He smiles. He listens. He goes out of his way to make the little things matter. He drives to a new city just to explore. And he is changing our lives.
It all started when I woke my husband at 3 a.m. one of the mornings he was actually asleep and I was awake. I was scrolling through homes for sale and came across a “quick move home” that was for sale in a new subdivision we hadn’t known about. It was a home model we had seen before, but it had always been outside our comfort zone price-wise.
I also knew he was just going through the motions to keep me happy. John had no intention of moving, no matter how wary he was of staying in a neighborhood that was rapidly changing. He squinted at my phone, grunted, turned over, and went back to sleep. Exactly what I expected.
What I didn’t expect was to have him turn the opposite direction from home a couple of weeks later “just to go look” at the new homes, nor a walk around the construction site, nor the decision to have me call the number posted on the sales trailer when no one was actually there.
John pulled into a McDonald’s a few blocks away from the new subdivision and listened as I spoke to the sales rep who told us we could go to a different community for more info on the houses. But I knew we wouldn’t.
We had been in our house for 46 years, raised four children, and built a life there. There were scotch tape marks from all the years of hanging holiday decorations in the same places, and memories in every corner.
Oh, we had talked about downsizing, adding a garage, moving closer to our youngest grandchildren, and having a smaller yard to care for. The neighborhood wasn’t what it used to be, and there was increasing worry about safety every time I ventured out alone. I resented being cooped up and felt that John didn’t really care about our safety.
We found ourselves in an uncomfortable spot, both literally and figuratively, and there were too many tears, too many harsh words, and too many sleepless nights.
And then, we talked to our real estate friend, met with the home site developer, and the new man in my life asked questions instead of sitting sullenly, smiled when the agent teased him about his expectation to pay the same $27,000 we had bought our first home for, listened to the pros and cons. And signed a contract.
He wasn’t happy at the required inspections and the presumed deficiencies in our older home, the packing and the purging, the painting and the questions about what was being kept and why, nor the cost of moving. But he persevered.
He bought a giant candy bar for our chocaholic real estate agent every time we met with her, fixed what needed to be fixed (albeit sometimes with a grumble), and drove to the new construction without complaining, standing atop a hill of dirt just looking at the cows beyond our new property, and watching trains as they traveled a quarter mile away, silently taking everything in.
There were moments of impatience with the seemingly endless paperwork and invasive money questions, longing looks into the past as he stared out the back door of our empty old home, aching knees, sleepless nights, second-guessing, and snapping retorts. I wondered if we had really made the right decision. Were we really better off than we were before?
But when I saw the movers arrange the kitchen table in the new dining room and heard John say, “It’s been so long since we’ve had the table fully opened with all the chairs around it, the way it was meant to be. There just wasn’t room at the old house,” I knew we were home.
The new man in my life smiles at the fact that the hutch we bought separately and always had in the living room because of lack of space, is exactly the same color wood as the kitchen table it was never able to stand so proudly next to the way it is now. He walks to get the mail and talks to new neighbors without grumbling. He charmed the lady at the deli into a second serving of chicken fried steak, called me to the back window last week just to show me how beautiful the stars are in the deep dark sky away from the city, and decided to try the new little Mexican restaurant we saw at the end of our block without me asking.
I know I sit sometimes and just stare at this new, smiling, content guy who sleeps through the night and loves to sit at the table and read, putters in the basement and the garage, put together new shelving for his workbench and drove to a neighboring city just to check out some shop lights that were advertised on sale.
Last week he questioned whether the bag of snacks I was reaching for at the grocery store was absolutely necessary, and I put them back. He grinned at me and said, “Yes, they are,” and dropped them into the cart.
There’s a new man in my life, a man so very like the guy I fell in love with 50-something years ago. I definitely need to tell my husband about him and let him know I plan to keep him.