I've never been good with change, am a creature of habit. Anything new is regarded with great suspicion. I don't enjoy being this way. I've always wanted to be one of those devil-may-care women who get along by the seat of their pants. Who impulsively pack a suitcase and book a flight to France, just for fun. Instead, I tend to hoard my habits.
T and I started a tradition when I was going through chemo. We would get up on Sundays, go get coffees from Starbucks (a flat white, extra hot, with cinnamon and nutmeg on top for me and a hot skinny white mocha for her, with almond milk and no whipping cream) and stop at McDonald's for an egg white delite for me and a breakfast burrito for her. Then, we'd head over to Benson Park and eat our breakfasts on a bench if the weather allowed, if not...then in the car with the heat on high.
After the food was gone, we'd take our big bag of cracked corn (T made sure that we never ran out) and feed the ducks and geese. If there were no ducks and geese, we'd feed the squirrels. Soon, the ducks began to recognize us and gather around impatiently waiting for us to finish our coffees.
Our marriage thrived. We were both terrified of my cancer, my treatments, everything. So, we talked about anything but cancer. We spoke of how lucky we were to have found each other in this big world. We talked about my incredibly vapid and cruel spirited supervisor at my job. We talked about T's students and how much she loved them. We talked about places we wanted to visit, how as soon as Lucy was in college, we'd move south and always be warm, never have to drive through ice storms again. I pushed for New Orleans. T thought that Alabama or Mississippi were better choices taxwise. We NEVER talked about the fact that maybe I wouldn't be around for much longer.
Little by little, I healed. I somehow made it through chemo ( but I swear that I will NEVER get chemo again...) I made it through radiation. And then, day by day, month by month, I began to get better.
I have now been cancer free for one and a half years. But, we still go out for coffees and breakfast every Sunday morning. We can now talk about things that we couldn't before. T admits that she awakened every few hours every single night during my treatment just to make sure that I was still breathing.
"You were so sick," she says now. "You stopped snoring. You'd go into this deep, dark sleep where you barely seemed to breathe and you were nearly impossible to awaken. I was so sure that one night I would wake up to find you dead. I was thrilled that you could manage to drink coffee and eat even half of your egg white delite. Sometimes, that would be all you'd be able to eat all day."
We debate stopping this routine now that I am well. We decide that it has become too dear to both of us to let it go. We are both older, both inclined to love routine. And it is a way for us to stay close.
We talk about trying to add small bits of impulsivity to our lives so that we don't get into a staleness or a rut that is too deep. The problem is that we are both rather fond of and comfortable in our rut!
T brings home water piks for us. Both of us are old school. We brush our teeth with plain old manual toothbrushes. Mine is red this month, hers is blue. We try the water pik. Admit that we like it after we finally master the art of not getting mouthwash all over our bathroom mirror. So, now we start a new tradition. Brushing, flossing, and pikking.
We are just a couple of wild souls, aren't we? I will try to think of other ways to add "spice" to my life. Maybe instead of walking clockwise around the pond at Towl Park, I'll go counter clockwise.
We habit hoarders have to start small, you know.