He walks in the door with rollerblades for the entire family. My reaction isn’t, “Wow, what a great idea!” Rather, it’s a series of dismal and pessimistic thoughts. How much did it cost? Who will go to the emergency room first? Where are we going to store all of it?
I’m positively dreary. The “all joy no fun” force is strong in me. I’m clearly going through something. Parenthood is hard. Marriage is harder. The place where marriage and parenthood intersect (collide?) is the most hardest.
There’s a stretch of land in South Florida where I-95 and the Florida Turnpike run parallel to one another. The two highways are so close that just a thin row of trees divides them from one another. Cars on both roads move in the same direction, but they aren’t connected. They’re separate. Navigating marriage and parenthood sometimes feels this way. Like driving together but apart.
In the living room, I begrudgingly try on my new rollerblades while imagining the scrapes, bruises, and tears that will inevitably accompany this impulsive purchase. He sits across from me and says, “This is going to be fun.” It comes out a little bit like a question. The air is thick with my doubt.
I lift my right foot to pull the laces tight and out of nowhere I kick him in his left eye with the front wheel of my right blade. Hard. I gasp. He groans. I put my hand over my mouth in shock, and then something wild happens. I laugh. It’s a silent laugh, but I laugh so hard that I cry. Or, I cry so hard that I laugh. Either way, I can’t catch my breath from all of my silent laugh-crying.
I’m transported to a Saturday afternoon years ago in a dressing room at a department store in New York City. We’re either newly married or engaged. In any case, life is easy. It’s leisurely Saturday afternoons of midtown shopping followed by late night Park Slope dinners with bottles of good red wine. He’s trying something on (a coat? a suit?), and I’m sitting on the seat in the corner. He hands me something (a tag? a hanger?), and I open my mouth as if to eat it instead of grabbing it with my hand. It’s the weirdest, most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done, and we laugh until we cry. We laugh-cry until we can’t breathe. We do it together. We’re connected.
All these years later, we still laugh when either one of us retells this strange story. In the living room, I’ve accidentally assaulted him with my rollerblade and he laughs with me. We laugh-cry together until we can hardly breathe. In between gasps and tears and “Holy shits!” I feel something incredible. I feel light. I feel free. I feel connected.
“I’m so sorry,” I manage through my teary giggles (or giggly tears). His eyelid is three shades of purple. “Are you okay?”
He looks at me says, “Yeah, I’m okay.”
“I’m so sorry.” I don’t know what else to say.
“It’s okay,” he says. “It was worth it to laugh like this with you.”
He feels it, too. Then, we skate slowly around the block losing our balance, falling on our bums, and laughing all the way. Together.