Thirty years ago today MrWI64 and I moved in together.
That it was April Fools was lost on nobody, least of all on the couple who helped us with the move.
You need to get a grip, said the woman (whose name I can’t recall because I haven’t seen her since) as I whispered what am I doing on the way to the new shared domicile.
He and I were the most unlikely of couples and I’ve no doubt friends and family were putting odds on how long we would last. He, a dignified older man with a back story; me a fast moving, fast writing mom of two. He liked flowers in the yard and single malt by the fire. I liked independence.
How we came to this point was hardly the stuff of romance novels. I’d sold my house in order to buy a newspaper in a town an hour away (Please, not there, Mom, pleaded my girls. It’s the middle of nowhere.) But precisely one day before my house sold, the newspaper was purchased by a corporate chain. It was a seller’s market at the time and I couldn’t afford to appropriately replace the home I’d just sold. Enter MrWI64. He and I were drawn to one another and the idea of pooling resources seemed a natural progression.
If he had misgivings, he didn’t let on. Mine were wide-eyed and out there.
God knows why he stuck around.
He handled the pecking order at our house with grace: girls, dog, cat . . . him.
Discouraged from fully unpacking, his boxes of crystal and china were ferried to his family’s cottage up the coast.
For five years he kept a packed leather bag by the front door. Every once in a while, he and the bag would disappear for a few days.
Many mornings I’d wake up and find with grateful astonishment that he was still there. In residence.
Life was bumpy, but not all the time. We were crazy about one another, although I was crazier about maintaining equilibrium for my kids.
He wanted to get married. He was that patient he was willing to commit for the long term. I couldn’t project ahead like him.
But then one day – I remember the moment – it all turned around for me.
He was singing in an afternoon event and as I watched and listened, my heart swelled. It’s a physical thing, heart swelling.
We later went for a drive.
Pull over, I said. Then: I think we should get married.
He looked down. Then out the window. Everywhere except at me.
Let’s just leave things for now, he said.
What the hell? Was he rejecting me? Blowing me off?
This was not the response I’d expected. So now I was on a campaign.
We should get married, became my repeated refrain. We’d been together for 10 years by this point. Surely he recognized I was ready.
Why are you pushing this? he once asked.
I persisted. If the age difference was the issue, it didn’t appear I was going anywhere. Would I be there for him in his old age? Looked that way.
We went to a house party one evening and I bridled as I watched the hostess flirt with him. Shamelessly, I thought.
We should get married, I said when we got home.
We should, he said, which surprised us both.
So we did.
Thirteen years after that chaotic, stress-fraught beginning, we married in a church wedding at which my then 91-year old mother escorted me up the aisle pushing her walker.
A year ago, a property developer knocked on our door and made an offer to buy the home we’d purchased together 29 years earlier. After some backing and forthing we sold and a few months later confirmed the purchase of a 1910 bungalow that, with copious renovations, is becoming the perfect home for an aging couple in a 30-year loveship.
The boxes of china and crystal sent to the family cottage are here now. Here and unpacked.
Given time, we both came around.