In January, on the plane to Miami, I made two lists.
Things I Miss
Having someone to talk to.
Having someone to take a walk with.
Exercise in general, everything I used to do with or without him, running, swimming, riding my bike.
Our family excursions.
We’d take the dogs to Random Harvest, and after shopping we’d all sit on the porch for coffee and scones. People knew us, and the dogs, and they probably thought we were crazy dog people, which we were, but they liked us, and the dogs.
Once a week we all went to the dogs’ agility class. They were so good at it, leaping the bars, skittering up the V dog walk, braving the tunnel. Good dog! we’d say, good dog! And they would grin their hound grins.
Dancing. What I really miss is dancing.
We weren’t great dancers, but we both loved music and the idea of dancing, so we took lessons. The lessons always required us to learn the cha-cha, which was a silly dance, but they also gave us an excuse to practice the waltz and the fox trot, dances where you held each other, and of course the tango. Few occasions call for the tango—cruises, I suppose, and Ed wouldn’t have set foot on a cruise—but we got really good at the tango.
For a couple of New Year’s Eves Ed put on his tuxedo and I found a way to combine black silk long underwear with my black velvet dress and we went dancing. Then we found a roadhouse on the Massachusetts border where a band we loved played for dancing, and we planned our lives around it. The joint was packed; all you had to do was get up and sort of wiggle, and that made it easy, thought-less, care free. We’d stay for two sets, before Ed started to worry about the dogs.
Things I Don’t Miss
Ed worrying about the dogs. We had agreed we didn’t want children, and then he changed his mind, sort of, but I didn’t, and he got even with the dogs, two beings completely dependent upon us who would never learn to make themselves a sandwich.
Shopping at Guido’s in Great Barrington. Ed loved Guido’s. I found it a long ride for an expensive store filled with people I would never invite to dinner and the feeling was mutual.
Spending my evenings washing dishes. Ed was a great cook, and I knew I should be grateful, but some nights I felt like Cinderella.
Trying to sleep with the light on while he read at night. I read him a line from a Phil Schultz poem: “The edge of sleep is not sleep,” but it made no difference.
I stopped. I was writing quibbles, about the man I loved, although I was aware that now, when I wanted the light out at night, it went out.
Together, we had disdained microwave ovens, but when I saw one at a church rummage sale for $7, I decided to try it, and it changed my life: hot food in minutes, and no pans to wash.
A lack of discretionary time did simplify the life. Would I rather drive to board meetings on winter nights, all over the county, or to Great Barrington? I put the question aside. Things were what they were. Except for my mother, who was flying me to Miami because my stepfather needed bypass surgery, anyone who wanted me to hold their hand for a few days had to come to me, and then they could take me out for dinner. Bring a dress, Ma said, I'll make dinner reservations.
This life couldn’t last—I wasn’t earning enough, and Tina’s abuse, along with my ancient car, keep me constantly anxious—but I was managing it, day by day. I put away the lists and got out The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene. Soaring briefly above the job, the house, the dog, I had time to read a book.
Copyright © Debby Mayer