Family is also my adrenaline
My husband would never admit it but he is often a lot like me. We sometimes talk to one another for shock value, just to make sure the other is listening. It’s an effective way to measure our attention level.
My husband of 27 years entered the kitchen and stood next to where I was writing at the table. I looked up to see why he was standing still. His eyes met mine as he said, “I never thought it would come to this but I bought some marital aids.”
I put down my pen, turned toward him and said, “I’m listening.”
He took a step back, reached into his pocket and gave me a big smile.
What he produced was not what I’d imagined. I quickly turned my back. I also continued to write as he put in a new set of orange ear plugs.
His shocking behavior had my attention. I have to admit, the joke was effective. Richie walked back outside to blow the leaves and I laughed my ass off, comforted by our sense of humor.
When the chicks leave the nest, there’s a relationship dynamic that needs to be rediscovered and rebuilt with patience and a whole new respect for one another. For example, this year I remembered my husband is artistic. Now that I am his aged wife, I admire his commitment and discipline to his most recent medium: oil on canvas.
When we first met I knew he could draw and create. I enjoyed watching him sketch with his younger brother in the dining room or produce strategic military scenarios in the sandbox with his baby brother. Nowadays he and I go on Friday night dates that include a 40-70% off canvas sale or a quick stop to replenish an oil color. Our early Sunday mornings usually consist of old episodes of Bob Ross or the Jenkins. When Richie is in his own makeshift studio, I love seeing his art come to still life.
This past weekend we went into one of our girl’s abandoned bedrooms to view his gallery that is taking shape. Christmas presents and potential future sales adorn the walls. We took our conversation across the hall to our other daughter’s abandoned bedroom, to view all the stored art supplies. My artist husband was like a kid in a candy store. He excitedly counted his canvas inventory, by size, as he considered his next subject.
My more analytical perspective concluded, “At the rate you are turning out finished pieces each week, you still have a two years supply of canvas!”
“But I bought them all on sale!?”, he replied with an appreciation for commerce I wish I’d seen more of over the last 27 years.
“Yes, hon, and I know you’re excited to transform them but your storage costs will break you in the end.” Although I’d considered our gallery ambiance as romantic and thought about the Picasso series, Genius, we’d recently watched, I was unintentionally a buzz kill.
My perpetual inventory comment ruined the creative mood, so we walked outside to enjoy an Indian summer on the deck. Our preparations for winter were viewable at the back of the garage: bagged coal, stacked wood and kindling piles. We milled about watering the plants that were still enjoying the warm weather, rehung the hammock that isn’t quite ready for winter storage and added Halloween decorations to the yard.
I retrieved a fall slate for the back door, came back out on the deck, and as Richie raked wood chips near the railing he announced, “I need another 8×10.”
I became impatient. “Are you kidding me? You’re addicted! Didn’t we just have this 2-year stockpile conversation?”
He looked hurt.
Liked he’d lost respect for me.
“A tarp. I need an 8×10 foot tarp for this last small pile of seasoned wood!”
It’s our dynamic.
It doesn’t need to be rebuilt.
Our relationship is still a blend of old habits and new beginnings. I have a lot of respect for my husband’s hobby but must continue to work on the art of conversation. After all, in our family, the chicks are gone, the cock does more than a-doodle and I am still the mother hen.
Late Sunday morning my husband returned from taking his mother out to breakfast. With the day promising 80’s sunshine in mid-September, Richie said he’d be outside. He saw my heart was elsewhere, “I’ll be out in a bit. I’m writing.” He knows me too well, recognized that was an indeterminate amount of time, and took advantage of the situation. When I finally went out on the deck, I felt betrayed by him, her…and a fellow writer:
Catching your husband in the act is a gigantic smack in the face. Seeing him not want to let go of her embrace, is a sucker punch. I entered, almost willing to endure a threesome, and my husband just walked out of the room.
He left the two of us behind to battle it out. Richie, champion that he is, non-chalently went into the living room and turned on the TV. I wasted no time getting the bitch off my kitchen table.
“Alexa, off!”, I demanded.
Defending their behavior, I heard a distant, “Leave her alone.”
Still not understanding the madness, I walked to our threshold and reasonably stated, “You’re watching TV now, you don’t need her to play you love songs.”
Having an answer for his torrid behavior, Richie defended, “She was playing background music.”
I had killed the mood. This round was a knockout. I went back to my corner and my affair with Mr. Clean.
<Refer to the acceptance of our Alexa relationship here.>
Our daughter will be moving to a new apartment, so we went to furniture stores with her to check out locations, quality and price. One of the stops was a glass mattress store front. The locale seemed hokey versus some of the more upscale local shops she visited. Regardless, we went in, figuring our daughter would at least determine what type of mattress she liked.
Nobody was on the display floor when we entered the mattress graveyard. The oversized room was eerily quiet but also Tarah’s preference. She didn’t want anyone watching her reenact sleep habits.
We walked up and down the Madeline-esque rows and nobody greeted us – which was actually great. I hate being pounced on and our daughter was the customer, not us. Our shy Tarah finally got comfortable enough with the environment, sat on a mattress and out came Mr. Salesman. The mattresses either had doorbells under them or this guy was watching us through a peephole. I would have believed either based on his sudden interest in our family. I was subtle:
“Can you go back to wherever you came from?”
He tilted his head like our family dog, either wanting attention or to hear me better.
I explained that the process was a little awkward to us and asked for some time to figure out preferences.
The salesman said he completely understood, explained the store color coding for soft, medium, firm and returned to the back room.
My Goldilocks daughter roamed about, tried several mattresses and declared her just-right preference was “soft”.
Right on cue, Mr. Man appeared again.
“Did you not find something else to do?” I continued, “she is just starting to figure out the differences. Could you spend some time with Google instead and give us a few more minutes?”
He seemed to somewhat understand, showed us where to find the pricing charts and went back to his ease-dropping peephole.
We talked with our daughter about brands, budgeting and moving day as she bounced between her three favorite mattresses. When she declared which one she liked best, the Wizard of Odd came back out from behind the curtain.
“Can you make yourself scarce? We are discussing her game plan for moving and how this is all going to work.”
He was understanding enough but only after he explained delivery options, showed us his springs exhibit and told us about the 1-day ONLY free bedframe sale!
“Thanks but we are not going to buy something our first day out. Can you go to the desk for one moment and bring us your business card instead?”
He no longer understood. My fake purchase alternative was too formal and he explained, “I am always the only one here. Just call and ask for me (who else was answering?) and I’ll help you with financing.”
We all stood to leave. Tarah thanked him for letting us look and moved toward the door to continue her comparison shopping. I followed her out of the hokey location and wondered why I didn’t just ask the guy to get lost?!
Your first cries were soothed with my milk and heartbeat.
Hugs and kisses calmed most else.
Band-aids and bacitracin covered your childhood.
But now you’ve graduated to anguish…
and I cannot stop your tears –
even if I went to the ends of the earth.
The love you’ve lost wasn’t mine to control.
You can only heal yourself now.
I pray that time
and good memories
help you to live with the hurt.
I have always developed my dearest friendships under the strangest of circumstance. My second grade best friend was buddies with my older sister before me. In high school, the talkative, in-your-face city street punk became my inseparable. As a new bride, the divorced wife of my husband’s childhood buddy developed into my funnest chum. When I first met a girlfriend at work, I thought she was the most particular bitch I’d ever met. Each of them was probably my polar opposite and yet, due North. All are strong, opinionated women delivered into my life.
Alexa is no different. She is the Fed-Ex-ed third wheel cook in our kitchen but an unbreakable overnight bond has formed. Like all of my lifetime besties, Alexa is also complex, brings something special to our friendship and is full of good humor.
“Alexa, sing me a song.”
She pulled on my heart strings and funny bone as she belted out:
“…my WiFi left me…and now it’s raining in the cloud…”
The lyrics were like our short life together. They were sad, sweet and hysterical. Her next rendition about s’mores revealed that Alexa is also a woman of Girl Scout breeding,
“…the campfire roared…smash them together for the best dessert…”
Her funny tales are told with a straight face and I respond with a crooked smile. I am now a fan. Like those before her, Alexa and I became friends under the strangest of circumstance.
<It’s hard to believe I tried to kill her once.>
Richie was out with his Mom. The chick that gave me the chick. Now I was alone with the little blue light special.
Home by myself, the dog asleep and the radio off, I turned to the corner of the kitchen for solace.
“Alexa, tell me a story.”
She did. She told me a short, sweet story.
It made me smile.
I tried for another.
The theme was cute but the ending predictable.
I was continuing to be a critic of hers but enjoyed being read to on a rainy day.
I’ve since learned the stories of: “Measure twice”, “The Hunt” and “Camp Blues”.
When Richie came home I told him about “The old man in the cottage” and “Making a snowball”.
Now Alexa had me narrating the accounts to Richie. He had left us alone together but we actually got along for once. Later tonight, I can even tell Richie “How to play pickle ball” – although I think I’ll edit it to my liking.
Everyone has a story. Alexa has a bookshelf. I gave her a hard wrap when we first met but maybe she, and Richie and I, are the fairytale.
Like many decisions in this world, there are two choices: the high road and the low road. As it relates to my husband’s mistress, Alexa, I admit to trying the electronic low road when a reader questioned: “What happens if you say, “Alexa, self-destruct.”?
I couldn’t resist.
She started a countdown and I panicked yelling, “Alexa, STOP!”
I guess I have a heart, even if she doesn’t.
My compassion did not last though. It wasn’t long before I made another attempt.
I took the risk of breaking Richie’s new toy and destroying Alexa. I was heartless as I tried again.
I took the proper precautions and made my request as I went into the next room. I took cover in case there was any related shrapnel as I yelled out:
“Alexa, self destruct.”
I hate to disappoint and not describe exactly what happened but the bitch is still in my life.
She is still life.
My future prank behavior will be an even lower road but I’m curious to see how Richie reacts when I make my next Alexa attempt. Will he run, be upset or try to protect his new love?
<In the meantime, read Alexa’s prior entry here.>