Thursday, January 24, 2013

making it through

All of us made it through. Another day of going our separate ways. Little Man to first grade. S.B. to Gallery 109. Oogie to child care. And me—tucked away in a cubicle—doing my best even though I know my best should be spent home. With family. At the keys. Writing stories. But most of the time what I know matters very little and so I listen to others. Do what’s asked. Do what I’m told. Make sure that—above all—we are able to stretch far enough to make ends meet. So at the end of the day all of us can be together. In our old house. Eat supper. Keep warm. Like tonight. I’d just poured a glass of wine. Was ready to get at the keys. Had walked into the living room to kiss S.B. just in case she went to bed before me. And there was my boy. Looking too big for his Sponge Bob pajamas. Out of bed even though he’d already been tucked in. Read to. Gone through the nightly ritual. He was talking to S.B. “Why don’t you ever remember to check on me in my room?” he said. “I check on you every night,” said S.B., “But you’re always sleeping.” “You do?” Little Man said. And he smiled. “Yes, she does,” I said. “And I do too. Every night. Only it’s always very late and you’re gone away in dreams.” “Why do you check on me so late?” he asked. “Daddy doesn’t sleep,” said S.B. “He walks around the house at night looking out windows. Checking locks. And watching us sleep.” “Is that true?” he asked. “It is,” I said. “But don’t you get tired?” “Sometimes,” I said. “But it’s normal for Dads not to sleep.” He hugged S.B. Hugged me. Went back with great peace of mind to his room. And there was my wife. Sweet S.B. Rosy-cheeked. Hair pulled back. Wearing my old, green, long-sleeved shirt. Somehow looking more and more beautiful every minute of every day so that lately all I want to do is kiss her. Hug her. Ger her alone. In the bedroom. The bathroom. The den. And she, unfortunately, inexplicably cannot understand this crazy late January desire. I set my wine on the end table. Leaned into her. Kissed her neck. Took a deep breath. Wished we could just have more time. “He’s in bed. She’s watching a movie. I’m going to write,” I said. “Okay, honey.” She kissed my cheek. “Go make us some money,” she said. But before I go to the kitchen to top off my wine and sit in the breakfast nook to work on the novel, I stop in my daughter’s room. She is stretched out on her belly. Watching Madagascar. “You ready for me to tuck you in?” I ask. She looked at me. Hugged her zebra. “No, but you can lay with me and snuggle,” she said. She pulled back the covers. “You can set your wine over there,” she said and pointed to her kitchen set. “And you can watch Madagascar and snuggle with me.” There is nothing else for a man to do, but put off writing a little while longer. Set his wine on the tiny stove top. Stuff himself into a tiny bed. Snuggle. Watch Madagascar. And wonder what it will be like in a few hours after all of them have gone to bed and he is fighting the tireds because he’s worked on the novel. Written a blog. Had another glass of wine. And he is moving closer to that part in the night where he cannot sleep. And he paces the old hardwood floors. Not because he is sad. Not because of stress. Not because of anything at all except that he loves this. Checking on his boy. Blankets pulled tight to his chin. Peeking in on his daughter. Stuffed animals piled all around her. Standing in the bedroom doorway. His wife asleep. Hugging his pillow. Wearing his old shirt. And the moon breaking through the parted curtains. Lighting him with perspective. Happiness. Because all of them are doing it. Their best. To make it through. ~ K.J.

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