Page's Turn

Driving Lessons

December 6, 2018

The question I get asked most often these days is, “Where are you living?”


“Well,” I respond, “I pretty much live on I-95.”


“I don’t know how you stand it. That drive is just the worst.”


The “drive" would be the 95 corridor between Richmond and Washington, a stretch of 108 miles. It’s not always delightful, particularly in a driving rain, when 18-wheelers spray the windshield, rattling the car as they pass. But if you have an EZ Pass or the luxury, which I do, of leaving either city between 10am to 1pm, “the drive” can be quite pleasant.  Two hours to return phone calls, listen to podcasts (In the Dark is the best) or NPR, or get a reprieve from texting and emailing. And who doesn’t love The Bridge or 70s on 7 on Sirius?  Todd Rungren’s “Hello, It’s me,” is on a constant loop. Same with Glenn Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” whose lyrics always ring true: “There’s been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon.”


Nearly two year ago, I got remarried to a man in Richmond. Between us, we have six children and three dogs. Of that crew, only one life was majorly disrupted by the move, that of my 12-year-old black Lab, Angus. My two children are in college and boarding school and their dad is still in DC, also newly married. I go to DC  once or twice a week or when the girls are home on vacation. Otherwise, I’m mainly in Richmond. My husband’s children are all either married or living on their own.


Which leaves Angus as the sole “child” who moves back and forth, up and down our second home on I-95. He usually leans up against the back door, his nose pressed against the slobber-stained window. If not in that position, he’s splayed across the entire back seat, snoring like any 84-year-old (in dog years).


Over Thanksgiving, Angus went with us from Virginia to DC, DC to Delaware, then back to Virginia. I was going to leave him back in Richmond, but my daughters begged me to bring him to visit my parents in Delaware. My father, 87, was also thrilled to have him. When Dad is around, Angus drops me like the hot potato my father has dropped on the floor for him. We used to tell Dad not to feed the dog from the table, but his hearing is, shall we say, selective. Now Angus sits by my father’s side at the head of the table, his salt-and-pepper muzzle resting on Dad’s khaki-clad knee, awaiting the inevitable piece of turkey that will come his way. 


After dinner, my husband, the girls, and Angus and I pile into the car to head home. Angus can no longer nimbly jump into the back seat without a little extra help. I often wonder how many car rides he has left. How many do any of us have, for that matter?


My mother loves to quote the poet Theodore Roethke,: “I learn by going where I have to go.”


I also “learn by going where I have to go.” So, no, the drive is not “the worst.” It actually makes me realize how fortunate I am to have places to go, friends and family to see, and precious cargo to carry along the way.


Perhaps the question we should all be asking is not “Where are you living?” but “How are you living?” That’s something to contemplate on the next drive.

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First 100 Days ... of Marriage

April 30, 2017

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a 100 days. But don’t ask the president that.  He now says not to judge him on his first 100 days, calling it “an artificial barrier” and “not very meaningful.”


I, however, find the first 100 days particularly meaningful. While President Trump and I have little in common, we do share the same 100-day anniversary. My husband and I got married on Inauguration Day, which is funny in that we are polar opposites politically. I imagine we will always cancel out each other’s votes.


So how have our first 100 days panned out? Here is where I might sound Trumpian: I give us an “A.” But as a friend likes to say, “You’re grading your own paper again.”  


Though it hasn’t been without bumps, John and I have deftly navigated our political differences, not to mention countless trips up and down I-95. I am still living part time in Washington, which means I may have logged almost as many miles as Donald Trump flying to and from Mar-o-Lago. 

(Photo by: Page Evans)


Alternating between “fake news” and “alternative facts,” we have both become more sensitive to “the other side.” I often send him links to more liberal leaning op-eds, which he may or may not have read. He’ll send me links to articles on corporate taxes or affordable healthcare, which I may or may not have read.


And then there’s the decorating of my husband’s house in Richmond. Talk about getting things done in the first 100 days. 

House painted. Check.

Duck prints replaced by abstract art. Check.

Red oriental carpet gone. Check.

Sage green walls in the master bedroom replaced by pale lavender. Check. 

Okay, so this is the one area where I  may have pulled a fast one on him (but remember, he voted for Trump), thanks to my friend Sunny, who also happens to be an artist and color consultant. She picked a gray-lavender for our bedroom, but told me to tell him it was gray. “Most men are colorblind,” she laughed. I conveniently scheduled the painters to come while I was away on spring break with my daughters. John called after the painters had left.


“Hi, sweetie. I think the painters made a mistake. Our walls are lavender.”

“Not lavender, honey. Gray-ISH.”

“No, they’re lavender.”

“Let’s call it a gray-lavender,” I say, happy we were compromising over color and not political differences. “And it goes well with Mom’s painting.”


He chuckled good-naturedly, but I could tell I was pushing his decorative comfort zone.

Fast forward two weeks and he now loves it, agreeing with my description of the room as “airy and calm.”


I can’t say I’ll ever be “airy and calm” with Trump as our president. But at least the lavender walls give me peace.


Decorating aside, many are not finding peace with our new president. I have seen extreme cases, particularly on Facebook, of friends claiming they would de-friend anyone who voted for Trump. And on the flip side, I have heard others say they could never be married to a liberal. Luckily, my husband and I ascribe to Thomas Jefferson’s philosophy: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend.”


Besides, if I had made politics an issue, I would have missed out on some of the happiest 100 days of my life. 

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From Empty Nest to Messy Nest

June 30, 2016

It’s funny how quickly things change. Take my sadness over my girls’ dual departures for boarding school and college last fall. We went from a bustling household of homework, free flowing snacks, and constant carpooling, to a quiet, empty—and tidy—house. For weeks, I fought off the tears, bemoaning how quickly it goes from crib to college  But as an older friend told me, “You get used to it pretty fast. And, let me tell you, it’s not so bad.” She was right. It wasn't so bad.


Well, guess what? The chicks are back in the nest for the summer. And guess what? The nest is a mess. Perhaps it has been messier, but with the girls gone, clothes were actually put away—in actual drawers. Closed drawers.


Imagine walking into a room and seeing the drawers closed. Or closed cabinets. Yeah, I’m trying to imagine that. 


“Peyton, please pick up your towels,” I say, as if on a loop.


“Katherine, please don’t leave your shoes in the kitchen.”


“Peyton, please put the dishes in the dishwasher,” I say, adding, “and close the dishwasher door.”

(Photo by: Page Evans)


You’d think closing a dishwasher door would be as automatic as the dishwasher itself? Does something happen in college where students learn everything but how to close things? Or clean up after themselves?


Hmmm, I think I’ll get a snack and leave every kitchen cabinet open. I mean, you never know when I’ll need another pita chip. I might as well leave the door open for easy access.


Or, let’s bake chocolate chip cookies and leave at least four pans in the sink for Mom to scrub. She particularly loves the glass measuring cup with the congealed melted butter on the sides. 


And then there are the clothes. Mclothes—and shoes. Last week Peyton sent me a text about not being able to find shoes for work. When I told her she would most likely find her navy wedges under the wet towel she left on her bedroom floor, she texted an enthusiastic response: “Nevermind. Wearing your new ones. They are so comfortable!! I love them!! I’ve already gotten two compliments!!”


Good to know. I’m sure I will find out how comfortable my new shoes are when I get a chance to wear them.


Will I cry again when they leave in late August, leaving closed cabinets behind? Probably. After all, my house won’t be back to normal. It will just be clean.


It’s funny how quickly things change.




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