We’ve been married a long time—long enough that it requires less calculation to say how long we haven’t been married than how long we have, when anyone asks. And we’ve been married long enough to drift apart, a casualty of shifting interests and temperaments, patience and desires. It’s common, I suppose; it’s just not widely advertised.
Oftentimes couples wives try to pinpoint what happened, if there was a single incident that pulled the loose thread that unraveled the sweater. Did I change, or did he? she’ll wonder. (Translation: is it my fault, or his?)
In our case, he changed. In our case, it’s his fault.
Because what kind of animal doesn’t enjoy going to Disneyland?
Oh, he liked it just fine, early on—at least he said he did. But now I can’t help wondering, was it all an act? The smiles, the offers of a Dole Whip, the sitting statue-still while a lady clipped our silhouettes, her hands flying like a Benihana chef’s? Or did he like it just fine for a date, because he knew I liked it, his teeth gritted behind that smile? No, that can’t be. I can spot insincerity from a Space-Mountain-on-a-school-holiday-line away. Besides, he’s not very good at acting.
I don’t understand how he’s blind to the memories, why Disneyland doesn’t hold the slightest sentimentality for him. It was, after all, where we took our firstborn on her second birthday. Is that when it happened, when he became a man I no longer knew? Kids under three were free, so he couldn’t argue with the price. Was it because that free admission ballooned into half a paycheck by the time we left? Or that he had to carry our daughter for hours when she was too tired to walk? Still, it was nighttime by then and the scorching July sun had set. To this day I don’t know what he was complaining about.
Over the years our family’s size and Disneyland’s ticket prices increased concomitantly, and we visited less often—or maybe it was my husband’s grumbling that kept us from going. Anyway, while we were gone they became crafty, those Disney folk. For instance, rides no longer exit into brilliant California sunshine; now they dump you directly into themed gift shops so that when your Pirates of the Caribbean adventure is over you find yourself wading through tricorne hats, eye patches, and flasks. But where I see crafty, my husband sees money-grubbing, children-stalking henchmen. Potato, potahto.
We will probably never go back—not because our girls are grown, but because Disneyland recently raised their adult ticket prices to $99. Without parking. Without food. Without Advil.
So I’m left with my memories and my silhouette cutouts. Come to think of it, maybe there weren’t any flasks in that gift shop after all—maybe I’m just fantasizing about what would have made a day at Disneyland with three small children bearable: a flask filled with something stronger than a Dole Whip.