Friday, February 12, 2016

For Doug, Two Days Before Valentine's Day, 2016





I. Before I Forget

I couldn’t park the car in the garage because someone was having their car towed. This isn’t how I wanted to start this, but I thought if I wrote it here, I would remember to tell you.

II. Your Number One Complaint of Me

“Why do you always forgot to tell me really important things?”

III. Things I’ve Forgotten to Tell You

Schedule changes involving the kids, social invitations I’ve accepted on both our behalves, plans for my parents to come to Austin (which by the way, my Dad will be here in two weeks), health-related issues, work stuff, national headlines I learned about before you.

IV. But I Have a Good Excuse

I guess I assume you already know these things—because sometimes it seems like you know everything.

And not just facts or everyday life, either. I mean the invisible particles vibrating between the seams. As Cummings would say, the syntax of things. Like how you know what I’m feeling before I do. Or how you know when I’m in trouble even when we’re not in the same place—like the day I was stung by a bee while jogging and you were at home and had a weird feeling and got in the car and drove around the neighborhood trying to find me.

V. How I Feel About Your Omniscience

I think it’s marvelous.

VI. Last Night

I woke up from a bad dream and cried, “There are monsters in our bed!”

You woke up and said, “There aren’t monsters in the bed,” and held me tighter.

I insisted, “They said you were going to leave me!”

Your head nuzzled into my shoulder. “I would never do that.”

VII. How You Explained Falling In Love with Me

“I don’t think it was a matter of falling. I think it has always been there, just below the surface. Then one day, when it was ready, it just somehow…awakened.”

VIII. The Moment I Knew You Were the Best Man on the Planet

Our first date at the Mexican restaurant in Jackson. I was margarita-ed up and blabbering on about something, ending my thoughts with, “…I know that seems improbable…I’m probably not talented enough…not capable…”

You interrupted, “I think you’re amazingly talented and capable of anything.”

IX. What I Meant as a Compliment

“Around you, I’m so less driven. I feel ambition dripping out of me like puss from a lanced boil.”

You scrunched up your nose. “That doesn’t sound like a compliment.”

“But it is, you see, because what drives me to write is when I’m hungry for something that’s missing in my life. To fill a void. But I don’t feel that hunger with you. I feel at peace.” I laughed and joked, “You should start acting terribly so I can feel that emptiness again.”

You shook your head. “I would never do that.”

X. Upon Finding Incriminating Music on My Spotify

“You’re listening to Warrant?”

My face went red. “I can’t help it. I had Cherry Pie stuck in my head all day. I figured the only way to get it out was to listen to it.”

You laughed. “That happens to me sometimes too.”

XI. On the Subject of My Kids

“I love them,” you said. “I never thought I could love children so much who weren’t mine. I miss them when they’re not here.”

XII. A Seemingly Unimportant Moment I Hold Dear

You agreed to play Minecraft with my kids way before I did. I sat behind you as you logged into the computer. Two animatic figures appeared in the foreground of a blocky video game world. You pointed to one. “That’s your son.” You pointed to the other. “That’s your daughter.” I sat up and looked hard, my heart full of awe, as if I were seeing my children for the first time.

XIII. Several Times a Day

On Gchat:

“Doug, what’s another word for <insert any word in the dictionary>?”

“Doug, how do you spell <insert badly misspelled word>?”

“Doug, how much is <Insert basic math problem>?”

XIV. And Yet I Have the Nerve to Complain When My Kids Ask You For Help With Their Homework

“Why do my kids always ask you for help? Why don’t they ever ask me?”

XV. And My Other Complaint is Also Groundless

“I wish you would start reading again. I’ve read all these books and I want to share them with you.”

“I would read more,” you argued, “but you stole my Kindle.”

“You can have it back.”

You shook your head. “I don’t want it back. You enjoy it too much. It makes me happy to see you so happy.”

I bought you a new Kindle. It should be here on Monday.

XVI. Last Night Part 2

I’m sorry that I made your life miserable at the concert. I thought I was doing well just by being there. In hindsight my heart goes aflutter knowing you wanted to share your favorite artist with me. It also makes me sick to my stomach knowing you would never act so disinterested at a concert that I wanted to see, even if it was someone as horrible as Warrant.

XVII. FYI

I would never ask you to take me to see Warrant, even if the singer was still alive.

XVIII. Also

That girl sitting beside you who kept talking to you, I wanted to punch her in the face. And you’re suppose to be the Scorpio.

XIX. Things You’ll Watch with Me Even Though You’d Rather Be Dropped Head First in a Barrel of Flames

Downton Abbey, murder porn, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Walking Dead, Homeland, movies with actors you know I think are hot.

XX. Things You Draw the Line At

Howard Stern.

XXI. Things You Make Me Watch With You

Nothing.

XXII. Things I Try to Watch With You

Football.

XXIII. Things I Fail at Watching With You After Five Minutes

Football.

XXIV. When I Ask if You Resent Me for Not Liking Football

“Of course not.”

XXV. When I Ask if You Resent Me for Not Cooking That Much (Even Though I’m Getting Better)

“Of course not.”

XXVI. When I Told You About the Time I Went to the ER with an Erupting Gall Bladder and How I Felt Ashamed When the Nurses Yelled at Me For Screaming in Pain

You pulled me close and held me for a long time before saying quietly, “You were in pain. People cry out when they’re in pain. You cried out because you were asking for help. That’s nothing to feel ashamed about.” You paused before adding, “It’s those nurses who should be ashamed, because someone was asking for help and they weren’t listening.”

After you said that, I began to cry, and I suddenly felt the urge to tell you everything—every scrape and bruise and stain, all those mental Polaroids unwilling to fade and so from time to time rose up and pierced me or left me numb or brought me to my knees or were so heavy my eyelids collapsed under the weight of them.

And again that Toni Morrison quote, the one I always recite to you (“You are this man,” I tell you), floated through my mind,

“Not even trying, he had become the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry. Because with him, in his presence, they could. There was something blessed in his manner. Women saw him and wanted to weep-to tell him that their chest hurt and their knees did too. Strong women and wise saw him and told him things they only told each other…”

XXVII. That Day Watching Netflix

We watched a stand-up special and the comedian told a story about how his parents went to school with Bill Clinton. He joked, “Who grows up thinking someone they went to school with would end up being President?”

I turned to you, “If someone were to ask me who in my high school could be President, I would have said you.”

You smiled. “Aw, that’s sweet.”

“Of course, I don’t think you could be President now.”

You frowned. “Why not?”

“Because you’re dating me. Closet-full-of-skeletons me.”

“That’s silly. Everyone has skeletons. I’d probably have a greater chance now because the press would be so enamored with your hotness.”

“You’re the only one who thinks I’m hot.”

“That’s not true, but even if it were, aren’t I the only who matters?”

XXVIII. I Wish

I wish I had your self-confidence. But since I don’t, I’m glad you have enough for the both of us.

XXIX. Thank You

Because for many years, at night in bed, after my divorce, alone in my apartment, I would hum, Someone to Watch Over Me, not knowing it was a prayer, not knowing my prayer would be answered.

XXX. I Love You

But you already know that, because you know everything.

XXXI. I’m Sorry 

For all the typos that you undoubtedly found here but will never tell me about because you’re too kind to ever say anything.

XXXII. Happy Valentine’s Day

You marvelous, omniscient being.

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