TGIF: When Romance Looks Like a Subway Sandwich

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Farewell to Park Place_800 1

I.

It had been two weeks.

Two weeks of cardboard boxes, packing tape and garbage cluttering our apartment.

Two weeks of crawling into bed around 2am with a sore back and throbbing feet.

Two weeks of waking up disoriented, stubbing my toe on boxes and nursing an exhaustion hangover with earl grey tea.

Two weeks of zero cuddling before bed. Just a quick hand squeeze to let him know, “I’m still here. I’m so glad you’re still here too.”

II.

The night before our official move, Kupa and I found ourselves at a sushi restaurant for dinner. Our fridge was empty, except for the sketchy orange baking soda box hiding in the back. I was grateful that it was an All-You-Can-Eat affair because I wanted All-I-Could-Eat and All-He-Could-Eat too.

He wanted to reminisce about our first year of marriage and dream about our future as parents.

And I wanted to faceplant into a bowl of miso soup and pork gyozas.

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He asked BIG questions.

“Are you starting to feel like a mother?”
“Do you speak to the baby? What do you say?”
“Do you think our baby knows it’s a ‘being’?”

I offered a few monosyllabic answers and stared down the last California roll.

His final question broke my trance, ”Why don’t you engage me any more?”

“I’m tired and pregnant, babe. Bone-tired from the move.”

“Well … that explains this week. But you’ve seemed disconnected for a while.”

Perhaps it’s the pregnancy hormones but I’ve found my word count per day has plummeted over the last couple of months. Even though concern seemed etched all over his tired face, I felt completely uninspired to “engage.”

Of course, I was feeling things. But recently, I’d felt hopelessly incapable of converting my feelings into words.

I mean:

We were having a baby.
Holy Sashimi!

We were moving into a new apartment.
Bartender! Make it a double shot of jasmine tea.

We were entering Phase 2 of this marriage merry-go-round.
Eeeek!!! <insert more feelings that have not yet been converted into words>

And this Mama was tired, hungry, sleepy …

And mostly mute.

III.

Two days after the move, I lay comatose on the bed exhausted from unpacking boxes when my phone rang.

It was Kupa calling from our old apartment.

“I’m really going to miss this place,” he said. “I know you’re tired so I’m not asking, but I really wish we could’ve had one last date night here.”

I suddenly felt like I was standing at a crossroads.

Behind Door #1: I could stay home, wash my hair and eat take-out in my pjs.

Behind Door #2: I could put on uncomfortable pants, comb my greasy hair and make a memory.

Time was a freight train that slowed down for a second. I could hop onboard for an adventure or wave from the platform and let the moment whiz by.

I picked Door #2.

Sure, I was tired and dirty. But here was a guy who understood the significance of marking one moment before entering the threshold of the next. He was the sentimental dreamboat I’d hoped to meet in my twenties.

So I slapped on some mascara, put on my boots and stuffed my camera into my purse. I grabbed a tote bag and rummaged through my closet for the gorgeous hand-embroidered fabric I bought on my last trip to India. I packed two glasses, two coasters, two Lindt chocolates (read: dessert) and some baby’s breath for a centrepiece.

Yes, I said centrepiece.

If I was going to do this, by golly, it was going to be beautiful. (And my fellow “All or Nothing” friends, said A-men.)

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It’s finding the words to talk when you’d rather make out with a plate of carbs in silence. It’s trying to pair up his mysterious missing socks when you’d rather read Joan Didion. It’s drizzling balsamic vinegar in a pretty swirly pattern over sad shrivelled cherry tomatoes when all you have is leftovers.

I don’t choose romance every day. It’s hard to love well when you’re feeling lazier than Garfield. I often wave from the platform and take the easier way out–knowing that thoughtfulness requires me to die to flesh.

But on the odd Wednesday, when I hear the tenderness in his voice and see the furrow in his brow … the winter in my heart melts and I remember the man I promised to love.

The one I promised to love in pregnancy and in health, on manic Mondays and lazy Saturdays, over Subway sandwiches and lukewarm apple juice.

_______

“We were convinced the winter had won.
Our dreams had grown brittle, and the
birds in the yard couldn’t carry a tune.
But then the iris bloomed, its resurrection
purple suddenly thawing our discontent,
daring us to put off the old wool and wrap
our mortal flesh in linen for a change.
So lift up your heads, o ye hibernators.
Throw prudence to the wind and let the
burning sun pinken your chapped cheeks.
Kick off your Sorels and come dance with
us bare-soled in the perking-up grass.
For lo, the winter is over and gone, the iris
has bloomed. The birds are back on key.
(fingers crossed, knock on wood)”

John D. Blase, Colorado Song of Songs

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis