all the moments
I am tired of so many things. I cry in the restaurant telling Eva about it. She says how are you and I bow my head over the hummus. Eva is a calming soul. I tell her how depleted I am. How all my limbs are tired and my brain isn’t working. How I can’t interview anymore or walk so much or workout every morning. it’s the light, she says. Did you see the moon? she asks, rubbing circles on my shoulder.
All night I dream of the ocean and a tall redwood tree. I flail my limbs and my husband, prostrate next to me, says this is not a good thing, you moving like that. in the morning he sits next to me on the edge of the bed and holds my hand in his and says, I urge you to go to a doctor. I can’t do it anymore, he whispers, I’m exhausted. I call the doctor and she says, what is the reason for the appointment. My husband can’t sleep and I can, I tell her. I move into him, in a bad way. She tells me to come in for a consultation. She takes my blood and asks me about my medical history. I am scared of what else she may ask: If I’m happy. What I do for work. If I’m stressed. When I’m going to get married. Where my child will sleep when I finally have one. If i’m even fertile. A week later I go back. I pick a hangnail while she tells me what is wrong. Your body isn’t absorbing protein. Are you vegan? No. Vegetarian? No. She says the lack of protein may be causing all sorts of problems-- depression, confusion, lack of concentration. I walk out and call my husband. I tell him I’m going to be fine and he will sleep again. I can hear him grin across the phone line.
In the cabin, with our friends, he tries to coerce me to the bedroom, saying, no one will know. I’ll be quick. But it’s solo time, I tell him. I have to write, and I’m close to liking my book. I take my hand from under his shirt and kiss him on the neck. The best thing that happens is that I find a comfortable chair to sit in. It’s perched in the corner of the living room, far below the 15 foot ceilings. I write almost an entire page about birds and then erase it. What do i know about birds?
I try for days to write a book review about my new favorite book, but all I can say about it is that the narration changed halfway through and that it destroyed me. That at one point it was the wife as wife and then chapters later it was wife as abandoned woman, as if loneliness made her an onlooker of her own life. The narrator floated above the story and watched, ached for the woman who was now raising a child alone. Jenny says marriage either lasts one year or twenty-five or forever. Those are the options. I call Faye and tell her how the marriage just unravels so quickly. That one day they are slurping soup and talking about astronauts and the next he isn’t coming home anymore. The character cries on the toilet while we, two married women, read in silence.
My husband says I need to start fictionalizing my writing. He says make me tall and mean. Change your mother to your father. Say your parents are married. Make yourself a character who watches television in the daytime, someone who has less rules.
All day I sit and watch television. I remind Faye about the time I called her from the airport, many years ago, to tell her about an affair I’d had. I was crying in a tattered chair, and she just laughed. She told me that everyone is doing is the best they can, and this won’t matter in a month. But i couldn’t stop thinking about the way a stranger held me from behind watching the stupid stars over a mound of dirt.
At night, my husband returns, kind of drunk, but so beautiful. I’m in the kitchen preparing trout salad and he comes to me from behind, holding my elbows in his hands. He tells me he has to travel for work-- a conference in Phoenix-- he’ll be back on Thursday. I’m sad, thinking about him sitting at a bar by himself, the waitress admiring his jaw line. Thinking how all he would have to do is be his quiet self, ask her a few questions-- where she’s from, what she likes to do-- and then maybe she’d wink at him as she cashes out his check. She’d notice a wedding ring on his finger but not really care. I tell Faye that my husband is cheating on me, and I know it because of how happy he is. My husband tells me I’m being crazy again. Try something else, he says. Try being happy.
Last weekend we took drugs and danced to EDM music at a trashy club. A bottle of water cost $5. Jenny says the only place that can sell water for $5 is a place where everyone is on drugs. I look around at 3am while my ears pound. The pictures from that night are horrifying--I’m wide-eyed and glaring. But how hard I loved everyone. Rubbing shoulders with the weird kid from high school. Finding my tallest friend and telling him how safe he makes me feel. Holding my husband close while the lights strobed. The next day, we rearranged our apartment. My husband decided he hates Foucault. I relinquish all my Charles Simic books. I almost gave away Sylvia Plath, but then I remembered the letter that fluttered out-- Dear Luke, I’ve got to stop doing acid on weekdays.
We have a wonderful day ridding ourselves of all the unnecessary things. Afterward, we carry bags of our old favorite books to the store down the street and the woman hands us $60 in cash. We order cider at a and sit outside and talk candidly about what it feels like to be unburdened, how to be truly minimalist. At night we make homemade pasta-- our hands and torsos are covered in flour. I admire my husband-- how thorough he is shaping each piece of dough.
Here are the things I’ve dreamed of: a townhouse with three floors. A porch overlooking the city. Sand that doesn’t make you feel sandy. I call Faye and tell her how I’ve never been happier. Faye says she wants to float. She tells me that Vietnam was magical, if not unreal, and that she, too, is exhausted.