Originally published in Feminine Collective: Raw & Unfiltered: Vol 1. Anthology; Read at BlogHer 2016 Open Mic.
It wasn’t different than any other night. Me finally sitting on the couch to watch some mindless TV instead of writing. My husband distracting me, yelling trivial things from the other room. Tonight I’d resigned myself to watching TV because I couldn’t find any of my good pens to write with. It didn’t matter how many pens I bought the ones left were always the shitty ones. I’ve bought moleskin pens, cross pens, even Mont Blanc pens. Am I insane? Probably not. But fuck if I don’t love a good pen. I write better with good pens. I am a better writer with good pens. I hate the way I write with shitty pens. I hate that something as simple as a writing utensil had such an effect, but it did.
There’s nothing worse than buying expensive pens and having them swiped by your 12-year-old so he can trade them for candy at school. Yes. You heard correctly. My son actually trades my pens. WTF is that? I want him to be an entrepreneur but not at the expense of my pens.
“Where’s my toothbrush?” My husband yelled again from the other room.
My husband is always losing his shit. I think the kids plot ways to mess with him. To rock his world in a bad way. Sometimes, I think my husband’s brain froze about a decade ago. Or maybe it was just on ice since the kids were born. Maybe it would thaw out once the kids grew up and moved out. My oldest is was almost four (he’s 13 now) the first time he had his lapse of reasoning, when his existence shattered into a zillion microscopic soldiers lashing out, attacking life as he knew it. It was the second I uttered the inexplicable Baby A, Baby B, as I pointed to the 8 week ultrasound photo, AKA TWINS! My exclamation confirmed his worst nightmare. Can you believe it? I remember saying. What a shock? Right? He couldn’t process it. I laughed saying I warned you, remember? It’s in the family. I thought it would be fun. I’d get my three children. What I wanted. He wouldn’t get what he wanted. The world just happened to him. Just happened. He had no control.
“How should I know where your toothbrush is?” I yelled back.
I felt like Kathleen Turner in “War of the Roses.” The contempt racing down the track like a freight train. I kept pulling the brakes but sometimes the sheer momentum was too much to contain.
“I didn’t touch it!” I said.
Or did I? I have to admit, sometimes I fucked with him. I did it to keep him on his toes, awake. It was entertaining. Or maybe it was payback for whatever he didn’t do on my never-ending list of things to do? I don’t know why I do a lot of things. Sometimes I don’t know why I even speak. I should shut my mouth. I’m sure he’d agree.
“I can’t believe this. This is why I keep my stuff in a travel kit. I can’t have anything.”
He was ranting from the bathroom but the violinists in my head quickly lifted their bows, drowning him out. He keeps his bathroom shit in a travel kit, but he never goes anywhere. Can you believe that?
Sixteen years and his toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant are still in a travel kit. He thinks that’s normal. One might say he is just visiting here, a traveler in time with no real home.
He lived in a hotel when we met. He was traveling back then. Not anymore. Now he’s fucking grounded. A fish out of water. A dog without a bone. A hamster without a wheel. A man without a country.
“Look in the cabinet,” I said.
I could get off the couch, I thought. I could help him look for it. I could. But, I ddn’t. I just sat there, legs outstretched, drinking his expensive red wine, Top Gear paused, waiting to hear the results of his toothbrush search. Top Gear is one of my favorite shows. I love BRITS. They are witty fuckers. In all their bombastic, sarcastic, carefree, dogmatic, contradictory glory.
And then there’s ME. Plodding forward, brain fried by bullshit, trying to remain detached, grasping for straws, repugnant, poised for attack, visualizing another existence. ME.
“Found it!” He yelled.
I knew he would. Eventually.
I stared at the paused screen wishing I could transport myself into Top Gear. Wishing I had been a race car driver. Wishing I could dart away at the speed of sound.
But where would I go? My children need me. My husband needs me. My cat needs me. If only I could be wittier. If only I could be less pissed off. If only I could be nicer. If only I could find one of my fucking expensive pens so I could write all this down before I forget everything.
Instead I’ll just sit here and watch TV and think of another way to screw with my husband besides moving his toothbrush to the other side of the bathroom counter.