Saturday 3:00 AM
My last post would have been “Fifteen Hours” had it not become a post within a post – a tale of inner truths inadvertently revealed. So what a strange but balanced leap from fifteen hours to sixteen years. Sunday is Mothers Day, tricky enough to navigate in these times but next Thurday is our anniversary, our sixteenth. I have thought on occasion for years now of playing her a Dylan song that day, cranking the volume:
Sixteen banners united over the field
Its been a week since a night in Chicago, a night called Friday. I get home relatively early – 5:30 – and KA is cooking up a storm. The house smells sweetly of garlic, sausage on one counter, those wonderful Italian baby clams on another. The outside table is set for six – another child and her mom will join us. KA says that if she can’t win me with her sex, she will go for the food, eerily reminiscent of a comment I made two days ago in an e-mail to Brad.
I go to change and no flannel pajama styles or ratty chinos this night. I dress as if I am back in Chicago – nice jeans, simple black tee, denim shirt hanging open. I look good, I feel good.
We debate our normal Friday night perfect manhattans (as only KA can mix) or some wine. What the hell lets open some wine. We have been saving some nice Bordeaux’s, traveling with them for close to a decade. We are worried they will go bad. Truth be told, they have traveled with us because I am cheap – these are good bottles deserving of an occasion. I pick a nice one, pop the cork, and give it a bit to breath. Too late, its prime has come and long gone. Next a St. Emilion, Gran Cru: again too late, not vinegar, but not for drinking anymore. I tell KA there is some moral here but like a dream I have not figured it out. I tell her it must be something to do with not waiting so long for something that it is too late when you are ready. I realize what I am saying and move on – we are not stupid people and this is veering off into dangerous ground.
Enough wine, time for the Manhattans; a wonderfully slow evening of appetizers while the kids run wild. Homemade cake and freshly whipped cream for desert. The friends leave and while I do the dishes, a job I strangely like, KA says she would like some fun, too bad the kids are up.
The little ones watch TV in our room and I go sit on a love seat in one of their rooms. KA sees me and sits resting in my arms. We touch, innocently and softly, another ten minutes and the show will be over. Things seem quietly good when she announces she will help me but not make love with me. She touches me. I am happy but I have had a little to drink, a little to eat, and in seven minutes the show will be over. She abruptly pulls away.
We lay in bed, kids tucked in, her short bath completed and I ask her why. She tells me she does not have a penis, that there was a time when in ten minutes I would have found a way to have her, my pants exploding. She tells me, as I have written and she has read, the body does not lie.
I want to correct her and feebly try – only ten minutes, the manhattans…. We both know; she is not wrong. I told her the day before I would stay with her, no boyfriends, no emotional connections, but I could not say I would never be with another man, I could not lie on such an issue.
We lay in bed and she asks me if I was happy last Friday, if it was a good nght with Jerry (yes he has a real name which she knows). She read my post, there is no denying it. I feebly add that maybe it was the thirty years of waiting. We both know the truth.
We lay in bed and she tells me that we are best friends, will be forever. She tells me she will protect our children with a fierceness that requires no example to me who knows her so well. She tells me that I must take my journey, that I never had any choice. She tells me not to cry, that I should be happy. It is in vain and cry I do. She comforts me.
As we lay there I tell her how I had been thinking of the lyric, Sixteen Years, how I was going to play it for her, how I was going to write about it. And I tell her, choking back tears, that as I thought of the song, I realized its title. She does not know it, most of you do not know it. A blanket pulled over my head, tears flowing, I tell her: Changing of The Guard.
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings 'neath falling leaves.
But Eden is burning either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.
Peace will come
With tranquillity and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords.