Thanksgiving morning, Fudge pads in, early. He plops down on my sleeping body, sniffling and situating until most of his weight rests on my bladder, coughing into my face and settling in. He guides my limp arm over his back and bottom, squeezing my hand to signal I should rub. Rick sighs and rolls out of bed as Sadie wanders in, rubbing her eyes and trailing a queen-size blanket, a mound of stuffed animals spilling over her arms.
She climbs up and stage whispers “HAPPY THANKSGIVING” in a way that’s louder than her normal voice, and Fudge rolls over to tell her he said it first. Sadie wants to know how I responded, insisting I committed at some point last night to saying “Same to you” but not “Happy Thanksgiving” to anyone who got to me before her.
I pretend to be sleeping, even though my pillow has vanished and the middle of the bed inexplicably no longer has covers. The first hint of coffee mingles with dust mites in the light sliver above me, and Sadie gasps and sits up, pounding the night light on the clock, worried we’ll miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
I give up, getting up to pee, and I can tell by the sound Rick’s feet make in the hallway he’s trying not to slop mugs of hot coffee. I brush my teeth and they all disappear downstairs, then Rick’s yelling back up, asking where I’ve put the bag of bandaids I bought the other day — a Saran wrap accident I can’t quite follow. I check in on Audrey, curled in headphones over her iPhone, already immersed in text chatter with friends. Brooks will sleep for hours. Fudge rushes in, wild-haired and chapped-lipped, to announce the parade’s start. The dogs lift hopeful heads as I enter the kitchen, but it’s not my job to feed them, and it’s too cold to walk just yet.
Rick will build a fire, and we’ll cook and putter and sip and lounge until Sadie gets bored and Fudge falls off the back of the couch, until Aud picks a fight and Brooks turns cynical, until Rick claims I’m not helping and I get mad over dirty dishes. Until we forget why we’re thankful, a luxury we can afford, because we’ve got it all.
It’s funny the things that now fill me w/murderous rage.
Me: “Ugh. I have to go to the GROCERY.”
Rick: “Well, that’s kinda fun. You just walk the aisles, pick out some foo—what?”
Me: “I will fucking KILL you if you ever say that shit again.”
Things I no longer process as weird: 1) someone talking to me about homework and dinner as they methodically empty the laundry basket onto the bed, tuck hair under a tight knit cap, struggle to curl into a small enough ball to squeeze all the way underneath the basket, then pop just a head out to interrupt: “Look. I’m a turtle.” 2) someone pretending my butt is a guitar, strumming then thumping it while loudly singing as I stand on tiptoe trying to reach the only clean towel off the closet shelf; 3) someone wandering in and turning over the same laundry basket, yelling for me to “come here — QUICK!” so I can watch as they balance inside the end of the now precariously leaning basket, arms spread Kate Winslet-wide, humming Celine Dion.
A freshly-bathed kid in footie pajamas wipes the slate clean, every time.
Aud and I pull up at a red light next to a tastefully beribboned Rolls Royce, new bride and groom perched rather stiffly in the back. Because a)we’re classy and b)the timing was just too perfect, we roll down all the windows and crank up “Single Ladies” as loud as it will go.
We could debate the merits of “Silly Love Songs” (though we’re probably on the same side), but for anyone who’d argue the value of the arts, name one thing lovelier than the instant sound of a diving board’s bounce, the shouts and whistles and muffled pitches of summertime chatter; the smell of chlorine and suntans and vinyl-strapped poolside chairs; the sight of smooth, artificially-tinged water parting then folding back on itself to the rhythmic rise and fall of your dad’s submerged shoulders, as you cling to his neck, delighted, commanding him to ferry you faster, faster, into the deep end.