The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

All Grown Up December 10, 2010

Filed under: Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 7:00 pm

The prompt was this phrase: Our Adult Lives.

It produced some powerful, sad, beautiful writing.

Here’s what I wrote.


It’s easier in some ways: the quiet mornings, a cup of green tea, the dishwasher full of clean dishes. The phones are turned off, thirty minutes on the yoga mat, the morning light through the yellow leaves of the birch tree. There’s no Good Morning America blaring in the kitchen, no coffee pot, no dog to be brushed and fed and walked, no schedules to discuss, no meals to plan.

Now, he sits in the cool loneliness, planning a trip to a foreign country, where he will sip black tea with old friends and remember that life is good. The ten-year-old car with 84,000 miles on it, the little savings account for that new sofa he has his eye on, the wide bed with jersey cotton sheets, the friendly landlord who calls him Sweetie.

This is a good life, isn’t it?

On Friday, he and a girlfriend, a sister, really, go Christmas shopping. They lunch outside in the first week of December: crustless quiche and tropical tea steaming the cool air. They each buy gardenias and wear them as corsages. It’s a six-year tradition. The lights in Union Square come on and they work their way up to Nob Hill for a steak dinner.

This is a good life, isn’t it?

People love him, want to buy him lunch; cards come in the mail: thinking of you, have a great time on your trip. At night, he sleeps deeply. Dreamless sleep. The heat clicks on in the morning, the tea kettle whistles. He’s alone. Safe. There’s no one else to consider.

This is a good life, isn’t it?

He’s reading more. In her memoir cookbook, Judith Jones has a section titled, “Meals for One,” and he skips it, envious that she can enjoy that after her lifelong companion is gone. Perhaps that’s why she can enjoy being alone: because she had a lifelong companion. Are her mornings quiet now too? Does she have grandchildren, an old cat?

He decides it’s okay to feel sorry for himself. The blue yoga strap flat against his foot, the toenails trimmed and neat. He still has nice feet, doesn’t he? He’s still desirable; it’s not too late.

After a few weeks, he puts the photo of the dog away. Her wrinkled face, the little hammock bed, the silver frame picked out just for him. It hurts, the absence of them both. The absence of the commotion, the messy floors, the impromptu parties; he misses how it felt to stretch that way, to let go of control, to surprise himself. To feel happy.