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When the holidays rolled around last year and caught me by complete surprise, I pretty much resigned myself to having a less than eventful Thanksgiving away from the bulk of my family, and an equally mediocre Christmas.  We were partially moved in.  Unpacked boxes were stacked in my bedroom floor.  The pantry was stuffed with things I couldn’t find a home for elsewhere.  I had to keep running out and buying stuff as we got closer and closer to the holidays and I realized I’d either given something away or left it behind.  I have no idea what we ate at Thanksgiving.  I don’t remember cooking dinner.  I do recall trying to decorate for Christmas and realizing that I really wasn’t all that jazzed about the idea.
The afternoon of Christmas Eve, I drove to our old house and spent several hours loading my van with the bits and pieces of my woman cave.  Then drove the hour back to Remote, alone.  Try as I might, I had zero Christmas spirit to draw from that night.
And I never did find it.

Honestly, I don’t remember our Thanksgiving at all.  And I only remember our Christmas because the tension in the room was so thick you could chew it.

An hour southeast of here, my sister was going through somewhat the same ordeal, but different, for many reasons.  Sister is living with our mom so that we don’t have to move her to a nursing home to die.  It’s what she did for our dad.  And what she wanted to do, at least initially, for our mom.
But the toll of watching someone disappear before your very eyes is something you never really consider when you say, “I’ll take care of ____________”, and you’re kidding yourself if you think it won’t get to you.

Our older sister was the first to try and she was pretty terrible at it.  She’s not naturally a nurturing person, so that was a missing factor coming out of the gate.  She’s not really very patient.  She has lived a mostly nomadic life with an upheaval and move every couple of years.  Watching her trying to live with an old woman she no longer knew and had little in common with was a struggle.  Watching Mom slowly regressing was worse.  They brought out the worst in each other.  It was sad.  And often angry.
When we suggested it was time to make a change, my sister balked.  But it didn’t last long.  She knew an open door when she saw it and she took it as fast as she could.  As we knew she would.

And, honestly, as I would have as well, had I been the one in her place.

And now my middle sister is living with Mom.  Less than five miles from her real home where her husband and kids still live.  Where her dog and his cat stretch out on her bed at night, looking for feet to warm.  Where the tv runs non-stop and the bathroom gets cleaned only when she’s there to do it.  Where her flowers explode all around her house every spring and summer.  Where the coffee is strong and always hot.
Where the missing piece is the one piece that holds it all together.  Except she’s holding it all together less than five miles away.

I know this is not how any of us planned it to go.  Not Mom.  Not Sister, certainly.  Not me.  I wake up in the mornings and wonder if my sister is awake.  Of course she is.  I don’t think she even sleeps anymore.  She’s like an old vampire who lives on the Equator.  Sometimes we text messages to each other.  Funny pictures of our sleep disturbed hair and smushy faces.  Commentary on Mom’s ailments and what the doc suggests be done.  Sometimes, although not nearly often enough, I go out and stay with Mom and send Sister home.  She says it doesn’t matter, but I know it does.  I realized much too late that it mattered to my older sister as well.  And always, the guilt of not being present enough hangs like a noose around my neck.

Last year, what I remember most about the holidays is the soul-deep depression that descended on my sister and shoved her into such a dark place I wasn’t sure she would be able to come back out.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen other people go there.  But I’d never before, in all the years we’ve been each others shadow, seen my sister there.  It was scary.  It was heartbreaking.  It filled me with such anger because, even as I watched her slipping away, she continued to say, “I’m fine.  It’s fine.  We’re all fine.”

None of our family puts much effort into spending real time with Mom.  Older Sister lives in the Northwest now with her daughter.  Her tour of duty is up and she has no plans to re-enlist.  Our brothers are around, but only the older one bothers to make the drive up on the odd day to pop in and bring lunch.  Younger brother works still but his days off are spent on other things.  Other people.  My mom has a houseful of grandkids and great-grandkids.  I don’t think any of them even bother to call.  Except my sister’s kids.  My niece spends as many weekends with Mom as possible so her mother can go home and forget that there’s a bird on the feeder and I’m out of water and I want you to open that closet and let me see what’s in there and who’s going to care about all of my stuff when I’m gone?  My nephew is available at the drop of a hat to sit with Mom or fix the weatherstripping on the door or lift a heavy flowerpot or any number of other odd tasks that might need to be done.  Or to just come and sip coffee and maybe sing a song.

My sister and I were always the planners of family gatherings.  Mostly because we loved to be together and wanted everyone else to love it too.  We are best when we are together.  I clean.  She cooks.  I try.  She refuses to let me fail.  I cry and she laughs at me.  We’ve been close most of our lives and I don’t think I can live without her although I’m pretty sure she’d be fine without me.
Just before Thanksgiving, Sister told me she didn’t much care if anybody showed up for dinner at Mom’s this year.  Nobody bothered last year and they got along just fine.  It was quiet and just her family and Mom.  And they all liked it that way.  We would miss being together, again.  My husband would just be getting out of hospital after surgery.  He couldn’t travel any better than Mom can.

Sister and I talked about the holidays in general and agreed that we are both satisfied to not be the planners anymore.  We’re ready to hand our wooden spoons and dish cloths over to someone else.  Sadly, there won’t be any takers.  The rest of our family, while more than happy to show up with a side dish and white elephant gift, never gives much thought to putting something together themselves.  We’ve been invited a few times over the years to each brother’s home.  But we normally let them slide and just plan get togethers at Mom’s.  It means Mom can stay at home where she’s comfortable and not be subjected to the weather.
So, we’re as much a part of the problem as anyone else.  And we both admit that.

And now we’re done.

I will spend a few days with Mom and let my sister go home to her family and her house. And I’ll bring some Christmas cheer as well.  We’ll eat and be merry and chase depression across the state lines if we have to.  We’ll play Chickenfoot and drink coffee and make fun of each other.  We’ll tell stories we’ve heard before about Christmas and why it’s our favorite time of year.  And we won’t wonder where the rest of the family might be.

I’m sure they’ll be having a good time too.

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This was our second Thanksgiving at Remote, although I can almost discount last year since we’d barely moved in and it wasn’t much of a day.  I felt harried and hurried and the stress had a life of its own.
This year was marginally better.  Not as much stress, but twice the cooking.  My choice.  With Mike so recently home after surgery, I wanted to make sure he had a nice holiday.  I asked him what he wanted to eat, then did my best to make sure he got it.

Three days to cook it all.  Three minutes to eat it!  That’s how it always goes and it’s the thing about cooking that I most dislike.

We were four for dinner.  Sheli, Justin, Mike and I.  It was a quiet day and the weather more beautiful than I can remember for late November.

I had quite a lot of time to reflect this Thanksgiving.  On years passed and holidays under much greater stress.  Trying to have all of us under one roof.  Trying to cram all of us into Mom’s tiny apartment.  Trying to find a time that suited everyone’s schedule.  Trying to schedule time.  Trying to cook all the favorites and getting to bed long after my body had stopped responding and started moving via autopilot.
Waking up with a headache from lack of sleep and doing last minute housework.  Hitting the shower at 11:00 knowing the crowd was due at noon.

And greeting everyone as they filed in with their one dish (or stack of take home containers) and empty stomachs.

I think that’s the part I resented most.  Year after year of hosting duties.  Year after year of trying to make sure the house was clean and neat, the food tasty and hot, the atmosphere pleasant and joyful.  So that people I never see unless one of us dies can pile through the door and eat their fill and then sleep through the clean up with football blasting on the tv.

Yep.  There’s the raw nerve.  I’ve known it was there for some time.  Good to have it exposed finally.

So, this year, when nobody had thought ahead to what might happen if half of the people responsible for their annual turkey dinner moved an hour north and the other half had her hands full taking care of our mother, I had a great meal with those few people who actually put in some sort of effort to think of me the other 364 days of the year.
Sister, the other half of the Family Gathering Committee, did the same thing.  And I’m absolutely certain neither of us feels the least bit guilty for not hosting a huge family Thanksgiving!

It felt so good, in fact, that I’m thinking of doing exactly the same thing for Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.  I hope you had a great day.

When the twin spotlights of my universe were centered on the eight hours I spent earning a wage and the ten hours I spent raising kids, keeping house, and being wifely, I’m pretty sure I never gave a thought to the time when I wouldn’t wake up totally exhausted.  In fact, I am certain that my understanding was that such a state existed only for those who still believed in flying reindeer and rabbits that shit candy.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I recall people saying I was far too young to be married.  They said the same thing a couple of years later when I brought the first baby home.  They were, of course, wrong.  There is a reason that Mother Nature equips women with the ability to bear offspring long before they’ve actually enjoyed their lives.  And it is because the moment you allow yourself to be exposed to the prospect of motherhood, your body goes into hyper mode that even the best amphetamines on the street can’t duplicate.  Your brain begins to secrete a gel-like substance that encases all areas of logic and reality and entombs them.  You’ll get those back, as soon as menopause begins.

Without logic and reality, you believe you can do everything.  And do it well.  You are convinced that the millions of women who’ve married before you simply chose the wrong life partner.  You have no understanding that “I do” is, quite often, followed by “Oh, HELL no!” and a version of the moonwalk you didn’t know you had in you.

Without logic and reality, you fail to make the connection between the snotty, red-faced toddler screaming in the center of the dairy section at your local market and your soon-to-be inhabited womb.  Instead, you envision your perfectly behaved angel-child sitting, quietly reading (at age two) in her perfectly clean and beautifully decorated bedroom.  Her movie-star-handsome father waltzes in the door with an armload of perfectly formed flowers and a gift certificate for your full spa day.  The gourmet meal you whipped up last minute engulfs the room with an aroma that all but carries the three of you to the stunningly set table where candles glow and music softly plays.  The phone rings and it’s your boss congratulating you on wining the first ever year-long paid vacation the company has ever awarded.  Your tears of joy hardly make a wet spot on your naturally sun-kissed cheek.

Over time, of course, these visions fail to manifest.  Without logic and reality, you simply believe that you aren’t working hard enough.  You’re not doing it right.  You’ve somehow missed the memo.
You look around and see other women failing miserably at marriage and motherhood and swear, “As God is my witness…”, you’ll never be that.  You work longer hours.  You eat salads for a month in hopes of shedding the inner tube of extra weight you found in the waistband of your favorite skirt.  You pick kids up from school and deposit them in three different locations within minutes of each other and they’re all on time. You try new recipes.  You cut your hair.  You read three books a night to each of your kids.  You spend every Sunday cleaning every surface, washing every garment.  You learn to start the mower and weed whacker.  You volunteer for PTA… no, wait…  even in your wildest fantasy are you not so stupid as to volunteer for PTA.

You fall asleep on the sofa and burn the lasagna.

And then one day, you look around and you’re alone.  The house is empty.  The bedrooms, where once music blared and the lights stayed on all night, are empty and dark.  There’s no laundry to do.  You check the hamper twice, just to be sure.  You notice the sink is empty and the cupboards are full.  Outside you hear the faint buzz of the weed-whacker and smell fresh mown grass.  Even the dog bowl is clean and in its rightful place.

You think, “Ah…  this is what it must be like…” and turn to pour a second cup of coffee.

Then you see the legal pad on the table:
Milk
Laundry soap
Eye drops
Russells for feed and pine shavings
Oil change – new wiper blades
Drop the dog off by 7:30
Scripts at CVS

Logic tells you to go take more B12.  Reality says you’ve got an hour to get into the city for your appointment.  Exhaustion says retirement ain’t for sissies.

I was recently sucked into a conversation wherein someone I didn’t know “mansplained” cultural appropriation to me.  I willingly entered the conversation.  And I was as honest in my replies as I could be.  It turns out that I honestly feel that wearing a Halloween costume that resembles the clothing and jewelry worn by the primary character in an animated movie is as far removed from cultural appropriation as singing songs in a language you didn’t grow up speaking.  To me, the idea is simply ludicrous.
I admit that, prior to this event, I had never heard of cultural appropriation.  I had to look it up.  In layman’s terms it means adopting, as your own, an element of a culture that isn’t yours.  And the key operative word here, to my mind, is “element”.  An essential part  or aspect of something that is essential or characteristic.  So, a headdress or hat or turban, a piece of clothing, a necklace or bracelet or earrings, tattoos or scarring or piercings.  Those sorts of things could be elements of culture, provided they are actually real.  At least to my mind.

So, what then of the things not worn on the body?  Totems or masks used to adorn a living room wall or hotel lobby.  Carvings and reproduction artifacts sold in gift shops.
What about observances of cultural ceremony?  Don’t we have a host of holidays and religious observances on our American calendars now that weren’t heard of outside of their own culture prior to the great era of Political Correctness?
And what about those things which other cultures have presented to yours as “gifts” meant for sharing?  Blessings?  Songs?
What about pot shards found in archeological digs?
What about the photographs taken of sacred sites?

In the discussion between me and the man in the mansplaining, I was assured that merely refusing to subject a five-year-old to the idea of cultural appropriation was akin to full blown disrespect of another culture.  Especially if said child should be planning to wear a costume depicting an animated movie character.  Forget that the costume isn’t actually a traditional garment.

And I feel that is where we’re all missing the most important point.

For years I attended Celtic festivals and games from Texas to the East Coast.  One of the most recognizable elements of traditional Celtic dress is the kilt.  It is a multi-use garment that allows freedom of movement for anyone finding themselves in battle (it’s original and more traditional use).  It can be used for a coat.  A bed.  A tent.  A raincoat.  A blanket.  Or just the covering for your lower half.
Yet any festival, no matter where you attend it, will be populated by men, women, and children wearing kilts.  And you needn’t do a blood test to know who is actually wearing an element of their culture.  There’s a way in which someone accustomed to wearing a kilt moves that just lets you know it isn’t a sometime sort of thing.
Somehow nobody’s freaking out about all the inappropriate kilt wearers.  Nobody.

I mentioned this to the mansplainer, but it was just another chance for him to deflect my point and remind me that I am still being disrespectful.

Which then brings me back to Halloween and that costume.

Halloween, in and of itself, is a cultural appropriation.  Halloween is the bastard child of the Celtic festival Samhain, celebrated on November first, during which ancient Celts wore costumes and danced around bonfires to ward off ghosts.  The time of year in which Samhain occurs coincides with the belief that the veil or space between the living and the dead is thinnest.  The festival is meant to chase the dead back to the grave.  Eventually Pope Gregory III decided that chasing the dead was a poor pastime and declared November first to be a day to celebrate saints.  All Saints Day used some, but not all, of the ancient rituals.  The eve of All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Eve.  Which then became Hallowe’en.  Eventually tricks and treats became a thing to have and share.  Throw in a good harvest of the winter vegetables, pumpkins and turnips and such, and you have our current holiday of cheap costumes, streets paved in pumpkin guts and school children with day-long upset stomachs.

How this has ever been misconstrued as cultural appropriation is beyond me.  Do we even know what the original Celts wore for their ghost chasing dances?  I’m pretty sure whatever they wore, it wasn’t a cheap poly fabric stamped to look like bark cloth.

If a child decided to wear an actual pandana skirt and tapa, there would be a problem.  If the costume in question were an actual taualuga costume but the child wasn’t a Samoan dancer, there’d be a problem.  But if the kid is just a kid wanting to imitate a character in an animated movie that was depicted as brave and strong and determined, I honestly can’t see where there’s a problem.

I have watched in horror the many videos and news clips of the disaster that was the “peaceful” protest in Charlottesville, VA.  I’ve listened to and read comments from both sides of the story.  I’ve followed threads on social media and expressed my sadness, anger, and dismay.

But I have only just begun to fully comprehend how we’ve come to this and to wonder where it will take us next.

Listening to an interview with Carol Anderson (the Charles Howard Candler professor of African American Studies at Emory University) on NPR recently, I started to process all that I’ve taken in since Sunday, August 13th.  I understand, I think, what spurs people to allow themselves to be swallowed up.  They feel unnoticed.  They feel unheard. They feel invisible.  They feel devalued.
I understand these things, these feelings.  I’ve felt this way myself at times.

I’ve just never felt the need to take my own personal issues out into the streets to use as a weapon against others.  And I don’t understand those who do.

I’m sure this has a great deal to do with where and when I was raised and by whom.  The list of environmental influences that shape each of us is as variable as our own genetic make-up.  Each of us has a history.  Each of us has a past.  I understand that not everyone grew up in a small North Texas town where their dad’s family name was well-known and respected.  Not everyone walked to their all-white school with no idea that black or brown were anything more than choices from the Crayola box.  Not everyone heard “pickaninny” and “spic” and had no notion that those were bad words.  Hate-filled words.

Not everyone failed to recognize the racism in their own homes.

And, while much of what I witnessed in my formative years was mild when compared to the atrocities I now understand took place in other places and other lives, it is still something I struggle to accept and attempt to overcome.
I grew up in a home filled with laughter and love.  We left our doors unlocked, even when we were gone overnight.  We had no fear of our neighbors, because most of our neighbors looked just like us.  The oddity of a person of color shopping in our local grocery, eating in the diner, sitting in our classroom was just that, an oddity.  I knew one black man as a child.  I knew of the existence of one black student in our school sometime after fifth grade although I was younger than he was and did not share a classroom with him.  Those two people were not related.  And it never dawned on me to question where they came from or if they had families.  I never wondered if they had homes, siblings, spouses.  I do not recall, ever, hearing a language spoken that I could not understand.  Every single person I met dressed just like I did.  Like my parents and grandparents did.  None wore their hair or their headwear in a style other than those worn by everyone else in town.  We all looked, talked, and acted like the rest of us.
I moved in a naturally segregated world with no notion that anywhere else on earth looked any different.  In my world, a person of color was comparable to a blue moon –   rarely seen and only noticeable for the oddity of its appearance in an otherwise unchanging English-speaking white-skinned sky.

The schools I attended were simply named after the town where we lived.  There were no statues of soldiers in the park or town square.  No battlegrounds for reenacting a war that still haunts so many like Marley’s ghost.  I have to think, really hard, to even come up with a spot within driving distance of my hometown that bears a name that might now need changing.  Ah…  there it is.  Lee Park.  It’s where the hippies hung out in the ’70s.  I’m sure there are statues there.  I haven’t been in ages.  When I used to go, statuary was not something I would even have given notice to.  And I’ve never even considered that this is “white privilege”.
But it is.

The past is so called because it is meant to be behind us.  Until just recently, I was content with the belief that I was not racist.  I have black friends.  Isn’t that a sure sign?  I don’t use those bad words to describe anyone of color.  I don’t tell “off-color” jokes.  The fact that I have told such jokes and still describe anyone by the color of their skin is, in reality, absolute proof that my past is still very present.  I don’t consider myself racist, but I do still think with a racially divided mind.  It is devastating to realize and embarrassing to admit.  All those things I didn’t think I noticed growing up are still in there, like bodies down a well.  I must exhume and dispose of them.  Lift the mirror and take a hard look.

Listening again yesterday to NPR as I made the long drive to my sister’s house, I finally heard someone ask the one question I didn’t realize I needed an answer to.  How do white people decipher the mixed signals broadcast when they attempt to be non-racist in conversations with people of color.  How do I ask questions that don’t offend?  How do I make observations that speak to the differences between us without pointing out the differences between us?  How do I tell you that you are colorless to me while I celebrate the fact that you are not blotchy white like I am?  How do I compliment your clothing without insulting your ethnicity?  How do I ask about your family history, because it is interesting to me, without asking questions for which the answers cause you pain or grief?

And how do I apologize for my ignorance when I am surely old enough to have educated myself on the subject of racism?  What do I say, now, when entering conversations with people of color, knowing as I do how desperately my own mind must reprocess what I know and understand?

I have been, often quite severely, critical of our current President and his administration.  We seem to be moving in reverse on so many issues.  Racism most of all.  It feels as though this administration came to town looking for our weak spots and, having found one in racism, ripped it open and spilled the ugliness out into our city streets.  Now it’s moving like flood water trying to wash away any progress, small though it may be, of equality.  Charlottesville is the headwater.  Those who feel unheard and invisible man half of the boats.  They are bent on taking the high ground and leaving the rest of us to drown in the hatred they spilled.  Along the banks, watching the deluge are the mayors and school presidents and even the descendants of the generals and soldiers, trying to determine what needs to be removed or replaced in order to force the flood waters recede.  In the other boats are those who’ve been sopping up this nasty mess all their lives and know that, just like that kid with his finger in the dike, there is bound to be another leak to stop in a little while.  Just keep bailing.  Our President stands atop the levee, directing the filling and placement of sandbags.

It is hard to predict the next storm.

My plan, my hope, is to stop being one of the clouds.

I don’t know how any of the rest of you feel, but every time I hear the name Trump, I cringe.  Mostly because I spent so much time in my younger days playing Spades and discussing trump cards and trump moves and trump strategies.

But now, the idea of using that word, even in a card game where knowing how and when to trump is essential, makes my shoulders rise up around my ears and causes my head to throb.

Perhaps it’s time to find a new game.  Learn Parcheesi or Canasta.  Do you trump in those games?  I don’t know.  I could always switch to games played without cards.  I love Chickenfoot.  And I recently played Dominos with family and realized I count much faster than I used to.

My preference would be to just get a new POTUS.  My hope is that we manage that before he totally destroys us.  Because, if he does, any games we play will be foreign to us all.

I’ve decided that retirement is very much like the honeymoon year of marriage.  Minus the great sex.

Much the same as happens when you realize you are about to meet someone at the altar and walk with them through the rest of your life, there’s that little thrill that flutters your stomach at the realization that it’s finally gonna happen!   This is followed by a moment of panic when you’re faced with the prospect of spending the next untold number of years with someone you’re not exactly sure you know well enough to sleep next to much less risk accidentally farting in the company of.

If you’re smart, you realize there will be adjustments to be made by both parties.  The first of these usually occurs as you’re moving furniture into your first home.  He carries in that disgusting blue chair and you refuse to allow it within sight of anyone entering the house.  He likes all the cups and glasses in one cupboard, you know who’ll be unloading the dishwasher and refuse to walk across the kitchen to do so.  You pick out lovely floral towels and he drops plain beige in the shopping cart.  But you both agree on a coffee maker and suddenly the angels are singing again.

In the honeymoon year, you make discoveries that you hadn’t imagined were possible.  He prefers buttered bread to mayo or mustard on his sandwich (MUST be a Yankee thing!) and wouldn’t touch sour cream on a dare.  He actually can watch television with his eyes closed (and can talk and snore simultaneously).  He visibly cringes at the sound of a baby crying (wonder if he’ll wake up when she crawls in bed between the two of you?).  He is almost terse with your mother, but then, she does ask the most embarrassingly personal questions.
As the year progresses, there are less heated discussions regarding the things you cannot change and more resigned sighing as you once again remind him to please put the toilet seat back down after he flushes.
And you realize you can’t possibly stay mad at a man who brings you flowers when he stops at the grocery for milk on the way home from work.

I was advised early on by a minister friend, who did marriage counseling on the side, that marriage is cyclical and should be treated much the same as a contract.  You work within the confines of your agreement until it is no longer suitable to the two of you, then you renegotiate and begin again.  You have to agree from the start not to be nasty or devious and to only ask for those things that are most important to you.  You aren’t allowed to use any canny strategies.  No cooking his favorite dish or wearing a certain bra.  Just straight forward negotiations carried out in the most adult manner possible.

In the retirement phase of marriage, this is known as choosing the hill you want to die on.  And, by retirement phase, you are fully expected to come to the table in battle armor.

If you manage to stay married long enough to actually reach the retirement phase, you are fully aware that those things most important to you in the honeymoon year are no longer considerations.  In effect, the battlefield topography changes.  Where you once may have been negotiating for certain draperies or visits with your out-of-state relatives at certain times of the year or even who gets stuck sitting out soccer practice, things are now much more personal.  You have determined, long ago, that there is no such animal as a 50/50 relationship and you’re hoping to at least break even.

Who, for example, gets the single bathroom sink in the morning?  It stands to reason that the person up first has full bathroom access until they’re done.  So why are you dancing around each other, toothbrush in hand and mouth full of toothpaste-laden saliva, vying for a chance to spit?
Who drives?  That one is pretty easy since most older men would rather be driven as long as it isn’t insane.  So then, who is in charge of the radio?  The logical answer is the person whose car you’re riding in.  But as soon as you tune in to your favorite artist, he starts to sigh and fidget and, worst of all, talk about totally inane subjects at a decibel three grades higher than the music.
Who pushes the grocery cart?
Whose car gets washed most?
Who cooks?  Who cleans?
Who gets to choose the program to watch once you’re both in bed for the night or at the buttcrack of dawn when sleeping is totally out of the question?

Trust me, these are important issues that must be considered when renegotiating.

Almost without thought, you consider how it might feel to live the single life again.  You find yourself at odd moments staring off into space, mentally tallying the various and sundry ways you can manage to break free without notice, followed by the realization that you’ve been sitting at a green light while the rest of the traffic, now totally disgusted with your inept abilities to safely navigate city streets, whizzes angrily past you, honking loudly and flipping you off.
Except you have to admit that, for however long it’s taken to get from that honeymoon year to this retirement one, you have been sleeping next to and, being totally honest, farting in the general direction of this person longer than any other person in your life.

I know there will come a time when none of this will matter much.  It doesn’t matter all that much now, except that it provides a lot of laughter as we learn, once again, cohabitation of the same square footage.  We know each other well and our tolerance for the other person’s quirks and oddities is pretty high.  Truth be known, we probably have fostered many of the bad habits that now make us a bit crazy and we are honest enough to admit that nobody in their right mind would live with us either.

And I think this is how those old couples you see on the park benches sitting smack against each other or holding hands as they slowly shuffle down the sidewalk have managed to make it from honeymoon, through retirement, and into twilight.
Of course, the loss of hearing and sight, and smell, probably plays a very big part.