This last week we took a road trip, covering hundreds of miles of interstate over two days and one night. Lots of coffee. More than a few rest stops. We’ve done this dozens of times, as we both prefer to see America from blue highways than from blue skyways. Over all the years we’ve driven from Maryland to Montana, from Arizona to Arkansas, I’ve learned – at long last – how to travel with my wife, and anyway, now that I’m in my forties, she and I are in better sync than say, fifteen years ago. These days, when Sheri is at the wheel and she pulls into a rest area, I don’t say a word. I get out of the car and make the walk with her to the lavatories.
But when we started out on our earliest road trips, I used to get exasperated. “We just stopped!” I’d say. “We’ve only been driving two hours!” Callow, I wanted to be on the road, cruising. How would we get anywhere if we stopped so often?
Sheri, as is so often the case, understood better than I did that when there’s an age difference with your spouse or partner, there are accommodations to be made.
I can’t say for certain when it was that she first pointed to another woman across a nightclub table or a dance floor and told me “Go dance with so-and-so.” We like to dance together, and we’d enjoyed more than a few turns ourselves, but now her suggestion confused me. In my brief experience with women, I’d learned to not even look at another woman, let alone ask one to dance. Was this a test? Was I supposed to say, “I’d rather stay here with you”? She wasn’t testing me, of course. Sheri had seen how my knee bounced with the beat, how my head bobbed, and she knew that whatever it was that played loud in that club or dance hall – juke-joint blues or zydeco if we were out to hear a band, yet another “Love Shack” if we were at a wedding – made me, in my late twenties, want to dance. And Sheri, in her mid-forties, needed to catch her breath. In the years since, I’ve danced hundreds of turns with my wife, but also with other women – young and old, married and single – as Sheri rests her feet on a chair, her generous example showing me how youth and age become compatible.