Last Christmas I was furthering my experiments in living alone. I booked a business class seat on Amtrak for Vancouver, B.C. and my favorite hotel in the heart of the city's homeless section. I had packed only what would fit in my eVest, so unlike the homeless with their grocery carts and black trash bags, I was essentially more dissolute than them. And when one stopped me on the street to inquire “whether the old age pension checks had come in,” I felt as if I had transitioned completely to life on the street.
But it wasn't to be.
This Christmas there is a beautiful tree wonderfully decorated by Carol in our very own living room. Two of her younger grandchildren have already tried to ransack it with merry giggles and octopus arms. And on Christmas Eve I will be hosting my own first New Orleans-style dinner, complete with gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya and boiled crawfish. Laissez le bon temps roulez!
Carol has sat through three Saints games (and counting) and I have walked barefoot in the sand. Yet, (Reid being Reid) I believe we both remain committed to discovering either an emotional or social problem severe enough to threaten our relationship, one that would require great effort and sacrifice, if not a miracle, to work through. I'm confident one is out there, and perhaps in the new year, one will present itself to us.
In the meantime we'll continue to muddle through the same joy in our souls and song in our hearts that have been greeting us each morning with the same sad realization that our first big argument or major disagreement will simply not happen again this day.
I'm kind of looking forward to it, though, so I can try out my now proven “two-minute fight rule.” Introduced during my years with Carolyn, the rule is that no fight or argument can last more than two minutes. At the two minute point, the fight must become physical. That is to say, it must devolve into a “penguin fight,” complete with flapping arms. Carolyn and I never got that far or off the starting block, for that matter, probably because limiting any argument to two minutes hardly made one seem worth starting in the first place. Which, I suppose, is the whole point.
As widows, Carol and I are uniquely aware of the fragility of time. The only thing you can guarantee is to live each minute you do have together to the fullest. And that means there's precious little time to waste on arguing. Hence, the two-minute rule.
The other day, I prevailed upon Carol to permit me some holiday shopping at a local thrift store. She is not the fan of second hand stores the way Carolyn had taught me to be. “Just don't put this in a blog,” Carol admonished me as we walked in.
So maybe this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Probably not. If the way I watch sports hasn't caused a healthy row yet, I'm beginning to despair that any of my annoying behaviors will.