Endgame / by Christina Rosalie

You know that song? How it goes and goes and goes and you’re only half listening and you think over and over again that it’s going to end? That’s how the past week has been. It has been a week, that, in the bigger picture of things is only a small collection of minutes. Yet it was one of those weeks that will be, at least for the next few years, indelibly imprinted on my memory: my very muscles bear the mark of it (new wrist muscles have sprung up, like Popeye’s, and my hands are so sore now I can barely make a fist.)

Last Thursday we moved out of our apartment in a blur of hours during which my mom arrived (she’s moving here—long story, for another day) with sandwiches and started vacuuming. Since then DH and I have not stopped—I haven’t had internet access for a week, let alone the time to check it. I haven’t read a newspaper, listened to NPR, had any connection with the world beyond my tiny one here in this rural town where we now live. It is surreal, living like this: working this hard, physically. Waking up every day with sore muscles, and going to sleep every night with a splitting headache from pure exhaustion. Bizarre to have moved out of our home, and not move into anywhere.

My mother has moved to an apartment down the road—and we have been staying with her. Sleeping on her living room floor and eating our meals off of paper plates. In between every hour has been filled with utter, all out work. We put down 1,200 feet of hardwood floor. Sanded it. Stained it. Listening 4,000 times to the pneumatic report of the nailer, the thwack of the wrist, the exhausting repetitive precision of selecting and cutting each board.

We’d go first thing in the morning, after coffee and croissants from the local coffee shop—only checking back in at lunch and bedtime to be with our Bean, who has spent the last two weeks sprouting four molars and two other teeth. Naturally he’s been struck with a fit of anxiety at our continual uprootings and leavings. He cries often when we leave, and sleeps pressed close to our cheeks.

My mother has been wonderful, jumping in with open arms to create a safe space for him, and I imagine, biting her tongue and keeping her “I would nevers” to a minimum. We could not have survived this week without her. And tonight my older sister was here from out of town—on a business trip. She stained the floor with me today, our conversation punctuated with Darth Vadar gasps from our respirators. And as the sky turned pink, we barbecued, our first meal here, though we’re still sleeping down the road.

So it’s been one of those weeks where I have not fallen asleep, I’ve crashed to sleep. Where I’ve consumed more coffee during each day than I usually do over the course of five days. Where together DH and I ride the wild, deranged roller coaster of exhaustion induced giddiness and moodiness. The best part has been our time together---laughing as we nail, singing to the radio, stopping for nooky on a quilt under the trees in the backyard. The worst has been the way we stagger into each other verbally when we’re this tired. The way things don’t make sense the first time, and we talk ourselves into a lather trying to be clear.

And then the things in between: the coyotes last night laughing at the moon. A whole yapping pack of them, their ruckus barks and yips bouncing through the valley below. Or the wildflowers growing thickly now in waist high grasses in the meadows, and the quince blossoms, white and delicate amongst two inch thorns.

We are so close, yet the work keeps stretching out beyond what we can grasp. I try to breathe, and to drink in the moments when Bean wraps his arms around my neck, or when DH and I take a break at the local snack bar and share a milkshake on the steps. But there are times when I feel like crying. Times when I’m angry with tiredness. When nothing makes sense any more. And I cannot wait for this time to be over.