It use to be that we couldn’t wait to get home. Back to our one bedroom apartment where everything leaked. We use to race down Aiken Street to see who could make it back first with our hands full. I would give you head starts without you knowing it and you would give me looks to see how close I was. You’d have to pull back the hood of your jacket as you ran to find me. I always caught up, and as I got closer I’d pound the pavement harder and harder with my feet to make you feel like a train was coming up behind you. There was no train. It was just me.
Remember the night we put up our first Christmas tree? Remember how we propped it up on one of those TV dinner tables, the kind that fold out. The tree was only two or three feet tall but it looked like it filled our whole apartment from the street. That tree stayed up till February, it was great like that.
When we had our first dinner party you almost burned the place down. We never knew potatoes could catch fire. We threw open the windows to get rid of the smoke, but the air was cold and there wasn’t a breeze. We ate dinner with our winter coats on and could see that our guests were unhappy, shaking their heads and giving each other sideways glances as they chewed on asparagus. You baked a spoon into the casserole. It was our little secret.
On Sundays, you’d pack your meals for the week while I read novels on our white-leather sofa. At night, I’d drive you to the bus station for your trips up north. We were always late. In the winter, your suitcase would make tracks in the snow outside our building. I’d come back to find them and retrace your footsteps. On Fridays, you’d be exhausted and I’d be holding French fries, the kind you liked.
There was the time you left after I broke your violin, the one you never played. You left and I couldn’t find you. I sat on our parquet floor, facing the only entrance we had, waiting for you to come back. The door knob rattled and then you appeared with a smiley-face balloon and ice-cold cheeks. We laughed at ourselves and drank tea laying down. The next day I fixed your violin. We stored it in the big closet and never saw it again.
That was just the way we were.