Road of Change

Road of Change: Santa Fe,The Next Day

Santa Fe The Next Day

The first stop of the morning was a bank where I collected a cashier’s check for the amount I was willing to spend on the car.

Chris, Matt and I arrived at the car dealership just as they opened.  Our young salesman waited for us at the entrance and he asked if I was ready to buy the car.  I told him only if we could agree on the money.

He started his salesman spiel just like I expected him to do. I cut him short and gave him the figure I would pay.

The kid acted flustered for a moment and then left us to collect the sales manager.  The sales manager asked if I wanted to test drive the car again and I told him, “No. I’ve seen the car. Are we going to deal or not?”

The sales manager started telling me about the cost of the car and overhead expenses.  I stopped him and showed him the cashier’s check. “This is what I will pay. Not a penny more.”

The sales manager looked at the check that was actually nearly $10,000 off of the list price and then told the salesman to write up the contract.

Two hours later, I drove off of the lot in my shiny new 2018 Octane Blue Metallic Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.  The dealership helped me to customize the mirror settings, the seat position, the GPS, the satellite radio, and a hundred other features.  I just hoped I remembered half of it. The owner’s manual looked like an unabridged dictionary, so I uploaded an app on my phone with all the instructions for operating my new car.

Noon and Matt treated us to lunch at a chain seafood restaurant that was next door to the dealership.  As we left the restaurant, Matt said to Chris, “Stay one more night and then you can hit the road in the morning.”

Chris replied, “I was hoping you would ask,” and then to me, “I’ll ride with Matt.” The two brothers walked toward Matt’s car obviously, they had more to talk about.  Whether it was Matt’s idea or Chris’s didn’t matter. Maybe in talking to his brother, Chris could get some of his issues sorted out.

I got into my new car.  I deeply inhaled the new car smell, ran my hands over the dashboard, the steering wheel and the seats. With the touch of a button, I started it up and verbally instructed the GPS to provide a map to Matt’s address in case I lost them in traffic.

By the time I arrived at the house, I had a better feel for the brakes and the steering. I totally enjoyed driving my new car and was well pleased with my purchase.

Before I could get out of the car, Charlotte ran out of the front door and said to me, “We’re going shopping.”  She climbed into the passenger side and told me to turn right out of the driveway. “Wow! I love this car. I can’t wait for Ernesto to see it.  I think we will get one, too.” She spent a few minutes investigating the dials, knobs, vanity mirror and glove box.

“Where are you going to live after you are married?”  I asked her.

“Ernesto and I have an apartment downtown.  He is living there full time and I will move in right after the honeymoon.”

“Where are you going on your honeymoon?”

“Nowhere special.  Disneyland for 3 days.  We would rather spend our money on buying furniture for the apartment.”

“Very wise.  My wedding was unbelievably lavish.  My mother spent so much money in order to impress her friends.  I don’t even remember having fun during the reception. There were mostly people there I didn’t know.  The decadence is embarrassing. It was the wedding my mother wanted for herself, I think. Anyway, I should have done what my sister did–a very small wedding and reception.  She and her husband paid for most of it themselves.”

“That is kind of what Ernesto me are doing. We only have about 60 people coming and most of them are his family. Dad paid for my dress, the cake, the flowers and the photographer.  Ernesto’s family is furnishing the food and the decorations for the reception.

“So where are we going and what are we buying?” I asked her.

“Mom thinks your clothes are deplorable, so she instructed me to get you some new ones.  She gave me her credit card.”

I frowned at my choice of clothes for the day. “I bought these yoga pants to travel in because they are comfy and I can wash them in the hotel shower.  I do have a couple pairs of of jeans with me, but I have gained a little from eating nothing but fast food and my jeans are tight enough to be uncomfortable.”

“We’ll fix that,”  Charlotte said.

“Look, I can pay for my own clothes, but I would certainly love some fashion advice and shopping company.”

“Mom insisted, to thank you for the afghan and the dog. Besides, we can give Dad and Uncle Chris a chance to talk.  Mom would have come with us if she were feeling better.”

We arrived at one of those outdoor malls and hit the shops, trying on clothes, drinking gourmet coffee, and buying plenty of treasures.  I bought two new pairs of designer jeans, a variety of colorful tops, sandals, a straw hat, turquoise jewelry and three shirts for Chris.

By the time we got back to Matt’s house, the guys had dinner waiting–A cool pasta salad and fresh fruit.  I just had time to visit the bathroom before joining the others at the table. The dinner featured a domestic setting and light conversation.  A perfect final evening in Santa Fe.

We played Trivial Pursuit after dinner with Ernesto the clear winner.  

We said a tearful goodbye to him because he would not be here to see us off in the morning.  “I will see you in November, for the wedding,” he said. He kissed Charlotte and aimed for the front door.

Julia left us to go to her room to finish the paper she had due the following morning.

Charlotte went to bed because she had to work tomorrow.  That left Chris, Matt, Barbara and me in the living room.

As usual, Matt took the lead.  “I am going to be sorry to see you go, but I think the two of you need more time to get things worked out.  I want you both to promise me something.”

“Anything,” Chris said.  

I wasn’t as ready to jump into a promise that I may not want to keep, so I hesitated.  Matt directed his stare at me. “Well?”

“What is the promise?”  I asked.

“Nothing you will find a hardship.”

I was wary, but I nodded my head.  Matt said, “Before you two go to bed at night, spend fifteen minutes talking to each other.  Really talking and listening. No fighting. No arguing. No judging. Tell each other how you feel.  What you feel. And you are required to tell each other one thing you love about the other.”

“What do you mean?”  Chris asked.

“Find something about Anne that you love and tell her what it is.  Like, uh, I don’t know. Maybe ‘Anne, I love the way your nose wrinkles when you sneeze.’ Or, ‘Chris, I love your pinky toe on your right foot.’  Everyone has something lovable about them. Find it in each other. And you are required to tell each other that you love them as the last thing you say before going to sleep.  See, not too hard.” Matt stood and held his hand down to Barbara who grasped it and rose from the chaise.

“See you in the morning,” Barbara said.  

I stood up to go to our bedroom and Chris followed me.  “No time like the present,” Chris said. He sat on the bed.  “Anne, I love the way your nose wrinkles when you sneeze,” he said to me.

I must have looked at him like he had suddenly grown two heads because he said, “What?”  A deep frown crossed his face.

I took a deep breath and then said, “Okay, we have to start somewhere.  Chris, I love your right pinky toe.”

We both laughed and Chris said,  “That really didn’t hurt too bad.”  He paused and then said, “Anne Archer, really, I love your eyes.  Your eyes are the most beautiful I have ever seen.”

I looked at him in wonderment.  “I never knew you felt that way.” He shrugged a shoulder and gave me a crooked grin. “Chris Archer, I love how you stand up so straight.  You have amazing posture.”

“Lillian would love to hear that.  She told me ten thousand times to always hold my shoulders back and my head up.  I guess her parenting worked.” I smiled at him, imagining Lillian’s voice in my head telling him to straighten up.

“The other part of the promise is to talk about how we really feel,”  Chris prompted.

I nodded and sat on the bed beside him.  “Okay. Barbara said something to me that I just didn’t realize.  She said I should ask you to join me when I am cooking, going to the grocery store, picking Lily up from school.  Whatever. I thought it was easier to do all those things by myself. I prided myself on my independence and self-reliance.  We probably shouldn’t do that when we are married.”

Chris said, “That’s what Matt told me.  We are on the same team. We can be self-reliant, but still include our spouse in everything.  He said to not just do things with each other, but for each other. Like him looking up information about what to cook for a person on chemo.  Like him reducing his work hours so he can be here to help Barbara.”

“We both screwed up this marriage,”  I said.

“Yeah, we did.”  He replied. “It’ll take both of us to fix it.”

“I know,”  I stood up and Matt grabbed my hand.  

“Anne, I love you.”

“Chris, I love you.”  I walked to the other side of the bed and slipped in between the sheets.  

That night, I spooned Chris from behind like always.

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