It's one of my favorite kind of nights. My daughter and I just finished watching a movie. I'm still snuggled under a fleece blanket; I hear her tap-tap-tapping on the computer. My taps on my laptop echo hers. The fire is warm. The dog sleeps on the floor; one cat snores on the loveseat and the new kitten is curled on another blanket in the back of the big red chair.
The heat kicks on. A car drives by on the wet road outside. I remember when I was much younger, and 9:30 p.m. was just the beginning of the night. I think about when I was a teenager, and how butterflies took up residence in my stomach almost all the time. Expectation mixed with anxiety, stirred up with a heady dash of excitement. Something was always bound to happen sometime soon.
Another car drives by, and another. I think about my first boyfriend in his red wool letter jacket with the stiff white sleeves, about how we used to go driving around on a night like this. I wonder what we talked about or if we talked at all. I remember how he looked when he was driving, how he sprawled out on the seat, relaxed. For a long, long time after he died, I would catch a whiff of his cologne at the strangest times. I really would. No one else has ever smelled like him. Sometimes it feels like they are still out there somewhere, that 15 year old girl and her boyfriend, who ran cross-country and sang very badly.
The dog growls. My daughter yawns twice. The cat hops down from her perch and stares at me expectantly, then meows once. I think about my daughter, who at 14 is right on the cusp of when it all begins.
For her, I hope for a life like this, filled with the happy confidence of today and of memories stitched together, wrapped up in a warm blanket on a quiet winter's night.