Table for Two
Steve and I will ring in the first two weeks of 2013, utterly alone. After many years of constant household company, NO ONE will be around in early January. Sheridan and Ya-Jhu, who have been (to our delight) living with us since their marriage, are off to Taiwan for another wedding celebration, this time with her family members who could not join us here for the ceremony in June. They invited Julie to Taiwan as well, and Julie, who has been working feverishly to save up travel money, can afford to go. Evan and Rose will welcome the new year in Washington DC, no doubt at a fun party; likewise PJ and his girlfriend Kylie at Millersville University.
And this is just a sneak peek at the future. One of these days, everyone will be gone for good. No more ferrying to piano lessons and soccer games. No more cooking vats of food for a ravenous multitude. The decibel levels around here will decrease dramatically. It’ll be just us aging lovebirds, puttering around a suddenly huge house. Thanks to our clever financial strategy (oh, wait, we forgot to develop one!), retirement for either of us isn’t an option. We won’t have the pleasant distraction of golf vacations and cruises. No, we’ll continue working forever. Oh, well, at least during our daytime hours we’ll have interaction with the outside world. But what of those looong evenings and weekends?
I have to confess: I am nervous. What will Steve and I have to say to each other, after almost three decades of discussing mainly child-rearing issues (“Whose turn is it to change the baby’s diaper?” “It was yours, an hour ago— now you have to change the sheet too!” ) Will mealtimes begin to replicate the ever-lengthening dining table between the couple in Citizen Kane, as we have less and less to communicate?
We felt lucky to have had seven years of wedded bliss before beginning our large family, felt we’d had our “couple” time and were basically set forever in that department. We’d figured without this attenuated other end of married life. Mind you, we get along fine (most of the time); it’s just going to be a huge adjustment.
And it starts right now. We'll be home alone on New Year's Eve. I feel oddly shy, and will find myself putting on makeup and dressing carefully for our solo dinner that evening. I'll peruse the New York Times for witty/insightful talking points. I remind myself that this is the same man I fell in love with at age 17, who has held my hand through the darkest of days. Yet he seems a bit of a stranger to me at the moment, and probably I to him.
This snowy December night, we’ll light a fire and spend time reminiscing. But I hope we can also dream a little about our future, with anticipation instead of melancholy, as we begin a brand-new chapter in a well-loved book. The Story of Us.