The Sunset

I like the seat on the far end of the train car. Against the wall to the next car. Under the AC vent that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I treasure the times it does, especially when the residue of a long work day covers my skin in disgusting sweat. Sometimes, I even nap on the train. Sometimes, I read. Mostly, I write. It doesn’t feel like I spend that long on the train, even though it’s sometimes over an hour. I enjoy having the option to do what I want. I enjoy the commute home. I didn’t always.

When I was still married and lived in Wisconsin, I would drive an hour each way to work every day on dark country roads just to come home and cook dinner after a twelve hour day and cater to a husband that wasn’t even nice to me. I just wanted to go home some days and relax. He frowned upon that.

We were sitting on the couch one time after a fight. The why of the fight was not important. It was the after that was important, the two words I uttered. “Screw. You.”

I read an essay once where the narrator said her husband described his handiwork on her face as a sunset. A beautiful sunset.

“Screw. You,” I told him as I flung our single black kitty cat pot holder at his head.

“Screw YOU,” he volleyed back as his fingers dug into my upper arm.

And then later on the couch, in my pajama tank top and shorts while some ridiculously over-volumed action movie played in the background, he stared at my arm and he said it looked like a sunset. I never forgot that. I never forgot those words. I never forgot the look on his face as he told me I was beautiful, that I would always be his beautiful sunset. He did not say sorry. Neither did I.

She left her husband, the narrator in the essay. And I left mine too. Sometimes you do what you have to do, regardless of how the other person feels. Sometimes the sun has to set in one place in order to rise elsewhere.

My therapist told me recently that his voice is the tape that plays inside my head. The words there used to be in his voice, but they played so often, over and over again, on an endless loop, that now they’re in my voice. Now I tell myself that I am everything he saw in me. But I have worked hard to change this about myself. I have worked hard to become someone else. It is a different kind of sunset. It is the better kind of sunset.


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