Tim Dowling: It’s almost our 30th wedding anniversary – but first a dance with the trash | Family


I am sitting at the kitchen table. My wife is standing in front of the sink, turning her back to me, washing the dishes while telling me about all the upcoming social obligations that she has managed to get us out of.

“Is that a good idea,” I ask, “we’re never going anywhere again? “

“I don’t care,” she said. “I forgot how to socialize and I don’t want to learn anymore. “

“No, I mean, neither do I,” I said. “It’s just, I don’t know.”

“If you now want to take charge of our social life, do not hesitate,” she said.

I stay silent for a minute, keeping open the possibility that I haven’t heard this song.

“What do you want to do for our 30th wedding anniversary?” ” I say.

“Oh my God,” my wife said, turning around. “How far is it?” “

– It’s next, I say.

“But still months,” she said. “Several months.” ”

“There’s probably still time to get a divorce first, if that’s what worries you.”

I say this with the confidence of someone who thinks: there is nowhere near enough time to get a divorce first.

“I don’t want to do anything,” she said.

“I know, but it’s 30,” I said. “It sounds like the kind of thing we should invite everyone we know to a remote island.”

“And kill them?” ” she says. A brief silence follows.

“Well, maybe,” I say. “But don’t put anything about that in the save date email.” “

I had no intention of giving my wife the opportunity to reconsider three decades of marriage; I only brought it up to distract her from the idea of ​​giving me exclusive responsibility for our social calendar. She did the same with the kitchen about two years ago, and I didn’t fare well.

The afternoon brings a desire for a long and lonely walk, but the sky turns black and the rain falls in swollen sheets. I lie on the sofa with a book on my chest. Thirty years is more than half of my life, I think. I have been married most of my life. And during that time, countless opportunities to be a better husband have been wasted.

My eyes are just starting to roll to the back of my head when my wife comes in and says a few words.

“What?” I said, the book sliding off my chest.

“It’s garden waste,” she says.

It is the abbreviation of a particular phase of the rotating collection cycle: the night of the three bins – black garbage, leftover food, wheelie of green waste from the garden.

“Uh,” I say.

Half of our front garden is given over to a small, paved driveway (it was like this when we moved in), so it’s impossible to get the trash to the sidewalk without someone – my wife – backing up a little car while someone else – me – pulls the trash out of their normal resting place. I have had hundreds of opportunities to perform this function with something like grace over the years, and I have not taken any of them.

The rain is pouring down my collar as I pull yard waste off the bricks in the glare of the car’s headlights. The trash can wheels get stuck in gravel, almost knocking it over.

“Holy shit,” I say. Behind the windshield, my wife’s face shines as she looks at her phone.

That evening, my family had fun with the shriveled carrots I produce for supper.

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“They look like raisins,” says the one in the middle.

“They were small at first,” I say, “but then I left them in the oven. I thought adding an unprepared veggie dish to a standard Tuesday meal was within my abilities, but it turned out to be akin to adding a fourth chainsaw to a juggling routine right before. time of the show.

“The rice is not cooked,” says the older man.

“I forgot the rice,” I say. “Because of the carrots. “

“Is this meat safe to eat?” Said the youngest.

“I don’t recommend that you eat it,” I said.

Lying in bed later with the rain still hitting the roof, my mood cleared. It is wrong to dwell on past missed improvement opportunities, when there are still opportunities to come: islands to rent, guests to invite, quicksand traps dug and covered with leaves. Save this date.


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