Yesterday, as I sat at the pool next to Krista in the 88-degree Arizona warmth and gazed lazily heavenward at the cloudless azure sky, I reflected briefly on our previous few days together.
Our flights were on time and smooth. When we arrived in Tucson our suitcase was the first one to circle toward us on the conveyer belt. Our rental car was/is a cherry red convertible Camaro that drives like something that would satisfy Steve McQueen.
We have played tennis in the comfortable morning sunshine and cooled off by floating in the crystal blue water of the Doubletree’s swimming pool throughout the lingering heat of the late afternoon. We hiked for miles in Sabino Canyon, a spectacular Sonoran Desert wonderland of topography, wildlife, and fauna. We trekked up the Catalina Highway with intrepid (or crazy) bicyclists to the top of Mount Lemmon, pulling off several times to visually absorb the breathtaking vistas along the way. Each one offered something different, yet equally beautiful, due to the different elevation and its consequent change in vegetation and geography. We’ve enjoyed uninterrupted sleep and wandering, serpentine conversations. We have done what we wanted, when we wanted, how we wanted.
I looked over at Krista as she lay poolside, droplets of chlorinated water gradually evaporating on her face and back. She sighed with apparent satisfaction. This is as relaxed as I’ve seen her in weeks, perhaps months.
“Are you having a good time?” she rather naively asked me.
“Yes. Of course. But I have some news I should probably share with you.”
“Oh? Okay. What’s up?”
“I’m not going back. I’m staying here. Forever.”
“Hmmm. That’s interesting.”
“Seriously. Now, there will be people, I suppose, who will try to kick me out of the room but I’m simply not going. How long can we last on our credit cards?”
“Interesting idea, Tim. If we’re relatively frugal we could probably go a year or so on them. But while I like this spontaneous display, I’m not sure you’ve really thought this through. What about the kids?”
“What about them?”
“Well, they’re 15, 13, and 12…a trio of high-maintenance, very-much-still-in-progress human beings who, you know, probably need some guidance and support and—what do they call it??—oh, yeah, ‘parenting’.”
“Oh, come on. Lighten up a little, Krista.”
“Whew! You had me going there a minute, Tim. I thought you were serious about all this.”
“Oh, I AM serious. No, I mean you need to lighten up. Don’t worry so much about them. They’re pretty self-sufficient. They’re capable of getting food out of the pantry and consuming it. Cheetos, cereal, juice, milk, bread and peanut butter, yogurt, apple sauce. What else do they need? And they know how to use the bathroom. Sort of. Granted, the house will be a genuine pigsty, but who cares?? We won’t be around to be affected.”
“Don’t you think they need a little more than that? We’re not done raising them, for heaven’s sake! I think this idea of yours is, with all due respect, pretty half-baked.”
“Oh, it’s completely baked. Okay, I grant you they still need a bit of work. This is why I’ve made another decision. Call me mad, call me the world’s greatest philanthropist, call me whatever you like, but I’ve decided to let your mom finish raising them. I know, I know: I give and I give and I give. It’s just the kind of guy I am. If you talk to her on the phone before I do, just tell her I said ‘you’re welcome.’”
“Yeah, right. I’ll be sure to do that. I’m sure she’ll be sobbing tears of joy and gratitude.”
“Probably. She’s pretty sentimental and all.”
“Grab your towel, Einstein, and let’s go upstairs and get ready for dinner.”
We walked through the Arizona perfection, through the Doubletree lobby perfection, and rode the elevator up 8 floors. We entered our room and I checked my phone. A text from our 15 year old: Goodnight, daddio! Had a fantastic Easter with gma, Daniel, Luke and others. Looks like you are having a great time. Miss u! XOXOXO, Abby.”
Sigh. Leave it to a sweet and thoughtful teenager to thwart my lofty plans with a 25-word text.
“Maybe I will come home after all.”
Timothy Swensen is the author of the weekly column series Virtue and Mischief that is published every Tuesday in The Daily Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.