First of all, let’s talk about Seattle the place. The outdoors stuff was beautiful, and it would be amazing to have access to hiking like that. The weather was…less than desirable to me. Y’all I just don’t want to be COLD in August. I felt like I never got warm all the way through, the whole time I was there. Then there’s the constant drizzly rain that everybody kept warning us about. We had a couple of days like that and it was hard to fathom experiencing that for MONTHS at the time. The city was…a big city. There were homeless people and lots of traffic and construction. I’m not sure what I expected, but it was just big. We were in the heart of downtown, and we heard that there are charming communities all around that people live in. We didn’t explore those areas, partly because I felt a little premature doing something like that. Seattle has one of the top spine fellowships in the country, and I felt like we’d be assuming WAY too much to start going around looking at real estate. I did love the fact that from almost anywhere I went in the city, I could get a view of the water, and every restaurant we ate in was amazing. So, there were a few perks to the city 🙂
Mainly Jeremiah and I were impressed with Seattle’s spine program. We got to go to dinner with one of the main surgeons there, and I told Jeremiah that he (Dr. Chapman) embodied what I imagined academic medicine should be about. You could tell that he invested a lot of himself in his fellows and residents, and he was proud of their success. He seemed to treat those under him like men worth befriending instead of like pledges for torturing. There was a lot about him and the program to respect. So, I enjoyed Seattle. It could be a fun adventure. I am not dying to spend the rest of my life out there, but (I hope) I can make anything fun for a year. (I feel the need to clarify that even if Jeremiah does match in the Seattle program, we would not be actually moving there for another 2 years. I have had several close friends call me in horror that we were about to pick up and leave, and I should have told y’all the time frame to start with.)
Now, what we talked about in Seattle, with all that time on our hands to think coherently. On somewhere around Day 2 of our trip, Jeremiah turned to me and said, “You’re such a different person when we’re on vacation. Why is that? I feel like I’m pretty much the same.” Now, I will say that this comment was made with a very innocent expression on his face. Like he didn’t understand that I was hearing, “You’re a real beast at home, why are you so fun here?” For the sake of the happiness of our trip, for the sacred rite we try to uphold of “No fighting on vacation,” I held my tongue and just nodded in agreement. What I said was “Yep, I am different, and it sure feels great to not have any responsibility,” (Smile, smile, blink blink).
Can I tell you what I wanted to say? I wanted to say, “Heck yeah I’m different and you’re NOT! Want to know why? It’s because I’m the one who keeps a CONSTANT mental checklist at all times when we’re at home. I’m the one who has to know before we walk out the door if the girls will need a meal, or snack, or drink, or diaper, or toys, or nap, or charged portable DVD player. I can go climb a mountain on an empty stomach and know that I won’t be laying on the floor pitching a fit, but I can’t be spontaneous like that with our children! So, you’re right. I am probably different on vacation.” Can you tell I’m toting a little resentment here? I love my husband, and I am thankful for him. He works harder and longer hours than any other person I know, but sometimes I want to wring his neck, because when he gets ready to do something, heck, he just does it. If I want to do anything–even if I’m not taking the girls–there are 10,000 things I have to handle and get snugly in place first.
Later in the trip, he asked me if I thought we should have waited longer to have children. He wasn’t the only one, I was feeling so free and, I have to admit, that little nagging thought had come to my mind as well. But suddenly, when he asked me I had complete clarity. The answer is “No, I don’t think we should have waited any longer.” If we didn’t have children, we wouldn’t have been relishing every second of this time together like we were. We couldn’t have appreciated the alone time, if it was something we had always at our disposal. And then, there’s all that we had to come home to. The hugs and smiles and sweet kisses and “I miss you”‘s. The security that comes from feeling like our own real family. Even the satisfying weariness that comes from serving people you love…all these things are ours because of those all-consuming babies that were waiting for us at home.
We spent the end of his vacation, Friday through Sunday, at the beach with just our little family. We’d missed the girls and our normal life so bad, that we never even went out to eat. We just soaked up the enhanced normalcy of living our life at the beach. I cooked while Jeremiah entertained Pace and Mary Aplin. We ate as a family and watched the girls make utter messes of themselves. Jeremiah cleaned the kitchen while I bathed the rascals, covered them in baby lotion, and wrapped them in their pajamas. After we’d read a story, taken a bottle, and said our prayers, we left the girls to sleep and went out onto the balcony. I sat in his lap and we both stared out at the moon on the ocean while we talked about life. So, maybe I did try to stand up a couple of times, mentioning that the girls were still going to wake us bright and early. Maybe Jeremiah did have to remind me to enjoy the moment and not throw vacation Abby completely away. It was still happy, normal life, and although I may be different on vacation, I like who I am here even better.