We’ve only been sleeping in separate beds since last Thursday, but already I feel as though my body has detached itself from our marriage like an unhitched railway car left stranded on the track, as the rest of the train clatters away to the next station.
“Wait, wait!” I want to say, hoisting my bag out of the rack and stumbling down the corridor as my husband disappears. Our landscapes aren’t the same anymore. His body isn’t the same anymore. Plus, he’s lost pieces of his body. Oh, just little segments of the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart muscle, just the bits they cut out in the surgical procedure familiarly known as “cabbage.” Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, the CABG without the second b and the second a and the e, so something devised by medical researchers, not chefs.
Come to think of it, my family loves cabbage. Stuffed, with homemade tomato sauce, or New England boiled dinner, the cabbage wedge sliding onto the plate next to the beets and potatoes and corned beef, with two kinds of mustard on the table.
“You want yellow or brown, dear?” I always ask Arnold, my spoon poised to dip up a glob of blazing turmeric or briny brown mustard grains.
“Both, Mim,” he always says, “one on each side of the beef. Did you remember the Irish Red Ale?”
But back to my problem with separate beds. Technically, I sleep better alone than I do next to Arnold, what with his snoring that I’ve taught myself, over the years as we’ve grown older, to accept and let float away into the night. If I practice my alternate-nostril-breathing faithfully, I know I’ll sink down into slumber. And It’s not as if we sleep cuddled up; I don’t like anybody touching me while I’m trying to sleep.
No, it’s just that when we live under the same blanket every night, my body has a chance to meld with my husband’s in a way that just doesn’t happen in daylight. Maybe I need the exchange of molecules that happens when his exhaled breath travels in through my nostrils, and my breath wafts over into his.
“Wear consistent with age and use.” That’s how dealers describe antique furniture in catalogs and web sites. Arnold used to look as if he were wearing his years well, despite the weight problem and the intermittently controlled high blood pressure. I should never have taken up baking when I reached my fifties. I’m afraid ten years of my custard cream pie has done us both in.
Editor’s note: Mim and Arnold Davies are characters in a series of stories that I’m writing. — MAB