I allow myself ten minutes of self pity per day. It isn’t wise to take gulp it down all at once. Sipping is a better course. It whets the appetite but keeps some on reserve for when the mouth goes dry. After each taste, set it aside. Lift the eyes, take notice, breathe. Dig for a pen. Step into the music, call a friend. Give someone else a hand.

Over the course of a year or fifteen, perhaps the practice of coming up and out becomes the default. This is the hope, anyway.

So, please excuse me while I overindulge today.

Bug and I immersed ourselves in Halloween this weekend. Haunted mini golf, a raucous costume bash, and a pumpkin baking frenzy. I knew Tee would have Bug tonight as he does every Monday. Weeks ago, he asked if he could bring young Potter to my place for trick-or-treating, as my suburban neighborhood is a bit more pedestrian friendly than his town house complex. Last night when I called to confirm the plan – my Hermione costume ready, the house strung with pumpkin lights, a small mountain of candy by the door – Tee informed me he had changed his mind, “Didn’t we talk about this?” Miscommunication or oversight, not malice for certain. But still, my kid is not going to be here on Halloween.

We have had more than our fill of the holiday in each other’s company. Hell, he and I were singing karaoke and dancing until midnight on Saturday in our matched Gryffindor scarves. This is not a big deal. I even told the lawyer Halloween was not one of the holidays we needed to parse out in the Parenting Agreement, because it simply is not that important to Tee or me. Bug will be with the parent whose day falls on Halloween each year.

But, boy, did the news take a big scoop out of me. There was already a hole where my family used to be. The news is ice water on a cavity.

I do not want to go home tonight. Who can bear the chitter-chatter at the door, the pleas, the insufferable cuteness of their wings, their wigs, their gore?

This is a laughably small grievance. So many suffer much worse. The specters of lost children stab with acute, cardiac precision on the holidays. Friends I know have children across oceans, or who only come in the summers, or who are gone forever. Mine is not such a terrible fate. Bug will be with me on Wednesday, and on Thanksgiving, and again on alternating weekends into the only future I dare imagine

That still leaves tonight, and this insatiable thirst for self pity. The requisite moderately sexy Halloween outfit hangs on the back of my office door. I packed for work with a vague notion of something other than my house tonight. The streets here are lined with bars offering pub crawls and pumpkin beer to the childless and festive. Yet, I cannot work up the enthusiasm. Oblivion no longer satisfies.

I cast about for a texture for tonight’s indulgence. I open my tongue and taste the air. What is the craving? For ink? Steam? Curry? Stupid giggles with a friend? Silence? I circle back around to the same old place, the lessons not yet learned. When hurting, do something kind. Slow-dance the mind. Comfort the heart. Seek a source. Open the lips; take a long, slow sip.

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