I'm re-entering life at home after the dreamy four days away with Ben, something akin to a rocket bursting into flames as it enters earth's atmosphere. The kids, though ecstatic and relieved to have us home, are also exhausted and, well, angry. Yesterday morning, Lana and Mihiretu were serenading me with dueling choruses of "Stinky Mommy" (Mihiretu) and "I Hate Mommy" (Lana), ostensibly because I wouldn't let them watch "Scooby Doo" like the babysitter but more than likely because I had the nerve to go away and leave them. Just who do I think I am?
But as I packed the protesting children away to school, tended to the car that wouldn't start and the gushing hole in the water pipe below our house, I also entertained fond thoughts of Ben.
On Labor Day, we went to a block party. As we were sitting on our friends' lawn, sipping lemonade and watching the kids roll past on bikes and scooters, we made small talk with the neighbors. RJ, our host, introduced us to a couple who promptly announced they'd been married thirty-four years. We couldn't help but be awed, particularly because they also have an eight-year-old (I keep trying to do the math on that one and still have yet to crack the puzzle).
"Well," the wife said, smiling at her husband and squeezing his hand, "It flies by."
"Yeah," said Ben, under his breath as they turned to talk to RJ, "Except when it crawls."
We giggled covertly. "Yeah," I said, "If you're HAPPY."
More quiet guffawing. RJ glanced across the lawn at us, clearly wondering what the hell was so funny.
"It flies," Ben said, "Except when I'm married to YOU."
* * *
When we were at the Seattle airport last weekend, taking the train from the terminal to the gate, Ben and I were marveling at the preponderance of wheely-bags.
"Whoever patented that is a bizillionaire," I mused.
"Oh, I'm sure it's not patented," Ben said.
Ben, when he was all of eighteen, invented the V-brake for bicycles. He had his own little company called Marinovative. The V-brake went on to become the industry standard. Unfortunately, his invention wasn't patented. Instead of earning a percentage of every V-brake sold, he simply watches them cycle by, day after day, and continues to toil for our bread. It's a subject we've covered and covered again but the wheely-bags brought us back to it.
"We'd be millionaires," he said as another bag rolled onto the train.
"Yeah," I said. "But you probably wouldn't have married me if you were a millionaire."
"Why not?" he said.
"You'd have some crazy trophy wife."
"Honey," he said gently, "You are my crazy trophy wife."
The more I thought about it, the truer it was. My little badge of honor.