I am in Florida.
Steve and I have merged and blended.
I don’t hear strings when I see him in baggage claim, but it is a relief to know that he cares enough to park and wait. That is not a Dahl protocol, but it is strictly the Joliat way. Detroit does not offer the livery options that Chicago does, so airport runs and glide-by grabs are our norm. So seeing Steve, arms folded, leaning against a wall telegraphs the fact that he loves me. Do I set the bar too low?
But there’s more. While I am here, Steve subverts his hyper-organized linear days. He is self contained in the extreme during his 3 month sabbatical, ritualized.
He gets up, has a Jimmy Dean’s Delites breakfast, reads the online papers from Chicago, watches morning TV, receives printouts from Chicago for the show, organizes and headlines them, does his podcast, has a Stouffer’s lunch, goes to the beach for a 2 hour walk, returns, showers, watches TV and goes to bed. You can imagine that our calls are not exactly scintillating: weather, dog misbehavior, sinus infection,kids and grandkids.
SO…I represent a huge disruption to this monastic life. Teddy Grahams, string cheese, and Marie Callender’s steamed dinners are his norm, with a Pyrex measuring cup of Blue Bell ice cream at bedtime. He has not yet played golf. The weekends stretch as a barren challenge to him: he may see a movie, drive 20 miles to get fresh juice, tinker with his computer, go Florindolent and watch a golf tournament. Unlike most of us, he welcomes Mondays. By then, he has had enough drifting, though he is content in the solitude. I don’t take it personally.
Though I brought my trademark chaos, he welcomed it, welcomed me.
Things he did: (husbands of Chicago, I know you are thinking, “that’s all it takes?” but yes….going afield of what you WANT or LIKE is a badge of love.)
He went to Publix. He bought me foods that are forbidden in his monastery: Dove chocolate squares and Oreo White sandwich cookies with birthday cream frosting. He grabbed a bunch of flowers and remembered to plunk them in water. He presented me with a Valentine, albeit one “To My Husband“. (It’s the thought that counts) There was French Vanilla coffee creamer in the fridge, though his coffee is always black. Though sober 17 years, he bought a bottle of tequila, as I have declared Grapefruit juice and tequila my winter drink. (We are calling it a Chihuahua, cousin of the Salty Dog or Greyhound) He selected a red wine. (Maybe he likes a tipsy Janet?) He had the apartment cleaned. He bought tickets to a movie at the deluxe cinema- of course it was Identity Theft, but hell- it was Date Night. He told me I looked good, despite the fact that my sinus infection had sucked the life out of my face.
In short, my husband would give Romeo a run for his money. All he is missing is iambic pentameter.
The days have been uneventful. His compu-cohort and co-host Dag is on a vacation, and he and Brendan are charged with posting the shows. It has been a complicated ordeal for him to manage from afar. But despite 6-7 hours of daily computer challenges, he has been gracious and sweet.
He did not bristle when I took the car to the airport to grab my sister, despite the fact that he doubts my driving, navigating and intersection skills. He wasn’t visibly irritated that I forgot to slide the seat back and his knees were subsequently bludgeoned. My disappearing act to visit with the other Joliats in residence (3 sisters) has been tolerated- hell, probably welcomed. My ersatz stacking of the pillows from the bed was corrected and modified without a lecture. He ignored the fact that I went silent as I read a book (Defending Jacob, a good read) cover to cover on the porch. He shared 3 episodes of Peepshow with me. It was a good day.
He loves me. I can tell.
It is a coldish day here. I have arrived in sync with the first torrential rains of his stay. There were high winds when the clouds cleared, and today’s high is 60. Life is still good. He’ll walk on the beach with extra vigor, and forgive the fake knee that keeps me from joining him. He’ll return to watch the Blackhawks. I’ll slither to the pool, and babble with the girls, which he will gladly miss. Later we will go to the Apple store where he will oversee the installation of a new battery in my computer. We will order a festive pizza and watch Downton Abbey close out its season.
It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But it’s everything.
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