Tuesday night last, just before 11:00 …
… as we were both thinking about shuffling our weary bones off to bed, my wife came down the stairs, from where she’d been scrolling through the news, to the basement—to where I’d been scrolling through the news. She was crying. She came to me and took my hand. I braced myself.
With tears glistening on her cheeks, she said, “We both forgot our anniversary.”
It could have been worse, of course. It could have been terribly worse.
Still, it was bad. For a moment, we looked into one another’s eyes for an explanation. It had never happened before. Not in 42 years had it happened before.
Okay. Not entirely true. That’s only half true. I have forgotten our anniversary before, along with other notable days. When it comes to remembering important dates concerning the people important to me, I am a regular Dagwood Bumstead. Significant dates sneak up on me, and if I’m lucky, I remember a significant day that day. I have, more than once, rushed out like a doofus to find a birthday gift, an anniversary gift, even a Valentines Day or Mothers’ Day gift, before the stores closed or before my wife came home.
If I’m not lucky, I remember it only when I’m reminded that I forgot.
I picture her brain as a double-wide refrigerator door covered entirely with little hand-crafted, flowery magnets, each one holding in place a name and a date—Herbert: Oct. 5 … Helen: 3/16 … Consuela: August 9—and on and on, through all the brothers, the sisters, the cousins, the in-laws, the kids, and everyone she’s ever worked with. I have never seen her forget anyone’s pivotal days, let alone our anniversary.
And to make matters worse, I knew what she was thinking, her with those eyes spewing out tears like that. She was thinking the same thing I do every time I can’t come up with the name of someone I’ve known all my life … or where I put my car keys after coming through the door three minutes ago … or why I went from one room to another as though I had a purpose in doing so, then stand there in the middle wondering what that purpose might have been.
She was thinking Ah, there goes another ratchet click in that steady slide into obsolescence. Today, it was our anniversary. Next year, it’ll be our girl’s birthday … the home phone number … where we live! It’s only a matter of time before I go out for milk, and am found days later, wandering the streets of Portland, naked as a jaybird, and can’t even tell the nice policeman my name.
In lieu of gifts—or anything else to do about it— we hugged, I told her I loved her, and she returned the assurance. One more smooch, and we separated. She, off to bed … me, maybe five minutes behind her. Halfway up the stairs, she stopped, turned, and said, “This is Trump’s fault, you know.”
Exactly! Fucking exactly!
Suddenly, it was as clear as a pitcher of Brita water. I’m not going dotty, oh no. My little grey cells are as sharp as they’ve ever been. No Alzheimer moss gathering on this old rocker, thank you very much!
No sir, I’ve simply had another thing on my mind.
Just one other thing.
And so’s my wife.
And so’ve my friends.
(My remaining friends, I should add.)
And if you’re here, reading this, I’m confident I can include you.
Seriously, what else has happened in the (going on) five months since you-know-what happened? Yah, sure, there was Thanksgiving Day. Then Christmas came and went … not that I remember anything about it. And … and … oh, yeah, we had a butt-load of snow for a while.
But what has really dominated our attentions for the last (what will be before we know it) half year? What Santa Claus left under the tree? … or a Jefferson Davis-level racist cockroach being named U.S. Attorney General?
Carving the turkey? … or Kellyanne Conway butchering the truth?
New Year celebrations? … or the “American carnage” inauguration?
MLK Day? … or the Muslim ban?
Valentine’s Day? … or Vladimir Putin’s attack on our democracy?
And we’ve only just begun.
* * *
A week ago, a kind, very kind, stranger added a comment to one of my posts: “Bill, you have no idea what a difference you make. Don’t stop.”
I won’t. I promise that. As long as this horror continues, I will continue to tell you how horrified I am.
But I may have to slow down some. At least, on the Trump front. It’s not a matter of my age, that I can’t keep up the pace. But it is a matter of time—specifically, as I’m sure you know, that there is only so much of it. And there are other things I need to do, There are other things we all need to do …
… not the least of which is to remember things like our anniversaries. To remember that the people we love are feeling this darkness as painfully as ourselves. To remember how utterly hopeless this life would be without them by our sides.
There will be more to come on this matter.