I was driving along Highway 7 in the mountains between Allenspark and Estes Park when I saw my husband’s white pick-up pull onto the road a half-mile ahead of me.
“He must have gone to the post office,“ I thought. He was headed home and I wasn’t too far behind.
We’d had a little disagreement that morning when I left for Estes. We’ve only been together for four years and the differences in our personalities are beginning to show.
I am a time freak. I cannot bear to be late for appointments, movies, or anything that has a commitment attached. If I am late, you can bet the event or gathering is absolutely inconsequential to me. Mike, on the other hand, relishes cutting it close. When we go someplace together in my car, I sit in the passenger seat in a mild state of anxiety if I even think we’re going to be late. The funny thing is, we rarely are.
“I should remember that,” I murmured to myself.
He and I have very different internal clocks. When we go shopping, I go in, get what I want as quickly as possible, and leave. He likes to wander the aisles, looking at different things, comparing prices and generally, enjoying the experience. He talks to the clerks, especially in hardware stores.
“Do you have the XYZ drill bit or do you think the ABC bit would do a better job?”
By the time he appears at our appointed meeting place, I am usually in a state – pissed off and angry at being kept waiting. He cannot understand why I am upset. The solution is obvious and it works – we don’t shop together any more.
“I need to be more patient,” I said out loud. By this time a car had slipped between his white truck and my Subaru so I didn’t have a very good view but I could still see him up ahead climbing a steep hill.
I thought of the dinner he had cooked for us the night before -- steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. He doesn’t eat a lot of red meat and had prepared the meal because he knew I would enjoy it. This morning while I was in Estes he had probably gone to the post office to pick up EBay packages for me. He is a very thoughtful guy.
He looks like a real mountain man complete with a beard and a ruddy complexion. He has very blue eyes. I find him attractive, which is a good thing. Those long winter nights are cold and dark and it’s comforting to have someone to snuggle against.
I felt bad that I had been short with him when I left the house. Like most arguments, it was trivial. It was caused by my desire to get things done immediately. I am not a procrastinator.
“Will you take the trash to the recycling center or should I?”
“You do it on the way back from town,” he said. “Then I won’t have to make a separate trip.”
“But I’ll have that garbage in my car all morning,” I complained.
“All right, dear,” he said, exasperated, with a special emphasis on the world DEAR. This morning, he must have made the trash run and then stopped at the post office before heading home.
I sighed out loud. Neither Mike nor I are youngsters – we are both in our 60s and I tell myself that we probably don’t have that many years left together. Treasure them, I tell myself. Live in the moment and celebrate life.
“I need to give him a big hug and kiss,” I said, talking to myself out loud in the car.
Mike and I met when we both lived in Davis, California. I was the director of a non-profit called International House that worked with students and foreign visitors. Mike taught an early morning tai chi class at I-House. Typically, we would both arrive there early and liked to start the day with conversation and coffee. He was a good teacher and frequently stayed after his class to work on fix-it projects around the old Art Deco building. He was a God-send.
When I retired and moved to Colorado, I asked Mike if he’d like a short vacation in the mountains to help me get settled in my new house. He said yes, he’d come out for a month and help me. That was four years ago.
Up ahead the white pick-up pulled over to the side of the road. Trouble? We still weren’t within walking distance of our house. I pulled up behind him and ran over to the driver’s side open window.
“Love bug,” I cried as I bent down to kiss him.
An elderly man I had never seen before looked at me like I was crazy.
“Same to you, lady,” he said.
I got back in my car and drove home.
-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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