The corner of Missouri that I’m starting to call “home” is a community so small that when you walk into a liquor store, people tip their heads and ask, “Where you from? Why you came?”
“Minnesota,” I sometimes say, because it’s where I lived last. Or, “Alaska,” because for years I considered it home base. Or, “Oregon,” because I went to school and worked there for years.
In response to the second question, I say, “A man,” and smile as though it’s a lie. Because it seems too miraculous to be true.
But this week, Jon’s in Mexico to race the Baja 500, which means I’ll be (wo)manning the house and the farm on my own.
It’s lonely working a field by yourself, but not entirely displeasurable. Pax kept me company, napping and surveying my progress, sometimes yawning, unconcerned.
At 8:30, Jon called, but the service in the farm’s valley is poor and our voices kept falling away. It was time to leave, anyway — the last of the sun bleeding from the leaves on the perimeter of the field, the sky ablaze, clouds shredded across the horizon like claws. In the fading light I packed up the car, turned off the generator and the pump and left the empty hose in the snake and drove home.
Home. A small part of me dreaded going back to the empty house, which had always been his but, now, is ours.
For months I’d worried myself over the prospect of moving in together, the darknesses that cohabitation might reveal. I thought I’d be relieved to move through the rooms with only myself and the dog nearby.
I felt lonesome for him in a way I hadn’t expected, and it was sad to take myself wordlessly to bed, sad to brush my teeth in the absence of his company. The living together wasn’t the terror, it was the threat of experiencing a comfort that could disappear. The feeling that everything good is only temporary.
The close of the day. I go to the bedroom, I turn off the light. Look at the darkness. There are no monsters. Only the longing for his hand moving across the sheet to find my hand, and the empty pillow next to me where he rests his head.