In August we relocated our household: 2 teenagers, 2 cats and 1 dog from Alabama to South Carolina. We lived in Huntsville for six years and over that time managed to accumulate more stuff. My husband claims my daughters and I are pack-rats. I’ve denied this quite emphatically. However, once the movers packed up our house, I began to wonder about my husband’s allegation. (Not that I’ve admitted anything to him.)
As our furniture and belongings came off the truck and into the new house in South Carolina, I was convinced that the movers added someone else’s things to our load. The boxes seemed to have multiplied on the drive to our new place. I’ve spent the last few weeks with my head inside a box and packing paper scattered all around me. I’ve discovered all sorts of items: a video camcorder inside a box marked kitchen (it must have been hiding behind the cookbooks or I would’ve donated it, right?), yearbooks (I seriously thought those were still tucked inside my parent’s attic) and photographs from every decade since my parents were little kids (I’m now convinced my mom stashed a few boxes from her attic inside mine…very sneaky). It’s been a few weeks with multiple trips down memory lane.
I should mention that my husband is a minimalist. He is not a collector of chotchkes or mementos … scrap books are beyond his comprehension and why anyone (aka. Me) would tuck the baby bracelet from the hospital into my daughter’s baby book flabbergasts him. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered a small box tucked inside a larger guest bedroom box that contained things from his past.
My daughter commandeered the framed photograph of his parents, who both passed on before my husband and I met. I sifted through other family photos, setting several aside. And then I found a stack of cards: birthday, Valentines, Christmas and the unspecific: thinking-of-you, miss-you kind. These cards pre-dated our May 2000 wedding and definitely weren’t from me. I read several, stuffed them back inside and shoved the box into the hallway.
That night over a bottle of wine, he asked what he could do to help with the unpacking, preferably something quiet so he would not bother us in the morning. My husband is an early riser while my girls and I enjoy sleeping in on the weekends. (He might be a minimalist on collecting things, but he makes up for it with his thoughtfulness and impressive cleaning skills.)
I suggested that he look through his box in the hallway and decide if he wanted anything inside.
He heard that bite in my tone before me. Heard that tinge of jealousy and latched on with renewed interest. First with: “I have a box.” Followed by: “What’s inside?”
At this point I picked up the wine bottle and muttered, “Old love letters.”
His laughter spilled around me as his gaze locked on. “From who?”
I sipped my wine, as if that would keep my mouth shut. Still I mumbled, “Not me.”
That’s when he leaned in. When his crisp blue eyes sparked. “You’re jealous?”
And that’s when I became trapped in one of my own stories. And I embraced all the heroines I’ve created and all the ones my favorite authors brought to life and I followed their lead: Denial. “Not really.”
My husband sat back, a small smile on his lips and channeled all those heroes who matched those heroines toe-to-toe, heart-to-heart. “Yes, you are.”
He’d caught me. Called me out. I’d surprised myself. Sixteen years of marriage and I got jealous.
The best part was my husband clinking his wine glass against mine and adding, “I still got it.” Before sauntering off to do the dishes with a renewed confidence.
I finished my wine, cataloging every internal reaction. I know now what it’s like to be one of my characters. Surely I can use this for more than a boost to my husband’s ego.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, the box is gone – cards and all – dismantled and recycled. He’s a really great man and thankfully all mine.
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend and happy reading!
Cari Lynn Webb's next release is A Heartwarming Holiday (October 2016), a 99 cent collection of previously unpublished sweet holiday novellas which includes a 20% off coupon good for your next Harlequin Heartwarming purchase!