the reality of the yes

…was something my friend alice and i started saying some years ago. it’s the gulp-that-comes-after…that feeling of “oh shit, now what?” the reality of the yes.

today’s yes–one of them–is that my husband made it 30 years in the school system and we are blessed with the yes of his retirement as a school teacher. with politics and everyone certain our failing education system is the fault of the teachers, i wasn’t sure he’d make it and was half afraid he’d drop dead the day he retired. but as it turns out, he’s fine. so we bought a tiny trailer and in a few days we head out west for nearly a month “to look for america.” in 31 years of loving, living and raising four kids, we’ve only ever had one, week-long vacation alone. our 20th wedding anniversary when our baby was 10. she turned 21 this year.

that’s great, right? so many people have said, “you’re living my dream.”

one time, years ago when the kids were little, i was attending a PTA sponsored “boot scootin’ bbq” on the lawn of the elementary school. a woman with acrylic nails and palm-tree pants responded to my comment that when todd and i retired, he’d be fishing and i’d be writing. she said in disgust, not knowing that was much of what we already did, “you’ve been reading too many nicholas sparks books.” i hadn’t, in fact, read any, and it took a day or two to realize she thought i was in la-la land.

fast forward a decade: todd is retired and we are traveling america while i write in the shotgun seat. a few disney scripts, some treatments, a travel blog and certainly some human-geography-inspired fiction.

the reality of the yes. i made it to today. to this yes. i’m 52. the kids are grown and gorgeous, making their own way, finding their own paths in mind, body and spirit. todd and i are finally alone. heading west. seeing america like a couple of teenagers in “eddie the love wagon.”

herein lies the gulp. what will that be like?

todd and i are delightfully compatible. we can sit in the quiet, talk about life and words and things of the spirit. but we have never spent a month, day-in-day-out, alone in each other’s presence. straight up. no ice. just neat. and on the brink of this new adventure i wonder if the reality of the yes will not be neat. perhaps it is bound to be a bit messy, a little like those early years when we fought over how to tie the garbage bags. a couple of kids starting over, heart to heart, wading even deeper into the reality of the yes.