In the Time it Took the Water to Boil

Andy came home. Both front doors were locked and I had no idea he was standing on the porch, on this blustery February day, peering through the window, trying to convince the children which way to turn the dead bolt. All three kids finally came running and screaming into the kitchen, where I was making simple spaghetti.

“Daddy’s home!”

I unlocked the door. Sophie insisted on doing the rest. What followed was the every-night pushing forward, jumping up, stepping in, arms reaching, tail viciously wagging chaos as James, Sophie, Owen and Tucker all competed to be hugged first.

Andy complimented my hair, even though it was a simple mess of curls piled on top of my head.

I checked the water.

Sophie begged Andy to play monster.

More chaos. Andy on all fours, roaring, roaming about the living room, taking children one by one and tossing them onto the window seat cushions (which had long been pushed onto the dining room floor) and tickling them until they begged him to stop. And then begged him to start again. Screams, laughter, roaring, barking for a good five minutes.

The water began to boil. The monster was tired. I listened to the house slowly quiet as I watched steam rise and disappear—much like the moment.

I held out my hand in front of me, watching as the steam floated upward through my fingers, wishing I could grasp the moment, catch it and put it in the handmade wooden puzzle box Andy gave to me years ago. The box that holds simple memories I’m able to keep outside of me—a dried wildflower picked from a patch of grass along a sidewalk we used to walk on often; a small origami bird made from a bright orange Post-it note; a tiny diamond earring, its match long gone.

I love big. I do. Often, while folding laundry, especially, I wish for more big. But would more big mean less small? If so, I take back my wish. I do.

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” —Ashley Montagu