It is almost eleven and a mere two hours since I have washed the breakfast dishes and emptied the drainer, replacing my coffee mug, (Guilford College Mom) and Mark’s (Smithsonian Bug Mug, memento of a playful trip to DC) in the crowded cabinet that holds our tenderly mismatched assortment. Like us, they are a bit the worse for wear, a small chip in the cobalt mug I drank from each morning at my old job, useable still when I remember to hold my coffee with my left hand. I’ve not been one to discard the worn and old nor covet the new. Retiring a threadbare robe whose violets, now a pale hyacinth hue against the impossibly soft, grayed cotton, fills me with an unreasonable regret. Earlier, I kissed Mark goodbye in that robe, not the MTV kiss of Madonna and Britney, but the well-wishing kiss of a tv mom sending her husband out the door with a sensible lunch that won’t raise his cholesterol.
Yet now, showered, shaved, shampooed, gelled, plucked and powdered, I leave the safety of my domestic routines, the flannel familiarity of my long marriage, preparing to cross this threshold where some part of me will be left behind. Where I have, over multiple encounters, already become a different woman… encountering desire and satisfaction beyond my wildest dreams.
This tryst does not occur in my own town. Instead, I drive past the dense triple deckers, over the trolley tracks, through the gentle, winding curves of this village; ahead, on this tree shaded hill, the site of my eager rendezvous. Urgency brings me up the curved drive and through the handsome doors; the women behind the counter (one prays for their discretion) seem to understand the lust that draws patrons past this gleaming lobby to rooms of hushed abandon or desperate desire day after day.
Waiting to check out, a young couple is next in line, his hand curved around her hip, thumb tucked into the beltless loop of her low slung jeans, her delicate tattoo, a wing? a bird? peeking above the frayed denim. Behind them a weary mom jostles a restless toddler, grateful for the car ride that will reliably put her tired boy to sleep.
I am not part of the familial pairing, who arrive in chatty couples or leave in handholding duos. I am, rather, part of that singleton parade of solitary adults, arriving , with only a purse or tote-bag, in the quiet midday hours, made guiltier by pleasures stolen when others are desk-bound in fluorescent-lit offices, no thought of dalliance while the purchase orders must be processed, the budget completed. I do not, can not wait til the dark of night to be satisfied. Brazenly, I enter in full daylight, knowing I face the recognition and judgement of others, yet unwilling, unable to forego the completion I will feel as I savor the escapism, the variety, the tactile pleasures these wanton mornings and afternoons deliver.
Returning home, I appear the faithful wife, the earnest mom, the steadfast friend, no evidence that my midday adventure has transported me to vistas far beyond my shingled home.
The mantle clock chimes one lonely bell. All is still in the silent house, save my restless thoughts. Deep in slumber, Mark is untroubled by the lingering memories of my private rapture. Inches away, he does not know the distant places my midday reverie has carried me to. The words, the images – passionate, lyrical, strange -I can’t nor want to release. The certain knowledge – revealed to me later than some – that the more I have… the more I want.
Insatiable, I know I will return next week. I imagine the scene … Approaching the woman behind the counter, her lips lift, a knowing half-smile of wordless acknowledgment. She’s seen my kind. She knows what I’m here for; her job depends on it. No need to mask the swoon of satisfaction, the flush of anticipation that plays upon my face. But this time, I have a sense, in her kind eyes, that she’s known the infidelity to home and husband that can only be satisfied here, under this roof. Emboldened, maybe then, I will at last burst forth, breaking the silence, exclaiming all I would proclaim “I LOVE YOU, BROOKLINE PUBLIC LIBRARY!”
— Diane Butkus
A – AU