Snowed In Together
He caught me in kitchen.
"I'm throwing carbs down as fast as I can," I said, "trying to put on weight. I'm frozen. Can't get warm. Every year I can make it alright through November and December... I can pass up all that junk food... but after you went to bed last night I ate half a sleeve of saltine crackers, just hoping for a little more insulation."
He laughed. Grabbed me through my five layers, and pulled me into himself. He said, "Bring it. I could stand a little more of you. A man likes to drive a road with some curves to it."
We were snowed in, and his hands roamed. I stretched out at his touch, worried those crackers had done their work while I slept. I didn't want him to feel it if my belly was hanging over my waistband.
He tried to kiss me, but his nose hit my new glasses and made a smear. High-index lenses, and I'm still a little bit seasick. Razor sharp in the middle, but distorted on the edges.
Our marriage has survived a heck of a past few years. We've rehashed everything we tried not to feel the first ten years and everything we tried not to say the second ten.
But here we are still, knowing everything good and everything bad about each other. I think he still loves me (and I mean the feel-kind of love) though he loves different than I do, like a long trail of airplane steam running straight across a frozen sky. I am fire and darkness. My love shows up in an unbridled blast then limps off the stage after forgetting her lines.
My skin seems to be falling off the bones of my face lately, and I don't know what's going on with my neck. Stress has worn grooves on my forehead, and I feel nervous, because I've seen men throw away women like me for upgrades.
I guess I've seen women like me throw away men like him, too, and it's a sad thing to watch, because marriage can feel like that unicorn in The Glass Menagerie, so delicate and so fragile... until I go down in the basement and start to move around boxes of baby pictures and Christmas cards, old receipts, and clothes we never wear packed together in Rubbermaids. Imagine the work of dividing all that up. You couldn't ever do it, really. The two become one flesh, and that means your stuff gets mixed together like gravy and mashed potatoes. Your bodies get mixed up together, and your hearts, and your regrets, and your memories, and your hopes.
My daughter said the other day something so casual, I wasn't expecting it to hit me straight in the heart like it did. She was just being sixteen, teasing, spinning a caricature out of what we would be like as old people, Grandma and Grandpa, yin and yang. She talked about bringing the grandkids over, and what we'd do, and in her certainty - in her rootedness - I saw why we have been forgiving each other so long.
Oh, it's cold outside. Too cold to go out, but he went out anyway with the eight-year-old and made a snow man and shoveled the driveway. And when he came in, I forgot to acknowledge both. He does things like that all the time, quiet things that get absorbed into the whir.
Over twenty years he's been taking care of me.
I got a piece of his lip when he kissed me in the kitchen. That man has good, hot lips. He knows how to use them, too.
I could feel my knees get a little bit weak even though I was wearing glasses and was full of saltine crackers. "A man likes to drive a road with curves to it," he said, and that was poetic as all get out.
I've been letting it settle for about nine hours now. It was a darned good thing to say.
If we were first dating, I'd get so tickled over something like that; I'd write it down on a piece of paper, and stick it on my bulletin board, and dream it out to the end.
But all these years later, we've said so much, it's like I got hard of hearing.
That's something I need to think through.
Tonight if the electricity holds out we're going to watch a movie, I guess. Then we will crawl in bed between flannel sheets that have been washed twenty or thirty times since our worst fights. It will be cold as sin in there at first, so I will shudder, and cuss, and wrap myself around him. I'll bury my ice nose in the valley between his two shoulders that worked to care for me. Shoulders that have worked to care for me for half my life almost. And when he rolls over to kiss me goodnight, I hope I remember tonight to thank him.