Monday, May 15, 2017

A Road Trip Anniversary

Shortened week ahead. The last of our spring travels will find us driving to Nashville this Friday to visit our son. This Friday happens to be our 33rd wedding anniversary. The fact that we will be spending 9 and a half hours of the day in a car is instructive, in that it tells the story of how marriage works...sometimes romance takes a back seat to the love you have for your kids. Would I love to be spending that day holed up in some mountain getaway somewhere, snuggled up with this girl??

Absolutely. But, we haven't seen Patrick in several months now, and that just won't do. So, we will spend nine and a half hours of alone time in the car weaving in and out of the herd of long haul truckers who call highway 81 home. While we flirt with death in a fiery crash of twisted metal, we'll  reminisce about all of the amazing years of our marriage. We'll remember the poverty of 1989-1992, after we decided that Pam needed to be a stay-at-home Mom. I can still taste the beans and franks Friday night dinners. We'll remember the exotic trips I started to win once some success arrived, and how strange and wonderful it felt to be frolicking in the Cayman Islands without children. But eventually, for reasons that still remain unclear, we started bringing them along. Scottsdale, Arizona. Monterey, California. Hawaii. Carribean cruises. Disney World.

We'll recall the scrambled chaos of the youth group years, the roughly ten year run I spent teaching and volunteering in the youth ministry at Grove Avenue. Our weekends became overrun with hormone-ravaged teenagers descending upon our house like a plague of locusts, devouring everything in their path. There were lock-ins, retreats, and summer camps. It was exhausting...and a non-stop thrill. For Pam it was like being room mother to a hundred kids. For me, it was more like being a part time Dad, part time social worker, and full time Crazy uncle, all rolled up in one. I loved every one of those kids, even helped a few along the way. But, even though, technically speaking, I was the one in the youth group ministry, it would have been impossible without Pam. All the girls wanted to grow up to be like her, all of the boys wanted to marry someone like her. Like everything else worthwhile that's happened over the past 33 years, it was very much a team effort.

Then, suddenly, the kids grew up, went away to college, then became adults in the far off lands of South Carolina and Tennessee. We don't see them for long stretches of the year. We found ourselves alone in a house which just a few days before was teaming with adolescents. Now it was just us. The transition took about a month. After being sad and lonely for a bit, we suddenly realized that having survived 25 years of raising children, we had been rewarded with...freedom.

Part of that freedom is being free to forego a romantic anniversary getaway in favor of a weekend in Nashville with our youngest. Can't wait.