Jill’s gone to Mexico for a week. To me falls the ringing of the alarm, the shooting up in the middle of the night to make sure Alex doesn’t wrench open the front door and bolt to someone else’s apartment. That’s what I was afraid of most this week: the middle of the night.
I’m used to getting them off to school, because I just like the dawn hours. The alarm, groaning myself upright, rousing Alex first because he leaves half an hour before Ned. Dissolving Alex’s vitamins in water in the little metal cups, inching him from the bed to the couch to the dishwasher, which he empties.
True, it does leave my days to me with no cleaning up in the apartment until about two days before her return looms. The boys miss mom, though. “Ned, do you miss mom?” I ask. “YES!” comes the reply.
Jill took Ned’s Netbook to Mexico but forgot the power cord. “My Netbook’s dead, she reports via email on the first night. Other e-mails follow. “I’m pissing away precious Mexico time sitting in a motherfuckin-” (you kiss my children with that mouth?) “-mall in Cancun …”
“But it’s a mall in Mexico!!!!” I write back.
Her: “I hope you are having a good time while I'm away. I think hot dogs for dinner was mentioned? And The Great Waldo Pepper?”
Me: “I watched The Great Waldo Pepper. I’ve given up trying for movies for Ned until he’s about 17, when he won’t be speaking to me anyway.”
Mexico doesn’t do it for me. I’d prefer London, assuming I’m ever in a position to mention with any dignity to my wife and children that I want spend the money to head to England for a week. Jill loves and deserves Mexico. She loves speaking Spanish, knits in the sand, and has rowed the oar of salary for months for this family.
She e-mails pics. “Bully sleeps in.” “Bully on the plane.” “I'm going to send a pic of Bully passed out! Not pretty! Don't show Ned!” Bully is a little stuffed red bull.
“Bully is having a good time! He says he will drink less today! I’m wearing my swimsuit and drinking beer.”
I’m tired after getting up at six, but I fire back, “I’m wearing your bathing suit and about a drink a beer.”
Someone she’s with e-mails a pic of her knitting on the beach. The sand looks like powder. Her sun visor sits low over her eyes. She wears a big smile. It’s a week of realizing what life would be without Jill, of realizing that I still remember when she didn’t know my name.
Me: “That was a pretty picture of you on the beach.”
Her: “Best thing about leaving here: Seeing you. Miss you a lot.”