((Part Two of the Colleen Series – Follows The Bookcase))
Colleen arched her back in a luxurious stretch as she waited for the espresso machine to whir and hum, and drip, drip, drip the rich brown extraction into the pristine whiteness of a porcelain cup. The cup was as new to her as the machine itself, both indulgences that her now-ex-husband would have called a waste of money.
To Colleen, though, they weren’t extravagances. Rather, they were investments into what had become her savior: Sundays.
For the past sixteen years, her Sundays were spent tip-toeing around her home, in deference to the ex. He’d always wanted to sleep in. She, on the other hand, had merely wanted to avoid provoking his temper, and protect herself from the days of The Silent Treatment that would inevitably follow if she made too much noise.
Of course, there was the other reason for her early Sunday mornings: in order to have even five minutes of peace and quiet to herself, she had to arise before her children.
Colleen had always embraced motherhood. She loved her children desperately and never regretted a single moment with them, but the problem with being a mother was that no matter what happened, there was no break from it. She had finally accepted that privacy would never again exist in any aspect of her existence, because who can even pee in peace when there are little fingers under the door? And how many times had she slipped into the tub with a book and a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed to suddenly find a child sitting on the edge of the tub?
But now the divorce was final.
During those first weeks after their separation, especially the weekends when the girls were with their father, Sundays were lonesome, and the only peace she seemed to find was during late night solo cleaning binges. At some point the sweat and toil of cleaning had turned cathartic, and after that, the act of reclaiming the house had put her almost into a Zen state.
The real turning point had come when she’d ditched The Bookcase (in her head, the phrase was always highlighted by Capital Letters). Something had clicked within her, and she was able to see the possibility in the old house becoming a home again.
What used to feel lonely now felt like glorious solitude.
The Breville sputtered to a stop, but before she grabbed her cup, Colleen patiently rinsed the porta-filter in hot water.
Lifting the cup from the drip tray she inhaled the heady aroma. The doppio cup of espresso was perfection crowned by a rich layer of crema. Smiling in anticipation, Colleen scooped up a single demitasse spoon of turbinado sugar and let the grains fall into the cup, bursting through the caramel-colored foam with a series of satisfying plunks.
A tiny sip and her mouth exploded with happiness at the rich, slightly bitter, completely heavenly nectar.
Colleen carried her cup to the table where the Sunday New York Times awaited her.
Also waiting was Ingrid, who seemed to love their Sundays as much as Colleen did. The dog had done her business whilst they retrieved the paper. While the coffee was brewing she’d eaten her breakfast, and taken her position underneath the kitchen table.
“I guess you can call that frog-dog spread you do settled, huh, Ingrid?” she said as she raked her toes across the dog’s big, broad back.
Ingrid grunted happily in response.
It was funny, Colleen reflected, how her now ex-husband had done a 180 when it came to spending time with the kids. During their marriage, he had always been too busy to deal with ballet lessons or soccer practice. He’d never bothered to attend even a single Meet the Teacher night.
Yet, during the negotiations with the lawyers, he suddenly declared that since Colleen had “broken their little family,” the least she could do was agree to him having the children every weekend. So, written into the divorce decree wasn’t the standard “Dad” agreement, but the mandate that he was to have the children from noon on Saturdays until Mondays after school.
That meant he had to deal with the inevitable weekend boredom of nine- and thirteen-year-old girls. He had to adjust to the fact that Sunday evenings meant coaxing them into bed at a reasonable hour. Now that summer was drawing to a close, he would be getting a crash-course in the challenge of Monday morning school runs, especially since one child’s school began at eight AM, while the other’s didn’t start until nine.
Colleen wondered how long this new arrangement would last. Despite being part of the divorce decree, she saw the custody arrangements as an experiment. But no matter what the results of the experiment turned out to be, it meant that Saturday nights and the entire twenty-four hours that made up Sundays belonged to her.
And oh, did she relish the nourishment of these Sundays.
For the first time in her memory, she was able to focus on the one area of life she’d neglected in the hustle and bustle of being a wife and mother: tending herself.
Even more, Colleen saw this as an opportunity to begin reinventing herself. She’d colored her hair and was experimenting with wearing her natural curls. She was slowly shifting her wardrobe away from “contemporary soccer mom” and toward classic lines, and a lot less black. She’d even changed up her go-to nail routines of French-tipped fingers and I’m Not Really a Waitress red toes.
Her current choice: Bogotá Blackberry.
Colleen admired the reddish plum sheen of her freshly polished nails as she skimmed the book section of The Times.
As long as she was treating this as an experiment, she didn’t panic about her life not being planned down to the minute. Listmaker that she was, though, Colleen had begun a section in her journal where she collected “All The Ways Sundays Are Saving Me”.
She could stay home, order Chinese food, and catch up on Scandal or read an entire book in one sitting. She could go to bed ridiculously early.
She could go out with a girlfriend on Saturday night, stay out late dancing until the clubs closed and not returning home until 3 am. And on those mornings, she could sleep long past her typical six AM internal alarm clock.
She could go out on a date and invite a potential lover home. And, she could send him on his way after a little necking or after a quick romp between the sheets.
Usually, Colleen would send him on his way because the idea of actually sleeping with someone made her feel more vulnerable and naked than she ever did during sex.
Her belief that no many would be interested in an almost forty-year old woman with two kids had been proven false. And even the 100-pound Ingrid had not deterred most.
She had to admit to herself, though, that one particular beau had begun to worm his way into her heart and a few weeks before she’d broken her own unwritten rule of no sleep-overs and invited him to stay the night.
It had been glorious in a way she’d never imagined or experienced. She felt like she’d had a tiny glimpse into the kinds of love affairs shown in movies and romance novels with the dual passions of hot, after-dinner, I can’t-wait-to-have-you sex combined with the sweetness and tenderness of a slow, morning, repeat performance.
Now sex was an important component of her list.
That perfect Sunday morning coupling. That languid pull. Waking naked after an evening of fucking, with an arm around her waist or fingers on her breast, and the hardness of morning wood prodding her ass, just waiting to for an invitation to make love. Glorious morning sex – before coffee, before showers – with the sun streaming through the blinds.
Morning sex – and not just on Sundays – was new for her. Unlike most men, her ex had never been particularly physical, and after she’d become a mother all of their lovemaking had been furtive, taking place in the dark.
Colleen had read the articles. She knew she’d been pretty much living Madonna/Whore syndrome. And there was another thing for her list: being seen as neither Madonna nor Whore.
Coffee paraphernalia hadn’t been Colleen’s only new purchases.
She’d also invested in some exquisite Natori Loungewear. She loved to fold back the covers of her bed, climb out of it, and slip into a chemise or camisole and shorts and toss on a matching robe. There was something that made her feel elegant when she wore Italian jersey trimmed with Chantilly lace, so soft against her skin. And the matching robes made her feel pulled together.
Dressing up for herself – whether she woke alone or with a lover – added to the gloriousness of Sunday mornings.
That’s why she would practically float to the kitchen to start the coffee pot or turn on the espresso machine. That’s why she would often sing to herself as she and Ingrid went to collect the two – two! – Sunday papers from the driveway.
That second Sunday paper was another new indulgence, one she’d been without for too long because the ex had insisted it was a waste of money, when all she read were the lifestyle, travel, and book sections.
(Actually, Colleen thought, she now had three newspaper subscriptions, since adding the Friday delivery of the Wall Street Journal to the local daily and her Sunday Times.)
Coffee in hand, dog at her feet, Colleen spread the paper across the kitchen table, and let the scent of ink and the feel of the newsprint on her fingertips mingle with the taste of that first cup of coffee.
Maybe later, she’d make a pancake. Maybe the neighbor would notice her paper gone from the driveway and pop in for a visit.
Or maybe not.
These Sundays may not last forever, but for now, the day was hers. And it was saving her.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.