* I wrote this during a particularly trying time in my marriage last year.*
I’ll always think of that place in the dark, cold smell of winter in the air. The first time I saw it was the day we moved in, and it was dark and we didn’t know where the light switches were and we stumbled around, our voices echoing hollow in the empty rooms and when he finally turned on the kitchen light he smiled at me and I thought, “It’s okay, I can work with this, it’s okay,” and I smiled back and forced myself not to see the torn blinds and the mouse traps and the freezing bathroom and it was going to be okay, we were going to be okay.
And later that night I unpack the plastic bags, hurriedly stuffed with still damp bathroom things, bubble bath and face soap and razors and a brand new family sized bottle of shampoo and I line everything up after I’ve scrubbed the ancient bathtub, scrubbed so furiously that a lot of the paint has flaked off and it still looks dirty but I know it’s clean and it seems like the heat doesn’t work at all in this room but once you’re in a hot shower it won’t matter and I hang up the tired old discount store pictures to cover the patched over parts of the wall and I convince myself it’s going to be okay.
Later that year I pull up to the crumbling old house and it’s like a dream, time slows down and I hear everything in the sharp, clear air and I slam the car door and concentrate on my steps in the snow, the crunch and tang of cold on my tongue, night air and stars in the sky and all our stuff, our things, our life are all out here in this night, piled carelessly on top of other things, my dresser and trash bags and the mattress propped up against the couch and a thick black lock on the door and I’m too frozen to cry, I sit on the couch on the porch and snow blows up over my shoe and it’s pretty quiet and I don’t even think because I’m in my worst nightmare except I never figured out what to do and it’s so cold out here and it may be seconds or it may be hours later when he shows up, finally, dressed in unfamiliar clothes and he is talking fast, the words puffs of steam and I’m too numb to move and I feel my heart beat slow and loud in my temples and before I even know I’ve made the decision my frozen lips part and the words are out and suddenly I can’t stop shivering.
I miss things I didn’t expect, the way I would hear him cough late in the night and know he was downstairs taking something apart and I miss how he made me laugh at my dumb T.V. shows and the way in bed he would wrap his entire body around me, an arm slung over my shoulder a hand grasping my hang, leg over leg and nose buried in the soft of the neck, even though after a second or two I would have to shift, too hot and confined. I have moments of my day that I think to tuck away, to share with him, before I remember. I hate taking out the trash. I have strange dreams of hiding from landlords, trash bags blowing in the wind by the side of the road, hard crystals of snow collecting on a lonely balcony or a closet with empty hangers still swaying; I wake up feeling unsettled, vaguely worried. I’m always tired, always drifting off in odd places, dreaming of falling asleep at my desk at work and I feel like I’m missing a part of my skin, I’m raw and exposed and I want to scratch my surface off I can’t stand it I can’t stand the feeling and all I want to do is sleep.
* Things are a lot better now, but I thought this was a pretty telling piece of writing that illustrates the place where I was at at that time. *