On Saturday, April 20, M and I took Mallory to Bonnie's birthday party. On her shady deck we ate clams and pasta and thick brown bread. We sipped champagne and held our strawberries aloft to receive fresh dollops of whipped cream. We chatted with her tight inner circle of peops, who we've come to know through other birthday parties and Thanksgiving dinners.
It might have been one of the most pleasant, decadent ways to spend a spring afternoon, reminiscent of her birthday party, five years ago, that M and I attended under very different circumstances. Back then, we were co-workers who were just starting to hang out as friends. M played happy birthday on his guitar and we sang round after round, relishing the song, the intimacy of shared voices, the quiet knocking at the door to each of our hearts.
Now, five years later, we are married and we have a daughter. Parties are...different. What was once just a charming outdoor deck in West County is now a treacherous obstacle course of holes and slopes and stairs and spiny plants that threaten our toddling baby. Instead of lingering in conversation, we are on constant alert, taking turns chasing Mallory and watching her go up and down the stairs. Up again, down again.
We used to chuckle at "Make Love Whenever Possible When Married with Children." Now we talk in solemn whispers about how hard it often feels, how little time we have to ourselves, how anyone ever has the energy to have another one. Lately we've been pining for those long ago days when we'd sleep til 10, eat thick pancakes for breakfast, and sometimes find ourselves back in bed before lunch. Of course: we love our little Mallory, couldn't imagine life without her breaking into spontaneous dance on the corner of Magnolia and Hollywood Way this past weekend in LA.
We are a tad grayer than we were half a decade ago, collectively a few pounds heavier. But what hasn't changed is the steady rock of my heart when I watch him play the guitar. The happy tug in my gut when it's him calling me to say hi and ask if Mallory is eating well today. The comfort of whispering in the dark just before we fall asleep.