Greg and I have important stuff to talk about. Probably. We are sitting at the kitchen table over tilapia, each of us throwing conversational paintballs in the vague vicinity of the other. Toby is sitting next to me unable to finish his nuggets because he "really needs to poop." Charlie's nuggets are squished into pancakes and one by one sailing down to the underchair netherworld where I don't even clean anymore.
"I mean it seems like a good idea, you know?" Greg says, but I don't know, because I have no clue what the idea was.
"Tell me what we are talking about again?" I say.
"Envelopes." He possibly said over Charlie who is pointing at the pantry yelling for I don't know what.
Toby stands next to his chair holding his pants and underwear. "Can you come wipe me?" he asks. Greg groans and follows him to the bathroom. I hurry to make Charlie some oatmeal.
And that is that. We regress to yelling our schedule essentials from one side of the house to the other.
"I have a paper due this weekend," he says.
"I have a meeting Sunday afternoon." I reply.
"I'm playing golf tomorrow. I won't be home until 7:00."
"I want to make an appearance at Jamie's make-up party."
This is the new us, the frazzled, noisy us, negotiating our independence like day traders. He is only in another room, but it feels further. I miss talking to him. I wonder if we'll ever stop bothering at all.
Later we load up the kids for a Sonic run. I look at Greg next to me in the car. He has a fresh hair cut. I like it. His face is tan from the golf course, making his green eyes more vivid. He boyishly taps the steering wheel to the Newsboys song from the radio. Once upon a time neither of us listened to music like this. It feels good watching him enjoy it, choosing to enjoy it, for the boys sake. He has substance. That is always what I liked about him.
I remember sipping a cherry limeade after school one afternoon, concealing my private obsession with the phone from my friends. Maybe Greg would call. Maybe he would invite me to a movie or to Harrigan's for cheese rolls. The very thought gave my life meaning. It was scary how much he meant to me. When I was with him, I called self-control from every continent of my soul to keep my hands from trembling.
What is so different now? It's been fifteen years since I met him at a basketball game somewhere in Oklahoma City. Fifteen years since my heart quit beating for mere life. Even though the boys are fighting behind us, even though our car smells like Sonic, even though we can't use actual words, when he turns to me and winks, I know why I bother trying. I know exactly why I bother.
3 weeks ago