Everything happens so quickly. Dreams and crushes turn into dates and disappointments. Eventually you pick someone. He picks you. He makes you laugh just often enough, and your heart flutters at how his grin tilts higher on one side than the other. It’s easier to be together than apart, at least most of the time. The bed feels empty without him. The room is too quiet when he’s gone.
You commit. You dig deep. Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s the bedrock beneath your life. Just when you decide to move to the city, to apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, to just do it, his mother passes and leaves you her house. Her suburban, yellow, traditional, uninspiring, anchor of a house.
Of course you accept it. And of course you move in, because it’s too hard to tell your husband that it isn’t the house you dislike, it’s the weight of it, the tangible forever he seems far too happy to embrace. Your first — and only — children are twins. Where better to raise them than where your husband was raised?
Memories blur. Trick-or-treating and Winterfest decorations fade into pool visits and school plays and parades. You take annual Granite Falls vacations, and every time the taxi pulls up to the house, you’re confused for a moment: is this you? Is this where you’ve decided to be?
Your daughter gets caught shoplifting. Your son won’t tell you why he’s picked on at school, though you’re fairly sure you know. You don’t talk about it, because the Cross family doesn’t really talk, you just move forward, step by step, year by year. Time passes. You watch too much TV and use the treadmill as a clothes hanger.
Your kids leave home as soon as the ink on their diplomas dries. When they drive toward San Myshuno in a car filled with moving boxes, you wave longer than they do. Your husband waits a month more than necessary to tell you he’s met someone; it’s not like you didn’t know. She’s a painter, like your husband. He’ll move her into the yellow house — it’s his childhood home, after all.
You don’t ask your children to hate their father; you’re not like that. You don’t hate him either. You know full well that the anchor, the weight, was clamped to his ankles as inescapably as it was to yours. Your discussions are rational and calm. You just want it all to be done.
You don’t pack much, though your husband offers you anything you want. His guilt leads to a decent settlement, a quick resolution. You let his next wife deal with the curios and memories and dusty ceramic chickens. You just get out and move on.