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The Eighth Puzzle

Last night Mike and I started a 1000-piece puzzle. It wasn’t really planned. I mentioned to him that if he had not gotten up at 4:45am with me that morning I probably would have started a puzzle. I don’t sleep well. I have no problem falling asleep, but I usually wake up sometime between 2-4am and lay awake before falling back asleep shortly before my 6am alarm. It sucks.

Yesterday morning I gave up at 4:45 and got up thinking I would either try to write or do a puzzle. Mike padded in while I was making coffee and though I encouraged him to go back to sleep, he said he’d rather be up with me. I’d rather he be up too, so we had one of those rare, dark mornings sipping coffee and chatting before we both began the mad dash to get ready for work.

It’s odd that I thought of the puzzle. This one, the last of eight, has sat on my bookshelf for over four years. I actually love doing puzzles, but the desire to pull this one off the bookshelf wasn’t there until yesterday morning. Perhaps it’s the holidays approaching. My ex-husband’s mother always had a puzzle going when we spent Thanksgiving or Christmas with them. I loved sitting in my flannel jammies quietly chatting over a puzzle with whichever family member sat across from me while a cold Ohio winter storm was brewing outside, then a cold and snowy Pennsylvania winter, then the dry, crisp, sunshiny Arizona winter.

The first seven of the puzzles I mentioned are long gone. After I put together a puzzle, always 1000 pieces, I’m done with it. I pass them along to someone else. These seven went to Sarah‘s mom when I moved and came across them. I had put together all seven of them during a cold spell in Healdsburg shortly after my husband had left. I was unemployed, alone, and wallowing in misery. I woke up one morning and wanted to do a puzzle so I drove to Target and bought eight. Then I put the seven of them together in a week’s time while watching Lifetime movies back to back, crying, alternately drinking coffee, then wine, then more coffee.

We find things to get us through difficult times. In my case, I needed distractions. Landscaping my front yard was a three week distraction. Doing seven puzzles and watching really awful Lifetime movies was a distraction too. Two years later I wrote a poem inspired by that week.

So when I mentioned the puzzle to Mike last night he asked me where it was. He took it off the top of the bookshelf, opened the box, and emptied the pieces onto our dining room table. We sipped wine as we separated the edge pieces and I was filled with a warm rush of nostalgia, rather than the other memory of that cold week of 1000 tears.

photo-23

Boys’ breakfast this morning…

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