I spent Valentine’s Day at O’Hare Airport, mostly.
That’s the punch line, but the lead-up is that my husband David — my organized, thoughtful, careful, good-planning husband — usually does everything logistical for our travel. He always has. There are these clear, colored plastic file folders into which he has, for at least the last couple of decades, placed copies of our boarding passes and hotel reservations, photocopies of our passports, printouts of hotel reservations, lists of things to do. They have neat notes in the margins, sometimes (“spoke with Marla at the front desk, they will have a Pack-n-Play ready, 7/16). I used to get frustrated that it seemed like this was the only thing he ever did when it came to our travel — I packed up the kids, canceled the mail, used up the milk in the fridge, made sure we had sunscreen, and on and on, a mountainous pile of tasks, while he sat in his office printing things — but the truth is that his jobs meant we would always get there and always had a place to stay and (usually) appropriate beds for everyone.
I find myself more than 20 years married to this man who does the unglamorous stuff for travel while I get to dig into the suitcase at the hotel and triumphantly pull out the Children’s Tylenol or the extra charger or the perfect-weight cardigan and save the day. He’s always doing that unglamorous stuff — even in the non-travel scenarios where we have often found ourselves. I recall sitting on the edge of my seat in a hospital waiting room, anxious to get the call from the doctor that my daughter’s surgery was over — only to watch as David calmly followed the lackey from the billing department down the hall to discuss payment. David is the one who reads the fine print on every contract. David is the one who calls the company who manufactured our kitchen garbage can to find out if we can get another pedal to replace the broken one. David is the one who figures out the best possible insurance plan from the ones his company offers.
So, for this Valentine’s Day — our 25th Valentine’s Day as people in love — I wanted to do the logistical work for him.
I booked us a trip to a warm, sunny location where, most importantly, I could send him off to play 18 holes of golf. I did the research, called the airlines about prices, compared hotel prices and locations, and got the best deal I could. I planned it to coordinate with our children going away to our synagogue’s youth retreat and called my mother-in-law to be sure she could be on call if anything went wrong for them. I gulped and swallowed and hit “FINALIZE PURCHASE” on something that had more numbers following the dollar sign than I’m accustomed to spending, ever, and pictured David doing that same thing, over and over, on flights and hotels for trips I’d just showed up and enjoyed without really thinking about the cost all that much.
Then we got delayed by 7 hours. It’s a boring story about frigid midwestern temperatures and tired flight crews and a tiny tiny southern airport with one gate, but I kept thinking about the pool and the frosty drinks where we were supposed to be sitting. I’d also failed at my usual job of packing — I had none of the word games we usually love to play on vacation (and airports no longer sell them, long having swapped them out for more and more phone chargers); I had forgotten my epinephrine auto-injectors; neither of us had brought sunglasses. We sat in the airport and then on the runway at a second airport and read our books and ate our snacks quietly and I thought maybe swapping out jobs had cursed us.
But then we got to our destination at last, and it was lovely. And this man with whom I have spent more than 25 years still gives me a little shiver when he holds my hand. He is still up for the strange little adventures I like the best. He and I can eat dessert first and burritos for breakfast and change our minds about what to do next and decide we want to sit and read instead of talk and then interrupt each other to talk about our books and talk about the kids or not talk about the kids — and it’s all easy. Wanting chips and salsa at 9pm because we kind of snacked though the afternoon instead of eating dinner — that’s fine with him.
Being with him is easy.
To my daughters, freezing in the midwestern cold while I sit poolside and write this (because your father is golfing): my Valentine’s wish for you is that you please look for someone to share your life who makes being together feel easy. Even when life is hard, let that other person make relating with each other feel easy. If you do this, there will be bright moments even in the darkest hours. Even on a delayed plane, even in a hospital waiting room, even on a boring Tuesday, I’ve never gotten tired of that shiver when David holds my hand.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee, with the prompt “Favorite (or worst) Valentine’s Days…”