Today Claudio was showing Lily photographs on his phone and I overheard him say, “That is a picture of when we were last happy.” I was curious as to when he thought that was. Was it last weekend when we went as a family to Kenting, driving and hacking, both girls sick, and playing “The Twelve Princesses” on the car CD player over and over and over? Was it a shot of the girls both asleep at the same time (has that ever happened?)
It was taken at his 40th birthday party, before either of the girls were born. We had just met. We were basically strangers to one another at this point. It was the first time I met his parents, who were sitting across from us as the photo was taken and I recall my thought was, “No tongue in front of your mother, for the love of God.” Here is the photo: When We Were Last Happy, per Claudio.
He didn’t yet know how I pack (read: everything.) He didn’t know I hate to fly, have read every self-help book out there, had yet to see me give birth twice, and hadn’t met my mother. But this is When We Were Last Happy.
When we met, I was fed up with dating and being led astray with at first fluff of love. I interviewed him before our first date; I required references. He gave me his ex-wife’s number, so we had drinks.
At the point this photo was taken I still believed him when he told me that yes! He would love to go with me to an Intimacy Couples Yoga/Chakra Cleansing/Raw Food/Meditation Retreat with me. “I’m looking for that kind of guy, Claudio, and tell me now if you’re not Him, because that’s what I want.”
I believe he told me, “Yeah. I’ve been wanting to go to one of those things.” I didn’t know him well enough to know he was mocking me, or maybe he faked earnestness in effort to get laid.
Another month after this shot we were pregnant with our dear Sofia. Now it’s six years later and we have two kids. Our second one, Lily, has not allowed me to sleep for a solid-8 since she was born. She’s sitting on my lap now as I write and nursing because I am too lazy to wean her and I’m afraid she’ll never sleep if I do. We homeschool, though Homeschoolers scare Claudio.
It dawns on me that perhaps I scare him.
This is When We Were Last Happy.
I know, I know. The poor bastard is tired. He’s been working from 4:30am till 10pm for months. And then turned upside down and shooting nights, and then immediately back to a day schedule. It’s the film business. It’s been a long haul shoot here in the Taichungle of Taiwan. I think he needs a long series of naps and some time in nature away from a tank of water and a black box where he looks at images of a boy adrift at sea all day, every day. But still. When We Were Last Happy?
Here is a shot from Mother’s Day. I’m no Oscar nominated photographer, but this shot breaks my heart. It’s my Tres Corazons. This is all I need in this world. I have everything I never thought I wanted. I’m a housewife, I homeschool, I love my husband and once in a while I can sit down and write something. What else is there?
I also want to say to him, “You douche. We were happy last week. We’re happy now under all this exhaustion. We’re rich–our kids are healthy. That’s money in the bank. We have each other. I’m faithful to you. We have little kids who wake up happy to see us. We have all our faculties. Our bowels work! This is life, brother. We’ve got it good. This is what heaven on earth looks like. Fuck the Rapture. This is it, my brother, this is it.”
He’s so tired I think he’d stare at me blankly, like he often does after one of my diatribes. I wonder what he’s thinking in there, like that Tom Waits song, “What’s he Building in there?” Is he wishing he could go back after this sweet tongue-in-the-ear party moment and wish it all away? This is When We Were Last Happy? I’m happy every god-damned day. No matter what. I pick happy, even as I know you will never, ever attend a Yoga/Into-Me-You-See retreat and you’re not as talky as I would like, and you like to mock me. Marriage is hard. Knowing someone well can be a bitch.
But I am happy today, dang nabbit. I’m happy right this second. And I love you even though you kill me with these off-the-cuff little phrases you sometimes say, like, “This is When We Were Last Happy.”