Two days before our flight out to Pensacola.
I was watching Hurricane Irma’s path while at work. A better than average shot of it reaching Pensacola by Monday afternoon. I texted my wife, Carmen.
“How do you feel about the trip?”
“Let’s see what we can do about cancelling the flight and our room reservations at lunch.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Carmen and I ate lunch together every work day. We worked about six miles apart. It was one of the perks of not working in Atlanta.
I pulled in beside her in the Taco Bell parking lot.
“How’s it going?” I asked as I climbed into the passenger side of her Murano.
“Good. The rooms are cancelled and refunded–no questions asked. The flight was a little tougher, but we can use the cash on another flight later in the year. Maybe Chicago to see the kids?”
Our oldest son, his wife, and our only granddaughter had moved to Chicago a few weeks earlier.
The oldest son pursues his doctorate. His passion for education was pretty much lost on us.
“What did you get us for lunch?”
“A couple of tacos and bean burritos. These grilled chicken quesadillas looked interesting.”
“Let me try one.” A breaded, cheesy, chickeny mess was coated in hot sauce.
“Damn, baby, these are good!”
Carmen beamed. Coming up with new food experiences was one of her things.
Friday Evening. September 29, 2017.
Things had been a bit testy between Carmen and I for months.
Earlier in the spring, out of the blue, she had stated that she thought she could live the rest of her life without sex.
I wasn’t that excited about that declaration.
I hadn’t pressed down on why she felt that way at the time.
Maybe I should have.
She had pretty much lived out her statement between then and now. The Pensacola trip had been her “white flag” if you will to drop the sex embargo.
I had been really looking forward to the truce.
Back to date night.
Taqueria La Michoacana was within walking distance from our house.
So were two wing shacks, a sandwich shop, a 24/7 gym, two fast food joints, a full-service garage that did all our automobile work, and a fully loaded liquor store.
Just some of the reasons I could never see us leaving the City of Hamilton. Ever.
Carmen was dressed to impress that evening. Thin, spaghetti-strapped, cotton blue dress that ended just above her knees. Leather ankle boots. Silvery jewelry everywhere, ears, neck, fingers, ankles.
We walked hand-in-hand to the restaurant, chattering about nothing.
I had the ribeye steak with a green sauce that destroyed your taste buds for days.
Carmen had a vegetable burrito.
“Talk to the kids today?” I wanted to know between bites and sips from my boilermaker.
Anna Maria, the proprietor of Taqueria La Michoacana, knew exactly how I liked my boilermakers.
“Texted back and forth with all of them today. Peter is doing good in his new job. He believes he has a good rapport building with a potential book agent. Maryanne is miserable. The morning sickness continues. Andrew is supportive. James and Shelly said that Millicent was enjoying the beautiful Chicago summer.”
“That sounds great. Good to hear from all of them.”
I reached across the table and took Carmen’s hand after the last of the steak and dragon sauce were consumed. “I’m really looking forward to this evening.”
Carmen wanly smiled and squeezed my fingers. “Good.”