It has only happened a handful of times in our nearly twenty-eight years of marriage. Those wild, swooping ideas that I have proposed.
Again, this is not the norm.
The norm for me is little change. In fact, I find it the highest of compliments when our grown children come to visit, smiling and hugging me with Awww, I love how nothing changes here, Mom, as they pluck their favorite coffee mug from the same cabinet, and find the same half-and-half and creamer on the same shelf in the ordered fridge. The diffusers are running, soft piano music is swirling, the birds are flitting to the feeder, and I am making another pot of coffee.
Place is important to me. A calm, orderly, peaceful atmosphere for my loves.
I eat the same breakfast every morning. I deep clean the same day every week. I write during specified times and read my kindle every single night before going to sleep. Come fall, other than Sundays, I live in hoodies, which I consider the finest clothing invention ever. I take long looping walks five days per week. This is me.
I hold fast to this notion, penned by Gustave Flaubert: Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
Occasionally, however, I get an idea. An original idea, my husband might add.
Early on in our marriage it hit me one day –and I begged my husband to consider buying and running a bed-and-breakfast. I had it all mapped out: We could live in a house next door, and after I served breakfast to our guests, I could walk home and teach our children. They could certainly help with small tasks, and it would be fantastic extra income.
I pictured bagels and plum jelly, soft, fluffy, scrambled eggs, juice, and hot coffee in white bone china cups and saucers. George Winston’s music playing softly in the background –not too loud, not too faint. Each bedroom could be a different color—the blue room with fresh hydrangeas, the pink room with rosebud comforter, the yellow room with fresh daffodils—
I paused, slipping back to reality.
Kristin, think about what you are saying.
Jon is a kind man: non-bossy, empathetic, encouraging, and typically more of a dreamer than I. He is a big-vision man, while I consider the details, (its all in the details I continually chirp) moving things forward with precision.
Sometimes, only sometimes, the roles flip-flop.
This was one of those times.
I looked at him, pleading eyes.
Think about what you are saying. Where, exactly would we get the money to buy this Bed and Breakfast. And even if there was a money tree in our backyard, how would we have time for this? I am at work all day, and your hours are already long with homeschooling and the kids activities, and—
We could make it work! I countered, headed for a slippery slope. My heart started beating hard. I knew he was right.
Listen, you have a full plate. It is hard enough schooling and performing all household chores and paying the bills and running around for sports and lessons. Don’t you think?
I sighed. Yes.
We laugh about it now. I might have been able to whip up clean sheets and bagels and fluffy eggs, but it would have been the death of me.
My next idea was to breed Golden Retrievers. I love Golden Retrievers, and if we could only buy a female and a stud, just think of the delightful pups with papers? What fantastic income, and this could be a family business….
Jon looked at me, quite exhausted.
Where would we keep the litters?
We were living in a narrow parsonage at the time, with four growing children and two dogs, precious little space, plus a marginal checkbook. It was inconceivable.
I clung to my dream.
Maybe the shed?
The shed is full of tools and bikes and rakes and folding chairs and the lawnmower.
Of course it was.
And you like to keep things clean. Do you realize what an ongoing mess eight puppies would mean? For two entire months before they were adopted?
My resolve was burning up in smoke.
The final blow came as our daughter looked up at me.
Mommy, you would never be able to say good-bye to the puppies. We would want to keep them all, wouldn’t we?
And that was the end of that. Out of the mouth of babes.
And then there was a short stint where I wanted to open a spare room to rent out through Air B&B.
That conversation was the briefest of all.
Naturally, he was right. Our home is a haven, a retreat, and a pleasure to open to guests. For a meal and conversation. Not as a hotel.
So I guess three propositions in almost twenty-eight years isn’t too terrible, right? And something else I have realized: every one of my daydreams surfaces as fall erupts. Fall is my favorite, and even when we lived in off-the-charts-hot-and-humid-Florida where autumn bliss is nothing more than a pipe dream, I felt hopeful.
I waited for it, pined for it, dredging up memories of the glowing leaves, crisp air, apple picking, fat pumpkins, the change in the wind—
You see how it is.
So yes, fall is my spark. My anything-is-possible-and-let’s-live with-gusto-and-throw-caution-and-reason-to-the-wind!
I have refrained from burdening Jon with the most recent idea that unexpectedly came to mind. I was minding my own business when I read of a man who purchased a laundromat, and within months earned back what he put into it. Although I only schlep large items there once a year, it remains one of my favorite spots. Who needs a vacation when you may gather up your dirty linens and jars of quarters and hotfoot it to the laundromat?
The fresh smells, the swirling, sudsy water, clothes dancing, smooth counters providing space to fold. To finish. To complete. So clean. Not to mention that I find the folks in laundromats to be interesting, kind, humble. Simple folks, down-to-earth, true-blue and settled. My absolutely favorite kind of people. Salt of the earth.
Yes, laundromats are the best.
I can conjure up my husband’s face now, eyebrows raised, his voice mumbling things about sweeping generalizations, money trees in the backyard, the stresses of paying to repair washing machines.
But all I can imagine is that divine scent of clean, warm, sun-kissed detergent and fluffy fabric-softener.
Don’t worry, Jon. I will not ask you for a laundromat.
In fact, I finally see that my whims are centered around the same concept: home.
You and I have had our own bed and breakfast with our four children, a bed and breakfast now opened year-round for any that want to drop by. Our family is growing, and we will serve them, won’t we? The Golden Retrievers are snoring at our feet and the washing machine is humming. You have mowed a path in our back woods for grandchildren to drive those small battery-powered vehicles you have told me we will buy. I find this plan of yours to be quite romantic and delightfully fun.
So let’s pick up some bagels and juice, and toast to these twenty-eight years together.
Marriage is holy, hard, and good. It has formed us, hasn’t it?
I love you for staying the course through our ups and downs, in want and in plenty, for better and for worse. You and I are as different as peanut butter and jelly, but what a fine combination we make. God knows precisely what he is doing, and I am thankful.
I love you a bunch and look forward to the next twenty-eight.
Happy Anniversary to us.
P.S. Think about the laundromat idea, okay? Just imagine…
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