Guardian Of My Sanity…

I felt him standing there before I saw him. I looked up to find Ken paused in the doorway observing me with an arched eyebrow. “You have that look,” he commented in a reproving tone.

“What look?”

He rolled his eyes at my deliberate obtuseness. “That look. You need to get out of here.”

“Whatever do you mean? I’m fine.”

“Uh, huh. Take a look in the mirror. I’m doing fine. You? Not so much.”

“Thanks. Thanks a lot.”

“I didn’t mean it that way, you twit.”

I touched my thumb to my nose while wiggling my fingers and crossing my eyes in his general direction. He wasn’t impressed. Or amused.

“You. Out. Now. Go breathe some fresh air. Or at least go haunt one of your old bookstores for the afternoon.”

I protested because we had both been up much of the night with Jacqui due to her recent CVS episode, “You need some time to yourself too…”

“I told you I’m fine. You, on the other hand, are not. You’ve been hovering over Jacqui for weeks now and you can either walk yourself to the door for a change of scenery, or I’ll boot you there.”

There was no arguing. I had neither the energy or motivation to go out — which was precisely why I was being escorted to the door. “Okay, okay… I’m going.”

And so I went. I thought about serving my time by sitting out in the driveway in the driver’s seat of our car, but that thought only lasted about a minute as I balked with the notion of being told what to do. Then common sense took over. No point in being belligerent to my own detriment. I had car keys and an afternoon all to myself. The driveway would not be the most brilliant use of my time.

I pulled out of the driveway with the thought of heading to the local Barnes & Noble book store, but then my car did a funny thing… It turned a different direction. I stopped at the grocery store, picked up a loaf of out-dated bread and headed towards the park. I fed the ducks and geese and then leaned back into a park bench and watched the clouds. I went for a walk. I strolled bare-headed down a riverside path as hail pelted cherry blossoms from the trees in a fluttering blizzard of pink. I walked until my fingers grew numb and I laughed when a hummingbird dive-bombed my path as I returned to my car. Good to know I hadn’t forgotten how.

My car meandered past sleepy shops and I stopped when I saw the sign of an old bookstore. I stepped inside and could feel my eyes lighting up from within. A cluttered shop, jammed near floor to ceiling with books. Doesn’t get much better than that. I parked myself in a dusty corner with an armful of aging yet timeless treasures: A collection of Dickenson’s poems in an unassuming dark green cover with faded, yet ornate end papers, a tattered calf-skin volume of Longfellow’s poetry with the words, “To my darling Jenny ~ 1897″ written lovingly on the fly leaf, a small red leather pocket volume with worn gilded edges and no title that fell open to a someone’s long-ago favorite words penned by Keats, and an obscure little collection of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales with the cover loved threadbare. I spent the rest of my rare afternoon with my finds, most of them too costly to enjoy beyond the afternoon. But what a lovely afternoon it was!

I returned home after trading my pocket change for the tiny copy of Wilde’s tales, grateful and rested. Grateful for hummingbirds, clouds, and cherry blossom blizzards. Grateful for timeworn books and introspective afternoons. Grateful to be sharing my life with Ken, my very best and truest friend. Like Wilde’s “The Happy Prince”, his heart is generous — his first thoughts for the welfare of his wife, for his children. The guardian of my sanity who sends me off for a a solitary afternoon of soul-mending with a smile and a wink at his expense. Because he knows I will do the same for him.

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