Where was your first “I love you”?

Aside

Christmas
Wednesday, December 25, 1991

This was our first holiday together after I figuratively walked to the edge of the cliff and jumped off by telling my tugboat man I loved him the first time we shared a cup of coffee.

I was positive he was going to break up with me.

My son was with his dad for the day. The captain and I went to the gym in the morning for a little holiday workout before they closed at noon. The house was freezing when we got home. I remember going to the thermostat to turn on our central heating.  It’s rare that we need the heat on continuously here in SoCal; we use it briefly to take the chill out of the air.

It was (like it still is) a sad home when my son’s not here.

On the way home from the gym we stopped at a liquor store and bought a small bottle of Jagermeister250px-Jagermeister_bottle and a bottle of Rumpelmintz.rumplemintz

I was in the bathroom when I heard him. He very quietly said, “Rosebud, will you come into the family room? We need to talk.”

Oh NO, NOT the dreaded we need to talk. This did not sound good. Not good at all.

That’s breakup speak, I just knew it. But on Christmas DAY??? Who would do that? I know we had kind of fast tracked our relationship after that first cup of coffee–he even had been introduced to my son during a  work-related event or two and things were moving along great-or so I thought. Maybe things were moving too fast and he was getting cold feet. All kinds of doomsday scenarios were floating around in my head. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to come out of the bathroom; I stayed there, heart pounding, tears welling up in my eyes. I looked at myself in the mirror.

Why today of all days? What did I do wrong?woman_crying_m

I was still wearing my workout gear with an oversized plaid shirt. Nineties grunge, ya know?

At some point I steeled my nerves and came out of the bathroom to get it over with and figure out how to endure a breaking heart.

He was sitting at the small dining table we have in our family room where we eat informal meals. There were a couple of shot glasses filled with Rumplemintz (peppermint schnapps). He looked very serious. I mean, like he planned to deliver really bad news. He pulled out a chair and said, “Have a seat.”

tablechair

I said, “No. I don’t want to.”
Nice guy. He was going to get me drunk, break up with me, and run out the front door. This could be the worst day of my life. Seriously. He was going to do this before I could get a Christmas present from him? Seriously?

“Oh, come on. I need to tell you something. Come and sit down right here.”

Oh. Shit.

I forced my sad little plaid covered self over to the chair and looked down. I looked anywhere but at HIM. I didn’t want to see him for the very last time.

He wasn’t saying anything. I could feel him looking at me. At that point, I was thinking to myself, oh hell–just get it over with already! I gotta get myself a gallon of ice cream and start on it asap.

Finally, he reached over, took my hand and said, ” I need you to know that I love you.”

WHAT? You set me up for a break up scenario and you were planning to tell me that you loved me? WTF? 

I had anticipated the worst possible outcome. Instead, once again–he surprised me.

Crap. I can’t go any further with this story! He just told me that I can’t write the rest of what he said ‘cos it’s private–not for anyone to hear but me is what he said–but I can tell you it was lovely and sweet, and I’m so glad he’s here now–home for Christmas–because I’m always reminded of that first year.

If you don’t have to drive anywhere, try our special holiday tradition cocktail, the Reindeer: mix equal parts Jagermeister and Rumplemintz. Very potent!

Where did your most memorable “I love you” take place?

Frank bathroom talk…a tugboat wife confession

When my Merchant Marine captain is out to sea on assignment, I am a virtual single woman, living alone, an empty nester, no kids at home. There are certain aspects of being someone’s wife, spouse, partner — that I fervently believe should be private. That includes closing the door when I use the bathroom. I mean, he should close the door too, in fact, everyone should close the door. I don’t want to see that, much less hear anything that goes on in there. That’s just the way I am. If I can take it a step further, bodily functions should not even be referred to or discussed. Like I said, that’s just the way I am. But after about two or three days of being on my own, I think to myself that it’s kind of unnecessary to shut the bathroom door when no one else is home. Right? What’s the point? Right. For the next however long he’s gone, I don’t shut the door and that becomes my habit. The very first change that occurs when he comes back is that I now have to retrain myself to remember to shut the door! It’s pretty funny, because sometimes I don’t remember (like today), and I have to jump up off the seat to slam the door shut! We are not the type of couple that intrudes on each other’s “private” time, and I am totally OK with that. I know other people are different, and I respect their attitude about these things, but it’s not the way we roll (toilet roll, that is).

Living in cramped quarters on a vessel means that privacy of any sort is limited. I think it takes a special kind of person to navigate those kinds of interpersonal relationships with virtual strangers–co-workers; and not even the same ones on every voyage, so it’s necessary to learn about each and every individual foible and personal habit every single time. That would be tough for me to do. It takes real skills to manage a diverse crew and motivate them to work together as a team for as long as the assignment lasts.

That ends my confession about the bathroom because I have to excuse myself and go there right now!

No Rest For The Weary or How My Captain Spent The First One-Hundred-Forty-Four Hours Of His Homecoming

Timeline
Monday at midnight: Yet another godawful thirty-five minute drive to the airport, albeit no traffic and not too many drunk drivers weaving all over the road, thank goodness. I wore an animal print maxi-dress, nothing elaborate this time, no “theme”. I could barely keep my eyes open, but my car seems to know the way without much intervention from me, so that helped. I waited in the airport cell phone parking lot, which is not well-lit and has the most disgusting Porta-Potties. I mean DISGUSTING. And to make matters worse, they have no lights at night, which means—well, it means that it’s a nightmare for me.

When a girl has to go, a girl has to go, ya know what I mean? I was at critical mass.  But I am a smart and resourceful chicka and brought a camping headlamp to use so that I could see how nauseatingly filthy it was in there. At least I could see what I was doing—there were no seat covers, so I used three layers of toilet paper on the seat before I dared sit. No squatting on the sides this time; not enough room for two feet. OMG, could anything be more ghastly.  What were the previous 645 people DOING IN HERE!!!????  Got the call, picked him up, moved over to the passenger side—no snacks to hand feed this time. That’s what he gets for giving me no notice at all, but yes, very glad to see my captain anyway. I just like a bit of time to properly prepare an appropriate welcome. He’s lost a bit of weight, but still has those incredibly gorgeous blue/green/gray eyes.  He’s tired, but very glad to be home.  After a late dinner of leftover chard quiche,  it’s off to bed by 1:30 a.m. I am a harsh task master and make him get up at 7:00 a.m. with a cup of freshly ground French roast and we are off to the gym for my regular Boot Camp class. Hee hee, he doesn’t have much energy, I mean who can blame him; he told me he had two hours of sleep in the last two days, but I think he needs to work through the pain. I whipped out my project list and he was willing to meet my demands without too much whining and pleading and negotiation.

I really, really wanted the upstairs bathroom to have new floor molding. For some reason, he had previously installed some gray rubbery looking molding and it always reminded me of a nasty Greyhound bus station bathroom, which was totes at odds with my enchanted seashell and beach rock persona, so it was off to Home Depot! Got the floor molding and a commitment from my nice husband to completely remodel the downstairs bathroom the next time he’s home for a few months. Yeah!

He got right on the molding…see how lovely?

My 1983 Mercedes odometer stopped working about a month ago, so my hard-working husband took the instrument cluster out from under the dashboard and discovered that a couple of teeth had broken off the gear (I’m repeating what he said, I have no idea what he’s talking about) and MacGyver’d a solution. He glued small pieces of a toothpick to the gear where the teeth had broken, and voila! Success! He is a very ingenious captain, that captain of mine.

Next…I wanted to replace a swing arm lamp that was a creative project gone wrong. I had painted it black and glued seashells on it. This was not one of my better ideas, I have to admit. I don’t have a picture of it ‘cos it’s too embarrassing to view a failure, but I did take a picture of the beautiful new lamp my ever-so-nice husband installed for me during his first seventy-two hours not out to sea.

The weather here has been so very hot that our vegetable garden was suffering. My ever long suffering husband covered the garden in shade cloth.  Of course he did a much nicer job than I would have. He’s very detail-oriented. Just what you’d want in a good captain.

On Saturday we walked to the beach and back, about six miles. The weather had cooled off enough to make this endurable, but the last mile back is uphill and quite challenging.

Not done yet with projects; he decided to sand and varnish the deck. This was not on my list, I really hate when he does it, ‘cos sanding makes a mess and I have to close all the windows or I end up with a fine coating of dust everywhere. You can definitely tell he knows his way around boats; our deck looks like it could float away on its own.

Sanding while wearing the proper dust mask

Welcome aboard! “Stand by to cast off!”

Now he’s taking a well deserved nap with the remote still lightly clutched in his hand…

Fire Drill

pier-1-scented-seashell-candlesI love candles. I have candles covering virtually every surface in every room of our home.

I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.

Not anymore.

There’s a very good reason for this.

I almost burned our house down and my husband’s firefighting training is the only thing that averted disaster.

One very tranquil evening last spring after dinner, I lit every candle in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom and proceeded to take a leisurely shower. There were candles on the countertop, candles on the bamboo shelf above the toilet, and candles on another floor shelf unit.

Normally I extinguish them when I’m finished, but this time I didn’t because the room looked and smelled so lovely.

Wearing a black silk kimono and feeling quite frisky (if you know what I mean) I went out to the family room and snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Daily Show with a glass of merlot and hubs.

After a bit, he took the remote and muted the sound.

He cocked his head like he was listening for something (he looked very puppy-like and cute LOL) and said,

“Do you hear that?”

Me: “Hear what?”

Him: “I think I hear something in the bedroom, or wait, did you leave the water on?”

Me: “No, I didn’t. What do you hear?”

Him: “Do you smell anything?”

Me: “Nooo….not really, what—”

Suddenly, he takes off running toward the bathroom and I stand up and I swear, I’m totally paralyzed, I can’t move a muscle to follow him or anything.  I’m not a real take charge kind of girl in any emergency. I’m the one whose limbs turn to stone. I don’t react. Don’t count on me.

So…the next thing I hear is a lot of yelling and things crashing, and for a split second I think someone broke in and they’re fighting. It was soooo crazy.

I’m still standing two rooms away and my feet are like in cement; I mean I know I should DO something, but I just can’t. I can’t even move to the phone to call 911 or anything.

Then I hear the shower being turned on and a sizzling sound, and I was finally able to triumph over my fears, and tiptoed toward the bathroom.

OH -EM-GEE.

What I saw was a disaster. The bathroom was filled with smoke; smoke was beginning to fill the house (later we figured out that the smoke alarm’s battery had died.)

My personal fireman hero was soaking wet — apparently the noise I heard were his huge biceps ripping the bamboo shelf off the wall as it was engulfed in flames. What a hero! He had the presence of mind, not to mention the strength, to prevent a major tragedy.

As you might imagine, fires on boats are a potential catastrophe, and professional mariners constantly train and drill in the event of a fire in the engine room or anywhere else on board. I know that my mariner takes it very seriously, and I am SO glad.

Watching him in action was very reassuring (and VERY sexy).

Here’s what happened.

One of the candles was on the bottom shelf of the bamboo unit above the toilet and next to the shower. The heat from the flame ignited the shelf right above it, which also had a candle going, and that in turn ignited the shelf above that and finally the whole thing was ablaze with foot-high flames, searing the ceiling, coating it in a horrible black smoky sooty mess. The ceiling stayed too hot to touch for hours, and it was just plain luck that the attic didn’t explode in flames; it was that hot.

The burning bamboo set off little flaming arrows of fire all over the bathroom, burning the floor, the rug, and everything it touched. Cleaning the bathroom was a nightmare. There was congealed candle wax covering every surface, including the shower and the countertop, the sink, the mirror, and even the ceiling. It took forever to scrape it off.

The burnt bamboo shelf

burned shelf

This wasn’t my first brush with a candle-related disaster, however.

We have an entertainment unit in the family room that has beautiful glass shelves.

entertainment unit

I lit a candle on the bottom shelf (déjà vu, right?) and left the room (déjà vu again, right?) and we heard a sound like an explosion, ran in, and found shattered glass everywhere. The shelf must have heated up and cracked. Wow.  Everything on the shelf crashed and broke, too.

The replacement shelf had to be custom-made, and the expensive lesson learned that time was not to light any candles under glass shelves.

But I guess I didn’t learn the ENTIRE lesson or I surely wouldn’t have walked away from a roomful of candles!

I am ever so grateful that hubs did not bring up the previous incident as I felt bad enough without being reminded of my carelessness.

So…it’s no surprise that I avoid any candle lighting until my personal fireman is here.

Before he leaves to go out to sea, he forces me to perform –fire drills. (Head out of the gutter, people!) I think it’s more to make him feel better about leaving and hoping that I have the tools and knowledge to act appropriately  in an emergency.

Well, that’s probably not going to happen.

The fire extinguisher is in the garage, and I know he’s shown me a zillion times how to make it work, but I don’t remember a single thing he says. Considering my response time isn’t so good, the darn thing is heavy and unwieldy and it’ll be next to impossible to react at all when my feet are pinned to the floor, unable to move – I guess I’ll have to be content with a picture of a candle until he comes home.

candle