Trophy Wife

I am a Trophy Wife.

I never dreamed of being a West Vancouver Trophy Wife, but I am 18 years my husband’s junior, and I have the traditional pale skin, blond hair, and blue-eyed beauty of the girl next door. And, despite not applying for the job, my husband has given me the financial comfort to be at home, not working.

This contrasts starkly with my previous life, where I woke up bleary-eyed at 5 a.m., dressed my daughter for daycare, and sucked down a quad shot espresso. This fueled my day of running room to room, giving pain injections, holding trembling hands, and comforting post-surgical patients in their confused, drugged state. I was a surgical nurse at North Hawaii Community Hospital, working the “crap shifts” – twelve-hour night-shifts, weekends, and holidays. I lived paycheck to paycheck, helping my daughter with her homework and planning occasional beach days.

My dream job was the weekday, day-shift rotation at the hospital. I also coveted the part-time nursing position at the local private school, which would give me discounted tuition for my daughter.

John changed everything.

He was my neighbour, who waved when we drove by. When I hosted the rowdy neighbourhood game night, he brought over fancy snacks and wine. The rest of the neighbours brought stale chips and drank my beer. He was super gregarious, telling stories and amusing my daughter with annoyingly corny dad jokes.

“How can you tell when a joke is a dad joke?” John asked. “It’s a-parent.” We became friends.

John is a Canadian goose, migrating to Hawaii during the rainy Canadian winter and returning home to West Vancouver when the ski trails have transformed into hiking routes. In Canada, he is a big-time barrister. In Hawaii, he is a farmer, managing a permaculture macadamia nut farm, donating the yield to the community. He expertly designed and built an off-the-grid, open-air house that overlooks the ocean and his farm. He is the opposite of me – the girl who grew up with an outhouse and traveled only by reading books about foreign places.

John provided me with a happy distraction, by taking me to the hometown rodeo, where we watched children compete, clinging to the fleece of sheep, which was more entertaining than their dads riding the bucking bulls. We swam with the giant turtles at the quiet locals’ beach. We went to the local Jazz night, ate fresh Hawaiian sushi, and drank cocktails made with orange, passionfruit, and guava.

As we explored our little town of Honokaa, we got to know each other. We had great conversations and discovered that, surprisingly, we had a lot in common. Both of us are fiercely independent, love travel, enjoy reading a book more than watching a movie, value education, and oddly enough, we both played rugby at university.

One sunset evening, lounging on a beach blanket at Puako beach, we were watching the tiny crabs dance away from the crashing waves. John surprised me by ducking in for a kiss. It was warm and natural, not awkward or demanding. Our relationship mirrored that kiss and continued to progress naturally.

I hadn’t realised until then, that he was dating me. I would never have dated him. I cringed at the thought of being lost in another messy relationship. However, it was too late. I already had feelings for him and his offers to explore the hidden beaches were irresistible.

We started traveling together. Impulsively, I hopped on a plane to Vancouver. We spent the summer on Baloo, his cozy, 36-foot C&C sailboat, sailing through the breathtaking Desolation Sound. The icy air, untouched landscape, and serene isolation in Canada reminded me of my childhood, growing up in the Last Frontier, Alaska. Desolation Sound’s windy bite, the haggard trees that somehow survive along the rocky cliffs, the shouting waves along the coastline, and the fellowship of the silent whales and barking seals alongside our boat brought a new, but familiar feeling. I found my new home.

After that summer, John didn’t have to work hard at wooing me to move to West Vancouver. I fell in love with British Columbia, as much as with him. I uprooted my life and moved into his. While we were reading on the couch, in the same way, he would have offered me coffee, he casually asked me to marry him. I opened my mouth to say, “You’re ridiculous.” Instead, I said “Yes.”

We had both been married previously, so we knew negotiations and trade-offs were required. We honestly discussed finances, our flaws, our families, the chores, medical issues, and what we wanted in a marriage. He wanted a wife at home to greet him at the door with a dry martini and a kiss when he returned from work. He despised dishwashing machines. I wanted stability and my financial worries to disappear. I also wanted a bidet and Taco Tuesdays.

“Kids?” I asked. We already had my animated, adventurous daughter, who would be leaving the house in a few years. Did he want to start again? And did he realize the implication of this question? I was a whisper away from forty and we would need to begin any baby-making process immediately.

“Definitely,” he said enthusiastically. “We will have two more children.” Perhaps his confidence came from being accustomed to getting what he wants, or that he was only responsible for five minutes of a nine-month baby-making project.

And so our family adventure began, and quickly. We sailed over to Gibsons and got married on the Salish Sea. Marrying him, I won more than the lottery. John is dashingly handsome, witty, always pair the correct cheeses, and cooks us rich, French-inspired dinners. Within two months of being an “official” West Vancouver Trophy Wife, I was pregnant with our happy, musical boy, Donald.

As I look out my kitchen window, while sipping my Salt Spring Island coffee, sweetened with our farm’s light macadamia nut honey, I contemplate my journey from nurse to wife. Seeing the choppy whitecaps, I am enticed to go sailing, knowing that the calm sea is coming this afternoon. I am so grateful for the sea, for my home, for being able to enjoy the day, even for my sweet coffee.

My quiet reflection is interrupted by the faint whimpering of baby Odin needing a fresh diaper. Soon, Donald’s sticky hands will be handing me a juice cup to refill before our morning walk through the trails of Whytecliff Park. I savour mothering my children, immersing myself in nature, and following my passion for writing. I still have the “crap shift” – momming long nights, weekends, and holidays – and now making my husband’s martini. In spite of this, my posh, supposedly superficial career is the most fulfilling and rewarding one I can imagine. I appreciate being a West Vancouver Trophy Wife.

© 2021 Melody Noble All Rights Reserved

This story is published in 2021 West Vancouver Stories

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