Taking the Walk
(As a special introductory note, I want to wish my wife Kelly a happy 10th anniversary and I want to let everyone know YET AGAIN how much I love her and think she's fucking amazing)
My wife doesn’t like to sweat.
OK, that’s not 100% true. When we’re exercising she’s fine with sweating, but then she’s wearing the right clothes and doesn’t get into her hair routine.
And see that’s the thing. She spends so much time carefully getting ready each morning that I wouldn’t want to sweat a hair out of place either if I were her. I get it.
And she totally deserves to spend that time making herself look good, as that will help her step out in the world feeling better and confidence is key girlfriend!
But yeah, not keen on sweating.
That said, it was a glorious and breezy day out near the eastern coast of Lake Michigan where we set our scene.
The cottage owner was a lovely coworker of Kelly’s, and she allowed us to use her family home for a few days to get away for our 10th anniversary this past week. (We got married on 9/10/11 so I’ll never forget and also because I like clever numerical alignments)
The map we pulled up said the beach was a 15-minute walk from the cottage.
“Wanna walk over?” I gesture to the map, show her the water and the path.
“We can totally drive”
“No. Yes. Let’s walk. That sounds like a great idea.”
We set down the gravel road and onto the ‘main’ road, a 2-lane country highway, as advertised, approximately 1 mile from the beach. Took it slow, nice breeze. A bit sunny… but no sweat.
The thing I always forget living in Chicago is that most of Lake Michigan is rocky shores and sand dunes. Once we reached the edge of the park we noticed the staircase. We rested at the top of it and assessed the situation. Looked pretty fucking far if we’re both honest.
“We can totally turn around and get back to the cottage. Fix up some cocktails.” “No, we got here. Let’s go down to the beach.”
The Apple Health app clocked it at seven flights. (Luckily there were a few benches set into the stairs.)
We walked around the beach for a few minutes. Skipped a few stones. The waves were lapping in assertively. It was pretty.
We regained the stairs (slowly), dusted the sand off of our feet, tossed our shoes back on, and headed the mile back to the cottage. I know to many of you this may not sound at all like strenuous activity, but fucking congratulations to you then eh?
We heated up some dinner we got from the grocery store and then sat by a nice campfire to kick off the evening.
People ask me how it feels to have been married ten years.
I tell people I’ve felt every minute of it.
That isn’t just me being snarky.
It doesn’t feel like time flew. It doesn’t feel like time dragged.
It felt like a period absolutely full of discrete moments.
If I focus hard enough I can remember most of them individually, but there’s a lot of patterns too. A lot of ups. A lot of downs. A lot of worry. A lot of planning. A lot of travel, adventure, community, isolation, victory, defeat, productivity, frustration.
It’s been awesome, is basically what I’m saying.
One thing we can both agree resonated with us during our pre-marital counseling (required by the church I attend but also welcomed by both of us) is the idea of our relationship being like a bank account.
When the bank account is full, everything is great. There’s no stress, there’s good communication. When the bank account is empty, things aren’t great.
How you treat each other will determine whether you are adding to or subtracting from your bank account. Bonding/communicating/connecting are debits, stress/strain/day-to-day BS are credits. So, at the time we were planning to get married, our bank was full and we were regularly adding to it. We couldn’t have imagined a scenario where our account was close to empty.
Or even overdrawn.
By the way this isn’t some dramatic build up to talk about marital problems. Because 1) that wouldn’t be anyone’s business, and 2) We don’t really have any problems.
Of course, we’re two grown adults with opinions and tastes and we will argue. Kelly thinks I just like arguing, which I truly can’t entirely argue with.
Our biggest fights typically involve us caring about each other too much. They’re usually real dumb, and incredibly emotional, and that’s on both sides of the table.
But this getaway was a straight deposit.
We went into the trip with zero plan, zero expectations. We took some nice walks together, made some random choices together, made some new friends together, tried some (shockingly mediocre) Michigan wines together in some (nonetheless) spectacular settings in some gorgeous weather. Together.
Just what the doctor ordered.
In real estate the term sweat equity is used to describe the value of the work you personally put into an investment. Relationships are the same. They require effort, engagement, and involvement. An absentee property owner is more than likely in charge of a subpar property.
Sometimes you have to take the walk.
Sometimes you have to remember why you want to take the walk even if you don’t, necessarily.
Truly our bank account was starting to feel a little more check-to-check.
It wasn’t empty per se, but it kept feeling like we weren’t always planning exactly right, or like we might have less to stash into savings.
New schedules, stresses at work, changing social circles, etc. Again, we as a couple commit to diligently checking the account balance. We typically do our best not to let it get to where it got.
Just like with finance, it takes discipline, and diligence.
And after 10 years, that’s actually been the easiest part.
(I love you Kelly Adele!)
All the best,
Jonathan “Doc Wattson”
The Native Stranger