Dating : Broken Can Be Better

h2>Dating : Broken Can Be Better

Three days. So far. It was the longest she’d gone without speaking to her husband, and she felt incredible.

For example, it was only seven in the morning and she had already gone for a power walk while listening to that money podcast Sarah had recommended, showered and used that new coconut body butter, made herself a smoothie that even had kale in it (just a little, she didn’t want to overdo it).

Only now was he getting up and into the shower. She heard the bed creak, the slipper shuffle step, and the pipes groaning. Last night as she read her book, he’d even pleaded with her to talk to him, practically begged her. But she’d managed to ignore him and only read one sentence several times: “We can only truly feel our own power when we find the right outlet.”

She hadn’t yet — found the right outlet. She’d tried painting, pottery, journaling, Pilates, meditation, and a menopause support group. But she was knew this one was different because she was nervous. She hadn’t even told her book club about it.

He came into the kitchen dressed for work in khakis and a button-down, just like every day for the past 40 years. Except when the big boss came in from New York. Then he wore a tie. For the first year they were married and he was still in advertising, he wore a tie and shiny shoes carrying a leather bag full of papers taking the train in with a travel coffee mug. But those days were gone by a long shot. Even the days of khakis were numbered, him being only two years from retirement. Then what? They stare at each other over scrambled eggs? She turned back around to get some coffee.

Christine Elgersma

“Good morning,” he said too loudly. She felt the words hit her back like balled up socks.

She set a cup of coffee down in front of him and turned back around to rinse the blender. Something banged the table.

“Goddamnit, honey, this is ridiculous! How long do you plan to keep this up?”

She rotated the blender blades to rinse away every speck of kale.

“Fine!” He bellowed. She hadn’t heard him yell that loud since she’d brought him that stray dog. “Have it your way! But don’t think I…” He trailed off. “What is this?” His voice was low now, almost frightened. She knew what he’d seen because she’d left it there for him to find.

She turned around so she could see his face. His wispy eyebrows were all hunched together, salt-and-pepper hair a little too long over his ears, mouth open, loosened neck skin wrinkled around his collar.

He held up the brochure and shook it. It flapped like a frightened bat. “What is this?” he asked again.

She raised one eyebrow in response mostly because she knew he hated that when she did it during an argument.

“For God’s sake, are you serious? Pole dancing? At your age?”

He hadn’t seen it was a class for women over 60. He never saw anything.

He tucked his chin down which meant he was about to say something “reasonable.”

“Now listen. I know we have an empty nest and you’ve been puttering around by yourself, but it’s only two years until I retire, and then we can…I don’t know…travel together. Do the things we couldn’t do before.”

She smiled then. Almost laughed. She’d been pleading with him — begging — for them to do something together. Ballroom dancing, tennis, golf (which he couldn’t stop watching and couldn’t get his ass off the sofa to start playing), wine making…and on and on. The kids were always an excuse, even when they weren’t. But now she understood.

It had come to her almost like a dream, but not quite. She’d woken up too early, as she did now sometimes. It was just getting light outside, a bit gray. He was on his right side, snoring. She tried not to look a the clock until it was clear she wasn’t getting back to sleep. She wasn’t, and it was 4 a.m.

Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

She got up and slowly walked through the house, one room at a time. She hadn’t planned to. In fact, at that moment she had no plans and barely any thoughts at all. She just moved from room to room as if it were someone else’s house and she was seeing it for the first time. In that dim, gray light, she saw the sadness. There was a desperate, heavy, loneliness clinging to everything: His big TV chair that never fit the room and kept them apart while watching a show he preferred. Their family photos on the mantel, the kids with braces, all smiles, the doubts behind her own eyes. Were they really happy? They had no reason not to be. Not really. The animal figurines she’d taken from her mother’s things after she’d died, the horse with the glued on tail because she’d broken it sneaking out of the house when she was 15. The decorative bowl from Poland she’d never used. But she used to break things. Broken things could be mended, if you had the glue and the will.

She opened the sliding glass door to the backyard, and even though the lawn treatment notice was still stuck in the dirt near the patio, she walked out into the wet grass in her bare feet and thin nightgown designed to help with hot flashes and a little breeze blew through the hastas and her hair. She looked up at the moon and then the sun that was just beginning to pinken the sky. Morning was breaking. Her life was breaking. She was breaking.

“Don’t be crazy, honey,” he said.

She felt a little sorry for him then because he thought he was persuading her, talking sense. She didn’t know if he’d truly never known wildness, but he definitely hadn’t known it with her. She loved him. He was a good man, whatever that meant. But reserving spots at the retirement village and putting the house on the market without telling her had wiped a foggy mirror clean. Well who saved the bulk of that money? he’d asked. You think the kids are going to take care of us? he’d asked. And when she’d argued that she’d saved money, too, and she had a say in this, too, he’d tucked his chin and said, This is what makes the most sense. You are going to love it, I promise. And when he smiled at her some spell was finally broken, like reverse Sleeping Beauty. She’d finally opened her eyes, but the man she’d fallen in love with was gone.

Maybe not gone, but faded into the background like TV golf while he napped. He was right — she did feel a little crazy. She remembered slinking through her childhood living room toward the back door to meet Tommy, bumping the table, and watching that horse fly off the table. The funniest part was, she’d caught it. She’d snapped it up out of the air and clenched it in her fist so hard the tail broke off. None of that had woken her parents. It was her laughing, cackling so loudly that her mother ran down the stairs, eyes wide. She’d felt crazy then, too.

She poured the rest of her coffee into a travel mug, took her keys off the hook in the hall, and let his tirade shatter against the door as as she swung it shut behind her and stepped into the dewy grass.

Read also  Dating : The Club

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