There was a moment today. Just a split second as I was driving home from work, using only my peripherals to see stop lights and blind spots. While I watched the reflection of headlights on the rain-drenched pavement. As I focused on a wet spot on my windshield that the wipers just kept missing. And for a split second I forgot that you were mine.
And my heart started racing like running a marathon when I thought of your face. It was that rush of adrenaline the moment before you walk on the stage when I thought of the ever-so-faint freckles on your cheeks and running up and down your arms.
I didn’t forget about the red beanie that you always wear, but I forgot that I get to see you without it at the end of the day.
I forgot that I get to run my fingers through your coarse hair, a texture similar to mine. I forgot about all the nights I would run my own fingers through my own hair and wonder if anyone would ever appreciate running their hands through it.
For a split second, I forgot that you do.
I forgot that I was happy. After years of being okay, and fine, and getting by, and hanging in there. I was finally happy.
There was a moment this morning. When I had just woken up. That feeling where for just a split second, you don’t remember where you are. I could taste the morning breath in my mouth. I felt the crusties in the corner of my eyes. And for a split second I forgot that you were mine.
I forgot that when I jumped awake from a dream, you did, too. The kind you can’t remember all at once, but that comes back in pieces throughout the day. But one that you know wasn’t good because you could feel your eyes beginning to well up – like it did at the end of Elf that one year.
“So…will The Santa Clause be too much, or…” you said when you heard me sniffle, and I jumped on top of you and punched you in the arm and kissed you simultaneously.
As I sandwiched my feet between yours, I expected something along the lines of, “What, did you just walk here from the North Pole, too?” Perhaps, “Careful, Frosty, I wouldn’t wanna melt you!” Something to state the obvious and focus attention on my perpetually cold feet.
You simply squeezed my feet tighter so as to act like a furnace and warm them between your own.
There was a moment today. Lost in thought about your lips, and your hands, and your skin, and your hair, and your warm feet. Lost in thought about ripping off your beanie and unbuttoning your flannel shirt and kissing you with tongue, lots of tongue, and laying in bed laughing at whatever went wrong, because more things seem to go wrong than right. So lost in thought about you that for a split second I forgot that you weren’t mine.
Because for a split second you forgot that you were mine.
And my heart started racing like having to pee halfway through the marathon. Like being on stage and blanking on your next line. Like hydroplaning. Like the dream where you walk into school, look down and realize you forgot to get dressed in the morning.
I forgot that as I jumped awake, you didn’t. I forgot that your car wasn’t in the driveway. I forgot that your toothbrush was missing. That your towel was no longer on the rack next to mine.
And I forgot to eat.
And I forgot to shower.
And I forgot to brush my teeth, but just before bed.
And I forgot to use my directional.
And to stop at that stop sign we finally got a ticket at last year, because the heat in your car never works, and my toes were numb, and there were two minutes until Parenthood, and you weren’t saying it, but you didn’t need to for me to tell that you were irked that I didn’t just DVR it before we left.
When all I wanted to do was get home, get under my favorite fleece blanket to warm up my toes, and eat a baked good from my not-so-secret stash in the drawer with the flashlights and batteries and other tools and miscellaneous items, that you found last month when we blew a fuse and you had to go down to the basement and do whatever you did with the switches and the knobs and the whatever.
“I hope you’re taking notes,” you said as I shined the flashlight for you.
“Mental ones,” I responded, bouncing on my toes, impatient to get back to the warm upstairs.
“I hope I’m not home next time this happens.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll kick you out before then I’m sure,” I said as the lights flickered and then illuminated your face, frown lines more apparent than ever.
“Thank God,” I said under my breath as I ran up the cold, concrete stairs with bare feet to the living room and wrapped myself back up in my blanket and turned the TV to Top Chef, even though we already missed the entire Quickfire Challenge.
“How will you ever know what Padma was wearing?” you teased, as if you weren’t just as curious, if not more.
I forgot that the snow wouldn’t be shoveled. That the apartment wouldn’t be warm yet. That the mail would still be in the box.
And I began to laugh. Hysterically laugh, like when we went to see The Heat, when of course we would have seats right in the center of the aisle. Your face was blood red as I cackled my way out of the theater, squeezing through strangers, kicking some of their feet unintentionally. And when I came back in, your hood was covering your face.
“Whew,” I said. “Pretty sure that was the last of it.”
It wasn’t. So I stayed outside for ten minutes to compose myself. I came back in with a consolation blue raspberry Icee and a pack of peanut M&Ms – neither of which you touched. And you didn’t speak to me the whole way home. Didn’t even put on the radio.
Hysterically laugh, like you did when I volunteered to mop up the entire green tea latte I spilled at Starbucks that one time.
“I think you missed a spot, Cinderella,” you said as I was on my hands and knees with a rag, making sure I got every last drop of latte out of the grout.
Hysterically laugh. Because for a split second I forgot that you were mine.
And I was able to breathe again, like finally recovering your line. Like gaining control of the car. Like peeing after the race – or during it. Like walking into school and realizing that you are, in fact, fully clothed.
I forgot that as I pulled into the driveway, that your car would be there.
That as I walked in the door to the smell of fresh Chinese and the remnants of burnt calzones, you’d be sitting on the couch wrapped up in my blanket watching the Chelsea Lately you missed, knowing full well that it was on the DVR waiting for you, as we usually fall asleep halfway through anyway. I forgot that you’d lift the blanket and that your eyes would invite me to be the little spoon on our couch barely big enough for one.
I forgot that we would spoon until you were caught up with all the shows you missed. That I would rip off your beanie and unbutton your flannel shirt and kiss you. With tongue.