I click "end" on Skype at 5:52.
The smile from my clients dances around my lips and cheeks and eyes. So does the fatigue of the day.
I brush the day off my teeth. Muss my curls. Gloss my lips. Twinkle at my reflection. Mothering, moving, managing... I can forget that woman in the mirror. Forget she shines. But not tonight.
I change into something that makes me feel beautiful. For me, not so much for him. Seeing him light up when he catches sight of me? Bonus.
We seldom ride together during the week. On the weekends, the production of getting kids and grocery bags and picnic blankets and donation boxes into the car obliterates all hopes for chivalry. And that's okay. But tonight: he puts me into the car.
I don't tell him that lane would get us there faster, don't tell him to use his signal. But then I slip and wonder aloud whether we're getting off at this exit. His firm hand on my knee reminds me: he's driving and I get to be arm candy tonight.
Other nights, we've arrived before six so we could order off the happy hour menu. Not tonight. But the high ceiling, the exposed brick, and his eyes get me high before the first drop of wine hits my tongue. I've had to teach him to sustain eye contact. Long years of devoted desire are paying off.
We order the whole fish. That's one way to adventure. After dinner, we find another. Walking streets we don't know while the sun goes down and city lights come up. Playing like we're new together. It's Thursday (our ritual). We don't need the bustle and rush of Saturday's crowds. And the parking will be scarce. But not tonight.
When we first started this like-clockwork sacred rite of time together, I was anxious each time. Afraid of disappointment, again. Bloated with a backlog of unmet needs, unheard requests, unconscious resentments. But not tonight. The reliability of our time together means I can lean into THIS as my sanctuary. And week upon week, these times have washed away that backlog. Now, we're alone together here.
He takes me to a place where we can look out at the ocean. we talk about the dark knots untangling inside him. We talk about the pockets of pain I trip over inside me. We talk about the beautiful people who we miss, but whose bedtime we will make sure to stay out past. We adore the ritual of snuggling and singing and storying them to sleep. Except tonight.
Later, he leads me into the room where no children are sleeping, where white sheets wait for our sighs. Many nights we hold one another and talk. Some nights there's our sensual practice, and then tv or facebook or both. Some nights we fall asleep when the kids do. Not tonight.