City of Youth

My husband purchased a Fitbit recently and was disappointed to learn the device calculated his physical age to be 55. I won’t divulge his actual age, but here in the city he has definitely regressed to a childlike status.

photo copy 7One of the primary motivators for moving into the city was for Mark to be closer to Christ Hospital, where he spends an average of three days a week. To eliminate the long commute on rainy days when traffic slows to a crawl on I-71 and when he arrives home, feeling washed up.

One of the other motivators was that as rising empty-nesters, we wanted to take advantage of all the options the city has to offer.

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday night, we cooked dinner at home (still wondering why we have a kitchen with Findlay Market and so many great dining options close by). But we wanted to break in the new grill and the new oven and stove so I didn’t burn every last food particle I attempted to cook.

The Opera was hosting a sampler event in Washington Park. Now, I am not an opera fan, especially after sitting through my first opera, Carmen, where I knew the narrative and the music, and still had difficulty lasting the three hours it took someone to sing the story to me. But, I am open to trying again.

Before I had even cleaned the rest of the kitchen, Mark had our two lawn chairs slung over his arm and stood ready at the door.

I didn’t even know we kept those chairs, I looked at him quizzically. They were chairs from another part of our lives, when we were the spectators at our kids’ events.

Me neither, said Mark, looking impatient with me.

I stood a minute longer, not wanting to sit in those with an injured back. But nothing mattered to him, but getting out the door and down the street.

We walked down the short alley that opens up to Washington Park, and he promptly set up our chairs and relished in the music of the opera (I didn’t realize he knew the music to Madame Butterfly), with the backdrop of blue skies and the looming Music Hall.

Washington Park has become our living room. When we are at home, after dinner or work, he knows the schedule of the bands that are playing, throughout the week so he can attend the performances. He will walk Enzo at the end of the night, just to stroll around the park, one more time before the night concludes.

Last week, after a furniture debacle that I will write about later because that too has to do with city living, I arrived home from a writing circle, to find husband and dog missing.

Hmm…He must have taken Enzo out for a walk, I surmised. So, I texted him to ask of his whereabouts.

I get a text back, Its Be Kind to Pet Bull night, (or something to that effect) and I’m at Neon’s with Enzo, and two councilpersons.

Come over?

It was sort of late. I was kind of tired. But I didn’t want him having fun in the city without me, so headed over the four or so blocks to find him seated at a patio table, with Yvette Simpson, and another woman he had just met. All the dogs were leashed, but sniffing around each other constantly.

Did you eat? I asked, recalling how I had shoveled tortellini in my mouth while at home with the furniture delivery guys in full view before attending my writing circle.

Oh yeah, they’ve got great burgers.

What more could I say?

Recalling when our children attended their first days of school, backpack perfectly packed, pencils neatly sharpened, this is the image I have of Mark, especially on the first day he had an opportunity to walk to work.

Its supposed to rain today, I grumbled, still in bed as he kissed my goodbye.

It’s fine.

Text when you get there, I reminded him.

Ok, Mom, he joked back.

And he probably bounded all the way up the Jackson Park steps or Sycamore Hill. Even this Sunday morning, after a very late night, he popped out of bed for a long day on call.

I rose a little while later, had my coffee, escorted the dog on his daily walk. Only later when I returned did it sink in that his car was still parked in the garage. Yep. He probably bounced up Sycamore Hill this morning. Well, maybe not bounced this morning.

But he sets out in these mornings, as if preparing to conquer the world. Like Ponce de Leon in search of the Fountain of Youth, just maybe he has conquered his small little corner of it.

I am loving this new, invigorated version of my husband. Though I am a little worried. I don’t want to lose out on my “I’m younger than you status.”


The photo above is the Peter Minges and Sons Candy Store at Court and Elm. Cincinnati was once a large candy manufacturing location. Supposedly the candy was once delivered with donkey and milk wagon. Ah, the good ole days.


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