We frequently fight, we often argue, laughter comes easy, and in the end we agree on where we are going, it’s just how we get there that sometimes causes a problem.
We’ve never had a plan, and despite working our asses off all these years, money’s scarce. We fly by the seat of our pants.
He fixes busted oil burners, flat tires, and leaky pipes. I don’t know how to light the stove when the pilot goes out and have trouble turning the TV on because he rules the remote.
I balance the checkbook, pay the bills, file the FAFSA, and prepare the tax return. On any given day, he has no idea how much money is in the checkbook. As you can imagine, this sometimes causes problems.
Somehow we have made it to our silver wedding anniversary.
For years he painted houses and I kept books. Now we keep an inn. On Friday a group of friends arrived for the anniversary weekend and we had a potluck dinner, and a late night of drinking and catching up by a roaring fire. It seemed appropriate. Twenty five years ago we ran off to Lake Louise with a small group of friends and family and exchanged our I do’s in front of a roaring fire under the watchful eye of a moose above the mantle.
If there’s anything we do well as a team it’s have a good time.
Back in 1991, February 7th fell on a Thursday. On February 5th we obtained a marriage license in a Triple A office in Calgary where we sat at a desk, raised our right hands, and swore we were legally unencumbered and eligible to be married in the province of Alberta. The woman who officiated the marriage legalities notarized our license and then gave us a Trip-Tik mapping the route to Lake Louise. In retrospect, this was also appropriate. We are restless souls who are happiest when in motion, traveling an open highway or a country lane in search of something new and novel.
Our daughters inherited this restlessness. Both of them stopped napping at the age of two and the only way to get them to sleep during the day was to take them for a ride. Just start the car and they were asleep before we were out the driveway. Ignition babies we called them.
Sunday February 7, 2016, after our friends checked out, and despite the piles of laundry and rooms to clean after a busy weekend, Rich turned to me and said, “Let’s get in the car and drive.”
We had no plan, just a route to travel and a New York Magazine article that as it turns out was full of misinformation. It didn’t matter. We have always agreed with Tolkien’s line, “All those who wander are not lost.” Wandering is the plan and getting lost is the destination.
Shortly after crossing the New York border, somewhere around Millerton, the muffler started complaining, loudly. This is another mainstay of our marriage. There have been old cars, busted heating systems, a fallen tree that smashed my van minutes after we all made a mad dash to the house, bats in the belfry and raccoons in the chimney, a lighting strike that corkscrewed down a larch tree shattering an old Adirondack recliner resting beneath it, and rain in the kitchen. That’s the short list, what I can remember right now as my fingers fly across the keyboard. I could write a book about it. Oh, that’s right. I did write a book about it.
Rich pulled over and checked beneath the car. He seemed to think it was okay, just a loose tailpipe that wouldn’t fall off, today anyway. That is my husband — never worried. It will all work out in the end. I accuse him of being reactive, never proactive, but I go along for the ride.
We pass roads with names like Between the Lakes, Running Sap Lane, Jug End Circle, and Orphan Farm Road. A great radio station provides the soundtrack that includes Ray LaMontagne, The Avett Brothers, and The Band. Scenic vistas roll past — vineyards, shorn brown cornfields, neglected barns, one with a collapsing roof that provides a view of the blue sky day. A barn no more.
My magazine article told us we would find our inner artist in Wassaic but all we find in this small town set down in a hollow along the river is an art studio open from 2 to 4 on Saturdays, Queen Anne style homes once called Painted Ladies, and several out of business establishments. We circle around for a while thinking we are missing something then get lost down a country road in search of Pond Mountain where we were promised trails through bucolic fields with beautiful lake views.
We never find the trail so we keep driving. I spy tattered flags to photograph and instead of complaining like he usually does, Rich backs up or circles around, driving slowly or pulling over to the side of the road, indulging my latest Instagram photo obsession. It could be said I did find my inner artist in Wassaic. There’s always a silver lining.
Back at the inn, he wants to light a fire in the living room. All I want is blankets. Darkness descends and the wind rattles the windows. Drinking bourbon and listening to J.J. Cale sing Crazy Mama, we discuss his economy of scale. How he works so well with the fewest of notes. Music as metaphor for marriage and life.
There are more adventures on the horizon. The road is long and we never manage to avoid the potholes and detours. Sometimes we get lost. Things breakdown. We often find ourselves traveling in circles, getting nowhere but it’s always scenic and interesting and a co-pilot with a sense of humor and adventure makes all the difference.
Las Vegas, Cross-Country Pro-Leisure Tour 1986