I couldn't find the top metal piece to one of our floor lamps this morning.
"Where is it?" my wife asks. I shake my head, knowing I took it off when we moved it, but not knowing where I put it. We've been living in our home for nine months now, and it still feels like we're moving.
"I don't know," I say, glancing at the coffee table full of clutter: papers, makeup, deodorant, a few computer cables, and a laptop.
"Why wouldn't you just put it back on?"
It's a little screw that holds the lamp shade on. We pulled it off the other day when we were re-arranging the living room. The smart place to store it would have been on the lamp, once the shade was removed.
"I don't know," I say. "Sorry." I am saying this word a lot lately.
That screw is gone forever, beyond redemption. We will never get it back. I am sure of it. That's the way life has been these days.
The other night, while registering for gifts at Babies-R-Us, I treated my wife to dinner. The next day, I realized I had left my wallet at the restaurant. Yesterday, I had to drive across town back to the Olive Garden to convince the hostess it was, indeed, my wallet—without being able to show her my ID. I reluctantly gave her my credit card, and she disappeared in the back room for a few minutes. When another woman emerged and handed me the wallet, I noticed my driver's license was missing.
Great. Just great. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong.
I drove home through the pouring rain—back to a messy house, to a life that gets increasingly more complicated every day. I wanted to go for a run today; I haven't done so in weeks. But with this storm, it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
We just installed new shelves in our living room, and DVD cases cover the hard wood floor. Last night, I stayed up late to finish my book with The Notebook and Star Wars as my companions.
This morning, I woke up to my wife's request to move the coffee table. New couch is coming today. Every morning, I wake up with a pain in my neck. I must be sleeping on it wrong. Already, I want this day to be over.
The kitchen is empty. No bread for toast, no cereal, no eggs. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And today, it looks like I'm going hungry. On days like this, I want to curse adulthood, crawl back into bed, and wake up when I'm forty and the world is hopefully a better place.
Fifteen minutes after leaving the house, my wife calls. She always does this. Usually because she's forgotten something or wants to remind me of a chore I might forget.
I let the phone ring, considering sending it to voicemail. It's not even eight a.m. I'm too tired for this. On the last ring, I pick up.
"Hello?" I say, with a sigh. There is silence.
"Hellooooo?" I say again, annoyed. Ashley says something, but it's only a whisper. I ask her to repeat it, and she does:
"I love you."
I wait for a "but." There is none. Only a sweet moment of silence where the three words linger.
"Thanks for being so awesome," she says. For two minutes straight, she thanks me for all I've done this week, being careful not to recount my misdeeds and only celebrating my triumphs. It's hard to accept, but I do, anyway. The call ends, and I sit, staring at the wall.
My neck still hurts. There is no breakfast. And the house is still very much a disaster. But something has changed.
On days like this, I don't feel awesome. I feel like the walls are caving in around me, like I'm not doing anything right. Like I will never learn. Apparently, that's not the whole story. Amidst all the drama and mess of life, I am still loved.
I get up off the couch, where I usually sit, glued to my computer for an hour before work, and I open the door to our back porch. I step outside.
The storm has passed, the sun is out. I think I'll get a coffee this morning—a beautifully fresh, steaming cup of caffeine. It's so nice out, I just might walk. I go back inside and get dressed.
As I make my way to the front door, something shiny catches my eye. I walk over to it. It's a small, chrome cylinder, sitting on a shelf in the kitchen—the missing piece to the lamp. I screw it on, let out a sigh, and cross the threshold.
Maybe today will be different.
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