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CONTRACTS

Cindy Maddera

It was Memorial Day weekend and Michael and I met Terry and the boys at the Union Station Memorial Day celebration. I found myself in a conversation regarding sex which is not surprising considering the company. At some point in the conversation, one young man turned to me and asked "Are you good at blow jobs?" I opened my mouth to respond with something positive about my abilities, but paused. I looked at the guy who asked me the question and said "I used to be really good at it, but now? I don't know." I shrugged and said "The penis is different." The young man tilted his head to an angle, looking at me with total confusion and Terry then went on to explain my tale of two dicks. 

The empty spaces that came from Chris's departure filled up with doubts and a tendency to lean towards hypochondriac. For example, it's bug bite season and I know that the bites on my body are from mosquitoes or maybe a flea from the cat. I've not seen any fleas, but that means nothing because my crazy brain has already decided that the bites are from bed bugs. Michael keeps walking into my bedroom whenever I'm in the middle of searching the mattress for signs of bed bugs and every time he shakes his head as he says "We do not have bed bugs. Stop looking for them." There is a rational spot on my brain that knows this is true. We do not have bed bugs. But what if we do? I'm going to have burn the house down. Sometimes I think about burning the house down just to start over with a clean slate. I should probably not be left alone with matches or a lighter. 

The fortune in my Fortune Cookie Diary on Saturday said something like "talk to the person who is most on your mind." I wrote a semi-autobiographical story about not talking to the person most on my mind. I wrote about all the doubts I have in what I am doing and even doubts in who I am as an individual person. The things I used to be good at, I am no longer sure I'm good at any more. I struggle to answer a question because I don't know if I'm going to answer incorrectly, when there's no right or wrong answer to the question. I just hesitate like a deer in the headlights because I want to answer in a way that will make all parties happy. I am so caught up in thinking of the otherness of the other that I forget to think of myself. My happiness is not as important as the happiness of others. 

"What if this is all the love you ever get."

I have been working really hard this year to stop doubting myself. For one thing, the dead can not reassure me that I am doing things right. And really, what is right? That's my choice. I decide what is right for me. I answer to myself. Most days, it seems to be working.

Most days. 

When I came home from work last week, Michael said "let's go to Bella Napoli's and then get some groceries." He'd dropped the Cabbage off at her Mimi and Nona's earlier, so it was just the two of us. We were seated at a table fairly quickly, which isn't normal on half price pizza day there. It's usually busy but we had managed to get there before the rush. As we waited for our server, Michael mentioned that we had to be close to the date when we met there for the first time. We are both bad at remembering dates. I looked it up and we were a day off. It has been exactly five years. You know, I almost bolted? I was sitting on a bench, waiting for him to show. Chad and I were texting back and forth and I suddenly had the strongest urge to just get up and walk away. Except just as I stood up, Michael walked up to me. So, I went through with the date and then I thought I was ordering a glass of wine, but really ended up ordering a whole bottle. 

Michael has stopped talking about marriage. Instead, he has decided that we'll just renew a verbal contract every five years. This works for me. I've never been big on legal marriages. I've only said that I would do it if it really meant that much to him. I said the same thing to Chris. Chris thought it was important that we get married. It was not my idea, but there are big parts of my life that were not my idea.

And those parts turned out okay.