When Scouty was a tiny baby, I used to dread the sound of her crying. All day and all night, I'd be tensed and waiting for it. Waiting for the bang of reality to bring me back from my thoughts.
I exist mostly invisibly. Sometimes, the life in my imagination is a compliment to my actual life. I take the girls to the park and go on play dates and nobody even notices when my eyes cloud over because I've run away to 1995, and I'm saying goodbye to a dark haired boy from the the Little League outfield.
Other times, I'm hard to bring back. During those times, I'm clumsy and forgetful and people in cars press on their horns. I say, "Oh!" and look up to find that a librarian is staring at me, waiting for something. I come spiraling out of the sky and I land in myself and I think I owe $2.77 in late fines, but I'm not sure. Maybe it's the end of the world and my lovers are about to die.
I love going to bed alone. Kurt stays up later than I do to watch sport games that he's taped. I curl up in my sheets, and return to the fantasy I've been working on, in my imagination. In my imagination, I'm the same as I am now, except I'm rich. I'm not sick and I'm not poor. I have health insurance and I don't have to rearrange my funds to afford to go away for Daddy's birthday. Sometimes, there isn't even a daddy, and I'm twenty, maybe, or twenty three. I'm bold and seasoned for my age. I'm an ex-junkie there, too. People don't judge the things I do, because there aren't really people in my imaginary story world. There is just me and the potential of a thousand lifetimes waiting for me.
I tend towards the dramatic. I scream when a bee comes too close to me. I shake my fist in traffic. I hug my girls and wipe their tears and say, "There, there, little one. You tell mommy all about what that mean nasty did to make you cry."
I am also married to the world's most even-tempered and patient man. I break down crying when I've had a long day in the cold and I drop my evening mug of tea. I hold my face and sigh as the amber liquid burns my toes because there is a crack in things and I can't take it right now.
And he comes running.
He'll say, "I'm sorry that happened, honey," and help me to clean up my mess... and I feel like I'm twelve years old with a terrible and nagging crush on a boy. I feel it in my belly, the way you do when you're just a girl. Like... maybe this man who has created children with me, who has married me, purchased a house with me... maybe he really does like me. And oh, what that means to me!
The sunlight inspires me to watch myself more closely for hints of who I've been. Springtime always reminds me of something, some moment, somewhere. I've been thinking about a time in the spring. Kurt and I were newly dating and we were bad. I wore my hair up and pink and purple tangles spilled over my shoulders, and I was dangerous.
We were drunk on the patio of a restaurant, outside under the sky. The bartender said he knew how to make Singapore Slings, and what did we know about them? We drank these fruity drinks until I was sweating sugar and boredom. I was always bored. Long stretches of sexy, languid boredom filled my life, so that, in my bed, it was always a little bit much. Sweating through the sheets and sticking to one another like honey. There was honey and gold in my veins and I acted like I didn't care as much as you do.
We were drunk at a restaurant on the patio and suddenly the sky opened up and it started to rain. Kurt didn't flinch. Fat drops of water were running over his hair and into his eyes, they were landing with pink little thunks in his drink, and he just looked at me like we were having a pleasant day in the very pleasant weather, weren't we?
People around us were cursing and knocking over chairs as they grabbed their plates of food and headed for cover. Waitresses were apologizing and holding the door open for women who shielded their heads from the rain with their handbags. We didn't budge. We didn't even acknowledge that it was raining. Why should we?
I smiled at my bad boy love. A set of cherry red lips. He winked at me and set his drink on a soggy napkin. Our meals were soaked, my dress was plastered to my breasts. Our waitress shrugged her shoulders from under the cover of an overhang and shook her head.
I raised a glass to him, my future husband, the future daddy of my daughters, super daddy, amazing story reader and fixer of anything... and he was only a boy. We were in love and everybody in the world scattered and sought shelter from the boldness of us. We were only surprised it didn't happen more often, and in milder weather. We laughed together, then. I pressed my thighs together under the heavy cotton of my wet clothing and kicked my shoes and laughed. We were young and it was springtime. It is always springtime, in my memory.
So, it's sunny today, and Kurt and Scouty are in the street. She's learning to pedal her big girl bike, and I've got Louisey in the swing and we cheer as they slowly go by again. Kurt is hunched over with his hands out, ready to catch her, should the training wheels fail, and he's turning thirty this week.
He's younger than me and I like to pretend that's a scandal, but he's still turning thirty. We used to pretend that we were going to die young, or maybe we really were. He's thirty and he's been by my side since we were kids. He's my bad boy turned sweet daddy-doo. I totally feel it in my belly. I'm twelve and I'm hoping he'll notice me. When he runs by shouting, "Go, baby go!" to our giant, amazing four year old on a for real bicycle, he shoots a little glance at me that lets me know that he sees me, that we're in this together... and I'm so proud of us for what we are.
We're a couple of bad kids in love who made the most wholesome, worthwhile, healthy and stuck-together little family this world has ever seen. Don't ask me how. There was a time where we didn't even have sense enough to come in out of the rain. We've always just made the things we've wanted, and what we want now, more than anybody could ever know is to make out beautiful girls smile. For every glance daddy flashes at me, there are two little sets of impossible brown eyes watching him, watching us, knowing that the world is just humming with love.