Last night Rebecca picked me up at the airport so we could eat dinner at our favorite restaurant nearby –and she got to the airport 15 minutes early and waited. But when I came outside from the baggage claim doors I couldn’t find her car anywhere and it was because Rebecca was parked and waiting for me instead at the “Departing Flights” level just outside Delta.
I went upstairs to the ticket counter level and found Rebecca, the sole car parked on that level with music playing inside the car. We hugged and Rebecca drove us to dinner. As we were walking inside I reminded Rebecca to lock the car door and she reached inside her purse but couldn’t find her car keys. Rebecca told me to wait at the door while she went back to the car to look for the keys. For about 12 minutes. Which felt longer to both of us because it was cold outside. When I asked her where the keys were she sheepishly admitted that it turned out they had been inside her purse all along.
Once inside we were about to be seated but Rebecca saw a friend and went over and talked to her and her son and introduced me to the husband. And after about 10 minutes Rebecca finished talking and we sat down and she looked at me with her enthusiastic eyes like she always does and I tried not to say anything but, of course, I did. “You know, sweetie, when you see someone you know at a restaurant it is probably best not to talk for such a long time because their food will get cold.” I was trying to sound helpful but really was just hungry.
“Oh, they were already finished eating. Didn’t you notice that?” Rebecca explained.
“Well, yes. In this instance. But I am talking more about as a general rule of thumb.” I clarified.
“Oh. OK” Rebecca agreed. “Let’s order. I’m hungry.”
We had a nice dinner and then Rebecca had to drop me off back at the airport so I could pick up my car and drive home. But she forgot and missed the exit and after I pointed out she had missed the exit, she laughed and kept telling me the story she was in the middle of telling me and almost missed the next exit to turn around and go back to the airport for my car.
“Honey,” I blurted out, “I love this story but we really need to get this next exit right.”
“I wonder how I ever got my license?” Rebecca wryly chuckled.
I said that I wasn’t surprised she had gotten her license because it was pretty easy to get a driving license but that she was in luck to have someone like me as a passenger who could help her become a truly exceptional driver –and that in addition to “driving tips” I also offered free advice on things like the appropriate amount of time to talk to a friend you see at a restaurant among other things. “Try to think of me as a ‘life coach’ that you get for free.” I said and added “Aren’t you lucky? You get your very own free life coach with me.”
Rebecca rolled her eyes, “I tried being your life coach and have retired .”
“Because I reached perfection?” I joked.
“Uh. No. Because I reached exhaustion” Rebecca said with a strained laugh.
I smiled self-confidently and added, “Well, I will still be your life coach.”
Rebecca dropped me off at the airport baggage claim so I could get my car. I gave her a quick kiss and then got out of the car and walked toward the parking garage as Rebecca drove off. I stepped through several bushes hoping to find a path to the entrance to the parking garage. An airport employee shouted, “Hey! There is no way to get into the garage through those bushes. You have to come back across the street and go inside and downstairs and through the tunnel.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I Knew that.”
After all, I am a life coach.
And this story, in a nutshell, explains the glue of our marriage. My happy-go-lucky wife who drives me everywhere while I offer advice that makes me feel she needs me. And she knows she doesn’t but listens anyway because she also knows I need to feel like she needs me. And she probably knew, as she pulled away from the airport, that I couldn’t get to the parking garage by walking through those bushes but didn’t say anything. Because she thinks it’s cute— and endearing –that her “life coach,” who she just dropped off after listening to his nonstop driving advice, doesn’t even know how to get to his own car.