A family weekend in different configurations (the fun of a large family), dinner out with a manageable crew and the culmination: a Saturday night visit to the mall’s anchor store. If someone who knows the non-cyber Nate is reading, my secrets are safe: I am not a Saturday night mall person.
But there I am: my wife and eldest and youngest daughters, a guaranteed five or ten minutes. They go to the jewelry section. We have some weddings bearing down on us and it seems my wife is not happy with any of her necklaces. This is news to me but I am impassive – it’s a nice evening, two draughts in my belly, no place else to be. She grazes finally coming to a rich patch and tries one on. A nice necklace: quite becoming. The saleswoman tells her the price. I am impassive – it’s a nice evening. My wife hands it back and points out it was more than she anticipated. I am relieved. Behind my calm façade I was beginning to quiver.
We walk around some more and I am thinking. I bought her a necklace once – eighteen years ago: a heart ringed with diamonds, if that is the term for stones that small. A gift from a boy to his new girlfriend. Over the years there has not been much jewelry: a consequence of divorce, child support, new children- in short a life. Clearly KA liked the piece – as did I: she has always had good, simple, classy tastes. I consider what joyous times are coming – marriages of her two eldest girls. I consider how much of her joy I have sucked out of these wedding preparations by my coming out. Most of all I consider how much I still love her.
I ask my daughter her opinion – of the necklace, not my life. She notes it is expensive but a fair value. I decide to get it. A diversion is arranged; I sidle back to the counter and make the arrangements. The little necklace is now in a big box. My daughter has a pocket book and is sent for the pick-up. We succeed in our conspiracy. The youngest tells the oldest this is her first big secret- they are excited. We continue to shop buying a $25 item. As we walk out of the store after an hour and half of shopping (a lifetime in Nate years), KA points out: $25, the price of a movie and we enjoyed ourselves as much.
Once home I steal a private moment and give her the box. She is shocked, but oh so happy. She tries it on for herself, for the kids, with the dress – this is fun. Just before bed I secure the house – turn off lights, the mundane – and when I come back to the bedroom, KA is sitting there with the box open on her lap, admiring it.
Of course I write to understand myself (and I can already assure you that the next post will not be as flattering). As I think of this I am struck by the fact that if she had suggested we purchase the necklace, I would have. With resentment, with cheapness boiling over, with an underlying sullenness that would have clouded the diamond forever. Yet once it was my idea I did it with joy – the box is sitting on her nightstand as I type.
For today I will leave my psychological frailties aside and instead revel in her happiness.