Sunday night for dinner we had pasta with red sauce, and two links of sausages cut into medallions and fried. Caroline cooked it, I served it, and before I put the food on our plates, I counted the pieces of sausage. There were 25, which meant nine for Caroline, nine for me, four for Jay, and three for Wally. I found it satisfying to think of our family in this way, dividing up we have in proportion to what we need.
Later that same night, after the boys were asleep in their separate rooms (an arrangement I’d like to change), I lay upstairs in bed while Caroline stood nearby folding laundry. I watched her pull items from the hamper, one at a time, fold them, and place them in their separate piles: one for Wally, one for Jay, and one for me. We’ll wear those clothes in the course of our separate lives, Jay and Wally at school in their shorts and stripes, me at home at my computer in jeans and a button shirt. But it’s nice to remember, too, that we’re tangled at the roots, our private lives wound around one another’s.
I’m used to thinking about the ways that family ties hem me in, but when I counted out the sausage, and watched Caroline sort our clothes, I felt nostalgic more than anything else. My own childhood feels so long ago. It seems certain that when all is said and done, these entangled years will prove to be the rarer thing.