Roger and Miriam sat quietly in the living room of the home where they and their children used to live, at a time when life was straight forward and its outcome assumed. That was then. Now, Miriam was the only full-time resident.
These days, when Roger wasn’t somewhere in the world working on a major project for his company, he stayed in the city in their commuter studio, close to his company’s headquarters. He came to the house only occasionally, which, over the past two years, was almost never. Having Roger home had come to feel to Miriam more like having a favorite cousin to stay for a short visit rather than a husband home from a long absence.
Earlier that year she brought up the subject of maybe selling the house and getting something smaller. Roger couldn’t understand why she would want to do that, so he flatly refused to discuss it. But, here they were, a few months later, sitting together in the living room for the first time since she could remember, having just listened to Roger’s story about why things were going to be different from here on out.
“Well. I suppose this means you actually want to sell the place now,” she finally said.
Roger turned his attention back into the room from staring absently out the big picture window that perfectly framed Miriam’s magnificent garden.
“I honestly don’t know why you keep asking about selling the house. All I said is things are going to be different.” Roger hoped he sounded reassuring.
“Different? How so? We never see much of each other anymore as it is. I don’t understand what you expect me to…” Miriam stopped and rested her face in her hand for a moment. “Anyway, the point is, I’m the only one here anymore, and now you are… It’s too damn big for just one person.”
“What about the boys? Where will they stay? This is their home,” Roger insisted.
“The boys don’t come by so often we…I…,” Miriam corrected herself, “need to keep a place with all these rooms.”
“I thought you loved this place. I imagined you living here forever.” Roger looked curiously forlorn, she thought. “I think of this as….” Roger was gesturing like he had discovered where “x” marked the spot, “home!”
“Then you move here and I’ll find another place.”
Roger shook his head. “No, that’s…No. That’s not what I mean. That’s not an option.”
“Well, then,” Miriam sighed, and paused for a moment before completing her thought. “As you said, things will be different, which is a weird way of putting it.” She shrugged, “So, part of what will be different is selling the house.”
Roger frowned. He was frustrated, but made no further argument.
“I mean, honestly Rog, we have to look at this for what it is, which is not the same but different, as you seem to want to see it, but totally changed. And so it’s time to sell the house. I want to sell the house.”
“Yes, well,” Roger paused, leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He rubbed his face and took in a breath. “OK. Then, I guess we do have to talk about it.”
“Among other things,” Miriam quipped.
“Yes, well, again, Mimi, that is why I’m here, so,” Roger stood up, hands on his hips, “Coffee? I think I want a cup,” and walked out of the living room into the kitchen.
Miriam, not knowing what else to do, got up and followed him. “I’ll make a couple of sandwiches, OK?” She offered.
In the kitchen, they went quietly about their business, and not talking. It was a familiar scene, now from so many years past, when the boys were young; the two of them puttering around in the kitchen. The only thing missing were the boys, tearing in and out with their friends, or sitting at the breakfast table doing their homework, or attempting to help with a meal preparation. Separately Roger and Miriam felt the ghosts of those days swirl around them. Now facing certain finality, their mutual heartache for that time was palpable.
Miriam set the sandwiches on a tray, grabbed a couple of paper towels for napkins and asked Roger if he wanted a pickle with his sandwich.
“No, thanks. Where’s the sugar?” He had been poking around in the familiar places for the sugar bowl.
“Oh, no sugar. I use agave syrup. It’s in the cupboard with the cups.”
Roger made a guess as to how much syrup to pour into her cup, placed both coffees on the tray with the sandwiches and followed Miriam back into the living room. The two of them settled back in where they had been sitting, Roger in the reading chair Miriam bought a while back and Miriam on the couch.
“Very comfortable, this,” Roger offered in as much of an upbeat tone as he could manage.
“Yeah, I’ve always wanted a reading chair there. I think it works.”
“It all works,” Roger indicated as he gave the room a little sweep with a sandwich in his hand. “Nice arrangement.”
“Never would have been able to manage it when the kids were growing up,” Miriam smiled.
“Noooo,” said Roger rolling his eyes and returning the smile. “Not in a million years. They’d have wrecked the place!”
Miriam finished the first half of her sandwich, wiped her hands on the paper towel and took in a sharp breath.
“So!” She smiled again. Roger waited for her to continue while he ate. “At least tell me she isn’t younger than you, I mean, by a lot. Please tell me it isn’t as corny as all that.”
“You mean, as young as Travis?” Roger said.
“Davis. His name was Davis.”
[Go to Then and Now, Part II]