Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Strange Anniversary Tale

In the last week and a half, a year's worth of life has slipped by. I saw a dozen states as we drove across the country, with the parrot giving us a bloody scare partway through (she survived and is in good health). We arrived at our new home in Virginia with no internet, hot water, or gas, and without our boxes being delivered as promised. My husband started work. We picked up the boxes ourselves from the storage warehouse. We eventually got gas/hot water and internet. We began unpacking.

It exciting and it's exhausting. Somewhere in there, we had an anniversary: our first anniversary, after one wonderful year of marriage. It wasn't where I would've expected to be. I thought we'd be in New England perhaps. I thought we'd have been living there for a little while by now. I would have expected that on our anniversary we'd go on a date somewhere nice in the evening after a day of hiking or another of our favorite activities. I thought we'd talk about nerdy things like Stargate SG-1 and which car is my husband's current favorite.

It ended up not being like that at all. It was, if anything, even more characteristic of what I want my marriage to be about, like God knew best what should represent and celebrate our special day.

We arrived in Virginia late on the night before our anniversary, discovering that we didn't have all the things we thought we'd packed. We didn't have towels, for instance. So, at 10pm, we went to Target and picked up essentials before a fast-food dinner. We made it back home, began pumping up the air mattress, and found another thing we didn't have: sheets.

Out again, this time to Walmart, the one place that was still open at midnight. I stayed at home and tried to stay awake while my husband went. After forty-five minutes had gone by, I was concerned, and called (sleepily) to hear that someone was in trouble and my husband was helping. Good, I told him; do whatever you need to do and I'll see you when you get home. Helping someone is always worth it. Soon after, I feel asleep curled up on the floor.

At around 3am, my husband crept back in, made the bed, and put me in it.  We woke up very late the next morning. Happy anniversary! After freezing cold showers, we went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel, which was a new experience for me. They had games on every table, and we played around while we waiting for pancakes and sausage. They really know how to do breakfast.

Over breakfast, my husband explained the late night's adventures. In Walmart, a man had come up to him asking for help: he'd accidentally parked in the wrong parking spot and his car had been towed with his wife's purse inside. Their money and only cell phone was in the car, and it was their only car. The wife and kids had found someone who could give them a ride home and he had stuck around trying to find someone who could drive him to the towing place so he could get the car--with the money inside to pay the fine--and go home.

My husband obliged. Tired as he was, he felt like God was telling him this was important. The guy needed help. He drove Mike to the towing place, but despite seeing the purse in the front seat, they refused to let him get into the car to access the purse; he had to pay first. But the cards and cash were in the car! After it became clear that they wouldn't get through to the towing clerk, my husband drove Mike to a friend's house to borrow the cash to pay for the car. The first friend didn't have any cash and the second only had some cash on hand, so my husband told Mike he could help him with the rest. They drove to the bank and he withdrew the money.

It was so late at this point that my husband just dropped Mike off at the towing place to pay his fines and fill out all his paperwork, and they agreed to meet the next day whereupon Mike could pay him back.

Wow, what a story! At least we finally got to bed at some time. Mike called that morning with money to pay him back.

Hubby and I finished our breakfast. It was a good morning. We had slept (sort of) and we felt refreshed after all the food. We weren't cramped in our cars driving all day. So what if it was noon? It's our anniversary! We're allowed to relax!

A phone call from Mike interrupted this plan soon after we got back to the house. We spent the day driving around with Mike helping him get things cleared away with money, et cetera.

It took several hours. Needless to say, I got frustrated. 
I wanted to be out of the car and I wanted to be alone with my husband. I did, I confess, start crying. I had gone hours without food. I was done.

My husband wrapped things up with Mike. He totally understood and thanked us for all the help we'd given him. My husband drove me home as my blood sugar was plummeting (I'm hypoglycemic), put me to bed--again, and left me with the guinea pig in my arms while he went to buy us a bit of food. (At least we had a microwave and a fridge!)

When he got home, we ate microwave dinners on our floor and talked and laughed and spent time together. We discovered that we had downloaded some episodes of a sci-fi show onto his laptop and so we lay on our air mattress and watched people shooting at each other. It was mundane, but it was fun.

And it was a good day. Some of the best days of our lives are spent sitting in a chair silently next to someone we love. Hubby and I enjoyed ourselves. The day was made no less by the hours we had spent with Mike. In some ways, it was made better.

We had each other. We had running water, even if it was cold. We had a fridge and a microwave, and two cars. We had a smart phone that could look things up even though we didn't have internet. We had an air mattress to sleep on. We had God. I had a husband who cared about me and also cared about people; a husband who set good boundaries with loving family and loving others; a husband I could trust with our money and our time. We had spent our day not wallowing in our troubles or trying to find things to do when all our games and "toys" were packed away and we didn't know the town, but instead spent it helping someone.

We spent it helping someone. Even if it was stressful and even if I blew up by the end of it, we accomplished something that mattered. I'd rather that we spend our anniversary helping someone, however frustrating, than doing anything else in the world.

No day is too special to help someone; every day is special enough to give. I want to enjoy life by sharing it. I want my husband's and my romance to not just fill each other up with love, but to overflow to others with it. I want my marriage to be characterized by an open heart, generosity, and gratitude. Just like our first anniversary.