by Rajdeep Paulus, guest blogger @rajdeeppaulus
A couple of weeks before we turned fifteen, our marriage that is, Hubs approaches me on the couch with a “I wanna ask, but I don’t know if I should” intro.
Me: “Just ask.”
Hubs: “Okay. What’s our budget? For our fifteenth anniversary trip?”
Me: “Umm. I dunno. $1500. A hundred for every year?”
Hubs: “Okay, I can work with that.”
Me: “I was kidding! That’s too much! We’re still paying off Christmas bills. Let’s just send the kids to the neighbors for a few days, draw the shades, and you know…”
Hubs: “Don’t worry, I think I can manage to keep it under that amount. That’s all.” And he’s back at the kitchen table, scouring the laptop with credit card in tow.
You see, I’m married to a planner. And he loves to surprise me. Ever since we went on our first overnight anniversary trip to Arches National Park in Utah, the trip where we got so lost, I wasn’t sure we’d live to see our kids again, Hubs has been planning a trip for just us, every year.
That was year six of our marriage, and I’m the saver, he’s the spender. They say married people often end up like that. Opposites attract after all. I say he makes sure we have fun, and I make sure we don’t go broke.
And then the unexpected phone call comes. A good friend passed away, and we have to decide how to juggle two more days without the kids immediately followed by our anniversary trip. I hem and haw, as I am prone to do when it comes to the rainy day stash we don’t have that needs to be dipped into to cover two airline tickets to Chicago now. We decide to skip the funeral. Send a card and our prayers.
Two days before the service, I hear Jack from Lost in my dreams. Not really, but I know like I know where the mole on the back of my head used to be—we have to go back. You see, Chicago is where we started. Where I first met hubs, on a driveway playing pick-up basketball. I had to guard him. He’s been guarding me, ever since. Only difference is, we’re on the same team now.
And truth be told, this has been a tough year for us. We’ve juggled a lot of changes—my writing career taking off, health issues with Hubby’s dad, and changes at his job as well. For as many tools we have accumulated under our marriage belt, neither of us could have foreseen some of the curve balls life threw at us this past year, and there were quite a few nights we just didn’t work it out. Sigh.
So in my epiphany moment, I knew. We had to go back to Chicago. To say goodbye to a man who was like a second dad to both of us. To reconnect with friends we hadn’t seen in years. And to revisit the streets and sights where our love story started.
Not knowing where the trip would lead us, but knowing we had to make the effort, we secured our tickets, arranged babysitting and jumped on a sunrise flight to Chi-town. The moment the hugs started pouring in, I knew we had made the right decision. All the friends that surrounded us in our early dating days showed up those two days, and the reconnecting was priceless. So many conversations I will treasure forever. So many smiles and tears shared that wouldn’t have been the same over Facebook. Or Twitter. Face to face: that’s what was happening for us on this weekend that almost didn’t happen.
And the icing moment happened on the drive to the airport. Hubby’s cousin and wife drove us in a deja vu double-date ride to O’Hare.
“Can we stop by where you proposed to me?” I ask Hubs, really directing the question to his cousin sitting in the driver’s seat.
“I think I remember where it was,” Rajesh says, and his wife just laughs.
“We drive by there all the time, and he always says, ‘Isn’t that where Santhosh and Rajdeep got engaged?’ like he’s not sure.” Diane’s eyebrows are raised. “He knows the spot.”
Hubs cuts in, “Umm. We have a flight to catch. I think we should just go straight to the airport.”
Me: “But, but, it will only take a minute. We’ll jump out, take a picture, and jump back in the car in no time.”
“Oops.” Rajesh from the driver’s seat interrupts our backseat tiff. “I think I made a wrong turn.”
Right toward the spot. Yeah!
“Isn’t that it?” Manju asks.
Me: “Wow. It’s prettier than I remember it.” Hubs says, “Okay, let’s go. And make it quick.”
Holding hands, we run across four lanes of traffic, and slow our pace as we approach the miniature waterfalls before us. “Was it here?” Hubs asks, and I can’t say for sure.
“I think maybe up there.” I point to the spot overlooking the waterfalls we’re standing next to now. “But this is good enough. We’re here.” And that’s all that matters.
Hubs gets down on one knee. “If we had to do it all over again, would you say yes? Again?” Misty-eyed and mush, I say, “Of course. Yes.” For you. My Sunshine. Always yes.
Diane surprises us from behind. “Give me your phone. I’ll take some shots.”
A snap, snap, giggle and smooch later, we’re up and back in the car, racing to the JetBlue terminal. We have time. We’re on time.
Looking over my shoulder as the waterfalls fade behind us, I think of so many things. How two people manage to find each other in the midst of the madness never ceases to amaze me. How I found him. He found me. And the waterfalls of life keep finding us on this adventure called marriage.
Because sometimes you have to go back to appreciate how far you’ve come. I’ll be the first to admit marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever worked at. But, like a quote I read recently that truly resonates, “The grass is greener where you water it.” Ain’t that the truth.
***Next post, you’ll hear about where Hubs took me for our fifteenth, and how Cinderella ain’t got nothing on this love story I’m living.
Rajdeep Paulus, author of Swimming Through Clouds, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this past June, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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