As I write this, the house is pounding with the effects of the surround sound system blaring forth the back ground noise of war, courtesy of “Call of Duty 5.” I can feel the tension mount; I can hear the screams of the tortured and dying. But I can’t see, because the screen of the laptop is fortunately hiding the TV screen.
I am writing flat on my back because in the last day or so, I have completely neglected it, other than to throw a few ibuprofen its way, and now it is enacting its revenge, I can feel the pain shooting all the way down to my ankles.
Keith has worked nonstop in the garage all day, he figured out the push bars for the truck; it is now firmly installed and the ATV tires no longer reside under the Christmas tree, but under the vehicle itself.
I watched him use the wrench for loosening the bolts on the old tires; they were screwed in very tightly. Sometimes he had to stomp down with his boot on the wrench and each time he did this, a spasm of pain would cross his face and profanity would ensue.
“You hurt your back, didn’t you?” I asked him, out of the blue. I was sitting in the lawn chair, my feet up, book in hand.
“No,” he said, a tad too quickly.
“You did, didn’t you? You hurt it sometime over there and you didn’t tell me.”
He gave me a tender look, but simply shook his head at me. I knew then that I was right, but that I would hear no more about it.
Sometimes I look over at him and I simply cannot believe that he is here, with me. It never feels quite like it was before, but I am constantly reminded of how it was. It feels better than before; we’ve been through a great deal and we came through together.
On his first night back, we had several intense discussions; Keith was doing what I had been planning on doing; saving these discussions for face to face time. I was amazed and humbled at Keith’s conclusions; he had obviously been doing a great deal of thinking.
We have rearranged some things, Keith’s key line on all of these matters being, “we are a team.” This was music to my ears. Many, many times I looked at him, amazed, wondering how on earth he had connected the dots so wonderfully, how he could know so well how it felt from my perspective and then formulate plans to take care of me based off of his conclusions.
“How did you know that?” I asked him, several times.
“A good marriage doesn’t just happen,” he said during that time. “It’s what we put into it.”
“I know!” I exclaimed, amazed, agreeing. “I want to be old, and look back at our marriage and know it was the best thing I did with my life.”
“We’re not going to get old,” Keith replied quickly, his eyes twinkling.
The next night he took me out to Red Lobster for dinner. He read that blog I posted about wearing his shirt out to the garage and how I remembered him taking me there before, wearing a certain shirt. It stuck in his head, so that was our destination yesterday. (Now that he realizes people actually read my blog, his only request was that I take down the photograph of us, so that no one accidentally reads this and figures out who he is. Therefore the picture is gone.)
It was warm and steamy inside the restaurant, and fairly busy. It was so lovely to be going out. He ordered a Bud Light and I got a decaf coffee and we ordered lobster artichoke dip to start. We laughed a great deal and suddenly remembered that on the East coast, all the power was off, I called my dad to find out how he was.
He was without power, but warm and toasty due to the wood stove and horribly bored.
“I’m bored!” wailed Mom, from the background.
“I’m thinking no wonder pioneers had so many kids,” Dad quipped, which made me almost snort up my coffee in a sudden burst of laughter.
“Sweetie, you want to talk to Dad?” I asked, lifting my eyebrows. He shook his head; he’s been notoriously shy about my parents, whom he will be meeting here shortly.
“You should talk to him, Baby,” I teased. “After all, you’re going to be seeing him soon in person…” I launched into the theme song from Jaws, which made my husband roll his eyes.
“Do you think they’ll like me?” Keith had asked me, nervously.
“Oh sure,” I said easily.
“Why?” he probed.
I considered, and then went with the gosh darn truth. “Because they’re determined to,” I said with a grin.
This somehow did not reassure him.
“I better go, Dad,” I said, after the Jaws episode. “His dad is coming out and I better play nice.”
“Payback is sweet,” said Keith, with an evil grin.
His dinner was a steak, with grilled shrimp and a baked potato. Mine was half a lobster tail, grilled, with grilled scallops and shrimp. It was delicious, all buttery and hot; I tore the sweet, tender meat out of the lobster tail with my fingers.
“Wanna try a scallop?” I asked him, offering him the morsel on my fork.
“What’s that?” he asked warily.
“It’s like a…shell fish. When it’s alive it’s kind of gelatinous and when it cooks, it hardens up.”
“Gelatinous?” he asked suspiciously, “Is that even a word?”
“It’s a word!” I protested. “Like jello.”
He tried it, but was not terribly impressed. “It tastes all lemony and stuff,” was his verdict. “Here, try this,” he said, offering me a piece of his steak, with Heine’s 47 sauce. “This is what we like to call American food.”
I took the bite from his fork and was truly appreciative of a good side of beef, that corner stone of traditional American cuisine.
We went and did some Christmas shopping today; on the way, we stopped for ibuprofen and a latte, and then some lunch at Taco Bell.
“It’s Saturday,” I said, suddenly realizing it. “Walmart is going to be hell. If it gets to be too much, we can simply leave. That’s the plan.”
We got into some stressful situations in the parking lot; Keith has never been what one might call a laid back driver; and now that he has push bars on his truck, he is almost eager to use them.
“We’re not even in the store yet,” I sighed.
“Woman!” he protested. “Who lets idiot drivers like that on the road anyway?”
At one point in the shopping adventure, he parked next to a much smaller Ford.
“That’s just mean,” I commented, “parking next to that Ford. People aren’t going to even recognize what kind of vehicle it is. ‘Is that a compact…wait, no…I think, I think it’s a truck…”
“I love you,” Keith said with a quiet smile, taking my hand.
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