By the time I get home from work, after a quick stop by the grocery store for bananas (for tomorrow) and the makings of a salad (for tonight), my husband Tom has the steaks on the grill. The scent drifts around the corner of the house to greet me as I come down the walk to the front door; Hello there, my stomach growls back.
While he keeps an eye on the steaks, I prepare the salad. Eight years ago he was a heart attack waiting to happen. An arteriogram detected an artery that was 95% closed; he received a stent and now I do my best to get him to eat healthy. We usually have chicken, but he gets a little fussy if we have it too many days in a row. So tonight, it's steak. In moderation, of course!
I thought it would be more of an adjustment, this working outside of the home for hours and hours each day thing. At this point in our lives - the Empty Nest Years - I expected to be a full time writer, finishing up my degree on the side, not being gone all day and trying to squeeze my writing into the leftover scraps of minutes, but I know it could be so much worse, if I didn't have someone like Tom beside me.
We've gotten into a routine. He gets home first, so he starts dinner. After we eat, we clean up the kitchen together. I move the laundry around, maybe fold some clothes, pay some bills, then I write. And write. And write...until time to go to bed.
At first Tom complained about only seeing the back of my head every night (no laptop for me - I'm relegated to a corner of the livingroom.) And he worried that I wasn't getting enough rest. But once I explained to him how important it was to me to continue writing, especially since my job is one of those you take so you can pay the bills, not one that fulfills a dream, he understood.
At fifty, you take inventory...what you've done, where you are, what you still want to do. Your dreams are looking a little faded, a little dusty...a little desperate. You're starting to think you're running out of time - they're sifting through your fingers.
He must have seen that desperate look in my eyes. Now, he helps me move the laundry around, sweeps the kitchen, unloads the dishwasher...whatever he sees that needs to be done so that I have more time for writing.
While I'm glued to the computer, he heads downstairs to watch television and work out. We have our own little mini-gym, thanks to Craig's List, and I can hear him right now, pedaling away on a stationary bike. What I don't hear is the television, which would have to be blasting right now for him to hear it over the bike, because he rigged up some earplugs to the audio on the television. He knows that the sound of the television distracts me from my writing. He's sweet and thoughtful like that.
We live in an unfinished house and I know he would much rather be working on one of the zillion projects staring at him, taunting him, than pedaling away on that bike. The unfinished projects grate on my nerves, too, but I'm glad he chooses the bike instead of a paintbrush or hammer. His grandfather died of a heart attack at 52 - Tom's age now. I can't imagine losing him now, when we finally have this time all to ourselves again. So the only nagging I do is about him exercising and eating right. The house and the projects? All in good time. I want to make sure we have good time and good times aplenty.