1. The post office
Driving through sketchy and sketchier to get there, wondering if the Pilot would scold me if he knew what I was doing, if I should have brought my pepper spray (even though I don't know how to work it, and am more afraid of spraying myself with it than of being attacked) when voila! Downtown Wichita Falls, looking tired and sparse; bumpity across nine sets of empty railroad tracks to get into the "metropolitan district". Large buildings that are faded like a worn-out poster from last year's circus, but here and there signs of life: an open antique shop. The post office is so big I almost miss it. All I have is quarters for the parking meter; I pay for 30 minutes, but the post office is almost empty so I only take 5 minutes. I go through grand museum doors and my shoes click softly on the marble floor. A feeling strikes me that this is how post offices used to be, big, mysterious places with lots of wood and marble, a place that linked you with the exotic unknown. The post office man is kind and explains exactly why extra postage is needed for a square-shaped envelope. I listen seriously and murmur "ooh" and "I see" as if he were explaining a scientific procedure.
2. The library
The library is in another massive down-town building but it only takes up the whole first floor, and the afternoon sunlight filters in with that particular glow it has when it's lighting up a room full of books. A young man at the front desk explains that I can't get a library card until I have some sort of document that proves I live in Wichita Falls, but he's very kind too and I don't feel unwelcome. I drift through the bookshelves, picking up titles that seem interesting. There is a genealogy section! I don't remember if the large library I left in Colorado has that: probably it does but I never noticed. Perhaps I would never have noticed it; perhaps it took coming to a smaller library to notice it. I pick out the G-O volume of American family names and find my old last name and my new last name, not very far from each other. The children's section has lots of the books I read growing up, and I stand entranced with Mitch and Amy by Beverly Cleary for several chapters.
3. Candlelight Picnic Dinners
The Pilot came home from San Antonio (victorious! Nine Gs are vanquished!) last night, and I made spaghetti and lit candles and we ate sitting on pillows opposite each other, a cinnamon-clove candle burning between us on the beautiful European lace table centerpiece that was a wedding gift, and probably given with no idea that it would first be used for a picnic dinner on our living room floor. My heart had beat faster when I heard the truck door slam outside. He kissed me when he came indoors, and I was wearing an apron, and I felt like a wife. He told me about feeling like a 400 pound elephant was sitting on his chest in the centrifuge, and I told him about sulking through the orientation at the university that afternoon (as if I need to be told how to go to college!) and it struck me that this is home, home even without a table, or chairs, or a proper couch. It will always be home with him no matter what we have or don't have.