My husband is right next to me and I can’t hear him. I can see his lips moving and I lean in closer, straining to catch his words. Then I shout “what?”. He shouts back. We try to eat our dinner, one that tastes good I think, one that I took care in making, but I’m gulping it down. I keep almost choking on every couple of bites. We smile at each other, little half smirks and then something sails over the table and hits the wall. A two year old boy with chubby full cheeks climbs to the top of his high chair, finds his plate and takes a blueberry carefully in his little pincher fingers before squishing it onto the table and washing his hand in his milk. I look at Shane and he looks at me. In our eyes, we speak, no words needed and agree: nah, not worth it before going back to our plates.
Our curly haired five year old is staging a play next to us. The lines are delivered at top volume. Two characters are having a fight. A father and a daughter, one a cat, the other a raccoon. The father cat does not approve of his raccoon daughter’s choices. She wails and screeches in frustration and the sounds batter off the walls bouncing down and filling the space between us. We try to smile at each other. My husband and I, two people who love silence. Two people drawn together by their love of peace, of staying at home. The raccoon daughter’s wailing has aggravated our wilding two year old who emerges from beneath the table also howling. And they stand across from one another for a moment, eyes locked and scream at the top of their lungs. They are alive, wild, primal humans and they must scream. The glory and the agony of this mortal life trapped in our dining room. Shane tries to be heard. “Guys! Guys! Go outside to play!” Two elephant voices roaring back in protest. They must not play outside. Their game is inside! The game must take place in the dining room, here, Now!
I can’t tell if I’m still hungry, but I’m eating out of commitment and I can tell Shane is too. I used to be such a slow eater. Always the last to finish. Those days will come again someday, I’m sure. But for now I’m in a race against the end of this game, when someone will take offense and the tears will come. Probably, being as close to bedtime as it is, both will cry. Their relationship forged in these tearful moments. Injury to injury, they must hug, hold their wounded hearts together and affirm without words, “Do you love me? Then, yes, I love you too.”
I try to tell Shane something about my day. Raising my voice again and again. Waiting for a silence to dart in but the waves of sound keep crashing down. We are like two people in the ocean carried away from one another. Swimming against the tide. Further and further apart, shouting: What? What? What?! I shrug. Reach over and grab his hand. Give it a little squeeze, saying, without words, “Do you love me? I love you too.”