It was several months ago when Robb told me he would have to attend back-to-back events in San Francisco for work. From the get-go he was determined that I would go with him. And I am so glad I did! A young couple from church came to stay at our house with the kids and we took off on Sunday afternoon. Somebody who needed a break from life less than I did might have been frustrated by the hour long wait on the tarmac just to leave our own airport, but I was relieved just to be away from the dog's muddy paw prints and the kids endless bickering both of which had grown into completely unmanageable giants in my emotional mind.
While we waited, I inhaled the better portion of Don Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Robb gets a soul-lift from reading Brian McClaren, but for me, Miller's books seem to come to me at times I desperately need them. This was no exception. I would be leaving out a major detail in my story if you didn't know that I finished a book about living a good story before going on to live a good story. I also had the great "aha" moment while reading that I need to record here when I realized that I have done a very good job of teaching my kids how to work hard, be responsible and take their community seriously. I haven't done much of a job of showing them how to enjoy things and make memories because I didn't see the value or the practicality of pleasure for pleasure sake. While other people are taking their kids to Disneyland, I'm always thinking, "But WHY?" The same way I wondered why people would want to go see the world after college instead of getting married and getting on with being a grown up. I'm a deathly serious person. Somebody should have caught me younger and told me that it was ok to have fun. Then again, I wouldn't have believed them. That's why I had a freak-out time when I turned 30 and I had a follow up freak out when I turned 35....I sensed that life was slipping away and I was missing out on a lot by just trying to be a grown up.
What I learned from Miller's book was that making moments memorable is vastly important in the context of living a good story. There is no story to working hard and being a nice person and living monotonously. But pushing yourself to do things that you are a little bit afraid of, doing monotonous things in a memorable way, interacting with all kinds of people in a respectful and thoughtful way....those are ways to live a good story. This might seem silly to some people, but that thought is the validation I needed to believe that having fun has an actual purpose and IS practical. And so, I began my trip acknowledging that I was afraid, the thought of navigating a city with the reputation (among conservative Christians anyway) as San Francisco made me anxious, and interacting with Robb's co-workers daunted me, considering how incompetent I was feeling with my own little business.
Phew. You just wanted to see the pictures. You forgot that my blog is my personal therapy.
By the time we got to Memphis, I was ready to try my first First. Because he flies a lot, Robb was upgraded to first class. Because he is the best man in the world, he promptly told me that I would be sitting in that seat and he would take the crowded seat in coach for the four hour flight. He instructed me to eat and drink anything I wanted and to just generally live it up.
It wasn't very long before I made the acquaintance of my seat mate...a beautiful woman with the New York Times spread out on her lap. Perfect teeth. Perfect clothes. Comfortable but not the least bit messy. Works for Xerox. But could work for anyone she wants...I could tell that without her being crass enough to say so. Hadn't seen her husband since Valentines' Day and was perturbed that he had flown back into town and was currently in the terminal while she and I sat on the tarmac waiting for another hour to take off. "Oh, tell him to beg the attendant to let him come visit you!" I suggested romantically. She laughed "Oh he's Indian, so they would just arrest him and think he was a terrorist." She was born in India, lived in Holland, attended Georgetown. Sometimes Catholic, mostly suspicious of organized religion. The same age as me. Married five years, with no kids as her husband had been in medical school for years and she was the primary breadwinner. She showed me the house they just bought in Denver....a stunning piece of architecture owned by a architectural photographer. The trim was painted black. The floors were delicious. She was obviously smitten with the house and mourned only that a Bacardi commercial was scheduled to be shot there just before they closed on it. "If they could just wait a week." We talked for 2 solid hours like little girls at a slumber party. At the mention of my Etsy store, she was intrigued. Out came the iPhone and she enthusiastically scrolled through all 18 pages of my shop. I told her how much good she did my confidence as we sipped red wine and discussed whole food, why Christians protest at abortion clinics, the economy and how I decide if something belongs in the Etsy store. I liked her immensely. I think I amused her.
We couldn't be any more different. And yet, we spent a pleasant time revealing what life looks like on the other side of the fence. And you know what? It isn't necessarily better. It is just different. How freeing is that?
It was 1:30 am local time when we finally arrived at our hotel room....we were exhausted and starved, but the view alone made us feel adventuresome. In the spirit of that adventure, we ordered room service. A cob salad and burger with fries appeared on a white linen-clad table, elegant flatware and snow white china. And for a girl who has been for weeks now, bored to death with food, that salad remains one of the best things I've tasted in months. Sliced cold chicken, juicy and but not greasy, crumbled feta, applewood bacon, crisp greens, and generous slabs of avacado with a choice of three different dressings. Cold water in thin glass goblets was just the thing after a dehydrating flight.
Robb's socks and undies, packed in the front pocket of his bag, sat soaking in rainwater on the cart in Memphis, so it was amusing to us both to spread them out to dry across the elegant room. And then we tried to sleep, awakened off an on by a dozen or more texts from Mattie, who had Robb's extra phone. Our "favorite" then was at 4 am..."We are getting up to get ready for school. Don't text us back because we'll be in school by then."
Tomorrow....the Golden Gate Bridge and more....