Skylar woke me up by tapping on my shoulder, like I was a stranger ahead of him in line somewhere and he needed to ask me a question.
"What?" I didn't even open my eyes to ask it.
"It's almost 9:00. Are you going to sleep all day?"
I resisted the urge to start an argument with him about whether being in bed at 8:52 AM suggested a possible 24-hour hibernation.
"What is it you want from me?"
I looked at him. Duncan was lying on Skylar's stomach, his tail wagging, licking Skylar's face—this is their morning routine.
"Duncan is ready for his Good Mornings On The Floor," Skylar explained to me, like we were coworkers engaged in business.
I groaned as I heaved myself out of bed to meet Duncan on the floor for our own special morning ritual in which I get down on all fours so Duncan can walk under me and spin around in circles, wiggling his entire body, his errant tongue connecting with my arms, legs, and face at random.
"Now that you're up, let's go get breakfast!"
I admit that I've missed our Sunday mornings together in the past month or so as Skylar has been out of town or I've been traveling for work. It felt so normal, the way he said "let's go get breakfast." So normal that it was actually soothing. Something I needed to hear after the month/year I just had. I knew I was tired and struggling, but I hadn't really had time to process it until I returned home from a work trip Friday night and suddenly found myself in a full meltdown on the couch as Skylar gently stroked the back of my neck. I was embarrassed that he saw me cry like that, but I guess that's what husbands are for. Right?
I pulled on some shoes while Skylar gathered Duncan's leash and ball. Duncan was sprinting around the house at this point, having gathered from context that a walk was in his near future.
And then we wandered off to our neighborhood coffee shop to sip hot drinks on a patio and nibble on avocado toast that the boomers have unfairly judged—it really is pretty good, guys.
Then we ventured on, hand-in-hand, through an old neighborhood where we gasped at beautiful homes "so full of character," Skylar will say, even and especially if they're in disrepair. We talked about his residency applications and silently and separately let the excitement of adventure and anxiety of change pass through us. We stopped every minute or two to let Duncan try to pee on a tree to mark it, even though he had fully emptied his bladder already.
Eventually we wound our way back to our old home—the one I bought, alone, seven years ago, back when I groaned and heaved a little less and could hardly have imagined I'd one day fill it with a Portland hippie and a dog who likes to lick.
It was a perfect Sunday morning.
This time in Strangerville, Eli had a meltdown, Meg is trying to get him to go to some church. Any church. And Eli took the Strangerville Live stage to tell the story of Skylar’s first three visits to Salt Lake City when they started dating.
And That’s When I Knew, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
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~It Just Gets Stranger