than I thought. I'm still not entirely sure that's a warranted reaction, but seeing the necklines on some of the dresses in Magda's closet, it's something she works!)
I actually had to get back to work the day after we arrived, which was a little harder than it had to be, since we took a cab to the apartment from the airlift rather than trying to learn the trains and buses that first night. Not a bad idea - it dropped us off directly in front of our new building rather than making us figure out the last few blocks ourselves - although I kind of think Harmon was afraid of being surrounded by all those people. I had to get my phone out of Polish mode before getting directions, which worried me a bit, but so far I haven't had anyone expecting me to speak Polish. Then it got a bit confusing because Magda tried to be specific in telling me what to do, but when done something for years you forget what's not common knowledge for a new person, like where the employee entrance is, so I had to find that. Apparently Magda wasn't one to come to work in her uniform either, although I did bring other stuff to change into at the end of the day if I didn't want to go straight home.
Harmon, meanwhile, saw what his inherited job was and initially said no way, although he didn't exactly start looking for other work someone would think Alicia was qualified for, but just stayed in her room reading, maybe working on a paper that whoever got his life would present at a conference in December. At least, until he got that letter from Jeremy/Arthur, found out about Alicia trying to blackmail some football player, and got all those nifty threats and inducements. Then he was making an appointment with her boss at the airline and getting reinstated after "dealing with a family issue", but the good news/bad news situation is that Harmon's first month's work is basically going to be being on-call 24/7 because everybody else got to choose their routes already and Alicia isn't terribly senior to start with.
I didn't find out he'd gotten a call until I got back to the apartment and heard him groaning and complaining in the bathroom, where he was trying to brush out the hair that he'd allowed to get tangled over the past few days because it hasn't quite sunken in that some things require a little time that he previously didn't spend on looking nice, even if you're staying in today. It didn't help that he'd probably never had long hair before, either, so I told him to take a quick shower, use conditioner, and really work it all the way down to the tips rather than just working out into his scalp. He just stood there for a moment until I said something about checking Alicia's uniforms. Fortunately, there were two hanging in the closet, and they didn't look like they needed ironing, although I could see right away that Harmon was going to grumble.
I started to brush his hair - I really kind of envy how fine and flowing it is with just a little attention - but then gave him the brush when I saw his feet. I asked if he'd mind sitting down and then stretched one of those long legs out to my lap after fishing some nail clippers out of the medicine cabinet and sitting on the edge of the bathtub.
"Why are you...?"
"Because you're about to put on a skirt, which means panty hose, and those toenails will rip the shit out of them."
He tried to jerk his foot away but I held on. "I can just wear the pants."
"There are two clean uniforms in the closet, and one of them has a skirt. Would you have thought of this if you're working on the flight back?"
He gave a sniff. "Obviously." But he also relaxed his leg. I pondered telling him he really should shave them, too, but decided to save that for when he got back.
By the time I finished his nails, the hair was mostly okay and just wet, so I took a blow-dryer to it. I handed him the least-lacy black bra and panties I had found in Alicia's dresser. He made a hand motion as if to shoo me away but I told him that I'd seen everything he used to have and Alicia's mother/housemate could probably be expected to know what her daughter looked like. He still turned around before dropping his towel. I will admit to squeezing my own cheek and sighing as I saw his.
Next was hair and makeup. He grumbled, but I said he should at least learn how to use a couple clips or pins to keep that name out of his face rather than constantly trying to tuck it behind his ear, and while he's got good skin and Alicia seemed to make the pale Eastern-European thing work in her photos, a little mascara and lipstick wouldn't be a bad thing. He recoiled a bit at the eye-shadow, and I'd bet money that he wouldn't wear it on the flight back, and I don't blame him too much; touching even your closed eye is weird the first time and is hard to learn that watching it done to you, and we didn't have time for me to demonstrate on myself.
He predictably grumbled about the panty hose and me zipping her skirt up. No surprise that it, the blouse, and the jacket were all kind if tight; Alicia liked showing off her assets even when everything was covered. Still, we got it done with time to spare. I stood with my arms stretched out to his shoulders and felt a weird sense of pride. "I know you don't want to hear this, but you're kind of gorgeous. I'm so jealous right now."
"Envious," he said, but I think even he felt kind of good about what he saw in the mirror, at least for a moment before something less passed came over his face. I dropped some toiletries into a compact bag smaller than the one he'd found in Maine that was clearly Alicia's working suitcase and handed it to him. "Okay, your other uniform and a set of civilian clothes are in there, asking with your phone's charger and your laptop. You remember Alicia's instructions for clocking in and out and which airport hotel has your room waiting?"
He looked at me witheringly. "You don't have to pretend to be my mother when nobody's watching."
"You say that now, but you'll be mad if you don't have clean uniforms when you get home. Or other clothes for that matter."
Apparently he didn't like the reminder that he had been shirking some of the household chores, rolling his eyes as he left the apartment. I couldn't really resist leaning out the door and shouting to have fun in New York and make mommy proud, which I say helped because it got him moving down the steps faster and walking to the BART station without hesitating beforehand.
Harmon can mock me for that, but who's got big wet spots on the work clothes she didn't have time to change out of before dealing with someone else's wet hair and nails and a bunch of laundry just dropped on the bathroom floor? This gal, so I might as well make jokes about it, including how I'm totally doing a middle-aged mom thing by composing this entry with a big ol' glass of wine in my hand.