Joe came into the bathroom and saw me sitting on the floor, holding a Costco catalog, and crying. Looking ravishing in a foggy pair of .75 magnifying blue-light-blocking glasses, slipper socks, and a t-shirt I stole from him with the neck cut out. I like to sit by the heater in the bathroom at night because I’m 27 in my head but my body may be 90.
Joe knew that I had been feeling overwhelmed, so he sat down on the floor to listen and to see if maybe he needed to call the technical writers at Costco. He asked, “You okay?” I blew my nose into a hand towel (tissue boxes are always missing in these moments) while a sob story unfolded on the pages of a wholesale catalog. “This house. (takes off foggy glasses and points to a picture of a house with decorations) See…it’s a house with all the Christmas decorations. Well, we left our house and our friends and live in a condo so I can’t put my decorations in the yard or see my friends in Christmas pajamas. (weep). I know it’s stupid but I’m sad because I miss those things.” Snurf and page flip.
And this (points to a picture of a ring I wouldn’t buy but still). I’m not a jewelry person but the stone falling out of my wedding ring years ago is still missing and that’s okay but I guess it makes me sad because you spent all your money on it when you were barely making any… but don’t buy me a ring, I don’t want one. Also we’re both basically unemployed.”
I flip to a new page while clearly aware of my current mood being fueled by 1000 other factors but my sadness was a ruthless salesman and it wasn’t taking no for an answer alongside a 100 pack of batteries. “And these (big tears and finger on page). This combo pack of hepa filters reminded me that there is a global pandemic and people are dying. Families are spending this Christmas without someone who wasn’t supposed to be missing. And it reminded me that politics and people are so mean to each other over a &^%$# virus.” At this moment, I blew my nose into a hand towel again okay maybe it was Joe’s shirt.
Joe sat there on the floor and looked at me in only a way Joe can. For years it was inexplicable. How. How could someone love me. I’m unfiltered and introverted. I’m not as pretty as other women. I quit sales after 15 years and started nursing school only to start over in Montana for pre-med, unemployed (IN GREENLAND) during a pandemic, and now have to wait for in-state tuition so seriously how. How can he still look at me that way? After 18 years together and 14 years of marriage, I’m figuring it out. Somehow he really loves all of the stuff that I do. The good and bad. The superb and the spastic. He looks at me like he would break every bone in his body for me and so I believed him while sitting on the floor of the bathroom when he said, “I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I love it here more than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I have everything I need and we’re going to be okay.” I put down the catalog and hugged him then I blew my nose in his shirt again and told him to get me a glass of water.
Nothing is the perfect solution to right now. Right now when our kids want to go to Halloween parties, trick-or-treat, and play on the school playground and they don’t know what to do with their mad about it. Right now the Bachelorette is horrible and so is my dog’s breath. My boys have been sleeping upstairs in our room again. They could sleep downstairs but really love being close to us. Right now. It’s fine. Instead of telling them they have to go to their rooms, I let them stay. I dare not tell them that I need them close too. So when they shake my arm in the middle of the night and I’m dreaming that a stranger came up to me and started angrily shaking me, I can put them back to bed in a cot right beside me. Or when I can’t sleep, I can look over at them in the light of my salt lamp that I think off wards evil spirits, and see their sweet little sleep faces. I’m in Montana in our old but cozy condo and can wait for a house, rings, and hepa filters while I finish school and that damn virus settles.
Happy Samhain and Halloween, y’all. May the spirits of those lost do good on this night and give wholesale peace to this spooky country.
Wow! Im glad you are starting up Baychotch again. You have such a gift. Thank you for sharing this bittersweet humor/love/pain at exactly the time we all need it most. We miss being with you right now. But all will eventually be all right again. I truly appreciate your reminder about what today is. I’m looking forward to a “thin” place and time tonight to sense the lives of those we’ve lost. And tomorrow we remember the Saints. Very timely, poignant essay!
Speaking of thin. I found a Halloween card from Grandma Norma a few minutes ago. Made me so happy.