I wake earlier than I should for the late night, watching the ball drop as I rested in his deep embrace, his firm masculine kiss warm on my forehead, telling me how good I am at hosting guests in our home, how great I did taking care of everything, how pleased he is with me, in some ways it makes me happy to hear this from him, but only because it confirms what I already know, I don’t need someone else to cook and clean for me to make people feel at home and there is nothing special about it, it is part of who I am. I make coffee and take out the dog, feed the cats and start a load of laundry before I sit to check the internet. The strings of the cuckoo clock are low near the arm of my chair so I reach up and wind it. At some point many months ago, he stood over me in this same spot, and in his gruff and grumpy way, informed me that he should not be the only one to wind it. In other words, you can wind the clock if you want to. Ordinary.
Mary Shelley said something about life being an accumulation of anguish, and I think as I hear it that though she used it to justify life, it is a statement in and of itself. Life for me has never been about the accumulation of joy. The joy has been highlights and nothing more. But the ordinary, yes that has accumulated as well. We come back from lunch with his aunt who in her way is showing the kind of meal we should eat while we try to lose weight. Our mutual resolution, I suppose, though when I ask him what his is, he says, drink more water. And I adopt it immediately, it solves so many problems. You can say, I am giving up soda, but still be putting cream and sugar in your coffee, you can say, I won’t eat sweets, but fill up on diet cola, or cola, or carbohydrates, you can say I will eat less and exercise more, the highlights, and the darkness, but the ordinary, yes that is it. Drink more water. Ordinary.
We work together scraping ice and shoveling the dusting of snow off the front driveways, and then together he shoveling off the back deck as I shovel a path around the yard for the arthritic dog, who cannot hump across the drifts as he once did. He grins at me periodically, I think he likes this, me outside helping him do the work of the two houses. And I know I like the fact that I don’t have to ask him to help, the bane of the American male, he doesn’t need to be bossed or told what to do, he does it. The dishes get washed and the vacuum run and his bills paid, and I have nothing to think about. As I lay in bed earlier I thought of this, how we have separate accounts and neither one of us would have it any other way. I don’t have to think about how his bills are going to get paid, I only have to think about mine. What a gift this is, one I appreciate more than I would have ever imagined. The the dog and I do a lap around the yard, he calls out to me, wait up for me and he does a round too, smiling at me and wrapping his arms around me, the brim of his hat burning a line across my forehead as he rubs noses with me. He goes in, the dog and I go around again. Joy.
Inside again I finish hooking up my Wii fit to his Wii console, don’t break it, he hollers, in other words, what is this thing and how does it work, will it somehow damage my console? Then begs a Mii for himself, and tries ski jumping, besting me right away. Though I love it best of all the games. I spend the next 40 minutes trying to shed my midsection of extra weight. I resolve to start walking again, though the injury to my foot has been preventing it, okay, then maybe the bike, the dog stands in front of me, between the Wii and the TV, he knows when I am using this, it means less time in the woods for him. My heel hurts after. And I click my teeth annoyed. Getting old really sucks sometimes. Anguish.
And in the late hours after he has gone to bed I spend several hours loading music onto my ipod. Surfing the internet for the biggest CD wallet money can buy, and dream of the day I can get rid of this CD tower, and make room in this house for space. Yes, space, there is a great gift in making space in a home where there was none previously. Slowly bit by bit, I open up the space in this home. I open up space in his heart. He sat on the sofa and lifted his hand to wave at me, in that cute way he does, his curly hair standing on end and smooshed from sleeping, his face tired and his eyes sleepy. I wave back and blow a kiss, which he laughs in way that says he likes it and cannot believe I did it, then he pushes it away. Hey! I say don’t push my kiss away you are supposed to catch it, I do it again this time he puts it in his pocket. Okay seriously, I say, you are supposed to smoosh it on your face. He reaches into his pocket takes it out and smooshes it on his face, then he says there is the other kiss, its a boomerang one, and smooshes that on his face too. Then he yawns really big, and like a little kid rubs his eyes. Go to bed, I say. You just want the remote, he says. Yeah, I do. But I don’t really, I really have no desire to watch TV rather I am looking forward to the quiet of the ticking clock and my thoughts. I look up and see its weights are hanging low again. I reach up to wind them. And then reach not for a glass of wine, but instead, for a glass of water. Ordinary.