matching columbia windbreakers.

let's fast forward to the part where you're no longer cynical, no longer anxious and uncertain of the future. that part where you're calm like you used to be, when you were a kid. in fact, let's fast forward to the part where you already have a kid, and her name is madeline, named after your favorite book as a child, and she's with you at the check-out line at safeway, and she's spinning circles, while holding onto the ends of her frilly dress. she stops when she notices the candy. she looks at the candy, and then looks up at you, and you know what she's thinking because it was the same thought you had twenty years ago. she is too afraid to ask because you've warned her again and again about how bad sugar is for her teeth, for her insides. but it's sunny outside, and you know it will make her happy, so you oblige.

let's back up a little bit, but not too far back, just to the point when madeline is still young enough for a stroller. and you're walking down 6th avenue with wifey, and you're wearing matching light green columbia windbreakers. it's spring time, cool enough for a windbreaker, but not warm enough to be without it. a group of teen girls sneer at you, the couple with the matching windbreakers and their baby, and you remember what it was like to be them: cynical, judgmental, unloved. you never saw yourself wearing that matching columbia windbreaker with wifey, now did you? you used to be so sarcastic and against such things. but look at you now. arms locked in with wifey's, and you're pushing a stroller. you are in love with life once again.

you no longer mind watching time pass you by because you have someone else who is watching it pass with you. you watch the hairs turn grey on wifey's head, and madeline gets bigger and bigger. it's june and then it's december. you get a dog, and madeline jumps on his back. the leaves turn green and then brown, and then they're no longer there at all. you go to your job and put up with it, the routine and long hours and little pay because for once, finally, there are people to come home to. before, you had nothing to come home to, except for the television and an empty refrigerator. that's the good part, when you walk through the door, it's pouring rain out, and wifey is leaning against the kitchen doorway, her arms folded and a smirk on her face because she knows how ridiculous this is, how lucky you both are.

on friday night, you pay the babysitter - her name is jenna - and what do you know, you don't even want to sleep with her. she has a round face and a small bob, and wears layers of bright clothing to mask the vague shape of her body. you are not interested in the slightest because what you have now, all of this, it's just too good to mess up. you were alone for so long and expected nothing from this life, and when it finally gave everything to you, made good on its promise of health and balance to you long ago, something finally clicked. you forgot all about the uncertainty, and somehow, miraculously, you were able to just appreciate what you had been given.

and there you are in your white polo, playing tennis with the missus. your game is off because you're sluggish from the morning's ecstatic lovemaking. she bats a ball over to you, and it's more like a game of ping pong. you laugh about it, tell her she looks great in her vest and visor. later during that same day, you argue about a higher-than-usual cell phone bill, but it's no sweat. money is tight and will always be an issue, but it's just that: an issue. the more trying part comes later, when you are afraid of losing it, all of it, and you imagine yourself back where you were, in your late twenties, coming home to an empty apartment, an empty refrigerator. you try to block out the images of court, of you in a suit, having to use words like "custody," "settlement," and "divorce."

but it won't come to that. i'm telling you now, it won't. trust me.

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