It has been one week since my husband left me, not for another woman, but for a job. After being unemployed for more than a year, he had no choice but to commute weekly to a consulting job 5 hours away. I've run all kinds of marathons in my life, but this first week nearly killed me.
Before Day One: I select my dinner menu and make a firm commitment to leave work at 6 pm instead of 7:30. This would give me time to buy fresh fish, cook sweet potato wedges and have dinner on the table for my 3 boys, who by 7 pm are limp with hunger and fatigue.
Day One: I leave work at 6PM, get the fish and get home. I can't find the cayenne pepper for my sweet potato wedges, which take half an hour to cook. Behind schedule, I knock on my neighbor's door. I don't say, "Hi Andrew." I just blurt out, "Cayenne Pepper?" He takes a few seconds to check with a crying baby in his arms, as I perch at his door watching the time. "No," he says, "do you want me to run out and buy some?" His hands are full so I say no. Next, I march down the hall to my retired neighbor. I can rely on her for spices; her father was a baker and she is a great cook. Unbelievably, she does not have cayenne pepper and suggests I use Tabasco sauce. I thank her for the suggestion but there is no way I'm using Tabasco sauce. Time is ticking. Ah ha! I think of my vegetarian neighbor -- she's got to have cayenne -- but, incredibly, she just ran out! Three neighbors are now in the hall talking about cayenne pepper while I've gone to the next floor to rifle through more kitchens.
The cayenne kicker is that I only needed one eighth of a teaspoon, and I had it all along, sandwiched in the middle of the spices which fell out of alphabetical order. (This is the part where Glenda the Good Witch taps me on the shoulder with her star wand saying, "You've always had the power to make potato wedges but you had to learn it for yourself!")
Day Two: I have to leave work mid-day to take my son, Mikey, for allergy shots. I will assess if he can safely walk from school to the doctor by himself so that I don't ever have to leave work early again. I don't like this walk. I don't like the scaffolding shrouding the street. I am afraid someone will kidnap him. Soon after Mikey and I get home, I am forced to face another great fear (other than kidnapping) when he asks me to help him solve a math problem. I haven't done a math problem in 10 years. Thank God it had a sports theme and I can do it: how many football fields can you fit into one mile?
In passing my son, Ray, asks if I mailed the important form to his new high school which is due the next day. It's in a green folder we got at orientation which he gave to me last month. I find it.
I grocery shop at 8 pm.
Day Three: I am scheduled for trial before a Judge who is super strict. I remember that Mikey forgot to feed the frog he is frog-sitting. I panic. I don't want the frog to die on our watch and this frog is already old and sick. I call my co-counsel and tell him I will be late for trial, and ask if he'll cover for me until I get there because I have to feed a frog. Later that afternoon, Mikey goes to feed the frog and reports back, teary-eyed, that the frog is not moving. I visit the frog that night. It appears to be dead. I break the news to my friends traveling in Europe that their frog is not moving. They offer to pay Mikey double his weekly rate for finding the frog in this sad state.
Day Four: Just to be sure, we check on the frog. It is now moving. I tell my friends in Europe: there has been a terrible mistake!! The frog is alive!
Day Five: My husband returns, triumphant after his first week at his new job.
Although I am now limp with hunger and fatigue, no one is more triumphant than me.