L.A. Freeway

Tuesday was our eighth wedding anniversary. We’d been tossing around ideas about how to celebrate for the week prior. Mussels and fries and a downtown spot by the river or a dinner picnic in the pasture where we said ‘I do’ on a hot July day years ago. But in the end there were no mussels by the river, no picnics in the pasture. Instead, we nursed a stomach flu.

I came home Monday to find Seth on the couch wrapped in a blanket, our little girls hovering around him, playing doctor.

“He has a temperature,” Eliza said as Lucille bandaged his outstretched arm. Seth was so lethargic, he didn’t even notice. He went to bed and stayed there. I fed the kids, took them raspberry picking and put them to bed before I crawled into bed next to my out-of-commission husband. In the middle of the night I awoke to stomach cramps and inevitable trips to the bathroom. By morning Seth tired but on the mend. I had gotten no sleep and curled up on the couch to ride out the last of the cramping. I think one of us said happy anniversary sometime before lunch.

By mid-day we got dressed and took our little ladies swimming. I sat in the plastic Adirondack chairs by the pool, thankful for the warmth of the air and the fact that Seth was chasing them around in the water. I watched the three of them jumping, splashing and wrestling. I saw Seth throw them one after the other over his shoulder and into the water. They’d reemerge smiling, begging for him to do it again. I watched Lucille practice swimming from side to side, afraid of nothing, her tiny face a moon on the surface of the water. I watched Eliza dive for rings, her goggles snug around her crystal blue eyes. Through my flu-haze they were a lovely sight.

After the pool, Seth took them for ice cream and wandered a few blocks down to Mario and an appointment for a haircut I’d made a month before. It takes a long time to get in to see him and come hell or stomach flu, I wasn’t going to wait another month to get my hair cut. By then, I was pretty sure I was just dealing with the fall out of no sleep, no food and having thrown up all night. I didn’t think I’d share my little virus with Mario so while Seth at ice cream in the sun, I plopped down in Mario’s chair and let him work his magic. He talked to me about Puerto Rico as he once again gave me an amazing hair cut. I sat in his trendy shop in shop in a dirty t-shirt and pair of river shorts and slowly began to feel human again.

I got in the car with Seth and our sticky kids.

“I was going to get you flowers,” he said. “But you were done so fast.”

“Babe, don’t worry about it,” I said as we headed home.

When we got home I took a hot bath. Eliza and Lucille wandered in and out of the bathroom, as they always do.

“Hey Eliza, did you know today is our wedding anniversary?”

“What’s an anniversary?” she said.

“It’s kind of like a birthday for the day we got married,” I said.

“Oh, you got married on this day,” she said.

“Eight years ago, “ I said.

By this time Lucille had joined the conversation and while helping me squirt and rub shaving cream on my legs she looked at me wide-eyed.

“Did you wear your married dress?” she said ever-obsessed with the long white dress that hangs in my closet.

“I did,” I said. “Hey, will you go tell Daddy to come play me a song?”

Eliza ran to find to Seth who came back with her and his guitar. He stood in the bathroom strumming while our daughters tried hard not to jump in the tub with me. I didn’t say anything and our daughters couldn’t stop talking as Seth played the exact song I wanted to hear.

We stumbled through the words to Guy Clark’s L.A. Freeway “…love’s a gift that’s surely handmade, we’ve got something to believe in…” kind of like we’ve stumbled through the past eight years. We sort of know the tune, sometimes we know the words but, still, we’re singing together in the bathroom of a farmhouse with two little girls at our feet.