2015-05-13 / County Lifestyles

SLICES OF LIFE Young and in love

by Jill Pertler

Our family is growing. Daughter number one and only recently got engaged, which means there is a wedding and new son-in-law in our future. The engagement took my husband by surprise. I think he was (is?) in denial about our kids growing up. I am right there with him. It's a river big enough for the both of us. (We're not getting any older, how can they?)

After the big and happy announcement had run its course, with heartfelt hugs and good wishes all around, I got him alone and asked what he thought.

He answered with three- anda half words. "They're so young."

I reminded him that when we were the same age as our daughter we weren't engaged. We were married.

And indeed we were so young. And probably not ready for the world at large. It's a good thing we were completely ignorant of the fact. Ignorant. Young. In love. And poor.

But happy.

During our fledgling years of wedded bliss we had three parttime jobs between the two of us. We also worked as managers of our apartment complex to get a better rate on rent.

Part of that job included cleaning vacated apartments to prepare them for new renters. In those early days, we wallpapered bathrooms, scrubbed kitchens and vacuumed lobby carpets. It didn't matter that we'd never hung wallpaper or cleaned an oven before. We learned along the way and considered ourselves fortunate to be trimming from our rent bill.

In addition to his working 32 hours a week at a regular job, my husband was still in school and carried a full course load - for three years. He used to study at the dining room table, which doubled as the kitchen table and, come to think of it, was our only table. We purchased it at a garage sale for $35, chairs included.

I remember a summer Saturday when we wanted to go to a movie to avoid the heat. We lived near a theater that showed older shows for a discounted price. Matinees were a couple bucks a ticket. After sifting through my purse and his wallet we were still a little short. I don't remember feeling the least bit discouraged. Just curious as to where we might find a half a buck.

After looking in drawers and between chair cushions, we went out to the car and searched under the mats. And wouldn't you know it? We found two quarters, enough to get us into the show!

We couldn't have been happier and didn't even consider popcorn. It was out of the question but we didn't care.

We had a little hibachi grill on our deck - if you could call the three-by-six-foot space that. The concrete deck floor was covered in a plastic carpet that was supposed to resemble grass. One time a spark flew from the grill and lit the fake grass on fire. After stomping out the flames, my husband replaced the burnt plastic with a new rectangle of grass from the home improvement store. From then on we didn't barbecue much. Still don't.

Our deck wasn't the only thing on fire. A guy living down the hall came home one night and put a pizza in the oven. He must have fallen asleep because the pizza burst into flames, the alarms went off and they had to evacuate the whole building. The guy threw the burning pizza onto the lawn and it landed under our deck. We were glad none of the sparks flew up to our newly refurbished fake grass, as we had movie aspirations for our tight budget the following weekend.

A short time after that big date we discovered a brand new food chain that served sub sandwiches. For a treat on Saturdays we'd splurge and share one. Still do. Share a sub, that is. Some things never change.

And some do. Our family is growing. My husband is right; our daughter and her fiancéae are young. But so were we. And there's nothing wrong with being young and in love. Nothing at all.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. She welcomes having readers follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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