Deciding to Stay

Judy Honigfort essays

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My wedding ceremony took place in a church at 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday. But I didn't decide to marry my husband until seven days later.

Flung across the back of a rocker-recliner in our furnished, 9th floor, St. Louis apartment, I was feeling homesick and sorry for myself. We were supposed to meet our realtor and look for houses in just a few hours, and I was surprised to find myself  seriously reconsidering whether I was in this marriage for good.

Ironically, our living room overlooked the interstate, and a green highway sign pointing west, back to my hometown in Kansas City.

You can leave now, I told myself. No one would blame you.

I was in a strange city. I had no friends, no job, and a man I now called “husband” whom I had known only four months. Tom was a good, kind, honest man, and I thought I had made the right decision marrying him. But he would take some getting used to. For one thing, he didn't drink coffee. I couldn't imagine starting my day by simply waking up. Until a warm mug was in my hand, I wasn't legitimately awake. For another, he was tidy. I'd never had a roommate like him. He wiped out the bathroom sink with his towel after shaving, and even discreetly wiped up behind me sometimes.

I didn't know if I liked that.

He never seemed to complain, always kept his temper in check, and ordered the cheapest dinner entrée on the menu, with water, to save money.

“You've known this guy how long?” my sister, Kathy, had asked. “Don't leave your office. I'm coming to take you to lunch.”

“Kathy. It's nine in the morning.”

“Then I'm coming to take you to breakfast.”

A longer engagement would've been nice. But, we didn't have that luxury. Tom was being transferred for his job, overseeing part of computer operations for a large telecommunications company, and we wanted to begin this journey together.

Unfortunately, as a new corporate recruit, he was assigned the graveyard shift, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. While it was now mid-morning,  when most people were starting their day, Tom was sleeping in the adjoining bedroom,  separated from our living room by only a few steps and a thin, accordion room divider.

His breath gently rose and fell. I pictured him sleeping, one long arm arching over his blonde head, his face turned, his expression kind, though unaware. He would've let me go, had he been awake and known I was contemplating leaving. Yes, he would've tried stopping me, but he wouldn't have stood in my way.

Important journeys begin with a decision. And that decision can determine the course of our lives.

I'm going to love this.

This is not going to work.

Let's do this.

Cars on the interstate below zip under the green Kansas City sign heading west. The rising sun now illuminated different facets of this strange, fascinating city. I realized I liked it here, this city along the Mississippi, with the towering, gleaming Arch. It was beginning to feel like home.

And speaking of home, house hunting would begin in a few hours.

Okay, I'm in. For better or worse.

I slipped off the recliner and tip-toed off to the shower.

***

About the Author

Judy Honigfort

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, small business owner, and writer living in St. Louis. Catch up with me at .

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