Second glass of wine. The stem a stiletto marvel, the deep bowl holding the blood of the moment within a constellation of reflected lights, the wine itself almost as flavourful as the label is colourful. And certainly better than the acrid swill that complemented my early writing days.
Blood of the moment.
Haven’t been much of a wine drinker since S-M. We acquired taste for it when she went back to teacher school. One of the few frills we allowed ourselves. Money was tight. But we deemed it important to reward her commitment. An arrangement that became integral to our Friday nights. The simple ritual of sharing a bottle after putting Tina to bed. Something we continued right up to her last weeks.
Yep. A good arrangement. And, as a pair, we did pretty good too. I’d have to say.
At least in comparison to that fine example this afternoon. On the street. Shooting poisoned arrows of disgust at one another. Antagonized expressions of spite, anger, dissatisfaction, etc. The street between them a torrential river. Who knows what the matter was. Whatever it was it sounded unbridgeable. Rift, chasm, fissure, gorge. So far apart they couldn’t stand on the same side of the street to swear at one another. Not really sure if they were arguing. Sounded morelike amplified bickering. An accustomed to mode of relating. ‘Say what you want, I’m not listening. And to be sure you get the message I’m a-gonna do you one better and yell louder.’ Escalated attrition. Aggravated feedback.
Tryna think if S-M and I ever fought so brazenly. Can’t remember us raising our voices, let alone fighting. Don’t think I’m being memory-selective here. We simply didn’t have recourse to fill our world with such animosity.
That’s a lie just there. About raising voices. We raised them a fair bit. Whenever we could, as I recall. Down at the beach. In open fields. Sometimes even at the cabin. Picture postcard weekends on the lake. Just for kicks. Holler, yell, scream, shout. Raise it up, let it out. For the fuck of it. To feel the release. The soul-cleansing rush. A random act of euphoria.
Fertile. Heady. Adventurous. Scrappy. Desperate. Lively. Focused. Energetic. Unprincipled. Eager. Hopeful. Manic. Fun.
We didn’t have everything we wanted but we counted ourselves among the lucky. Rolled good dice. Got who each the other wanted. Everything else secondary. When it came down to it. And we grew together. Made decisions as a team. We had our moments of course. But shit rarely happened that rent either of us of our reasons. Only heated discussions recall are those about me writing and her painting. ‘Do more!’ ‘Keep at it.’ Supportive stuff. Reassuring words you sometimes don’t wanna hear.
We didn’t have singular visions of ourselves. It was us. A couple. Together. One entity, two people. (And then a third. Tina. For whom we were united. And who fit our dynamic in every little way. Filling our life catalog with firsts and other memorable amazements.)
And then there was Hannah. What to say? In with a bang and blandly we went thereafter. With truckloads of antagonism. And an acceptable, tacitly agreed upon way of dealing with it. She, being pointed and direct, stated in clear and certain terms what was on her mind. I’d hear what she had to say. When she was done, and the static had sizzled away, we’d carry on with whatever it was we were doing before. Like nothing happened.
My method? Removal. From the scene. Crude as that. Either out of the room or, more probably, the apartment.
I had plenty of places to go for deflection. The gym — which makes me laugh. Or the oxygen bank, yoga, the pool on the roof, Tina, mom and dad, Clarke. Hell, I even took to cracking the spines of a never-ending chain of non-fiction bestsellers. Would sit in designer cafes to read the latest thing that caught my eye. Natural histories, topical investigative reportage, popularized science, light philosophical treatments of big issues, life coaching, fitness and health manifestoes. You name it. What a right contemporary dude. Wasting his time on trivial pursuits. Because I could.
But back to a picture postcard weekend. I see clouds, sun, blue bands of sky, the rolling hills, the lake glistening. Tina sitting between S-M and me. At the end of the dock. We’re dangling feet. Listening to water. Our family in sweet tranquility. Out of the blue Tina asks us, mom and dad, to tell her what it’ll be like for us, at the cabin, when she’s all grown up. This is rehearsed banter. She knows exactly what the answers will be. But it makes her happy to hear us say them. Out loud. To her. Who will one day do great things.
‘Daddy will write what he wants to write,’ S-M says.
‘And mommy will finally get to read what she wants to read,’ I say.
Our parts are performed to perfection.
We all three of us laugh and laugh and burst into thoroughly rousing bout of hollers.
One of, if not THE, happiest moments of my life.
Now I lift my head. See my S-M smiling at the other end of the table. All that would make me happier in this instant is Tina.