from Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff


There would be long, hobbledy walks under the plane trees, stories told by a single sideways glance, one word sufficing. Anthill, he’d say; Martini! she’d say, and the swim of the old joke returning to them. The laughter, the beautiful reverberations. Then the bleary toddling on to an early-bird dinner, snoozing through a movie hand in hand. P 235

It makes me happy to think that after more than two decades together M and I have developed, if not a secret language, then a special shorthand. Specific glances, gestures, and certain phrases bring back incidents and anecdotes. Treasures that we mined together out of the muck. Even if they were gritty pieces of rock at the time (T’s first splinter, never opening 40 of our boxes after we moved, housing deals that fell through…) they have morphed into pieces of quartz over time, becoming more and more polished with each retelling.

“Don’t say No to a teacher”

“Working hard like the mighty mixer”

“Duck-billed platypus”

“You do it, you do it, you do it Pinky!”

This is our lexicon. A few words strung together that imply a deeper meaning, and take us back to that time, that place.

This weekend we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate the anniversary of our first date we went to the movies. Though there may come a time when we sleep through the films, and there was once a time when our attention was elsewhere in the theater, now we sit side by side and take in the lushness and magic of the big screen. I laughed so hard M had to shush me. Fortunately, I only cried a little. But being there brought back memories of the movie we saw a few years ago that devastated me. For my birthday I had asked to see “Before Midnight”. We had watched the other two and I wanted to sit together and see the finale of this trilogy. M and I met when the first movie came out and T was still young around the time of the second and it seemed fitting to make a pilgrimage for the third movie. We had after grown up with this couple. Seeing them argue, consuming the auditorium with their pain, their harsh words reverberating around and bouncing off the walls, split each one of us open. If that could happen to this couple, then why not us?

Why not us, indeed. Thus far we have endured. We have flourished at times, been in a deep dark cave at others, but there has always been someone next to me holding my hand.

We often envision the elderly couple toddling down the path as an ideal, as the life-long goal we hope to achieve. But I think we forget the dailyness that leads us to that point. That each day we wake up and if we’re lucky see someone there sleeping right next to us. This morning M and I got up somewhat lazily. The dogs blessed us with an easy start by sleeping in. Before we had a chance to have breakfast, the day erupted: we got into a huge blow up about financial aid for college. I flung harsh words out like knives and watched them land. M’s face deflated like the balloons at the fair, but I didn’t feel like a prizewinner. Afterwards I retreated to my bed with my book, certain that this would set the tone for the day. All our other arguments washing over me in waves of remembrance. But then there was a knock at the door and more quiet conversation followed. And like the thunderstorm that burst through last week, it was over. And the day suddenly seems sunnier.

There’s turkey meatloaf with chipolte sauce for dinner and talk of going out for ice cream. But first there are dogs to bathe, laundry to sort and shopping for the week’s groceries. All the things that make up a Sunday round here. Tonight though, if there’s time, we’ll most likely sit and reminisce about being in the circus last Sunday. We held hands as we climbed into the ring and watched the aerialists perform— so close we could reach out and touch them. Moments like those deserve to be retold and remembered.

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