I know I have referenced in the past that I am content wherever I am. I am not the intrepid adventurer. I am more of a passenger of life: wherever it takes me, I will find pleasure. Thirty one years ago I left Detroit for life 300 miles West. I loved my life near my family, but I loved Steve so much I decided new roots would grow. They did. Every so often, I shake the bonds and leave my boundaries. It has been a great adventure.
I have powerful tethers to Chicago. My children are all here, with the women they have chosen and whom I adore. I have two dogs that seem to depend upon me and have fidelity to me. My home is not a castle, but it is a lovely nest. I have a position in local government that makes me feel useful. My friends are a sturdy, supportive group. Life is good.
I am also in a unique and rather bizarre position: my husband is not working, and for the first time since he was 17, he is tumbleweed. He has built himself a daily responsibility, a podcast of ninety minutes or so. He can do this from any location with internet access. For the winter, he has fulfilled this part of his routine from Florida. I have tended the life he leaves behind when the wind chill dips below 20. I do not mind the solitude, and both of us use the retreat to re-examine habits. Well, to be honest, I have examined, but Steve has changed
. He will return home with 15 fewer pounds, and a mandate that we will eat better. I have 4 days to eat all my squirreled away junk food. My habit of heading to bed with crushed ice and Fuze will end. No more all night TIVOthons. Back to Sports Center nightcaps.
Landing in Fort Lauderdale.
I visited Steve twice this winter. I did not expect to find peace in Florida so soon after Dad died. Yet I did. My desire to sell our part of the senior citizens’ compound ebbed and flowed a little. I need to figure out if the place will be infused with sadness, or the smiles that sweet memories bring. I need to see if my family will choose to retain Dad’s condo after we breeze through the pod of money he left for its maintenance. If Florida is to be a place where the 6 Joliat families can congregate and love each other, perhaps my map to the West Coast of Florida can be incinerated. If the community ownership of Dad’s place causes friction or or issues -I am out. Time will tell.
The last week was noteworthy for time spent with my niece and her boyfriend, my nephew and his buddy from West Point, and my brother and his wife, Marietta. Steve was once a fringe dweller in the family, but the last few years have seen him move to the middle. He has traveled with my siblings for all these years, and shared some pretty hard times. He, like Marietta, is one with us. I had to smile, hearing Steve ask Paul if he wanted to use our guest room (no) despite his desire to wander wall to wall in his underpants. Maybe Paul remembered Steve’s boxer short sleepwear and wished to spare his wife. Or maybe Paul just wanted to be crocheted into a cozy cluster with his own kids. But Steve asked, despite his rather anti-social underpinnings.
All in all, I think Steve likes to have the family condo stocked with victims for my Janter. It frees him of the need to talk to me. Last Thursday as I boarded my plane I was melancholy to leave behind my husband, my memories, and the resort season. This last year has raced by. I keep wondering if I should have loosened my bonds to Chicago and spent the season with him. He has one more winter of freedom; I have one more winter as a trustee. Timing is everything. I am stapled to the North, with time off for good behavior. He is Freebird.
The man walking away is Steve. Each day, he loads his backpack with a towel, water, and his i pod and beach walks until his heart monitor reads about 700. He may scan the beach for scenery, but he does not confess. He seems glad to do this alone.
Friday, Steve will arrive here, tanned and thinner. I will re-learn to sleep with his snoring, and the dogs will have far less space on the bed. The Blackhawks will distract him from the weather’s cruel tricks, and the White Sox season will beckon him to their frosty park. He will have to learn to resist the aromas wafting through the Cell. He has accomplished a great deal in his sabbatical: the sagging roof in our Florida bathroom was patched and painted, the guest room was stripped of its bunks and enhanced with a queen bed. Closets were subdivided. Shutters were ordered. Patio furniture was commissioned. All the old stuff went to new homes.
Me? I stripped my retro clothes out of my closet and rearranged it. I shifted furniture from room to room. I dragged 30 years of photographic history upstairs, where it mocks me for its disorganization. I’ll get around to it….
More importantly, I had friends come over to watch movies or talk. I read. Went out to dinner. I convinced my Doctor that I need my knee replaced, and scheduled a zillion pre-op appointments. Without the axis of my world here, I pushed myself out. It is good practice.
Next week, I will become the adventurer, leaving my roots to visit Holland and Belgium with 7 other women, including my sister. For the next 10 days I will look around my life and take stock of all that I love-family, pets, my home, my newly arrived husband. I will wonder if I am nuts to go far away to seek new experiences. I will be sad when I say good bye to it all. I will get out of my comfort zone and grow. Then, for a week I will be content on a river cruise, with good company, frosty air and dancing tulips. I will grow sad when we part. The cycle continues, and I am blessed to have so rich a life, and so complementary a husband. If I can, I will schlep my computer so you can come along for the ride. I will be using my wings, enlarging my history. But my roots are here- even Janet Dahl et al is part of my grounding.