I’ve been called many things in my life, but last night I heard what I believe cannot be topped in what remains of my days. It was around midnight, and Mia and I had gone to bed after an evening of immigration admin that had brought me within a micron of gouging my own eyes out. I had spent hours stitching together our travel history using emails and a magnifying glass to inspect the entry and exit stamps in our passports. Then I did the same thing to retrace where we had lived, and when, down to the day. Throughout, as is my nature, I ranted at no one in particular and provided a running commentary of what I was having to do. Mia, as is her nature, was calmer than I was. She could afford to be calmer because she wasn’t really doing any of the work. Instead, she viewed the whole business almost as an outsider, with passing interest and mild amusement.
“This is for you too, you know?” I said.
“But you’re so good at it,” she replied.
Now she was dropping off to sleep while I tried, finally, to do something I could call my own, and read for a few minutes.
“I’m glad that’s done,” I said with some resentment.
Mia smiled sleepily and mumbled, “You’re my almond shiner.”
She pressed her head deeper into the pillow. “My almond shiner.”
It took me a few moments to compute this. “Shining armour?”
“Hmm,” she smiled faintly. “My knight.”
As she sank away, I pictured myself standing on a street corner at a little fold-out table, buffing almonds for a living and talking to passersby. That seemed about right, I thought, and turned out the light.