I tell you I like you. You tell me that you like me. We both feel relief. We’ve been friends since we were 17. You lean in for a kiss, and my heart hits the floor. Slowly you pull me closer and that’s when the awkwardness begins. You plant a long kiss on my-forehead? It’s sweet and weird. Just like you. The next day we watch The NeverEnding Story at my parents’ house. We kiss with tongue. It’s more awkward than the forehead. We laugh.
A can of baked beans, a box of tampons, two loaves of bread, chicken thighs, chocolate chip muffins, toilet paper, milk, apples, peanut butter, jelly, and dish-soap. We’re loading items onto the checkout counter at ALDI quietly hoping that our calculations are correct. We have $32.00 dollars to our name. We’re way over. I look to you to start determining which items we can put back. You start laughing and slowly slither out of the ALDI, to the parking lot, and into my ‘88 Chevy Caprice. I feel hatred for you. My face is on fire. We should have never moved in together. You left me in the ALDI you son-of-a-bitch. I take a deep breath and start with the apples…
We’re in a fishing boat, my favorite place to be. I have a zit on my nose that got bigger throughout the week. I’m wearing sweat pants, with a tight flowered tank top that has fish guts splattered all over it. I feel fat cause I over did it on the cabin food. My legs aren’t shaved and I haven’t’ showered in three days. You ask me to grab pliers out of your tackle box and I scream. You get down on your knee and pick up the ring. I seriously can’t believe you’re asking me. I look like shit and have hair coming out of everything. You tell me I’m the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Your family lights off fireworks from the beach. Your brother rows over champagne. I can’t stop crying and laughing.
We’re naked in the middle of the living room floor of our house, about to try to make a baby for the first time. I made a lair with candles, pillows and blankets everywhere. We lay talking for hours. Nervous. Like we’ve never done this before. Like virgins who’ve just met. This time it’s different. This time has a bigger purpose. We finish and I crank my legs above my head, because that’s what I read in the book.
I call you from my desk. Everything I read says that spotting at 10 weeks could be implanting, but that cramping is bad. You tell me to leave early and stop reading. We leave the doctor’s office empty. You’re angry about what the nurse said to me. You won’t take off your sunglasses in the elevator. The bleeding and cramping get worse through the night. It’s Father’s Day weekend. We drive three hours to see your family. I thought I would be ok. I lay in the guest bedroom with a heating pad over my belly. Crying. Cramping. Hurting. Angry. I want my mom. You keep checking on me saying you’re sorry. I am too.
We never have any money. When you’re at work I cry during the day. I’m bartending at night and do all the shopping at ALDI. You smash a plate over the sink and I start crying. I tell you I’ve lost myself and this is not what I dreamed. I should be happy. I have a loving husband and a beautiful boy and girl, but inside I feel so ugly. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. We pick up the pieces of glass and splurge on a ten-dollar bottle of wine. I tell you I think I need to go back to work. That something is missing from my soul. You say you’ll support anything. You tell me you’ll always think I’m beautiful. We get help and I slowly crawl out of that dark place and get after my dreams again.
You call me right before the meeting is about to start. Mae has a fever and you can’t get in touch with my mom. I feel helpless and angry. Guilty. Mad. I’m thousands of miles away. I make a mental note to start looking for jobs that will give me more flexibility. I get home late and you wait up for me. We talk. Our house is underwater. We don’t have much saved, but we need to move out of the neighborhood before the kids start school. The next day your car is stolen from our driveway and this settles the argument on the blue house.
It’s the first Summer in the blue house and Matthew shattered his arm riding his bike. We’re worried it won’t grow back normal. You spend time with him every day. You research gadgets and exercises he can do at school and leave work early three times a week to drive him to physical therapy. You’ve mastered putting Mae’s hair in piggy tails and the two you have your own language. You volunteer to coach for everything. I take a step back and think of the sweet weird boy who kissed me on the head when we we’re 19. I had no idea you would turn out this great.
I’m writing this while you’re sleeping here next to me. I feel lucky, hopeful and more in love than ever before. I guess I’ll just kiss your forehead and see what comes next…
Courtney’s love of writing began at a young age and never stopped. She works fulltime as a professional writer and Creative Director and has 16 children’s books that just got picked up for publishing; The Gnat & Corky Series, a collection of universal stories that are based on the spirit of real kids (@gnatandcorky). She and her husband live just north of Chicago with their two children and Jake (the best dog ever). You can follow Courtney Kotloski’s blog KEEP YOUR SOUL here http://www.courtneykotloski.com/blog/ or visit her website to read Gnat & Corky Snippets and other stories www.courtneykotloski.com