Michael and I spent pretty much the whole day on Saturday at the RV dealership in camp trailer boot camp. We learned all the things about our camper. We helped winterize it and fold it up. They gave us a $50 gift card and shopping cart with our names on it so we could buy camper things like those wedges you put behind the tires to keep your trailer from rolling away and decorative camper lights. Then we signed a bunch of papers, hooked the truck to the trailer and ever so slowely creeped our way out onto the open road. We headed straight over to the closest Thai restaurant because we had skipped lunch. I ordered shrimp Pad Thai and Michael ordered a mushroom stir-fry. While we waited, he leaned across the table with a wide grin and stage whispered "We got a camper! Somebody up there must like us."
I grinned back, but the somebody up there part of his words kind of punched me in the chest. We talked more about the camper and I said "we need to name it!" Michael said we should name it something Chris related. Our waitress set our steaming plates of Thai food down in front us and I shoveled in a fork full of noodles. Michael asked if he could steal a bite while I slowely chewed and I nodded my head as the lump of noodles in my mouth seemed to grow. I put my head in my hands as I concentrated on swallowing the lump of growing noodles and then I started crying. Of course this left Michael stammering and asking what was going on. "Can you talk to me?" He asked and I just shook my head 'no' while my throat closed up around Pad Thai noodles and tears streamed down my face. I finally had to excuse myself to the restroom and clean myself up. When I came back to the table, I said "It was something about the somebody up there statement and the fact that this Pad Thai tastes just like Chris's Mom's that set me off." Which is all true.
The idea of naming the camp trailer something Chris related makes me want to stomp my foot and yell "NO!" In fact, right now I can imagine the satisfaction of throwing something in a rage at a wall and watching it shatter, something heavy and made of glass. I can see myself shoving all of the things off a counter top or tossing a table, Hulk style. The whole thing makes me mad and want to wail. I miss him without wanting to miss him. I am frustrated that my identity was so much Chris and Cindy and so very little just Cindy and that more than half the stories I tell Micheal start with "One time, Chris and I..." I've finally gotten a grasp on my own identity and I've maintained that individuality even in my relationship with Michael. We have our own separate things, though we've been moving closer to a merging. There is Cindy. There is Michael and there is Cindy and Michael. I don't want to name the camper after Chris. The camper is our thing, Michael's and mine. Chris and I never talked about getting a camper. I talked about it. Chris was all high tech tent gadget camping. This camper is OURS! Fuck Chris. Fuck all of this. I can hear the words in the back of my brain, but I will never say them out loud. "It's not fair." It isn't, you know, not to any of us, but I don't say it out loud because the response to every child's whine of 'it's not fair' is always 'life isn't fair.' Buck up, Buttercup.
I haven't figured out yet if Michael thinks that buying this camper is part of making me happy sort of like when he built the chicken coop. As if building a chicken coop and buying a camper will exorcise the ghost. I feel guilty about it, the way he goes above and beyond to take out that sadness that has settled in. I'm not sure I am entirely worthy of all of that effort. Michael just wants to make me happy, which at times I really don't understand. I admit to being emotionally numb for the last few weeks. Things that I should be happy about just make me shrug my shoulders with meh. I've plastered a smile on in hopes that no one really notices, but I'm no actress. When we left the dealership with our camper on Saturday, I felt a flutter of joy that I haven't felt in a bit. It had nothing and everything to do with buying the camper. I could imagine the future of riding along back roads with the dog in my lap and Michael singing along to some country song on the radio as we headed off to sights unseen.
I could imagine a future.