Sally took a sip of tea. “That might be just fine. I see so many dogs at the shelter. Every now and then there’s a sweet older dog that someone had to give up because they’re moving. I feel so sad for them. Would you adopt an older dog or were you thinking of a puppy?”
Genna replied, “Until this conversation I was thinking of a puppy, but I was wondering whether I really have it in me to do the whole house-training thing. Have you had a dog?”
Sally nodded. “Yes, we had a dog. My ex got Bailey in the divorce. That made sense. Bailey was really more his dog. He’d take Bailey on his run and hiking.”
“What was he?”
“Yes, and really a shedder. I didn’t mind it when I stopped having fur to vacuum up. What was yours?”
“Golden retriever. That’s a picture of her on the fridge.” Genna motioned to the fridge. She continued, “She was wonderful with kids, loved to swim. But when I think about getting a dog, I think I want one that is smaller, easier to manage.” She laughed. “I never thought I’d want a small dog, but can see the advantages. “But here’s the thing, I haven’t gotten a dog because taking care of one all by oneself is a big responsibility. Would you be willing to help?”
Sally smiled. “I could help, it would have to work with my schedule, etc. But I think living with a dog again would be fun. If I liked the dog, that is. We could keep an eye on the dogs coming into the shelter, I could talk to my co-workers, I bet the right dog will come along.”
“Well that would be just wonderful,” Genna replied. She stopped. She looked at Sally in the eye. “This feels like we are going to do this. We’ll get a dog, I won’t make curry, you’ll dust and vacuum, I’ll put the dishes in the dishwasher and not leave them around. What’s left for us to talk about?”
“Only the rest of the items,” Sally countered. Do you realize we’ve only talked through half of them?”
Genna nodded. “I guess that right. Do you want more tea?” She stood up and picked up her cup and reached for Sally’s cup.
Sally shook her head. “No thanks. I want to skip to the questions about guests and sociability. Or maybe I don’t even need the assessment. I’m worried about the holidays. What do you do?”
Genna walked to the kettle and turned it on. She stood facing Sally in the kitchen. She said, “Oh holidays. It’s complicated. In the past the kids would alternate between being with me and with their dad. But it’s changing. Last year they both had other places to go and I was actually alone. That was weird. They are growing up, life changes. I always felt that I had to keep the rooms for them so they could visit anytime, especially Christmas. But last Christmas no one was here. I don’t know what will be happening in the future. What do you do?”
“Christmas was always a big deal when my girls were little. But now, Emily, my eldest daughter, lives in Japan. She hasn’t been here for Christmas for the last three years and I don’t see that changing. However, Georgia will be coming home from college for the holidays. I’d put a bed in my second room so she’d have a place to stay.” She hesitated, shrugged and then said, “I wonder how you’d feel about us in your house for the holiday.” She tilted her head a bit.
Genna responded emphatically. “Well it would be much better than being alone like I was last year. I made do, but it felt like I was trying too hard to make it okay with myself that I wasn’t with family. I think having your daughter and you would be fine. I’m assuming I’d like your daughter. And if my family does want to come, we’ll figure out how to find beds for everyone and how to create a Christmas for everyone. How’s that?“
“Really? Sounds perfect, almost too good to be true. Are you sure?”
“Yup. I’m also thinking that we belong to the same church, so our sense of Christmas and tradition is probably pretty similar. But getting back to the questions, what did you say about sociability?”
Sally looked at her answers. “That I want to be informed when guests are coming to the house. And that’s sort of true. But seeing how this house is set up it would be easy enough for me to be in my rooms and not be bothered by you having guests in here.” She motioned towards the kitchen and dining area. “I have a feeling you like to have people drop in on you, is that right?”
“Yes, I’m usually delighted when someone shows up. Happy to switch gears and visit, but it doesn’t happen often these days. It can get very quiet here. Too quiet.” Her voice trailed and there was a bit of a quaver to it. A cloud passed over her face. In a softer voice, she said, “When the kids are growing you are so busy all the time taking care of them. You think it will never end. It’s so constant. Meals, school lunches, carpools, taking them to and from activities, laundry, making sure their homework is done… I was ready for it to be over and have ‘me time’ again. And for the first few years it was wonderful. But now…” She looked at Sally. “I want company. I spend too many meals eating alone. I know it’s not good for me. That’s why I started looking for someone to move in.”
Sally, “I haven’t had that experience yet. My daughter leaves next month for college. She’s so excited and I want to share her excitement, but it’s hard. Here she is counting the days until she goes off to college, and I’m looking at how once she goes I will be a financially strapped empty-nester.” She looked out the window and was silent for a moment. “Living here would certainly change the financial picture. I’d even be able to visit my daughter in Japan. And selling the house would give me a bit of financial cushion as well. But, oh dear, what am I going to do with all my stuff?”
Are you getting a sense for how the Compatibility Assessment leads them into deeper conversations about the stuff that matters if they are going to live together? Comment below.