Ken, out of town. In the evenings, I survey the sink and realize every dish accounted for is my own, or one prepared by me. No smoothie blenders on the drying rack, no spatulas dyed turmeric neon from late-night curry. I spend the week cooking recipes he hates or has grown tired of. Tuna for dinner, a deep bowl of chili. Brussels sprouts of course. Look at me, ruling the roost, I think every time he travels, near drunk on independence. Just me and my dishes. Basking in the odd satisfaction of things positioned just how I left them. A happy dominion, opening the kitchen drawer to see the garlic press waiting for me and me alone.
But then I tiptoe to the bedroom while the kids begin their dreams and I see only one pillowcase on the bed, also waiting for me and me alone. I send him a good night text, an extra emoji for sentiment.
Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan
And Now We Have Everything, by Meaghan O’Connell
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, by Adele Faber
Autumn, by Ali Smith
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
Yesterday, I drop a full iced coffee in the entryway and a pool of caffeine drains down the stoop. Are you sad? Bee asks when she brings paper towels.
I want to tell her that I’m not, that a spilled coffee is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I notice that’s precisely what I feel, sad, and that sometimes, often, the scheme of things aren’t grand enough for pretense.
I say yes, and that I also feel happy to have someone here who understands.
Later, she makes me a replacement drink – a special concoction with homemade mocha(?), lavender kombucha, an ingredient sworn to secrecy. There’s some sea salt in there, she whispers, and I will myself to choke the whole beastly thing down.
Delicious, I tell her, because other times the grand scheme of things absolutely warrants pretense.
Warm bathrobes from the dryer, vitamin D on the tongue. Last night, thunder shook the whole house and this morning I noticed a single daffodil sprout on my way out to warm up the car. Spring is coming, we keep saying to each other, though none of us quite believe it.
Scout is Scout, which is to say that I’ve taken to wearing turtlenecks to disguise a smattering of bite marks, pink crescent moons of love and chagrin. He’ll kick the habit by summer, I think wishfully, for vanity sake alone. (I never was one for sleeveless turtlenecks.)
Found in my journal, from George Saunders:
“Only then (nearly out the door, so to speak) did I realize how unspeakably beautiful all of this was, how precisely engineered for our pleasure, and saw that I was on the brink of squandering a wondrous gift, the gift of being allowed, every day, to wander this vast sensual paradise, this grand marketplace lovingly stocked with every sublime thing.”
Weeks ago, the kids and I set off for the nature preserve with a packed lunch of sourdough, blackberries, a wedge of cheese. Scout threw off his mittens somewhere between the pond and the forest, though we didn’t notice until a mile or so later.
I start to turn around, to commence another Great Accessory Hunt, but Bee stops me. They will make such a good home for two small hedgehogs, she says.
We decide she’s right, and we keep on walking.