Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I see the Future and it's Metallic and Shiny

Where to begin? Well, let's see. We rushed home from our stay-over in San Diego. The son of one of Robert's best friend's was killed in a shooting. He was in a bad neighborhood and that's all I can say about it. We made it home the night before the funeral with no time to unpack. Now, Robert's father is failing fast. He's been hospitalized for months and the end is very near. And there are other family dramas and sorrows as well. I go to sleep at night thanking the heavens for my children's good health and fortune. And Robert, who's heart is so damaged is my other concern. He never complains, but tires so easily these days. I should be babying him, but my measure of the state of his condition is always by how often he plays golf: If he can play golf at the drop of a hat, then things can't be that bad, right? "Come on fat boy, let's go for a walk," I holler, when I'm geared up to go and want company. I'm so mean, yet he comes along cheerfully crediting my insistence on fresh air and exercise for keeping him alive. Shoot, compared to what lies at home begging to be done, a little three-mile walk is nothing.

Yes, once again, we are home to face the reality of a sorely neglected house. It will take weeks to shine it up again beginning with a new lawn which Robert insisted we seed rather than sod. I believe he wants to test the new sprinkler system's ability to nourish $200.00 in grass seed thus saving us money on installing sod. However, it's been raining so much that the sprinklers are unnecessary. Every day we try to tackle a project, be it closet clean-up, shower scrubbing, purging the garage or basement, or "operation dust removal" which eats up several boxes of Swifters. Robert hung a light fixture that had been sitting on the floor since last summer. He fixed a clogged garbage disposal in the bar and a clogged drain in the guest shower. He cleaned the fish tank. He repaired the BBQ. I pulled weeds and gathered and clawed up a million sweet gum balls out of what was left of our back lawn until I cried like Scarlet O'Hara, vowing to never be on my knees again, or something like that.

You'd think that our oldest son, Beau who has been living here at our request while we are away, would have kept things up. All I can say is he'll get his when he joins the sorry rank of homeowners, which may be sooner than we think. Now that we've returned he's restless for his own place where he won't hear me complain about his untidiness. His wheel and tire business is coming along, though slowly. Robert and I talk about business with him every night and suddenly we are so smart. He wants to know about mortgages and interest and real estate. He's suddenly become so grown-up and responsible, but he still drinks up all the milk in the frig and leaves his dirty laundry on the bathroom floor so the wish to part company is mutual. Only on that level. I am enjoying having him around. Allison, too. From the moment Beau returns from work she is right there by his side--or by he and his girlfriend's side. He has a girlfriend now, so she's here all the time, and while we were gone, probably more than she should. I gave Beau the "shackin-up" lecture which makes me look like a June Cleaver. He replied with the "test-drive" argument. I told her she has to go home by 2:00 am which is a generous closing time, I think.

They are content with quiet living--no nights on the town. She lives at home while finishing up school. After work, they watch television (with Allison) or play games (with Allison) or go for walks (with Allison). The sight of the three of them cracks me up for the irony. Growing up, Beau was critical of our boring life in the suburbs. I'll never forget when he asked me, "How do you stand it?" He wanted to live in Japan or somewhere exotic. Looking out at them on the fairway teaching Allison the backward somersault, sun setting on our dull little piece of paradise, Beau grinning ear-to-ear with contentment, makes me chuckle.

We didn't put Allison in school since there are only a few weeks left till summer break. Instead, St. Joan, our faithful nanny-surrogate-grandmother-tutor, is coming three days a week to school her. In fact, we won't be putting Allison in any school this fall since our plan is to be on the road seeing America. It will be Road School for Allie as we wonder around the U.S. and Canada in a travel trailer, our newest great idea. Robert is really retired, I guess. The suddenness of his rejection of work is slowly sinking in. I think we ended a long vacation in Mexico, but I'm waking up to the possibility that a 30-foot Airstream trailer may actually by my home for the next year. If I don't say yes to that I may well end up on a 30-ft trawler on the Mississippi River (his first-choice), he suggests. (What happened to the Catamaran in the Sea of Cortez? Robert's decided he wants to be where everyone speaks English.) I too, like the idea of seeing the U.S. state-by state even if it means big road trip. The advantage of a travel trailer is huge, though uncomfortable. But maybe no more uncomfortable than the inconvenience of unloading and unpacking at every hotel. I think of it like a giant closet... For me the adventure will be like living in a mobile classroom. We can learn about sights and areas as we travel. We can pick a spot, read about it, and then visit it. I could use Ken Burns' study of the west as our travel guide. I can read about the Battle of the Big Hole and then drag us to its re-enactment. We can watch "Dances with Wolves "and then go see a herd of tatanka for real!

Robert's friends are betting I can't survive the journey. They think I will freak to discover our adventure is just glorified camping and that I will grow tired of living in a 200 square foot tin can. We shall see. This may be just a whimsical thought that will pass when we concoct some other scheme. A few more weeks here and we may begin to settle into a routine. However, it won't be an old routine because with Robert's early and unplanned retirement, that one no longer exists. And if he gets to be home having fun then I want to be alongside. I could restart a career but he won't be sitting home planning dinner for me. He'll be out somewhere seeing things I want to see. He's not leaving me behind even if it means I'm coming along riding in a Silver Twinkie.

No comments: