I had been writing all day and didn’t stop for lunch. When I finally quit, Al was home from golf and I put the chicken in the oven. But I was so hungry, I couldn’t wait. While Al showered, I ripped into a bag of chips and ate a few cookies, I finished off the last little scoop of ice cream. Then I was full and I didn’t want dinner. Still I chopped up the salad while I waited for the chicken to bake. I was on a high from writing and probably had a sugar buzz as well.
When Al reappeared, I said “When exactly are we moving to Florida next year? Next summer?” He said “I’m not even sure I want to move to Florida.” I was upset, but I knew what he meant. It’s so difficult to think about moving from a place you’ve lived all your life plus we have a really nice house here in Michigan; it’s the nicest house I’ve ever lived in. Still, we made a plan, and I love Florida, and he was backing out! My anxiety kicked in big time. He talked about everything happening with the pandemic and the economy, about how he will move there, have no friends, and what’s he supposed to do?
The friend thing is very hard. All my good friends live here too. We’ve met people in Florida, people we really like, but wow, to leave those friendships forged through decades. That would be hard. Al went to high school with his best friends. They go to Deep Purple and all those other aging guitar hero concerts together. They go to Lions games and NASCAR together. Well probably not this year, but I knew how he felt. I felt the same. We will miss our Michigan friends. Lucky for me my bestie from high school lives in Florida now and another of my best friends recently bought in Florida and is mulling a full time move. Plus my dad lives there. Al’s dad is here. And he’s almost 89. He lives with Al’s sister, but still. We will miss him.
I thought we were all set and in perfect agreement and here we were at odds over a very major thing. The oven dinged. Chicken was done. I said I wasn’t hungry and admitted I’d skipped lunch and snacked a little. He said “You’re out of shape and eating crap. You’re going to die from diabetes.”
On top of the Florida discussion, that was just too much. It didn’t help that I heard “You’re fat and ugly and a pig…you’re going to die.”
I do that. I turn on myself, make things more negative than they are. I read later that same night that 70% of most peoples’ thoughts are negative. I believe it. As much as I try to be cool, calm and collected, sometimes I lose it. But instead of yelling and screaming, I went inside and shut down and berated myself even more. We didn’t speak until later the next day, after I had calmed down and thought everything out. All our 35 years of married life, Al has never mentioned my weight or my eating habits.
We talked about that first. He reminded me that he never said I was fat, but yes, he was worried when I had chips, ice cream and cookies for dinner, especially as we both knew I had a doctor appointment this week and she’d been warning me about diabetes, how dangerous my sugar number was, how soon I’d need medication if I didn’t manage my diet. And I have tried! I usually don’t eat like but I’ve let myself indulge more since the pandemic hit and then I’d let myself get too hungry.
Have I said that Al is a very healthy eater and he can have a bag of chips or box of cookies in the house for a month? Ditto ice cream. The way I keep a lid on my sugar addiction is to not have it in the house, but he’s retired now, and he can eat those foods moderately. Then with the pandemic, all my good habits went out the window. All my dance and yoga classes were closed. I was afraid to go for walks around the bayou, even though Al asked me every day. I’m sure I’ve gained weight but I am also afraid to get on the scale.
I asked Al a lot of questions about the way I look. I mean, I’m 65. I have grey hair. Most days I don’t do anything with it except let it fall into its natural curl. And I don’t wear make up plus dress more for comfort than anything. I hate wearing a bra, so at home I don’t. He said none of that bothered him and he said I’m pretty without make up! Shocking, because I am not. But it’s good he thinks I am. He also said he does not think I’m fat. He meant it. We talked about what exactly “out of shape” meant. He said “not getting exercise, sitting in a chair writing all day.” Guilty.
Then we moved on to Florida. I got him to promise we’d move there whenever this whole world, and especially the USA, gets a grip on this virus. Finally I said I’d stay with him here in Michigan if the housing market tanked and interest rates went sky high or any of the other financial things that can throw a retirement into chaos. Like disease. Like diabetes. He said he’d move and I said I’d stay, we are in this together all the way, either way. The truth is we just have to wait and see.
Writing about Al’s retirement has changed since the pandemic but this is the first time in six months we had a huge blow out fight. And we got through it. We even went to the park on Saturday and took a walk together. Because when he’s right, he’s right.