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I am cold.

This is in spite of the fact that I have a quilt on my lap, I am wearing fuzzy slippers and a turtle neck sweater and, I will admit, my coat.

The state of coldness seems permanent.  Yet the status quo comes into question when I look at the photos of our family at the shore last summer. It feels incredulous to see us so skimpily clad... thin beach wraps, tank tops, shorts, bathing suits. I shiver to look. But in the attic of my mind I remember that I once was warm enough to dress this way, thinking little of it. Now it seems like those sweltering days have disappeared for good. I am half a century old, old enough to have watched the seasons take their reliable turns, though they have been known to tickle the edges of their appointed time with unexpected blasts in April, or balmy afternoons in November. Surely my memory is proof enough that days of swimming and ice cream cones are in my future.

But I wonder.

I just got this month's heating bill which is roughly equivalent to the price of our first car. It is thrice the fee we paid the midwife who caught our firstborn son.

Yet even though I keep the thermostat at an unbelievably terrific golf score, it costs to keep our family in an environment that does not induce hypothermia in January.

Once I was in a surly mood while driving when my own cd came on. The song was buoyant with idealism, popping with phrases like "Love opens the way" and "their love never sleeping." It clashed however with the emotions that demanded center stage of my heart right then. Love was not exactly opening the way in the feisty conversation, make that diatribe, that hovered just below the surface in my internal courtroom where my husband was being prosecuted for major transgressions involving trash, dishes and video games. Still the voice was mine, and I could remember, just barely, that I had at one time long ago felt that way. It was whittling away at the attorney's case, somehow.

I have walked into people's homes and seen beautifully framed photographs of them on their wedding day. The smiles are always genuine, the entwined arms a reflection of what was as real as it gets. Yet sometimes those same people are not currently smiling, or touching. Still having the visual reminder that we used to feel warm enough to let our bodies and hearts be vulnerable enough to wear tank tops and silly grins, can help defrost the sentiments that keep us apart.

It can cost to keep our marriages warm in the inevitable winters. Swallowing your clever and two edged words just before you speak them to the person you want to hurt... has a price. Picking up after someone who has again forgotten where you keep the dishwasher can take a toll. But sometimes, when you had stopped believing, the wind changes and you are laughing at a shared joke, hip checking in the kitchen, and noticing that the sun does come back after all.

I am not cold anymore.