I think this subject came up because I made a comment about how repetitive our lifestyle is week after week. I’m 68, he’s 67. For most of my life, my work schedule has been irregular and unpredictable, based on project timelines, assignments, travel, and events. My partner’s work schedule has been a regular 8-hour routine five or six days a week. Approaching the three-year mark in our cohabitation, I’ve adapted to his schedule, and we have a groove. Morning walk, breakfast 8:00 ish, he goes to work, lunch noon ish, dinner 6:00 ish, entertainment, walk again, lights out. It’s our circadian rhythm, a formula for balance. You might call it boring. For sure it’s repetitive. To keep the meals flowing, I plan menus in my head, do the shopping, pack his lunchbox, and keep my kitchen tight as a toolbelt. All this gets me seven hours alone five days a week to do my thing. Clocks and calendars. Word counts. The math is relentless. This is the tyranny of time.
Then last night in the dark as we’re falling asleep in our cozy bed, he says, “You know, if we live as long as the Carters, we’ve got 30 more years of this.”
And I thought, oh, god, no. “I don’t think I can do this for another 30 years,” I said. “Let’s just go for ten.”
“Yeah,” he said. “We should be realistic. Thirty years is a long time.”
Yes, 30 years is a long time. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been together forever. They seem to love each other and neither one of them has been caught cheating, so it must be working. Personally, I can’t even imagine him flirting. As role models they’re like two beams of light. But do I want to live that long?
The idea of another 30 years makes me feel both young and old at the same time. I feel young because Jimmy Carter is 98. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a body at that stage of physical decay. It’s possible he’s pure consciousness in pink sandwich wrap. Another 30 years makes me feel old because it’s the last third of my life and, after all this time, I’m afraid I’m going to die without knowing who really shot JFK.
It’s going to take some mental hocus-pocus to get me to look forward to being in my 90s. I was already married for 32 years and now he wants to add another 30. In my experience, being part of a couple has its phases, and they’re not all good. Differences, disinterest, disease, and death cut into the bliss. It’s not easy maintaining the staycation lifestyle for 30 years. Sometimes people go their own way and choose a different path. Anything’s possible. I could hear the call of the wild again when I’m 85. Seriously. It could happen.
This morning I woke up with all this swirling around in my head, so I got out my calculator to look for answers. Thirty years is 10,950 days. How many bowls of oatmeal is that? For breakfast I alternate eggs one morning with oatmeal the next. I usually make a cheese and veggie omelet. My oatmeal is jazzed with chia, spices, nuts, and banana. It sounds creative, but after a year or two, even the finest gourmet food slides into same-old-same-old. And yet we persist. Our intestines are thrilled, our weight is manageable, and we sleep well. Boring is really working for us. But please don’t tell me I’m going to be on this treadmill for the rest of my life.
These thoughts feel like heresy to me. What a joke to be fantasizing about being 40 again. Yes, more menopause, please! I have such fond memories of the uncertainty as I fill his bowl with oatmeal and try not to slip into a coma. Then he sits down where he always sits at the kitchen table and gives a conspicuous dreary sigh. I think, now what? And he says, “Only 10,949 days to go.” Ha! We laugh. That’s just the mental hocus-pocus I need. We’ll take this staycation one laugh at a time.