Trying to avoid the inflated $20 parking fees a Gopher football game creates, my ever-frugal husband drove to our distant â€œusualâ€ parking spot for sports events.Â The day was gray and dribbling rain like a cranky baby in full teething mode.Â I sighed because a walk in windy wetness was not high on my priority list.Â But walk we would.
As we turned into the free parking lot we noted a woman standing next to a large sign.Â â€œParking: $20.â€Â I raised an eyebrow at my husband.Â His shoulders slumped and he fumbled for his wallet.Â This wasnâ€™t, I decided, the time to mention that for the same $20 we could have parked a heck of a lot closer.Â A HECK of a lot closer.Â Nope, not me.Â I was a good, and silent, wife.
Itâ€™s not that Iâ€™m made of sugar and prone to heavy melting when torrential rain pelts my being.Â Itâ€™s not even the strange way my hair plasters to my head and never revives as it dries.Â I can deal with those types of personal foibles. But, on this day, I wanted to look presentable.Â Not just okay, but actually presentable.Â I had people to meet.
Before the football game we were to have lunch with a bunch of my husbandâ€™s former dental classmates.Â Fifty years have passed since they graduated together. Fifty!
As we entered the bustling University of Minnesota Alumni Center, a festive energy shook off the chill of our walk.Â Our long walk.Â I collapsed the umbrella and wiped my hands on my jeans.Â We bumped and jostled our way through the crowds of people fortifying themselves with food and drink before the football game.Â Cheerleaders, alumni, and music competed for attention.Â We walked around the perimeter looking for a sign indicating where we should go for the reunion.Â By chance my husband spotted one of his dental classmates who then brought us to a table where the rest of the reunion-ites were sitting.
It was a smaller group than I had expected, but they were all smiling at me.Â I suspected it was my hair, which by now looked like some form of ill-fitting knit cap that was unraveling.
Introductions were made, and as hard as I tried not to, I quickly forgot which name went to which face.Â My husband asked if it was okay if he left me to schmooze.Â I caressed my can of Diet Coke and encouraged him to go, to catch up with his memories.
One of his classmates was sitting nearby and took pity on my solitude.Â We navigated the awkward early small talk and found a comfortable rhythm.Â He told me that after a lengthy career in the Air Force, he and his wife settled in Idaho.Â I asked if there were any surprises as he gazed upon his former classmates.Â â€œYes,â€ he said.Â â€œWhen the hell did we all get so old?â€Â I had no verbal response, but nodded.Â Yes indeed.Â When do we get old?
After the football game my husband and I walked the long walk back to our vehicle.Â The crowds were in various stages of conversation, game analysis, and drunkenness. Life was bursting all around us.
The rain had stopped, but the chill remained.Â Leaning in close, I held his hand and felt mighty grateful for the time to do so.