The Pain of Shared Custody
My daughter drops off a box for me late at night when she should be asleep. Inside is a Ziploc bag of kale and another Ziploc filled with delicate Concord grapes.
“Eat the grapes,” she says. “I’ve had too many, I’m graped out. But you’ll love them.”
I don’t have the heart to tell her that on my drive home from Vermont earlier in the day, I saw a pickup truck at the side of the road selling four different types of Concord grapes; for eight dollars, I filled a quart-sized green cardboard box with each variety. I ate so many on the remaining three hours of the drive that I, too, am graped out. I smile and thank her.
“Don’t eat the kale,” she says. “I picked it this morning. Wait til I’m home so we can eat it together.”
The oversized shoe box housing these items was made for ski boots; my eyes linger long enough on the price tag that she catches me.
“Dad got me skis and boots for ski season. Don’t worry, these should fit me next year too,” she says. I nod and open the box again to see what else is inside.
Under a layer of tissue paper is a set of dinner plates, each translucent pink Depression glass plate sectioned into three TV dinner-style compartments. I had purchased them years ago at a thrift shop when the kids were young, the days when they ate a lot of chicken fingers with ketchup and a side of cucumbers, each food fitting neatly into its own triangle of space.
“Thanks for remembering,” I say, giving her a quick hug. I have been irrationally obsessed with reclaiming these plates, making her promise countless times that next time she was at the country house, she would bring them back for me. With all that these plates represent — the young years of my kids’ childhoods, my love for pink glass and vintage items, my earnestness in creating a house that felt like a home — I cannot bear for them to sit unused in a kitchen that is no longer mine.
She pulls away when she sees her dad beckoning from the car idling outside.
“I have to go,” she says. “But I’ll see you tomorrow.”