Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 172: Date

Sitting at a table for two. Or six. There are no quiet tables at Chili's. They are all built for groups.

Or just two.

The air is filled with chatter and laughter. Waiters and waitresses skim past each other as they bring food to the table. Sizzling, steaming plates and skillets. Over and over, "Careful, that plate is hot." From the other corner of the restaurant, a group of waiters with an enormous sombrero converge on a birthday table and sing their rendition of happy birthday. I wonder to myself, amidst the clapping, when a new employee learns the song--is it part of their training? And is the whole restaurant expected to join in?

Sitting on opposite sides of the varnished table, my husband and I. Between us, a bowl of chips and a bowl of salsa. He is talking.

I realize how rarely he gets a word in edgewise. How the only time that I really hear him talk like this, about his work, his calling, what he heard on the radio, is on these dates. I feel guilty about that.

I reach out and take a chip and dip it into the salsa, and I watch him...

This restaurant is trendy and small. The settings are eclectic. The wine list is long. We had to get a reservation for our tiny table by the window, a candle in the middle.

Conversation rises and falls, like a wave. The tables are full of couples, although a few have the tables pushed together. Our waiter is wearing black, his arms lined with tattoos. All the waiters and waitresses are wearing black, their shirts expensive. Cashmere, maybe, for the women. Extra starch for the men.

My husband smiles at me across the table, holding the single page menu displayed on brushed leather in his hands. The waiter appears and whisks our wine glasses away, slightly disappointed, when we request only water. With lemon. He runs through the specials of the day, which leave us staring at each other in confusion--did he just say bone marrow with a blueberry sauce?

"We'll need just a few more minutes." my husband says, raising one eyebrow at me. His foot taps mine under the table, and I look down, smiling.

In the end, I order the squash filled ravioli. He orders the bone marrow, making a face at me when it's delivered actually in the bone, with a sprig of sage sticking out of the top. And I watch him...

"This is really good." my husband says, dipping his spoon into his Frosty dessert.
"What do you think these are made of?" I ask, twirling my spoon.
"You probably don't want to know" he laughs.

Back and forth. Back and forth. We're quiet, as we eat our Frosties, and swing on the swings at the local park. I am watching the small group of teenagers, sulking in the corner by the tennis courts. I glance over at my husband, who is gazing at the sunset.

He loves sunsets. Sometimes I forget that.

I scoop out the last spoonful and eat it, then look over at him. I find that he is watching me. And I smile.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hope Chest.

The smell of cedar is overwhelming. Sickly sweet.

First, come Christmas stockings. Eight of them, woven, with embroidered names. Picking them up in my hands, I remember how the Christmas goodies would catch and snag on the threads inside. But the orange fit so perfectly in the toe. And peanuts, which always ended up abandoned in a bowl. Left for my father to eat.

More stockings, but only 7 this time. Red felt, with cut out felt shapes glued, untidy, on the front. Names with glitter on glue. I remember sitting at the table in an olive green kitchen and choosing the shapes for my own stocking: a reindeer, a bell, and a star.

A wedding dress, the satin with a slightly yellowed sheen. An a-line ball gown gown with a tiny waist. Long sleeves. Dust on the hemline from my mother's wedding reception. Beneath the gown, the veil--brittle with time.

Christening outfits. Baby blankets. Elementary school projects. A pair of tiny toddler cowboy boots. A Marine dress coat, cut to fit like a glove.

Going through my mother's hope chest is to step back in time. Filled with her hopes fulfilled. Reflecting years of my own hopes...
to wear a dress like this.
To marry a man like that.
To fill my arms with babies.
To hide their blankets in my own hope chest.

Which stands against the wall of my own room now.

Christening gowns. Baby dolls. Faded, dried roses. Graduation caps and tassels.

The smell of cedar, sickly sweet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 171: Work in Progress

Sunshine day,
happy breeze.

in a pile of leaves.

Toss them up,
higher than high.
Deepest blue of an autumn sky.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 170...Early.


Cough. Cough.

She rolled over in her sleep, only partially awake. The sound of a tiny cough down the hall drawing her out.


She looked up at the red digital number on the alarm clock. 5:30. Just an hour too early. Curving into her sleeping husband as he reached instinctually for her hand, she allowed the warmth and silence to draw her once more downward.


Sighing, she unwillingly withdrew her hand and stepped out of her warm bed. Wrapping her arms around herself she closed the door quietly behind her. At least maybe he could sleep for another 30 minutes.

Walking down the hall she listened at the door and heard only the sound of restless sleep... maybe... but then, a cough and a little whimper. Opening the door softly, she reached into the crib and scooped up the small, sleeping bundle. Wrapping her blanket more snuggly, she lowered herself into the rocking chair in the corner. The humidifier hummed in the corner. Softly, she laid her cheek against the fuzzy down on top of the sleeping head. Back and forth. Back and forth. The soft warm weight in her arms. She closed her eyes, patting the little back gently. Maybe she could doze...

A creak. Her head came up and she saw the light from the front window fall across the hall. A little shadow peering into the darkness. The rustle of footsteps, with a blanket in tow. Awake already.

Standing, she lowered the now peaceful baby back into the crib and stroked her cheek just once with the back of her hand before slipping silently from the room. The little figure stood in the hallway, smiling when he saw her. She scooped him up and he cuddled into her. She gave him a hug and walked to the living room. They sat on the couch and she laid him down against a pillow, stroking his hair. He asked for breakfast. Too early. He asked for Daddy. Too early. Try to sleep. For just a few more minutes. He nodded.

Standing and yawning, her eyes itching for just a little more sleep, she heard a small meowing at the door. Opening it for the small cat, all puffy with cold, she followed it's meow to it's food dish. A scoop of fresh food.

Walking back to her room, she slipped in the closed door and shut it behind her. Back under her warm covers, nestling into the now cool pillows.

Just a few more minutes.