I ducked to slump into my car for the commute home, heaving the door closed with what seemed like the last of my energy. It had been a rough day at the office. The key in my ignition felt like it was 1000 pounds, because, as I already mentioned, my energy was used on the whole door thing. I just sat there, unable to turn the key, and wondered about the difference a day made. It seemed like an eternity ago that my body felt energetic and new, that my heart could feel joy... but it was only the night before. I leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and drifted back to my happy place.
The previous night, my husband came home after several weeks away for work. To celebrate his homecoming, we went to a favorite local restaurant of ours. I sat across from this man, both familiar and exciting to me in his triumphant return home... until it all fell away and there was nothing but me and them.
The waitress beamed with pride as she bounded across the bustling restaurant floor, skilled in her delivery. It was as if time itself has ceased to exist. To be in the presence of such magnificence was not something I had thought I would experience in my youthful existence, yet here I was. With grace and pride, the young woman released the plate, and in a divine fashion it floated through the air to softly reach the table below.
"Your medium-hot chicken wings," she proclaimed, "are served."
In my dumbstruck state, I could only manage to bow my head and shed a single tear. She floated off to the kitchen, and I raised my head slowly to get a glimpse of the wings. Hot. Orange. Savory. Saviour-y. The plump, spicy kisses from God were there in front of me, and for the first time in the long time, I was at peace.
"I'm home," I whispered.
I opened my eyes and jolted forward in the driver's seat of my car, awoken from my dream. My eager key ring jingled as if to signal to me to begin my race home. I visualized the half an order of godliness awaiting me in my fridge at home, and again, the rest of the world melted away as I made my drive toward peace and comfort. I couldn't have possibly finished my brush with the divine in one sitting; the heavens knew I would need this second encounter with the wings that day. I did need it that day. Thanks, heavens. You're alright.
I poised myself at the back door before entering the presence of greatness once again. I didn't want to seem too star-struck this time, I had to play it cool. The heavy canvas bag slung over my shoulder slid to the floor as I bent over to untie my tight sneakers. Already, I felt a weight, the weight comparable to that of a heavy canvas bag, lift off of my shoulders. Machine guns blared, men shouted to take cover, and my adult husband swore because he was playing video games with twelve year olds from Indonesia who were much, much better than him. Alas, nothing could bother me. Not even being married to a man-child.
At least, that's what I thought.
The next moment is still a total blur; bits and pieces have stuck with me but I can't tell you what it would have looked like from the outside looking on at the tragic scene that unfolded that day in front of my refrigerator. I can remember dropping to my knees and screaming through my tears, "Who did this?! Who could do this?!" I heaved forward with each sob, my forehead resting on the cold, stainless steel of the empty refrigerator.
As I recall, my husband, one ear of his headset slightly lifted so he could listen to both me and the Indonesian pre-teens insulting his mother, stood above me with a menacing look; fake confusion that I finally saw right through. He was sick, wild, and never in my deepest darkest fears would I have ever imagined it would be him who held the empty take-out container in his hand... but love is pain. Loving men, loving chicken wings; you will always know pain, but we must remember that to know this pain, you were lucky enough to have ever loved at all. Especially if it's the pain of someone eating your leftover chicken wings.
Though many details escape me, I do remember the words my husband spoke to me in that moment.
"I didn't know you wanted these," he whimpered, "I was just hungry." All I could do was close my eyes again. From there, it feels like my eyes were closed for a long while.
Today when I open my eyes, I can see the blur of the boxes in my back seat clogging the view of my rear-view mirror. These boxes represent a fresh start, a step toward a life free of pain caused by others. As I reach to shift my car into drive, I notice a white Styrofoam container on the passenger seat with a note attached. I pick up the note, scratched in a familiar handwriting.
"I seriously cannot believe you are ending our marriage over leftover chicken wings, but you are obviously insane. Happy trails, and enjoy this order as a parting gift."
I open the container to reveal a dozen medium hot chicken wings. The orange sauced glory just barely breaches the feeling of loss, but it brings me strength. Though he is sweet and gentle, my ex-husband cannot undo his wrong. I nudge the car into drive and begin to slowly pull away when I see the man I once knew standing at the foot of the driveway. Through my tears, I reach to the Styrofoam container, pick up a wing, and toss it out the window to him. He shouts, "My eye! You got hot sauce in my eye!" but I can't hear him over the blaring joy I feel leaving this anguish behind. I look to my chicken wings and remember a simpler time back at the restaurant; the waitress's smile, the dimmed light, the feeling of nothing else in the world being important but that very moment. That feeling was finally back. I grab a drumstick wing and took a slow, savoury bite. The tears continue to trickle down my cheek, and once more I whisper,