I'm four years married today. Andrew pulled me close in bed this morning and told me how much he loves me and how very proud he is to be married to me because he feels like it's the best thing he's ever done. I told him that any fool can sign a contract, that it's the little things he does every day he should be proud of.
What an extraordinary thing, to start each ordinary day this way. We lay there for a minute or two longer (it is our fourth wedding anniversary, after all) and the little cat climbed in through the bedroom window and got sick on the carpet.
We eat breakfast together every day; porridge with cinnamon and honey, orange juice for him though I'll drink from his glass when he leaves the table to fix his hair, toast and coffee if there's time, yesterday's coffee reheated in the microwave if there isn't. We listen to the radio and talk back to it and to each other. I like to listen to 'It Says In The Papers', though if the weather is grey I'll put music on instead and we'll make fun of Marty Whelan. When we got married first I ate breakfast in work and he ate cinnamon rolls from the Bretzel on the bus and I didn't think life could get any better but look, it does.
He brought ripe Saturn peaches home for me last Friday, and beautiful rose soap petals for the bath. He brought beautiful hydrangeas home for me yesterday. I had such a headache when I got in from work that I didn't see them. Instead I saw the paper bag with an unwritten card inside and I told him that if he's going to surprise me with things he shouldn't leave them out on the kitchen table. I forgot, he said, contrite despite my bad temper. I just wanted you to see the flowers. I took some painkillers and went to lay down on the bed. He got a damp facecloth for me and lay beside me, holding my hand. Tell me about your day, I said.
The traditional gift for a fourth wedding anniversary, he tells me, is fruit and flowers, specifically hydrangeas. We sat at the kitchen table after dinner and watched the big cat chewing on the jug of flowers for a good twenty minutes.
Andrew tells me that the librarians at the Chicago Public Library came up with a new list of suggested "modern" gifts to mark wedding anniversaries ("Appliances (electrical) ... Desk sets/pen and pencil sets") but that he doesn't see how fruit and flowers aren't modern. It means as much to me that he looks these things up on Wikipedia as it does to receive a present at all.
This year, unlike last year or the year before or even the year before that, I got a present for him. But it hasn't cleared Customs yet and I forgot all about a card so I'm going home empty-handed again. I meant to write him a letter. I used to do that now and then, when first we lived together. He still has them all crammed into an envelope that he keeps by the bed. He'd break your heart, wouldn't he?
He is a salve for mine, always but most especially when I am not myself. I am taking medroxyprogesterone at the moment and it makes me cry. I am fat, sad, disgusting. You're only one of those, he tells me, and he pulls me close again in the kitchen and kisses the freckles on my forehead. I farted, I said. So I'm disgusting. And we both laugh. We have a good life and he is my constant reminder.
I need reminding. I had a panic attack cycling up Mobhi Road on my way to work this morning. A hearse pulled out from Home Farm Road, "GRANDAD" spelled out in white carnations along the windows, each letter a foot high. "I'll never be a grandad" I thought to myself sadly (medroxyprogesterone). Then I began to hyperventilate at the thoughts of one day being put in a coffin and driven away from Andrew in a hearse. I need to make friends with someone who owns a station wagon, I decided. Or to buy a station wagon and teach a friend how to park it. I don't want a hearse. And I don't want Andrew to have to drive. I wondered if he'd bury me or burn me and scatter me 'round the park like I asked, and my eyes flooded with tears as my breath ran out and I pulled on my brakes as the lights turned red at the top of the hill. Four years have passed in the blink of an eye. The lights changed and I sucked it up, pushed on my pedals, stretched an arm across the traffic and turned.