We had barely cleared the house of pine needles and fake cranberries that my cat had bitten off the garland when Rick says he wants to buy me something. He has just set the iPod to play some sexy jazz, made a fire, and is sauntering up to me with dreamy eyes and a low-ball of three cubes of ice and a splash of Christmas-gift, single barrel, aged appropriately bourbon. He looks like one of those old-time actors who’d wear smoking jackets and grip cocktails and sit in rooms with cozy fires and flanked with bookcases. Well, three out of four isn’t bad – Rick’s wearing a Gap hoodie. I am saddled up to the kitchen counter making a dinner of I-don’t-remember-what and trying to keep Truman away from raw meat juices and sharp utensils. He says he wants to make dessert and he is pulling my largest pot out of the cabinet, lid and all. He sets it on the cooktop and then opens the pantry, stands in front of it like I often do, wondering what he can use for his masterpiece. This is when Rick glides up to the kitchen island. He says he wants to buy me something and I have to put him on pause or else Truman would try to rappel the pantry shelving and grab the sugar, and we all know what a disaster sugar on the floor makes. I pull out some jumbo marshmallows and some sugar sprinkles, and that satisfies him enough. He pulls the stepstool over to the (unlit) stovetop and starts dumping. Rick starts to speak again and Truman interrupts that by banging through the ultra messy spoon-and-spatula drawer and pulling out three items to stir his mixture.
“I want to do something nice for you for Valentine’s Day,” my romantic of a husband says.
“But you got me everything on my list,” I say, which is true. Everything, except for the bike, which he, understandably, said I’d have to go to the bike store and select on my own, and maybe I should wait until spring and he’d get one, too.
“No, I..,” he says, and as I try to tell him that between Christmas overindulgences and the unexpected four-figure car repair and the six-month car insurance premium that's come due, we need to engage in some financial recovery, but Truman is grabbing my arm now. Seems he’s been trying to get a word in edgewise (imagine!) but Rick and I just keep talking. He needs something for the dessert he’s making. He’s pulling my arm, wailing at the top of his lungs, “I need something from the oil group, Mommy. From the oil group! I need something!”
And Rick says, “… want to get you something…,” and Truman is pulling and I drag him to the pantry, and Rick pivots as we pass, and I pull out the olive oil bottle which is almost empty. I hand that to Truman and turn to Rick and Truman is pulling my arm again. “Not olive oil!” and I say, “but it’s from the oil group,” and Rick is saying, “…indulgent,” and just then it hits me like a ton of bricks. What I want. No, what I need.
“Spa,” I manage to say above the John Coltrane coming through the speakers and the 6-year-old tap-tap-tapping on the edge of the pot and the simmering veggies that need sautéing and the ice clicking in Rick’s low-ball and the wine glass next to me that must be refilled. “Spa gift certificate, please, and at least two hours to sit in the quiet room and eat that almond-and-cranberry mixture and drink sparkling water and sip that herbal tea that tastes better there than at my home and read a book and be away from everything. Like, ‘Calgon, take me away.’”
And Rick nods. I think he understands.