A little wine. A Charlie Brown Christmas. The four of us—S.B., Oogie, and Little Man—putting together the tree we got for free from The Salvation Army six years ago when we lived in Garden City. Things have changed. We’re north now. Living three blocks from Lake Huron, just a few ticks from the 45th parallel. We’re comfortable. The stretch to make ends meet week to week is not as long and painful as it used to be. We wake with thanks and push through the days with hope, determination, and faith. At night—after something as simple as assembling a six-and-a-half foot tall fake Balsam tree—me and S.B. hug the kids, say prayers and finally get a chance to decompress. Slowly unwind and breathe and remember what it’s like to be ourselves again.
She is drinking wine and sketching or drawing or painting or reading or playing a game or listening to music or watching TV. Finally, she is free from Mommy and Honey and where are my shoes and where is the remote and did you pay the bills and how does my hair look and can you put toothpaste on my toothbrush and I can’t find my keys and everything that makes being a wife and Mom so great but so excruciating.
I am drinking wine and writing and thinking and realizing that the older I get the more I love people but the more apt I am to leave them alone and let them be and have them find out one day that they’ve waited too long. Time is up and they did not reach out or call or remember to do those things that put more good into the world than bad. Sometimes it’s just best to leave the ball in someone else’s court and move on with your wife and kids and fake tree and silent prayers and believe that in the end all of us will be together again.
In less than an hour, I’ll be with S.B. I’ll walk into the living room smiling. Shining a bit because I drink too much sometimes and because I had moments to myself to click the keys, make my marks, and string together—not words—but sounds and I will hum a little a song and hug her and we will stand and sway slowly back and forth, round and round, and I’ll feel that feeling I get, the one that tells me we’ve loved each other all along. Before today. After tomorrow. And everywhere in between.