Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On the eve of the eve

The idea was that I'd sit and blog while we watch The Beginners.

We went to Home Depot this afternoon to buy a hook and chain and birdseed for the bird feeder my husband gave me for my birthday. Tomorrow I will be forty. I've been telling everyone that is my age this past year. A second year of forty is definitely suspect.

Our Christmas was hours of making soup for Happy Towne's homeless while Mr. PNU read me long passages from Eugene England essays and Hawthorne's My Kinsman, Major Molineux. The day before we took turns reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol while we did a week's worth of dishes and cleaned the house. Our children opened presents, and the day after we walk the perimeter of Happy Towne Mall, discussing the heat problem; the state of no clearly drawn lines, the blurred edges of life.

After 26 days of crazy, mad love the only thing that shows up in tests are three or four calcifications in my kidneys and phleboliths in my pelvis. Rinse. Repeat. This is the only positive in three months of the same pattern of unrestrained coitus, more sex than I had in the entirety of my last marriage. I begin taking a medication for enlarged prostates to relax my ureter enough to accommodate the stones I have created. The doctor asks if I would like a strainer to catch them when I pee. I turn him down, but later wonder if I shouldn't have collected these calcium pearls for setting in a mother's pendant. We go to the drug store, purchase vitamins, baby asprin, a basal body temperature thermometer, ovulation prediction kits, and four of the largest available bottles of cranberry juice. I pee a lot. I groan for an hour beginning at 3 a.m.

My oldest son turned 17 on Sunday. I'm not certain my step-daughter even remotely likes me anymore. My youngest daughter turned up just before Christmas with a scalp infested with lice, and after treatment still begged to shave her head. She then asked me to do the same. You see, I'd made the mistake of saying I was jealous. What I meant was, I miss being young and carefree. A week later the hair that is growing back in is shot through with white, an aging scalp speckled with flecks of pepper. I don't regret my show of maternal solidarity, but the night after I cut off all of my hair I cried myself to sleep because I know my husband misses my blond locks and so do I. My oldest daughter has been given a full-ride scholarship to The Pie Tin. She could have gone to Rhode Island, Chicago or San Fransisco. She stays in Utah for her 16-year-old bipolar boyfriend who struggles with social anxiety and will not have sex with her when she's on her period. My youngest son wants desperately to call his step-father "dad." He tries it out every so often, and then slips back to calling Mr. PNU by his first name. There's another nine months before paperwork can be finalized to make having a father legal and therefore reliable. The idea of permanence, of things that stick is one of those problem areas like heat.

Tonight, when we made love, my husband was careful with me, and I had to focus on relaxing the muscles in my abdomen. I imagined that this might be what it would be like for the first time as a virgin who was afraid of sex. It's the best I will ever do. I sometimes wonder why we are trying to start over with parenting when we are struggling in the thick of children on the cusp of autonomy, when our marriage is solid. Complete. Sometimes I think this is the best reason there is.


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