How to love someone after eleven years: / by Christina Rosalie

Wake up. Shower, fumble for the hair dryer, grab a load of laundry before heading downstairs. Find his face across the room over a skillet of eggs; find his eyes, and meet them. Feel how his smile fills you up like good bread. Fill the washing machine, add soap, press the illuminated buttons and wait for the machine to start. Walk away, walk back, keep walking until you encounter the warmth of his back. Reach out for him even though things are unresolved and will be unresolved again. Wrap your arms around him and press your body close until you can feel his heat through your shirt; through his.

Say only a little until after you have had coffee. Pick and choose between complaining and being heard. Notice the things that you love: the way he makes you maple lattes and kisses the boys heads always and again and laughs and the silliest of their jokes. Eat eggs fried in a cast iron skillet with the pancakes he made from scratch while you showered. As you dressed you could hear your little one asserting: “I do it, I do it” (his first true three word sentence.) The pancakes are made with cornmeal and buttermilk and tenderness.

Fill the bird feeders and make small talk until you are present in yourself and the torn edges of sleep have been brushed aside like cobwebs swept. Then laugh. Then say what you need to say, and listen as he says what he needs to say.

Learn to ask questions that don’t assume answers.

Questions that are empty like a jar before rain. Questions that offer neutrality: how can I help? What do you need? How do you feel?

Learn to ask yourself these questions too.

How do you feel?

What do you need?

How can you help yourself?

Let the spinning orbit of your day pull you in: finding snowgear for two children and leaving and arriving; buying gas and water and Cliff bars. Kicking snow off your boots. Laughing in line at the lifts. Across the table over rootbeer and salty fries find yourself reflected in his gaze (again and again this is the way it goes.) Find your heart spread across the surface of his words, spreading out like ripples in the lake of his laughter. A decade feels short and long, just as days often do. Reach for his hand and feel his pulse.