I’m renovating my kitchen so I can start life anew with no regrets. Now don’t get me wrong—I love Susan. And the twins have brought me more joy than I’d ever imagined possible. But my new kitchen will be really big. It will have a dishwasher. And a gas stove and granite countertops and maple cabinets and a trash compactor.
Also? It will have an island. Two islands. Three. One for food prep, one for plating, and one for stretching out on a towel and soaking in the sun. That one will be an elevated sandbox, basically, and the twins will use it to build sand castles and dig holes, and some mornings I’ll get up extra early and bury myself in the sand, and when Susan comes in to make breakfast for the twins I’ll leap up and scream at the top of my lungs and she’ll be so surprised she’ll spill coffee everywhere! Maybe that will make her love me again.
We’ll call the islands “The Archipelago,” and host lots of tropical-themed dinner parties, where we and our guests will wear swimsuits, roast whole pigs, drink Corona, and go snorkeling. We’ll have spent the previous week lining the kitchen floor with stones and sea plants, pumping saltwater into the room, and stocking it with tropical fish and seals and sting rays and manatees and sharks. Not big sharks—baby sharks. But deadly. Plenty deadly. I’ll ask my guests if anyone wants to be the first snorkeler. “Anyone?” I’ll say. “Anyone?” And if no one volunteers I’ll nudge Susan into the water. If she survives, she’ll have a new appreciation for life and we can move forward in our marriage full of hope and joy; if she doesn’t, I can rest secure in the knowledge that it wasn’t me who killed her, it was the sharks.
I have always loved the sea. “Boy, you’ve got saltwater in your veins,” my grandfather often said to me when I was young, which made me run upstairs to my room and furiously poke myself with paperclips to drain all the saltwater from my body. When I grew older, I yearned to be a skipper, or perhaps a first mate, on some schooner headed off toward the isles of Cape Verde. I stowed away on a ship called the Wet Sweatshirt and nearly made it out of port before being discovered by my parents, who told me to get out of the washing machine and go do my homework. And that is how I became an accountant.
My new kitchen will have two ovens: one for each twin.
Susan has never liked to cook, but I think that could change once the renovation is complete. She’ll take one look at the Wolf five-burner glass stovetop, the La Marzocca semi-automatic espresso machine, the wine refrigerator, the humidor, the waterslide, the palm trees and think: “Maybe I’ll make dinner tonight. Maybe I’ll do something to ease the burden of my husband, who does so much. Maybe I’ll start talking to him and having sex with him and generally acknowledging his existence again. He is not so bad. He is pretty good. He is smart, and not ugly, and makes a good living, and put so much time and thought into this beautiful ocean-themed kitchen, which I love. And I love him. I do. I love him.” And she’ll say to me: “I love you.”
What we used to call our bedrooms and bathrooms and the laundry room and the room where Mommy went to be alone will have been razed for the islands and fauna and seascape and wave machines. We’ll have to sleep bundled up together in a pup tent in the driveway. Susan will make ham and butter sandwiches in case we get hungry at night, and I’ll pack extra sweatpants in my old college duffel. It will be fun for the twins at first, but then they’ll get cold and thirsty and want to share our sleeping bags, which will make it harder for Susan and me to rejuvenate our lovemaking.
But that’s okay. Because when morning comes, and the four of us stumble inside, ragged from the cold, we’ll see our reflections shine off the granite and stainless steel. We’ll gorge ourselves on fresh young coconut flesh. We’ll pet the seals and warm our toes in the sand, and we’ll be a family again: my children, my Susan, my kitchen, and me.