I remember the way it seemed as if the stars were strewn along the ice of the creek, each one a shimmering flame-point of light against its glassy surface. I had been brooding over the loss of my job, and my husband suggested we walk out into the evening's bone-chill to clear our minds with a brisk, frosty, foray into the forest that bordered our property, as he knew the gentle beauty of the creek would soothe my worries, as it always did. It had been that kind of day. Who goes to work in the morning thinking they're going to come home unemployed? Not me, that's for sure. I had worked at the same company for 13 years, and had no reason to think that my job was in any kind of jeopardy, but here I was, facing the truth of it - I had become obsolete. So much so, that I didn't even know it until they told me this morning. Stupid stupid stupid! I had let myself grow complacent, and didn't see the signs I was slowly beginning to recognize as I replayed the past few weeks in my head, and understanding - in retrospect - many of the weird tangents that my supervisor's conversations had gone on, lately.
"What would you do if you didn't do this?" she had asked me. "I always wanted to be a pop star," she had said, "but don't we all? Which of your discarded dreams will you pursue in your retirement, do you think?"
I should have known right then, I admonished myself, how could I not have seen it? How could I be so blind? I felt the warmth of my husband's hands through my layers as he kneaded the tension out of my shoulders and neck, down there by my sacred creek, and decided I had had enough of feeling victimized for one day. "Honey, let's just get a pizza delivered and watch a movie or something, okay? I don't much feel like making dinner tonight," I said, out into the cold darkness before me.
"Sure, babe," he replied cheerfully, "you oughta get fired more often, if it means we get to do pizza and movies!" I pulled myself from his embrace, turned around to face him, and punched him square in the solar plexus - not hard enough to knock the wind out of him, just enough to let him know he wasn't as funny as he thought he was. "Oof!" he huffed, and chuckled at me, "Okay, okay, I'm teasing! Don't hurt me," he begged, while putting his hands up to signal his surrender. I tried to body-slam him, but it turned into more of a bear hug, as he wrestled with me, and we both fell to the ground, giggling like children, and rolled over each other in the snow, down the slight embankment, and into the frozen creek, where we cracked through the ice and both shrieked like banshees as the icy water hit us. Laughing and freezing, we pulled each other out and up the bank, yelling wildly as we ran stumbling back towards the house, where all the lights in the windows made me swell with such bittersweet joy, that the light fractured into a thousand tiny rainbows at the corners of my tear-streaked eyes. I realized that I didn't care what was happening anywhere else in the world, right now - I was happy, safe, and loved. I was Home, and everything was going to be okay...