I have to be careful in what I say I want to do. I need to actually want what I’m saying I want, not just talking to make noise. Because without my mentioning wherever or whatever it is again, Jim will go and make it happen, and if it wasn’t something I was actually interested in, I end up with a grand experience that I’m only marginally excited about yet he’s delighted to offer.
There are two factors at play here. First that Jim lives to make his people happy. He really is like that. My friend and I were talking the other night about how great my mom is, how she just serves and serves and gives and it seems to feed her. Jim is like that too. He’s a giver. He wants me happy. The other factor is that he’s in it for the experience. Let’s go do something new. Let’s try that. He’s always down for an adventure.
I love So You Think You Can Dance. Out of the blue he worked his connections to land us at a taping. One day I mentioned in passing that I’ve always wanted to go to Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! A couple months later, there we were in a San Francisco amphitheater, watching Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis live. Adding the cherry, the next morning I found myself in a wharf diner in front of a pile of the prettiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, across the table from Bill Kurtis, listening to a discourse on grass-fed beef. (My life has its Dalí moments to be sure.)
Sometimes the fun things we do come by way of me going along on his business trips. He had a meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, back in June, and since it’s not convenient to get there and it’s, you know, Michigan, we decided I’d opt out this time. But our Hannah convinced him otherwise—she has to go!—because it’s beautiful or something like that. I’m so glad she sold us. The forests around that area are the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen. The couple days we had driving around finding tea and Meyer lemon vinegar and chocolate and darling houses and field after perfect field giving way to maple stands were worth whatever trouble it takes to get there.
For his part he loves having me along because I’m self sufficient. On that particular trip we assumed that with Über I could go and do as I pleased while he did work things. So our first morning there he went to his meetings in the hotel downstairs, and I picked a few yoga studios to investigate, packed my yoga bag, and opened my Über app to discover no cars nearby. Curious. We were in the biggest hotel in the area and there were no hovering drivers? Oh well. I went down to the lobby to catch a cab. No cabs. At the front desk they were confused by my confusion, which was quickly mounting to irritation. Why would they just have cabs waiting? Uh, so I can take one and get to yoga? I ended up taking the hotel’s shuttle to the airoort to rent a horse and buggy, or at least that’s what I was sure I was going to to end up with. Toyota Yaris. Same same.
At dinner that night Jim was a broken record of surprise and pride at the fact that I went and rented a car all by myself. Being the follow up act to a codependent first wife is some of the most fun I have. Surpassing that standard so thoroughly that I look like an effing superhero takes little more than getting out of bed and going to the grocery store solo. You think I’m kidding. I still think I’m kidding. He assures me I’m not. I take my car to get the oil changed and he looks at me like I up and grew horns. Wait. Maybe that’s because my car doesn’t have an engine. And it doesn’t have oil to change . . .
I kid. I kid. I never did that. But it really is simple stuff like that—booking a flight properly without help—that gets him seeing me as the World’s Smartest Woman. I don’t even have to employ my above-average intelligence to impress my husband. This can be a problem as it leads to intellectual atrophy which leads to the death of whatever self esteem I have left, but that’s a personal problem. I’m working through it.
Being able to go along on business trips is one of the reasons that I quit my job selling life-saving medications. (See what I did there?) In our case, it’s good for our relationship for us to spend time together, especially when we go out of town, so if our relationship is more important than me having a full-time job, then it made sense for me to make myself available for stuff like that in a way that keeping the job wasn’t allowing. (Also the job was becoming one of those things that made me a miserable, crazy bitch, so it was migrating from the asset column to liability.)
His job goes through phases where it requires travel. The places he goes are worth visiting. All places are, really. I can at least find somewhere to take yoga class. So I go along. And when he’s not in meetings we find places to explore, like a chocolate factory to tour, a waterfall to visit, and a fruit stand that only sells asparagus. What do I want with a bunch of asparagus? I wanted to eat a flat of strawberries while we drove to the next town, you fools. You’re a fruit stand! Sell fruit! My fruit. I don’t care what’s in season! I care what I want!
Because he likes to do things at the spur of the moment and I like to be where he is and—cautiously—try new stuff. I may wake up one morning with plans to take class that night but instead end up face to face with a giraffe. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself throwing things in a bag to run off to wherever one of his clients needs attention. I'll suddenly end up in San Diego (on that trip he pulled an entire key lime pie out of his suitcase when we got into our hotel room; a good story for another time) or a Giants game or ballet. My big first world problem is that I have to make sure that my wardrobe is diverse. Hey, let’s go to a Cirque show or two in Vegas tomorrow. Cocktail dress. Check. Let’s go to Yosemite. Hiking shoes. Check. The lake. Swimsuit and scowl. Check.
When he started working on tickets to Jimmy Fallon I asked, “You’re not, like, terminally ill are you?”
“Uh, no. Why?”
“We do so much stuff. Cool stuff. It’s like we’re trying to cram as much living as we can into the little time you have left.”
Some Sunday a month ago I asked what he wants to do for Thanksgiving. We don’t have the kids this year, so we aren’t tied to a traditional dinner. “Want to go see Nick and Mal?” he asked. Well, sure. They live in Denmark. So now there are tickets to Copenhagen in November.
“You’re not terminal?”
This last Friday the opportunity arose to go to Burning Man next week. “Want to?” he asked. “Hell yes,” I replied, “Let me me just make sure you still have those blue lamé shorts . . . But are you sure you’re—“
“No. I’m not terminal. I just like to have fun.”
I know as well as anyone that things can—they will—change, fast, and life may not always look like this. So for now we do all the things and I marvel at how this can be someone’s reality. My reality. Weird.