All she could do was stare at it. The hours seemed to pass by as she looked at the broken pot that was lying on the floor. In it, there was a wealth of memories that were crumbling before her, like all the things in the world were tied up in this pot. It was strange, because she never had seen this as something she cared about. The painted ceramic was not ugly or anything. It just existed and nobody had ever noticed it. Sometimes it had flowers in it. Sometimes it had other stuff. It had always just been in the room, sitting on the table. But as the rain could be heard outside, along with cars passing by, in the utter silence of the room, this pot was all she could see, and as she stared at it, a wealth of memories opened up.
The first time she had seen it, it was a house-warming gift from a friend she made at work. Pleasantries were exchanged. It did look nice enough. She would set it up on the windowsill or something, with flowers in it. And so she did. However, very quickly, it became just another part of the scenery. It wasn’t a house that she was being warmed into. It was an apartment. Her very first. Having moved out of her parent’s house, it was a brand new day in her life.
Another memory that came in was when she nearly knocked it over when her and her boyfriend came home, kissing and ripping each other’s clothes off. They hadn’t been dating for too long. Youth, hormones and no work the next day, this was how it went. They were smart. Neither wanted to be a parent. Everyone kept telling her that she would someday want it more than anything. That always seemed ridiculous. After all, children start as babies. Babies scream, they are never satisfied and they smell. What could a person possibly want one of those little jelly-beans for? As the two were crashing around the apartment, the pot was hit by her arm. It flew across the table, landing right at the end. The two looked up at it, laughing as neither knew if it would fall or not. Such beautiful summer days. If only they could last forever.
Then there was the wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony. He was a religious person. She wasn’t. Not that she had anything against the idea of God. She just didn’t buy into it. It was something that she went out of her way not to bring up. Why throw a wrench in a good thing, right? The pot was in a box that she was unpacking. They have moved into a new house. It was in suburbia. They both had good jobs. A marvel, considering the economy. They were living the dream. It was everything that she could have ever wanted and more. He had asked why she kept the pot. Much as now, she didn’t have an answer. It just felt right. The person who had given it to her had long-since moved on. They would exchange Christmas cards, or email each other once in a while. So why did she want to keep it so much?
Another memory quickly popped into her head – when Sara was born. In her early 30’s, she and her husband decided that they wanted to have a baby. It felt like the right time. So many tries, and they had given up hope. But now, they had the child that they wanted. Due to some health problems, they had to do a c-section. The baby was healthy and happy. It was so odd. All the feelings that she had had growing up, about babies being loud and awful vanished the moment that she held her daughter in her arms for the very first time. It was the best day of her entire life, when she looked up at her husband and he smiled at her, holding her and the baby tight. If only the days like this could go on forever. If only nothing had to change. They got home, and for reasons unknown, she looked at the pot as she sat on the couch, letting Sara nurse. Had it really been so long since the days in that apartment? What would the her of then say to the her of now?
The next memory was years off of the calender. Sara was now in school and her husband was a stay-at-home dad. He didn’t seem to mind. The man was a miracle. He worked so hard, and she kept food on the table. Life didn’t seem to get much better. However, the pot came back to her mind when another memory appeared. There was a young intern. Barely out of college, the girl was a bit of a mess. Youthful, attractive and full of spirit, it made her feel young herself. The two would be up long into the night, working on projects for the company. The husband made jokes that she was going to be the boss there soon, since she already was around the house.
In another memory, her and the intern are working, and the pot is on the table in front of them. As they both reach to grab something, their hands meet. Very soon, they are kissing and touching. She backs off, feeling mortified. Never before had she felt this way. Never before had a person made her want to love in this way? Was it a mid-life crisis? Was something wrong with her? Was her love for her husband a lie? So many dilemmas, and as they sat there, breathing hard, all she could do was look at the pot. The days at the apartment now seemed so much better. Back then, she wouldn’t have to worry about whether what she was doing was right or wrong. In those days, all she would have had to do is be happy. What was wrong with her?
Weeks drifted by. As hard as she tried, the draw was undeniable. The two would kiss in the bathroom attached to her office. They would be in the parking garage, while she would lie to her husband and tell him that she was working late on the project. It had been done for some time. How much longer could the lie be maintained? Every time these dilemmas came to her, the pot would come back to her mind. It became like a dark reminder of her life. Why couldn’t she stop? Why did this feel so right, and everything else so wrong? Where would it end?
Then there was the night the pot was broken. He had found out. One mistake. He was supposed to be out with friends, while Sara was staying over at one of her friend’s house. It was the first time in ages that the two were guaranteed some time alone. Everything was going so well. The candles, the wine, the chocolates, the kissing, the love-making. It was just like being that girl in the apartment again. She loved this girl, with all her heart. As much as she cherished her husband, the love she had for him was nothing like this. This was every wonderful emotion that one could ask for. And just like that, it came crashing down. He walked in. They were on the couch, naked.
From there, it all fell apart. There was the yelling, the screaming, the crying, the begging. The intern left. Now it was just the two of them. The justification, the rage, it all flew out. Emotions she hadn’t truly understood came into focus as she made sport of his rather submissive demeanor. Then, for the first time in the entire history of his life, he did something violent. He picked up the pot and threw it at her. It collided with her face, shattering into pieces. There was a long moment of silence. He was in shock about what he had done. She was numb to life. In a flash, he ran away. It was an escape that was the beginning of the end of their marriage. As she felt blood running down her face, she stared at the remains of the pot. It has been almost 20 years. 20 years, and the pot had been with her the entire time. Now, the last remnant of that life was gone. In that moment, she understood what it meant to her. In that moment, she knew. And that was when she started to cry.
Until next time, a quote,
“I don’t think you can analyze love. It’s the greatest mystery of all. No one knows why it happens, or doesn’t. Love is a chance combination of elements. Any one thing might be enough to keep it from igniting – a mood, a glance… a remark. And if we could define love, predict it – it would probably lose its power.” -Neelix, Star Trek Voyager