I sighed as I loaded the suitcase in the truck. Another item checked itself off my mental list. Book, check. Pillow, check. Clothes, check. Birdcage, check. I walked back into the house and looked around. Nothing left on the couch to pack. I was ready.
As I locked the door I sighed again. Who'd have thought I'd be leaving behind everything I cared about on this, my twenty-fourth wedding anniversary?
I locked the door, hearing the "chunk" of the deadbolt with the finality of a jail cell door. I got in the truck and drove away without looking back.
A glorious trip beckoned, a long drive with good companionship, but even that couldn't compare with what I knew to be behind me. Tonight, as I bed down in my friend's new home, I know my husband will be spending his night in our house, alone. Even the animals won't be there.
I wonder if he will, like I did, wander through the echoing rooms, fingers lingering over a shirt, the bedcovers, a coffee cup? Knowing there are a zillion things to be done, yet doing none of them? Wondering where I am, what I'm doing right this second?
It doesn't feel like twenty-four years. Jokingly, I tell people we've only actually been together for twelve or so, since Harry's so often out. "My part-time husband," I say. Like all couples, we've had bad times, good times, hard times, and those moments we coast. We've fought and made up, struggled to make ends meet, and rejoiced in our good fortune. We've had dogs and cats and birds and mice and snakes and fish and even a few wild animals in the house, underfoot, or in the backyard. We've owned no less than eight vehicles.
We've gone through the stages of the Kid Question. When we first got married, the "thing" to do was settle in and have children. We didn't. So people would ask us, during the first couple of years, "Oh, when are you having children?" When we said we weren't, they would either shut completely up or look upon us with sympathy - obviously if we weren't having children, one of us couldn't . . . perform, right? Then for the next few years, the question was "How many children do you have?" When we said, "None," that sympathy look would reappear. How sad that we'd been married for one to five years and didn't have children, right? Then the questions no longer came for a bit. I can only guess that everyone figured it was a sore subject for us. Finally, these days, when we answer "None," the return comment is almost always, "You were so smart!"
Were we? I don't know, but it is the lifestyle we chose and I wouldn't change it. If our biological clocks ever ring the alarm bells, we can always adopt. There are plenty of kids out there who need good homes, and I feel like my home is one of the best.
I feel blessed every day when I come home to alaHouse. I have many of the good things so many people don't: a husband who loves me, a house that's been partially renovated to our specifications, my health, my job, my pets, and my life. Of them all, I value most the man who shares my world, even though we'll be spending tonight apart.
As they sang in Cabaret, "Somebody wonderful married me." Twenty-four years ago today.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Hakala