I’m tired. I’ve held my tongue, penned up emotions, and stepped lightly all day long. I reworked plans that weren’t flawed to accommodate others. I backed down on stances to avoid heated arguments. I overcooked my corn on the cob trying to multitask by folding laundry. And I even choked down that corn because I was too exhausted to add a fresh batch to the pot.
I rest here on the couch wondering if running away really is an option. I’ve checked my bank account, and the $67.14 balance won’t get me far in my 1988 Chevy with the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light glowing a bright orange warning.
I wish I could stop thinking about that fallacious reasoning unit long enough to enjoy the simplicity and comfort of couch-sitting. I wish my daughter would fall asleep because the constant audition-for-the-next-horror-movie screaming is driving me bananas. I wish my husband were home because his judge-less foot massages and sympathetic glances put me at ease. I wish I had more money in the bank to make running away for a few days a realistic alternative.
I remember the days before real jobs. The days when I would work 10 hours a week, get a check for $55 dollars, and have enough money for campus pizza, pinball machines, and bowling for a month. The days when “changing lives” meant getting a new haircut and adopting the accompanying new hair attitude. The days when negotiating meant convincing myself that studying now would leave time for making out later.
I remember the days before children. The days when little people didn’t burst into the bathroom needing to “go right now” because they were trying to finish their puzzles first. The days when a stray sneeze or cough didn’t send me running for the Lysol and Motrin. The days when no one pointed out the stretch marks on my thighs and stomach asking, “How’d you get those stripes?”
I remember the days before marriage. The days when sex was uninhibited and often. The days when romantic evenings consisted of blankets and sunsets on the soccer field. The days when we would watch movies instead of the movies watching us.
I drift from yesteryear to almost tomorrow not drowning in complaint but a bit nostalgic, reminiscing about the past and yearning for the tiniest semblance of it today.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Sweetie.”
“Always and forever?”
“Yes, Baby, always and forever.”
“Can I lay with you?”
“Yes, Honey.” Cold feet slide in next to mine under the blanket. Her dolly, Stacy, is propped up in the bend of my knee, and she snuggles in to the dip between my hip and chest. I rub her hair. She thanks me and falls asleep quickly. I adopt the rhythm of her breathing, and for ten minutes all is quiet.
I hear the scrape of the metal from the back gate on the concrete and know my husband is finally home. He comes sleepily into the living room, picks up his daughter, and carries her effortlessly to her bed. He comes back, lifts the blanket, and sits down next to me. He grabs my feet and begins to massage.
“How was your day?” He asks through a yawn.
“Okay,” I reply.
It’s not all bad. Not even close.