Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"What did you get me?"

Just a few years ago, my husband lived, worked and schooled in Durham, England.  There he was single, footloose, and presumably fancy free – although if you know my husband “fancy free” is not something you would likely call him.  Call him laid back with a slight neurosis about car travel or identify him as chill with a case of Eore type melancholy, but don’t call him fancy free.  However, in Durham he was as fancy free as his personality would allow.  There he met some very lovely people, with lovely children, and some lovely people with out lovely children, and some lovely people who were yet to have lovely children – you get the picture.  Flash forward.  Two of these groups, from the first and last categories, now live in Washington State.  It was from them to home that we were flying when he asked me, “What did you get me?”
Bella relaxes on the plane

Ok here is the picture; we had just reached our cruising altitude of 32,000 feet as my stress level continued to rise, I am holding a crying 2 year old while dealing with my own anxiety from turbulence that seems to come from nowhere – yes both the turbulence and the anxiety seem to come from nowhere, the dangling participle works either way – it is the 4th anniversary of our wedding and my husband turns to me and asks, “What did you get me?”  He thinks he is being funny, although he should know that at 32,000 feet NOTHING is funny to me.  I am silent, but I think to myself, I got something for you buddy!
Archie remains calm while kids go wild

More years ago than I care to admit, my fear of flying kicked into overdrive as my friend Amy and I returned from a vacation in Mexico.  Flying on a Mexican airline (ok go ahead, collective gasp away), in a storm (oh it gets better), one of the engines appears to catch on fire (not true, we were going through some crazy rough clouds and the lights on this airplane were an unfortunate red – yes you got it, red lights + clouds = red smoke/fire), and the attendants seemed not to speak English (we certainly did not speak Spanish).  After a semi-emergency landing (there were storms everywhere but in retrospect we were not likely in danger) we got off the plane in Charlotte, hundreds of miles from our final destination, demanded to get our bags and go through customs, and finally refused to return to the plane.   The airline representatives were upset with us, the customs officials were not all that thrilled either and we certainly were mad at everyone (including the drunk lady two seats ahead of us that seemed to think everything was funny and worthy of a song, just before she decided to fight with whomever was willing).  I did not fly again for years and years.
I have been quite successful over the years at NOT flying.  I have coaxed friends into traveling to me, I have taken the train to destinations that are unreasonably far for such travel, I have drugged myself silly when air travel was mandatory, but mostly I have given up on many fun opportunities.  A few months ago I decided enough was enough; besides I did not want my fear of flight to affect my children or to keep our family from trips.  I would master this or at the very least travel regardless the fear.  So I booked a flight for the four of us to Seattle to visit the lovely people.
 One of the lovely people married us, on a beautiful August evening in 2007 beside the water on a local estate.  There was a nice breeze coming off the water and the night turned out to be a cool 74 degrees.  This was a miracle since the day before was in the 100’s and the day after in the high 90’s.  Our wedding day was perfect. 

Laughing because Archie spontaneously kissed
me in the middle of the ceremony

Our Wedding Huppah

Standing under our Huppah, with our friends and family all about us I made these promises to Archie;
                I promise to allow God to be at the center of our lives
                I promise to walk by your side and be your friend
                I promise to share my life and my love with you
                I promise to take your family and friends as my own
                I promise to talk to you about the good and the bad
                I promise to listen to you, to share your joy and your tears and to make them my own
                I promise to share with you all the happiness I find
                It is now and forever more within me to be a part of you
Promises Made

It was one of these promises that brought us to Seattle that week; “I promise to take your family and friends as my own.”  These were not just his friends; the lovely people were his chosen family as well.  We are generally all born with family, a lovely institution to protect and nurture the young and an equally important unconditional support system when we are all grown up .  But we need not stop with the biological when we think of or create our families.  The lovely people of Seattle are part of Archie’s family.  And I realized I NEVER would have gotten on that plane if they were not part of mine too.
“What did you get me?”  Well my darling husband, the one within whom my heart still finds comfort and love, I fulfilled one of the promises I made to you on our wedding day; I traveled by plane to see the lovely people, our family.
The Lovely People (category one)
The Herms Family

The Lovely People (category three)
The Embry Family