Today’s wordspiration courtesy of Kim Guidone, wildlife conservationist, book-to-film interpreter, inveterate optimist.
Lobsters scuttling in the fridge, par-fried potatoes resting on sodden paper towels awaiting a final oil-dunk to crisp into golden fries, oysters shucked and chilling on ice, cheeses slumping on a wooden board, ready to ooze at the slightest touch. White tulips — her favorite— lounging in a low vase.
Christmas Eve repast, Old School.
His first holiday as an adult not spent sweating in an industrial kitchen or slinging drinks behind a bar. Sure, he wishes he had the cash to take her out, but scratch is scarce during this in-between — quit a job without another lined up, stupid prick — but he’s sorted now, new gig starts New Year’s and he’s conjured an ideal meal, complete with champagne, the real stuff, a bottle comp’d by an ambitious beverage sales rep, new job congrats.
Ringing in the New Year with a new job, celebrating Christmas with the right girl. It is as though the universe has deigned to smile upon him.
After many years of not.
She was adamant about the no gifiing. In deference, he assumes, to these recent unemployed weeks. Touchy weeks, he went to a few dark places, all the historical stuff burbling in his gut. Lost it a time or two, after a drink too far. He didn’t go mean, though, not to her, he’s been on both sides of mean, he will not perpetrate mean, again. Long steeped in therapized psychobabble, he is well-versed in the typical trajectory of abused to abuser. He will not to become another psychological statistic.
Their first Christmas together, his first holidays with anyone other than hospitality comrades coming off of late shifts, blowing the night’s tips. This anomaly year — his, forced, hers, choice — a Christmas like normal people. A normal couple. A couple with normal expectations: cohabitation, marriage, kids. Or a dog, at least. Unfathomable expectations, but she brings out his most optimistic self.
He is even embracing kale, at her behest. Raw kale.
His most chivalrous self, too, outlaid more cash then ever to squire her around — her friends, too — treat her in the manner to which he assumes her corporate lawyer self is accustomed. She is quick on the uptake, her laugh contains more notes than most symphonies, her breath-taking breasts enticing, consoling, terrifying by turns. She appreciates his puns, even the worst ones. Soul mates, she says, eyes sparkling, sparking a stirring in some unused part of him to believe in something beyond tangible, like fate or destiny.
Now he knows he was right, that time, years ago. Dodged a bullet. Wrong girl, right decision. Her choice, of course, but he pushed. Hard. Her indecision, her disavowed but deeply ingrained Catholicism, holding them both hostage. Someone had to make the hard call, shoulder the blame.
Somehow, despite the odds, he held out for something — better, more — and it is here, within his grasp. As long as he keeps himself from fucking it all up.
His own personal Christmas Miracle wish: That past, atoned. This future, possible.
“Redemption” initially handwritten with a Happy Hour Oyster Pairing (I did the sherry-and-oysters) at the bar of the most amiable Apartment 13 (east village) and edited over a nutty Americano at Bluebird Coffee Shop (east village)
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