I stood next to the kitchen counter making — I don’t even know what — something for someone else. It was a long day, after a long week, after a long year. We decided to keep things simple by letting the kids start early with dinner and a movie. I bought sparkling apple juice for them because what says We’re Celebrating! more than drinking little bubbles?
He’s holding the bottle and asks, “Where are the glasses for the kids?”
Do you live here?
I know he knows, or at least I think he knows, that I have these cute little cordial glasses we received as a wedding present nearly 20 years ago that I let the kids use when we’re pretending to be fancy. But maybe he doesn’t know? I put the knife down, the one I was using to cut the I-don’t-even-remember. He’d asked me at least 50 billion questions about dinner by this point and even though I know he was trying to cater to me, to be helpful, to give me control of this evening (down to which glasses to use for the kids) during days where I had little control of who would sleep when or have a tantrum for how long, it was making me angry.
“What are downstairs? The glasses?”
“Yes. The glasses.” You live here, right?
“I just meant which glasses did you want the kids to use for the juice?”
“The ones downstairs.”
His expression made it clear: he had no clue we have cute little cordial glasses we use a few times a year down in the storage room on the second shelf next to the bowl with the snowman on it.
“You could just tell me,” he said.
“I just did.” Every inch of my skin was kindling and lighter fluid dripped from my lips.
He left the kitchen with the bottle in his hand, and on his way down the stairs he mumbled something under his breath. Except I heard it.
He struck a match.
Everything I’d inadvertently been holding onto, the small things I could have easily let go of, had I not been tired or sad or just feeling drained, engulfed in flames. Blazing, I let out a bonfire of words.
After the kids were in bed, we drank (real) champagne in complete silence and went to bed angry. For the next two days, we said not one more word to each other than was necessary to keep our lives in forward motion.
We drank wine. The guys had beer. We all sat around their brown table in a kitchen bigger than our entire apartment. Their kids were in bed, and Chris and I didn’t have any yet. Our laughter was the soundtrack. The lights were dim and she had candles burning. This is atmosphere for real conversation.
Our friends had just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary and we’d been married a handful of years. Anyone who’s been married longer than thirty days knows marriage isn’t always bliss, so I wanted the secret. Their secret. How did they keep a healthy/fun/exciting/loving/
“What’s your advice?”
Sipping his beer, the husband laughed, “we have no advice.”