August 13, 2000
Little Pockets of *Happy*


Sunday morning. I am sitting on the kitchen floor in front of the ugly pink stove with a fork in my hand, waiting for my toast to broil.

It has been five months since David accidentally melted the Happy Panda Toaster, and we still haven't gotten around to buying a replacement toaster. Making toast, these days, is much more of a production than it used to be. Lighting the ancient gas stove. Firing up the broiler, located in a drawer beneath the oven. Lining a cookie sheet with two layers of aluminum foil. Carefully positioning the bread directly beneath the broiler element: not too close or it'll burn ... not too far away or it'll be Thanksgiving before breakfast is ready. Then sitting right next to the open broiler door and monitoring every moment of the toasting process, in an attempt to avoid recreating the infamous *Oven Mitt Incident of 1998.* It takes forever. Dynasties have been created in the time it takes to toast four stoopid slices of bread under the broiler. Wars have been fought and won. Jennifer Love Hewitt's "singing career" didn't last this long. We've pretty much abandoned toast as a *breakfast option* these days as a result.

But what can I say? Some mornings ... nothing but toast will do.

On top of the stove, a panful of scrambled eggs simmers patiently. I've added a dollop of last night's leftover Bed Picnic Bruschetta to the eggs, as well as some *mystery cheese* left over from Jaymi's visit (one of the six or seven unidentifiable blocks of hard white concrete, left unwrapped in the cheese drawer). I top it off with a liberal sprinkling of pepper, and a pinch of some anonymous green stuff from the spice shelf. The combination smells interesting and vaguely foreign. My stomach rumbles pleasantly in anticipation.

David is singing in the shower ... a joyously noisy rendition of "Double Shot of My Baby's Love." The sound travels through the thin walls of The Castle, from the bathroom to the kitchen, and -- I suppose -- elsewhere throughout the apartment complex. (I hope our neighbors are as appreciative of this Sunday morning serenade as *I* am.) He will be leaving shortly -- another day of family funfunfun, out at his parents' home in Walnut Creek. As always, I've been invited to come along ... as always, I've got legitimate reasons to decline. (Holding up the box of Miss Clairol #455.)  One of these days he'll ask me to come along and I'll say "yes," just so I can enjoy the look of surprised disbelief on his face.

But not today.

Sunlight streams through the dining room window. I can feel the heat from the broiler on my knees and my thighs as I sit, Indian-style, in front of the stove. The kitchen smells warm and friendly. I absently scratch my ear with the fork and hum along with David.

This weekend has been filled with unexpected pockets of *happy* a lot like this one.

It didn't start out that way. I spent most of my day off from work, on Friday, mourning Jaymi's return to TicTac ... weeping over her empty bag of Gummy Bears, listening to bad country music, lapsing into thick dreamless two-hour naps, one right after the other ... but by the time Saturday morning rolled around, I had regained some of my bounce.

In fact, yesterday was as close to perfect as days come.

It began with the pure pleasure of waking up next to somebody I am wildly, profoundly in love with ... and knowing that we had an entire day to spend together. Nothing we did was destined for the 6:00 News -- mostly it was typical David-and-Terri Saturday stuff, running errands and driving around in sunshine and talkingtalkingtalking -- but I just seemed to be more aware, than usual, of little things yesterday. Fat wedges of fresh lime served with my taco at lunch. Finding not one but two "new" Elizabeth Berg books at the library. David wordlessly reaching for my hand whenever we crossed the street. Sunshine burning the tip of my nose. The smell of onions and ripe apples at the fruit stand. The Portuguese announcer on the car radio. I noticed all of the little things ... and even more interestingly, I noticed myself noticing. Like there was a part of me standing off to one side, nodding in approval and saying "Yes, she's paying attention. That's very good."

We came back to the apartment early in the afternoon. It was very hot in Alameda yesterday, but we'd left all of the windows open when we left, so our apartment was cool and dark when we got back. We put a Nick Drake CD on the stereo, curled up next to each other on top of the bed, and drifted off into a delicious ninety-minute nap.

Late in the afternoon, after our nap, we drove back across the island for groceries and rental movies. I felt miraculously calm and cleansed ... beaming beatifically at people from the open window of the Subaru, as we drove along South Shore. (They probably thought I was stoned. Nobody smiled back.)  At the grocery store, as we were loading up our cart with coffee and milk and toilet paper and hot fudge sauce, I walked past a display of school supplies and was seized with a sudden urge to buy a spiral-bound theme book. Lately I've been thinking that I want to start writing some things by hand again. I miss the way a pen feels in my hand. I miss the sight of my own handwriting. I picked out three of the books, in three different colors -- turquoise, black, red -- and headed for the checkout line, feeling absurdly pleased with myself.

In the evening we bed-picnicked and read library books and watched two terrible rental movies. (I think David prefers to watch bad movies. It gives him something to do. "If Ashley Judd has just rammed into Tommy Lee Jones' car," he says scornfully, his mouth full of bruschetta, "and then she rams into a phone booth after that, why isn't there any damage to the front of her truck?" And he rewinds the movie, to prove his point. And of course he is absolutely right.)

I fell asleep at midnight next to the gently-snoring Other 50% of the Population, feeling as though I had probably just lived through one of the finer days of my life.

I already know that today will not be the *golden day* that yesterday was. Sundays rarely are. Today will be less carefree, more prosaic, more task-oriented. After breakfast I'll slip into my baggy, Miss-Clairol-stained House of Blues T-shirt -- I call it my "To Dye For" shirt -- and I'll banish the gray for another five weeks. I've got a bunch of laundry to do. I need to check and see how many pairs of viable pantyhose are still tucked into the underwear drawer. I'm still wearing Friday's nail polish. We need to make a grocery list for Son #Only's visit next weekend. The apartment is starting to look a little chaotic and user-unfriendly again.

But first: I'm going to have breakfast.

My toast is done. Each slice perfectly browned on both sides, perfectly crispy, perfectly perfect. I spear the toast slices with my fork and transport them from the broiler to the cutting board, where I spread them evenly with a layer of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. (Oh, I can *believe* it's not butter, alright. But I must make the occasional caloric concession, here and there. See: hot fudge sauce.) Yes, I miss the Happy Panda Toaster, but the truth is that toast tastes wonderful cooked under this particular broiler. I don't know why, exactly. I ladle a spoonful of scrambled Bruschetta eggs onto the plate next to my toast, and pour a fresh cup of coffee, and wander out to the living room to sit on the sofa and eat and read the Sunday paper. Maybe today is the day my dream job will be waiting for me in the Classifieds.

Today may not be the golden day that yesterday was ... but I am determined to find more of those little pockets of *happy,* here and there.

Beginning with breakfast.

throw a rock