Mom and I got down to the bar at 3 o’clock and ordered a boulevardier. I would have asked for an Old Pal but didn’t want to sound pretentious. We then walked up to the steakhouse so we could get there right when they opened, but the drink really hit her she said, so we just got a split of champagne. Mom made some comment to our server about me, saying I was a dry birth—but the timing was all wrong and she said it too loud and our server just looked confused. When dinner came, they gave my order to mom and hers to me, and mom grabbed mine but the steak nearly slid off the edge, and onto my lap. Across from us a was a guy I used to work with at Starbucks with his wife, but he pretended not to notice me even though I could tell he did, and so I did the same and pretended not to notice him either.
When we got home, Dawn was watching a Judy Garland movie on her laptop in the den that looked Christmas-themed. I got the fire going, but mom retired to bed early. Charlotte was still pressing us for details on when we were going to move. We’d seen a house online all of us liked in a town called North Bend we were all convinced would be better for the kids school-wise, since we were fed up being around rich people and kids acting mean to Lily at school. She’d been caught in a handicapped restroom on a field trip JUULing with two friends but came clean, cooperated with the principal, but then came under ridicule from classmates, one (a former friend) even threatening physical violence (“I’ll end you”). And on and on and on.
The new house was bigger than ours, in the woods, well staged for selling. Eight-hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars. Dawn and I talked it over again in the morning and decided it was too rash, we loved our house too much to leave it. Could possibly rent it, but that seemed like a lot of work.
I got tired of the Christmas music and began an ’80s set, starting with the Human League. Dawn appeared out of nowhere, asking was I smoking grass in the bedroom (which I confessed yes, I was) and then gave me a hard time about it, and stormed off. And I felt like a heel, and lay back on the sofa with the fan blowing from the heater as she watched the rest of the Judy Garland film in the other room and the kids disappeared upstairs somewhere.
Sometime near 5 we woke to the sound of coyotes again and I went to the window to look for them, they were so close…such a hideous, awful sound…and in the milkiness of the moon and fog it was moor-like, Hound of the Baskervilles…and by 7, Dawn was getting out of bed wanting to go to Fred Meyers for stocking stuffers, and I offered to go with her…and by the time we exited the store, the sky was pink, and by 9 I was in downtown Seattle buying reissues of my favorite This Mortal Coil albums, Blood and Filigree & Shadow…and in the den I lay on the sofa as the sun apparently moved across the sky, and the cat lapped water from the Christmas tree stand, and I moved from room to room content to be alone, confused about what to do next.