Marriage. That Is What We Do.

He doesn’t tell me over the phone when I call him on Valentine’s night to ask for the wifi password for the cabin we’re staying at. Not after twenty minutes of Google-Siri-searching for how to share a password so our son can call his real parents at the appointed 8-o’clock time, something impossible to do without WhatsApp or wifi in this middle-of-nowhere mountain town.

He doesn’t make me a card or buy me flowers.

The next day, when three of us return from a bluebird ski day, he tells me he has started the taxes, but that he was tired, his back hurt, and he got discouraged and bored.

I make a list in my head of what he hasn’t done: thought of what to fix for dinner, gone to the store to buy the cheesecake ingredients for our daughter’s birthday, done the laundry, told the remaining-at-home-children to do some semblance of chores that would peel them away from their screens.

I take our son, alone, to the Honduran restaurant for our Valentine redo.

No one else wants to go.

On Sunday, I do all the things while Bruce visits his friend for hours. Walk the dog. Fight the weekend grocery store crowds to buy not only the cheesecake ingredients, but everything else on the list that’s accrued in the three days since we’ve visited, because with six people living under this roof, why the hell not? Start, fold, and finish three loads of laundry. Throw together the soon-to-be-cracked cheesecake and read, appallingly, that it is an eight-hour, not four-hour, cool time. Put raspberry compote on the stove to overflow for forty-five minutes. Scrub the shit out of the glass cooktop for another fifteen.

He won’t take the time to come with me to see Bernie because it took me thirteen years just to convince him to vote and another nine to push him farther left, but he still doesn’t have any faith in the future, let alone a singular politician who has spent his entire adult life fighting for people unlike himself.

He won’t come with me to waste all of our money on indoor skydiving, Izzy’s birthday gift, even though it would have been nice to have a second parent, like all the other families there, to take still shots while I took the video.

Instead he grumbles about how he wished we’d just bought the cheesecake from the New York deli instead of me making it because “You pay so that it’s perfect.”

Because mine is not.

Before he drops me at the light rail, he argues with me before reluctantly agreeing to apologize for the remark.

We go to bed with few words and wake throughout the night to the giggling screams of Izzy’s sleepover, each of us texting and yelling at her to stop.

We wake at the sound of his alarm set two hours too early.

I begin it all again. Walk the dog. Fix the breakfast. Put away the dishes.

Ten minutes before he needs to leave for work, I whimper as I say, “We only have one year left of her childhood,” and wipe tears to walk into the dining room. He follows me and pours out the brutal truth of his three-day grump.

“My boss told me on Friday that they’re going to cut four positions. No more voluntary cuts. Involuntary. Two of the positions include my job title.”

His voice cracks as he continues the long explanation of every possibility, and I see now that he has been carrying this load all weekend, fuck Valentine’s Day, fuck our daughter’s birthday, fuck all that is right with the world.

I think about what Bernie said last night, what I didn’t catch on video: “We all have families. And every family has problems. We are in this together. We are in this to think about and support everyone’s families, not just our own.”

And I know what Bruce carries is more than the likely possibility of him losing his job. It is the weight of this presidency, this evil presidency that plagues our society and keeps us from moving ahead just when we think we can move ahead.

I immediately think of two years ago when this loomed over our heads, and all the bitterness and anxiety entailed in those two months of stress and anticipation.

I think of the four years of ski passes. The six weeks in Spain. The three-four-week family vacations we have taken. The ski weekends. The going out to eat. The boy living in our basement.

And I know that all of those things combined might add up to a year of his salary if only we had saved the money.

Yet, for that one year of safety net, we had five years of living like kings after ten years of living paycheck to paycheck, and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

I am so angry at him for not having hope. For trying to carry this weight for an entire weekend when I would have unloaded everything the moment I heard.

I am so in love with him for trying (quite pathetically) to protect me for two extra days because he knew that all I would do is spend most of the day up inside the bedroom trying to hide my tears from the girls.

Our good health insurance will be gone, and we can’t even begin to pay our mortgage on my salary, let alone everything else.

But it’s out there now. He’ll come home tonight to our magical Costco Caesar salad, wish our daughter happy birthday, and act like nothing is wrong.

And we will find a way to make this work. Because twenty-two years in, that is what we do.

Spain-exploring, childbearing, child-adopting, paycheck-to-paycheck, ski-trip, road-trip, voting-and-hoping, working-not-working, accruing-and-paying-debts…

That is what we do.

Tears or not. Silence or not. Apology or not.

That is what we do.

One year ago on Valentine's Day. We'll get there again.

Perfectly Cracked, Perfectly Hopeful

i walk my puppy,

fight weekend grocery store crowds,

and bake a cheesecake

before 10 a.m.,

i cook raspberry compote

and finish laundry

by noon, i’m ready

to begin this Sunday cleanse

and climb out of here

the city beckons

(no, no—the world beckons

for another chance)

our democracy

and the fate of our future

rest with how we vote

(even though it’s cracked,

my daughter’s birthday cheesecake

is one of many)

let this election

be one of many chances

to give us all hope

Instead of Bitching…

Tuesday win! I found this great recipe for one of my favorites, chicken marsala. That’s right, on a blah Tuesday night, I made chicken marsala!

Only instead of fettuccine, penne; instead of fresh thyme, dried thyme; instead of a purple shallot, a red onion; instead of heavy cream, evaporated milk; instead of chicken broth, vegetable broth; instead of mushrooms, artichoke hearts and cream of mushroom soup (40% less fat); and last but not least… instead of marsala wine, cooking wine mixed with Botabox Pinot Noir.

I know you’re jealous. It takes a really creative digger to be this good of a Tuesday night chef.

And instead of complaining, all the kids said they preferred this version instead of the original.

So instead of bitching, I’ll just enjoy these leftovers tomorrow.

Snowed Day

So Steamboat didn’t happen. They closed I-70 right after we bought chains, and closed 285 right when we’d gathered our courage to leave.

The roads are atrocious, the highways are closed, and it took so much planning and money and sub plans and my entire car packed for six people… And it’s heartbreaking.

And our Airbnb hostess tried to argue with me about going the Walden route and not refunding me.

Bitch, I’m a Taurus, and I WILL spend an hour on hold and send links to every damn CDOT warning ever made to get my money back.

So now I have a snowy weekend with this snow-loving Pomapoo, my money, and my family safe at home.

I love you snow, but you’re kind of killing me right now. Time to get out the Nordic skis.

Understanding (Comprensión)

My boy loves to ski.

That should be the whole post, I know, because what else is actually important with this groundbreaking news from a person who’d never been outside of a tropical environment before seven months ago?

But it has been a hard week. It started with a $270 phone call to Honduras (yes, the phone company forgave my discrepancy in understanding here, bringing it down to $27). It continued with my child withdrawing (to the point of email contact from a math teacher who never contacts me) completely from math class, to juggling and standing on desks in science class where my colleague (covering a class) texted, “Man your son is a shit” to several outbursts and clownish behavior in the three hours I have him every afternoon.

This is what it comes down to: I have three daughters, and I do not understand how to raise a son.

Last night I took him to Walmart where we scored the final pair of snow pants for $10, and after we stood in the endless line, we arrived home to no dinner.

He fixed eggs for himself (his go-to meal), and I carved out an avocado to pair with my wine.

I mentioned, again, his behavior in all of his classes.

“But I am just being myself, Miss, and I can’t change who I am. And I always show you respect.”

“Do you show me respect when you return from a doctor’s appointment and shout across the room when everyone is taking a test, telling the whole class that you can’t write because of the shots you got? Do you show respect when you ask Melvin to tear off your bandaids? When your goal is to flirt instead of to learn?”

“No, Miss.”

“You are eighteen. And you can change your behavior. Not your personality. Your behavior. And the thing is… I already love you. I love you because you are my son. And I spend hours planning those lessons because I really care about everyone in that class learning English… Everyone including you. Do you understand?”

No response except visible tears that this boy will not allow to fall (though my three daughters pride themselves on regular tear-shedding).

“Oh, son. Give me a hug.” This sentence 100% in English as I pull him towards me in the middle of the kitchen, and Riona and her best friend witness the entire event, understanding nothing, but are too afraid to continue making their meringues, as he won’t let go.

He just holds me in that kitchen like he hasn’t been hugged in a hundred years.

And maybe he hasn’t.

“What did you say to him?” Riona asks when he finally releases me, opens the refrigerator, searches for hot sauce.

“I think I should tell you later. Who knows how much he really understands.”

“Really, Mama? I don’t think he understands us at all. He doesn’t act like it.”

He pulls his face away from the fridge: “Que pasa?”

We all laugh. Back to Spanish: “Do you know what we’re saying?”

“I understand some words, but not the whole conversation.”

“Do you know the word, ‘understand’ in English?”

“No.”

And that is it. That is my Saturday post. I knocked on his door at 5am and he was ready to sing me Spanish love songs all the way to Winter Park by 5:15. He learned how to ski in one day with his absentee fear and my broken Spanish, and what more could one ask for from a brokenhearted, ever-loving, muy-atletico, hijo hondureño?

Does he understand me?

A little.

Do I understand him?

I’m working on it.

But one thing I know:

I love him.

And that is better than any frost you will feel on your face.