Well dear friends and trusted blog, once again I have been remiss in keeping you posted. My last missive announced my plans to go back to California in January to be married. I did make the trip but the wedding did not happen as planned. I stayed for a month and returned home unsure of our future plans.
Until I made the first flight to California in December I had never been west of Kansas City, Missouri; so this was a wonderful new experience for me. I loved seeing all the different colors and forms the landscape could take between California and the Mid-West, but the best sight of all was the blooming redbuds and dogwoods that announced we were home.
I must tell a funny on myself. I can be so dumb sometimes. After spending the day at the Grand Canyon we spent the night in Williams Arizona. We drove through this quaint little town , checking out the location and looking for a restaurant that came highly recommended by the desk clerk at the hotel. I was fascinated by the resemblance the town had to a old western movie set. At breakfast a gentleman that appeared to come straight from central casting, dressed in their best "Wild Bill Hickock" costume sat down at the counter across from us. Silly me, I turn to Frank and said " I think that this place must have had a town meeting and everyone voted to have a old west theme and that guy is really playing the part up right." Frank just shook his head and said " but Rita, this is Arizona, if you went much farther west you would be wading in salt water." Duh!!! how dumb can a girl get.
It is funny how many similarities there are between my Frank and me. We were both married the first time at about the same time and stayed married for the same number of years. 37 for both. Frank’s marriage ended in divorce and mine by death. We each have one child born in the same year. Frank a son and I a daughter. Both of our children have similarities in personality, behavior and lifestyle choices. We are both first born’s and have both encountered many of the same or very similar situations in our childhood and adult lives. We seem to have developed the same quirks, foibles and likes/dislikes as a result.
Frank loves to quote Forrest Gump and often says that we are "just like peas and carrots." In many ways I agree. You would think that with so much commonality our relationship would have nothing but smooth sailing. Not so. Turns out we were both blessed (an not often in a good way)with having a somewhat disfunctional spouse, which made us the only responsible party in a very mixed up household. It also seems that we each lived in a house that included a revolving door that allowed a ever changing assortment of very disfunctional friends and family members to enter, in need of being adopted and cared for. As a result, we have each developed strong take charge characteristics and some of that "my way or the highway" thinking. Actually, considering how alike we are in that regard, I’m surprised that we have not butted heads more often than we have. One of us must be working on their best behavior merit badge, and I’m not so sure that it’s me. Sure, we have had to deal with a few stepped on toes and some hurt feelings but (so far at least) have managed to prevent permanent damage to our relationship.
We do have some major differences. I am a collector (hoarder might be more apt) of many senseless objects and enjoy having them on display while my dear sweet husband prefers a minimalist environment culled from 30 years of navy life. I, being a country girl, prefer hearty meals with all the fixings while Frank prefers to nibble on the fly and exist on yogurt, Slimfast and string cheese. Frank is a runner who forced 6-10 miles into his schedule every day for 40 years, while the only exercise I ever got came from climbing a ladder several dozen times a night as a retail stock clerk. Frank has read the entire works of all the classic authors and my best was the "Dick and Jane" series or the complete works of Dr. Seuss . So I am learning to purge decades of plunder and take a nightly walk while Frank recites poetry, or explains the complexities of the operation of a navel carrier, or the differences between Mark Twain and John D. MacDonald’s writing style.
After Frank's forty years in San Diego, I find myself quoting to him, several times a day, Dorothy from the wizard of OZ and remind him that he is no longer "in Kansas." He is learning that he no longer lives in the la la land of excess. That cars (and doors) do not always need to be locked, people do recognize and help their neighbors, it is possible to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows and actually breathe the fresh air, you can drink the tap water and kids with spiked hair, black nail polish and chains are not always delinquents.
I regale Frank with all the stories that make up the "Payton Place" workings of small town life while directing him on excursions into the foreign terrain of central Missouri. Our days are filled with scouting trips for possible locations of our "dream home", tours of all the military bases within a day’s drive seeking the best medical care for a "old retired sailor" and heated discussions on whether Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip is best on a BLT.
We are learning that Frank prefers the shade and I am a full sun kind of gal. Frank in very conservative in all things, while I tend to be more wild and free. In fact my lack of restraint in both speech and clothing as well as public high-jinks has caused Frank to stop and shake his head at me a few times when he was not being out right embarrassed. As Frank marvels at days of rain, the sounds of thunder and shrinks from lighting bolts (all in short supply in sunny California) and learns to deal with the muggy, humid weather of the hottest spring in recent history; I am learning that my car does have AC , will run with the sun roof closed and the windows fully up and that a regular run through the car wash will not cause it to fall apart.
Somewhere in my education I must have missed the chapter or class that taught all life’s rules. Fortunately for me, Frank got a A+ in that class and he has sure gotten a workout on that subject. He is so sweet about saying "Honey, I think there is a rule" before reminding me of the one I have overlooked. In fact, just today, he has had to dig out that old rule book to prove to me that it was in fact a rule that "old retired folks do not have to get up before nine", and it was not "decadent to eat breakfast in bed."
Barely an hour goes by without finding one of us stopping a task to engage the other in a few minutes of entwined hugging and smooching (usually Frank) or coiled in fits of laughter (usually me). And as a final note, I can not begin to describe how surprising and wonderful it has been for both of us to learn that after many years of each being in celibate marriages and living chase single lives that sex was not a completely lost cause. I’m not ashamed to admit that these two "old retired folks" have been known on occasion to drop everything in the middle of the day and go unmake the bed.
In my very first post to this blog I wrote about how I came to be called the "Cashjocky" and invited each of you to keep returning to see if the cashjocky ever finds the real identity that suits with the name on her birth certificate. Well now I have become the wife of a "retired old guy" and I am happily settling into becoming a very busy and happy "retired old gal" so come back to catch more in the adventures of Frank and Rita now that I actually have some free time to devote to this pursuit.