“I don’t want a last meal. I want a bath.”
The guard vouched for him. The prisoner was old, what could be the harm? The guard, who had been a young man when he started in death row. The guard, who had grown to know the man who would die for a crime he didn’t commit.
When he took him to the small bathroom, his final act of mercy was unlocking the cabinet of cleaning supplies, dropping the keys down the toilet. The bleach and ammonia would do the rest.
“Thank you,” the prisoner said as he started to breath.
Fie found the ring in the carrot patch. She slipped it into the pocket of her dirty coveralls before going back to the weeding.
Then, it was a bouquet of roses in the cabbage patch, blood red and fragrant as day. She let them sit, save for one, which she placed in her wide-brimmed hat.
As she dug around the sweet potatoes, she found small, foil-wrapped chocolates, dirt clinging to their ribbons. The truffles melted on her tongue.
“I was already yours, you know,” Fie said, kissing the scarecrow’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere.”
His silent stitched mouth continued smiling.
30 Things I’m Glad I Know Before I Turn 30: Part 6
26. Being nice.
It’s the trick to getting through anything, whether it’s international travel, getting caught in a bad spot or calling customer service. I am happy to say that I am really freaking nice and I know how to not be an asshole. Hooray!
27. How to form a habit.
If I want to do something different, I know now how to adopt a change to a behavior. That used to be really hard for me. I used to just say, “Nope, I could never do that.” But it’s all in the baby steps.
28. The definition of marriage.
Life thus far with my husband has been awesome, and it’s because at some point in our relationship, we decided that we just weren’t going to listen to anyone about how to do things. Just because other people are married doesn’t mean that it’s the same in every other couple. I’ve learned how and when to break the rules, and in what cases to say, “That’s awesome you think that, but we’re doing this our way.”
29. How to get the most out of a bad situation.
Smile. Laugh. Take notes. Put the story out there asap.
30. Where adventure is.
Everywhere. Every day. If you’re willing to look for it.
Here’s to another amazing 30+ years!
Sunday afternoon, we sit outside our house in the car. We’ve just come back from lunch, but we are listening to Fresh Air on NPR. It’s quiet except for the sound of Alain de Botton’s voice, talking about the culture of Americans and their perceptions on success. We fell back last night, and the extra hour has given the day a magical quality, a lengthiness not usually present.
I reach out for my husband’s hand. He takes it, softly, just a few of our fingers touching. It’s the slightest slip of contact, a breeze, a single tone of music, like almost nothing at all.
Twenty-four hours before, we were fighting. The tension in the house made it seem like the walls would buckle. It was the kind of powerful bad that makes one feel like they could be buried alive in it. When he left on an errand, I buried my hands in the freezing water and peeled hard-boiled eggs. Occasionally, I would hold the shells in my hands and squeeze until they broke into tinier, sand-grain-sized pieces. The rain pattered on the window, like it was trying to get in and reach me.
Nobody tells you these things, when you’re considering spending your life with someone. Nobody tells you that there will inevitably come a day when the chemicals of your emotions will create such fierce reactions that it will light the world on fire. They will try to say, “All couples fight” or “You’ll occasionally get on each other’s nerves,” but it’s nothing like the reality of the feeling of that moment.
“We are both moody, passionate people, and this will always happen.” He said it after he came home, and the storm had passed, and we were eating burritos together. We were touching. Our wounds were wrapped, the bleeding stopped, the battle done. Stalemate.
Never let anyone say that they have never fought with the love of their life. What they are actually saying is, we are an atomic bomb in the belly of a ship. We are in a holding pattern. We are still now, but when we fall, we’re going to take the whole world with us.
I look over at him today. On the other side of his smile, I can see the starburst colors of the leaves, the placid backdrop of blue sky. An unfamiliar sight in Pittsburgh autumn.
I smile too.
I understand why some people can’t stay married. It requires a patience unlike any other. It means waiting for the moments between the every day life and the blinding explosions of self-righteousness, anger, stupidity for the touch of warmth, the Sunday afternoon, the magic of the stolen hour. It’s not just “for better or for worse”; it’s all the time in between. It’s the best and the worst. Not so much I do as I will.
I will forgive you. I will hurt you. I will let things go. I will forget. I will remember. I will cry. I will sit with you under a sun that only just touches the cold. I will burn with you when our star explodes. I will stand by your side until another one blinks into existence.
I will try.