Funny isn’t it? How you can feel a person slipping through the cracks of your fingers even as you hold them tightly in your embrace. We had moments of pure clean white joy. Singing songs at the top of our lungs as we road tripped to visit my family. Sharing a banana split from the local creamery as we watched a scary movie on TV. Even our fights were unadulterated. Arguments about cleaning the house and how we spend our money. There was no darkness in these moments, nothing real was at stake, which leaves me wondering if there was ever any truth to what we had.
Even with the knowledge that we are coming undone each morning I wake up next to him and give him a kiss goodbye as I head out to work. There is no longing in this kiss. No sadness lingers. Only the mechanics of feigning a functional relationship remains. I hold dear the memory of a time before, when each morning I left him a part of me shriveled up. The ach of leaving his side, even for a few hours, sat in my stomach like rotting meat. My mind wonders when my heart will feel this way again and with whom.
Sunday mornings are the closest to “in love” with Harvey I ever feel. We wake up slowly, denying the rising sun of our presence, fighting to get back to the slumber we prefer. Eventually our bodies give in to the societal pressures of being productive and we face each other, eyes opened but not focused. Harvey smiles and asks me the same thing every Sunday morning.
“So, what are you making us for breakfast?”
In refusal of accepting gender roles I respond with something cold and witty. “How do you feel about dust and spiders?”
“Well since you never clean that sounds like a big meal.”
I tell him I hate him, but in the tone a girl says do you like me to her first crush. Harvey pulls me into him while I land playful punches on his chest.
“I’ll make us breakfast Glynn, if you make the bed.” I allude to considering the deal, and before I can confirm it he jumps out of bed and heads to the kitchen. He makes eggs and toast every Sunday, and every time they taste like the best eggs and toast I’ve ever had.
We sit at the small kitchen table, me with my coffee, him with his orange juice, and eat silently. I do the dishes because he made the breakfast, and I know I should want to do them because it will make him happy but if I’m honest it’s only so I don’t have to hear him complain that I didn’t offer.
Harvey plays a game on his phone as the suds glide over the pan, erasing the subsidence that once coated its surface. He has spent more time looking at the screen on his phone than he has looking into my eyes. There’s no saying whose fault that is, but it doesn’t make the truth any less damning.
It’s hard to madly love someone who is so easy to understand. Harvey is uncomplicated. He is happy. He is consistent. I try to tell myself that love is simply a trick of the mind. It’s nothing but ego and lust.
“The weather is pretty decent today,” Harvey says. We talk about the weather a lot. “Are you going to go for a run?” To the untrained ear this is a question but to me I know that he’s telling me I should.
Weight has been a challenge for me since I graduated from high school. Organized sports forced me to be active so I never thought about eating habits or working out alone. My husband is a perfect specimen.
When we first met I asked him to keep on me about exercising and I told him that he inspired me to get into better shape. It was all true then.
“Yes, running sounds like a good idea.”
Harvey notices when my friends gain weight and it offends me. He doesn’t call them fat or names, he casually mentions, “Kathy gained weight.” I get angry that he even notices.
“How many miles are you up to?” He asks. He places his phone on the dark green placemat, then straightens out its wrinkles. Harvey’s clear blue eyes are wide and twinkle like a newborn’s. It makes me wonder if his questions really are innocent and I interpret them as attacks out of anger of my own shortcomings.
“Five.” I dry the dishes with a dark green micro-fabric towel that perfectly matches the placemats, which match the curtains, which match the accent color of the pillows on the couches in the living room.
“So what’s the plan after that?” I give Harvey a blank stare. Can’t I just enjoy running? Does there have to be a plan?
“I’m not sure what you mean.” There’s bite in my voice that suggests I know exactly what he means and I’m giving him a chance to rethink his question.
“Don’t get so defensive all the time. I’m just saying are you going to run a faster five mile time? Are you going to try to run farther? Without a plan and a goal you have nothing.”
It’s 11:30 on a Sunday morning and I remember that I don’t love Harvey.