It rained on Memorial Day, so instead of playing tennis, as I’d planned, I sat on the sofa with you, watched Trading Spaces and Nigella Bites while our son crawled on the floor and played with the red, plastic fireman’s hat that he got at a Memorial Day parade and the green stretchy band that I am supposed to use for some sort of strengthening exercise that I don’t have time (discipline) to do.
Although it is the start of summer, there will be no June break. My firm won the PR contract for the new sports arena that is being built (my family is furious with me), and we are covered up with work work work.
So this is our schedule: Our son goes to my mother’s two days a week (my mother has proven surprisingly resilient), and then for two days to my stepmother’s (because she has a housekeeper who loves babies, only please don’t bring him before 9 and try to pick him up by 4), and you stay home on Fridays.
And I work; and I hate it.
Except that I also love it. I love having something that is mine, just mine.
I want to be two separate people. I think (mistakenly) that this longing will pass.
And you work, and you don’t seem to hate it, mostly because the little company where you landed is a Peter Pan band of Lost Boys, fun and unconventional in ways that are suited to you (mostly).
On weekends we head to the park, load our dogs into the cargo hold where they slobber and wag and delight in this too-infrequent adventure. You pass the baby carrier through the side window, click it into the cradle and tug to make sure it is secure. Sometimes we have to take two cars (which is ridiculous), and I gently suggest trading the truck for something bigger, something with four doors and a third seat.
We are keeping the truck, you say, and that is that.
We had an impromptu cocktail party in our living room a few months earlier, invited our closest neighbors on the first warm, sunny day of the year, and our friend the judge married us, officially, while his wife held the baby, because that is what we decided, you and I.
It is just a piece of paper, you said.
It makes a difference, though, my friend said, even if you don’t know it yet.
One day in late June I walk to a meeting (hurriedly, because I am always in a hurry, and always late), wrestling with a raincoat as I walk, because it is starting to rain. At home that night I realize I’ve lost my bracelet, the hand-hammered silver one with raw emeralds that you found at an antique store in Wyoming and brought home to me, proud of discovering this hidden treasure. It’s different from anything I’ve ever seen, you said when you gave it to me. It’s rustic and elegant and I thought it would look good on you, you said.
I search my pockets and my car, frantic and embarrassed to tell you what I’ve done, because you are careful in gift-giving. You are the most careful gift-giver I will ever know.
Retrace your steps, you say. If it’s gone, it’s gone.
The next morning I walk, slowly, from the restaurant where I had lunch back toward my office, combing the sidewalk in a hopeless search.
And in there, lying in plain sight in a crosshatch grate on Union Avenue, is my bracelet.