There was this moment last night, where I flew out of myself and hovered somewhere up above the two of us. Near the ceiling in the kitchen, above the pendant lights that we both hate, and that also need dusting. It was half past ten already, and you were finally sitting down to dinner, eating the panzanella salad I made earlier, when the house was empty and all my own. I was standing in my sweaty yoga clothes that I had layered over my sweaty running ones, melting chocolate and butter over a simmering pan of water, measuring out cake flour and sugar and sea salt. We were listening to Jerry Seinfeld talk to Amy Schumer, and then Kevin Hart, and we were laughing together at all the funny parts.
We were originally supposed to eat dinner together, but there were last minute plans with friends, some bike riding, some sleep over arrangements. You carted the girls (and the bikes) around and then fed them, assembled lunches, got them showered and packed and read to. Our evenings aren’t usually this busy, but this one was different. It was late, the house was quiet – the oldest, off with friends, the youngest, holding on to four front teeth and her temper by just a thread, when I returned home from class. She mustered one final bellow before surrendering to exhaustion and sleep, and now we’re here in this little kitchen that we’re both tired of, talking about our respective afternoons.
I’m hovering above this scene because I know this time is limited, and I want to take it in, absorb it into my skin, past the sea-salt layer that resides there tonight. The brownies are your birthday request, but you try and give me an out on them tonight. It’s late, we’re tired, it’s not a big deal. But it’s a small thing, and one I can do, and I have nowhere else I want to be than in this room with you.
I’m hovering because I’ve heard something on the radio today that spoke of the intertwining of love and sorrow, and I’m sad that you are leaving this year behind you, because I’ve loved it on you. It looked good on you. I’m sure that tomorrow’s year will wear just as well, but I cannot temper that feeling anymore that time is endless, limitless. That one day there will be an evening in a quiet kitchen, with only one of us sitting at the table, shuffling through the mail and the leftovers and the events of the day. It seems natural to want to freeze the girls in these years of dimples and tangled hair and scuffed up knees; their years are the finest quicksand, uncontainable. But I wish to do the same with you. To keep you here with me, like this, like now.
This is too much melancholy for a birthday wish, so I’ll return to my spot at the counter, wooden spoon in hand, waiting for the chocolate to melt. It smells divine, but it’s unsweetened, chalky on the tongue when I momentarily forget and take a fingerful. I stir in the sugar and the eggs and the vanilla, standing over your shoulder while we talk. I’m grateful for another lap around the sun with you, for a home that smells like sweat and chocolate, for as many nights as we are given. Happy birthday, my love.