Everyone said just wait until retirement, when you’ll be spending all your time together driving each other nuts. There’s some truth to the prophecy, but we’ve been working our way through it and doing quite nicely. The driving part is where we get into trouble.
Much of our marital success can be attributed to spending time away from each other. Our love of food and cooking puts us in the kitchen a lot but not usually together. I do most of the housework, so there’s a fun solo activity for me. Dale tends to the yard, barely, but I’m still giving him points for keeping me out of it. I play golf and am sucked down that shame spiral two to three days a week.
All that aside, we are emotionally attached at the core and cannot imagine the day when one of us has to go it alone. But the truth is, we actually don’t need much togetherness. Maybe it’s the secret to our 40-year marriage. We each have our own interests, sometimes they align, and if they don’t, we meet up for happy hour in the living room and swap stories.
But then there are the together days. A trip to the market, the library or a local winery. Road trips. This is where driving issues emerge, and I’m the first one to admit I’m a huge part of the problem. It’s not that I’m a better driver, it’s that I’m a terrible passenger seat driver.
Why would you park in that spot when there’s a better one over there?
Slow down! It’s not a race.
Are you sure you parked inside the lines?
Watch out – there’s a car in the next lane!
Something’s going on up ahead – you’d better slow down.
Oh, don’t turn left here. Go up to the next light, where there’s an arrow.
I do trust Dale’s driving. It’s mostly my neurosis at play, but wheeee goes against all I stand for when it comes to interacting with a motorized vehicle. Still, I have worked hard to zip it, and Dale agrees I am much better. Now, if I start to say something, I catch myself and stop. Unless, of course, it’s a speak up or die kind of thing.
This morning’s paper had a column on driving with one finger on the wheel – one of Dale’s signature moves. I use one finger, too, but it’s the middle one, pointed straight up.
I hate being a harpy, but then I believe every bridge, every overpass, every onramp, is an invitation to death. I marked up the article when I was done with that section and left it there. Came upstairs and sat down at my computer, when I heard this big laugh. I said, “What’s so funny?” He said, “Oh, the subtle message. Thanks.”
You’re welcome! That’s retirement, I thought, just trying to live through it.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.