Six kids, three cats, one house. I lay awake at night and think, this is a story worth telling.
There are spouses we laid by once and houses that we lived in once. There are doors with locks, and keys on key rings still that no longer have a home. Vows we made and broke. And rings of circular foreverness in top dresser drawers, with worn rims. Placeless, faceless, never to be worn again.
There are textbooks in closets, with an old husband’s name scrawled inside.
There is a sofa, where my new husband held a baby long ago, that he did not have with me, in the earliest morning hours of her being.
There is anger and passion and resent and love. We don’t forget those things, we bring them along.
Sometimes it is very crowded here.
This is a love story.
He knows things. But I see things.
Is it darker than usual in this room? I ask as I fumble my way into our bed.
There’s no moon tonight, his voice is groggy. He knows things, this man.
Sometimes when we finally crawl upstairs, ragged from the day and mourning the loss of evening, I find a blond haired girl in our bed. That baby that he held long ago. A big girl, a girl whose mornings I get to share now.
Sometimes, he carries her to her bed down the hall, her blond ringlets floating behind him.
Sometimes we let her stay, folding our bodies around her sleeping one.
This is still a love story.
We are broken people. We are building again. We lost friends. We make new friends.
We meet other couples in restaurants and bars, on our every-other-weekends, alone. Six kids, we tell them patiently. His and Hers, we say sometimes, if we are feeling generous. We have no children together.
Like the Brady Bunch! They clap their hands, so pleased with themselves. We smile politely as though we have not heard this 854 times before. Sort of.
He drives my teenage daughter to school in the morning. She’s all black-haired angst, slouching and he’s all bald-headed patient, trying. He wanders onto her turf, engaging in meaningful discussions about My Chemical Romance and college.
His little boy tells me, “I love you fourth, after my mom and my dad and my grandma” and this makes me happier than I ever thought it could. I am grateful for little boys in glasses who let you know exactly where you stand.
I make brussel sprouts for this second husband. He hates brussel sprouts. But he eats them. We debate about Caitlin Jenner over dinner and drink Red Zinfandel.
We take dancing lessons and both try to lead. We learn nothing, nothing at all except the Fox Trot.
We fox the fuck out of that trot.
We listen to Kathy’s Song and he tells me that Art Garfunkel makes him inexplicably angry.
This makes me inexplicably angry.
But, I should remind myself, this is a love story.
In the evenings, if I am writing and I take too long, he falls asleep holding a half drunk glass of wine, head nodding, long stem tipping. Wake up darling, you’ll spill I call out to him, but he is snoring.
Sometimes I just gently slip the glass from his hand.
His soft breathing, the clack of airy thoughts forming solid thoughts before my eyes. And in my chair, my brother’s old chair that he left to me after he died, I am typing.
The only light in the room is the glow of my computer screen. The cursor beating pressingly, much slower than my heart.
I ripped the world open, started over again at 35 years old. But I am a writer. So I try to stitch it back together again with words.
It takes a long time to do that, you know.
Six kids, three cats, one house.
The two of us, impossibly imperfect. This is the best part of trying again, the understanding and acceptance of the imperfections. My husband, this second chance, is soft nearby: chest heavy, wine glass wavering. I should be sleeping. But I have so much to say.
The cursor summons and I type:
This is a love story.
And then I wake my husband and take him up to bed. This time, I do not have it all planned out. This time, we will take our time.
This is our love story. This time, I am writing it as we go.
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