Don’t you want to do this on our own again some day? Remember? he asks me, his lips against the side of my head, his familiar body in an unfamiliar bed in a borrowed house on a foreign beach a perfect fit for mine, resting against his side. Remember Bali? Remember reading in bed until ten? Remember walking all day just to see what we could find? It is barely six and we can here the boys talking upstairs in the room next to Elise and Jeremy. Soon they will be too loud to ignore. Soon I will have to scurry up the stairs and bring them down so that they don’t wake the entire house. Our day begins, involuntarily, as light breaks over the ocean.
I do remember.
I remember stretching of my own volition at 6:30 a.m. and padding to a sunrise yoga class, getting to work early and sipping coffee while I laughed at the antics of Al, our office assistant, whose presence was useless because his work day never started until at least 10:30 or 11:00. I remember long, luxurious lunches in the heat of the tropical noon with no rush, no pressure, another round of sweet tea, please, the new lawyer from the AG’s Office just got here. It didn’t matter, I could work until 7 p.m. to make up the time and then wander across the street to the beachside bar to sip a beer and swat mosquitoes with my husband after he’d locked up the pharmacy. We watched the sun sizzle into the Pacific.
I remember loading the kayak on our rusted-out old police jeep. The roof leaked where the light bar used to be attached, the faded logo of its former life could still be seen on the side. We sniped angrily at each other when I couldn’t lift the boat high enough above my head. I remember the rain-rutted coral road to Lau Lau Bay where the silent gray beauty of the sea and the reef and the sky and the earth and the universe put an end to our crankiness and we just lay, mouths open, hearts full and watched the world spin.
I remember. I remember riding bicycles in China. I remember closing down restaurants in Barcelona. I remember a time when a day of flying was a secret pleasure, the quiet, the time to read, the escape, not an exercise in child-parent torture.
I remember. I remember. I remember. And I miss it so much.
The alarm goes off a short five hours after we landed at our bitterly cold home airport and half-dragged, half-coaxed our exhausted children to our sluggish, frozen Suburban. I raise my head and groan, wishing in the dark to just not care, to stay here under the blankets and the goose-down duvet beside the man I have loved for more than half my life.
I rise and pull on my long-underwear. My jeans, my bra, my shirt, my sweater, my fleece. It’s not enough; I am still cold. It’s an unearthly cold, this early morning, a cold that can’t be fought with layers or inefficient heating systems or hot drinks. A cold that forms a strange, chill sweat under the useless layers of my clothes.
The appointment is at 7:00 and I don’t want to be late, though I don’t want to go. They will look at my uterus with dye this time because I haven’t had my periods since Nate was weaned. A year now. A year ago. Because it appears that the surgery to deal with the chunks after Nate’s birth also caused scarring and adhesions that have permanently damaged that strong and delicate part of my body.
Does it matter? That’s what we keep asking. Haven’t we been discussing this very thing? Haven’t we considered permanently damaging this part of one of us for months? Does it matter? Does it? I have loved this part of my life, but I have loved other things and I will love things yet to come that I haven’t imagined yet.
I remember snorkeling Three Corners in Palau, the reef sharks circling below me.
Does it matter?
We fantasize about a loft in the center of some amazing, international city where direct flights leave daily for every part of the world. Where people linger in restaurants until midnight and read the Times over coffee until ten. Where our late-teen, early-twenty, know-it-all offspring will visit us.
Does it matter?
How is it that such different things can matter all at once?