Mussels with coconut milk, fish sauce, lemongrass, red curry. Asparagus and crumpets. Slathers of stuff. Tempeh crumbled up and packed, pan-fried, slathered. Long sourdough bread, slathered. God I'm slathered. It sounds like exhaustion but feels like decadence. I put the little red table out and sit with my legs crossed, a dishtowel on my lap because it's always buttery, and it's a spread. I eat and process a wedding; eat and look a while longer at that thing that's due; eat and edit. Poached eggs, spinach, mushrooms. Lentils cooked all day long with tomato and oregano and red wine. I catch my reflection in the laptop and wonder: is that what I really look like? Sitting there with my legs crossed, buttery, on my own and not minding it, at least mostly, not for now? So unlucky, so lucky.

Some people are with people because they're afraid of not being with people. And so they are with someone, and they look in my window at my little red table and sigh, imagining solitude. Then they hold hands again and carry on down the street. Sometimes I get up to look out my window. Sometimes I don't.


We sit outside in front of the fire by the creek and talk about it all. Josh and Kari tell me about someone who told them once, trying to normalize grief, that the aftershocks of loss never get better. We decide that's not true at all. They say Liam and I say Margot and we all feel warm. I tell them I wish they could be at the Walk To Remember, the most beautiful day in Edmonton where I'm speaking again in three weeks or so. I tell them about the two babies that I'll get to hold on that field. They ask how things are, being on my own. I tell them about years of one pain being upended by another, about how the kids and I get Bud the Spud and go to a hotel and dance to 103 The Bounce real loud and the kids know it's cheesy, thank god, but we dance anyway, like cheesy people. I buy them bath bombs and they sit three feet deep in steamy bubbles and splash gets everywhere, and then we climb into a crisp white bed that feels like it's three feet deep and read Tweety & Sylvester. Josh knows wood and he asks me questions about the butcher block. We talk about wandering, the things we've seen. Skiing, minwax, California, churches, fried food, mountains. Mussels is all they've got at the store up the street, so I make them with salted herbs and lemon and beer, and we eat and eat and talk, and they say Liam and I say Margot, and together we decide that being open stings and hurts and incites fear and regret in the most exquisite way. Open is the way to better.