Wednesday, January 19

Tim Dowling: It’s Our 30th Wedding Anniversary Soon, But First A Dance With The Trash Cans | Family


I I am sitting at the kitchen table. My wife is standing at the sink with her back to me, washing something as she tells me about all the social obligations that lie ahead and that she has managed to get us out of.

“Is it a good idea,” I ask, “that we’re never going anywhere again?”

“I don’t care,” she says. “I’ve forgotten how to socialize and I don’t want to learn again.”

“No, I mean, neither do I,” I say. “It’s just that, I don’t know.”

“If you want to be in charge of our social life from now on, feel free,” she says.

I stay silent for a minute, leaving open the possibility that he may not have heard this part.

“What do you want to do for our 30th wedding anniversary?” I say.

“Oh God,” my wife says, turning around. “How close is it?”

“It’s next,” I say.

“But still months,” he says. “Many months.” ”

“There is probably still time to get divorced first, if that’s your concern.”

I say this with the confidence of someone who thinks: there is not enough time to get divorced first.

“I don’t want to do anything,” he says.

“I know, but it’s 30 years,” I say. “It feels like the kind of thing we should invite everyone we know to on a remote island.”

“And kill them?” she says. A brief silence follows.

“Well maybe,” I say. “But don’t put anything about that in the date reservation email.”

I did not intend to give my wife the opportunity to reconsider three decades of marriage; I only brought up the subject in an attempt to distract her from the idea of ​​handing over sole responsibility for our social calendar to me. She did the same with cooking about two years ago and I have not done well.

The afternoon makes you want to take a long, lonely walk, but the sky turns black and the rain falls on billowing sheets. I lie on the couch with a book on my chest. Thirty years is more than half my life, I think. I have been married most of the time that I have been alive. And in that time countless opportunities to be a better husband have been wasted.

My eyes are starting to roll towards the back of my head as my wife walks in and says a few words.

“What?” I mean, the book slides off my chest.

“It’s garden waste,” she says.

This is an abbreviation for a particular phase in the rotating collection cycle: the night of the three containers: black trash, food scraps, green yard waste wheel.

“Ugh,” I say.

Half of our front yard is dedicated to a small paved driveway (it was like this when we moved in), so it’s impossible to carry trash out onto the sidewalk without someone, my wife, backing up a bit while someone else … me – drag the containers from their normal resting place. I have had hundreds of opportunities to perform this role with some grace over the years, and I have not taken advantage of any of them.

Rain runs down my neck as I throw yard trash across the bricks under the glare of car headlights. Dumpster wheels get stuck in some gravel, almost flipping it over.

“Shit,” I say. Behind the windshield, my wife’s face lights up as she looks at her phone.

That night my family amuses themselves with the withered carrots that I grow for dinner.

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“They look like raisins,” says the one in the middle.

“At first they were small,” I say, “but then I forgot about them in the oven.” I thought adding an unrehearsed vegetable dish to a standard Tuesday meal was well within my capabilities, but it turned out to be similar to adding a fourth chainsaw to a juggling routine just before show time.

“The rice is not ready,” says the oldest.

“I forgot the rice,” I say. “For the carrots.”

“Is this meat safe to eat?” says the youngest.

“I don’t recommend that you eat anything,” I tell him.

Lying in bed later with the rain still hitting the roof, my mood lightens. It is wrong to dwell on lost opportunities for improvement, when there are still opportunities ahead: islands to rent, guests to invite, quicksand traps dug up and covered with leaves. Booking.


www.theguardian.com

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