Ropes and Rabbit Holes

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

[So many commas & parentheticals]

Earlier, Dave, my husband, and arguably my much taller half, made an off handed comment regarding how he is received (in the workplace). He was like, 

“If they don’t like my tone, then they can deal with it.” (In truth, I think he said something more nuanced like, “if they don’t like how I write, then maybe we are not a good fit.”)

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

WHAT? No. Like, really? WHAT? How can Dave so confidently believe that he does not have to step aside or change who is for the sake of someone else?

My brain broke. 

Immediately I fell 300 feet down a rabbit hole, or maybe just a giant figurative pothole, one that my short-circuiting mind could not see. 

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

As I tried to climb out of that deep, dark brain hole, Dave left the kitchen. I am certain he did not notice that I really could use a hand, or maybe even a very long rope, like that kinetic rope he recently purchased. Dave’s rope is shinny white nylon, long, strong and braids into an even stronger rope, “which translates into lower impact but higher energy transfer to the stuck vehicle.”

(Dave’s new kinetic rope arrived two days ago. Yesterday before Eli left for his friend’s cabin, and while standing next to the front bumper of our 4Runner, Dave sweetly and fastidiously explained how to attach the rope. Dave LOVES Eli! So do I. I love watching Eli become his own adult person. I love that he has grown his hair out and has found his own beautiful mountain man style. I also love watching Dave and Eli’s  connection. Eli was patient and also anxious to go. At that, Dave enthusiastically admonished,

“Eli, you can use it  for helping others out of tough spots.”)  

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Of course I imagined Eli helping his friend’s crazy dad free his Prius from a ditch. That dad is also the one who owns the cabin and who also [insert air quotes here] “accidentally” touched my left boob as Eli’s wide eyes met mine. (We still talk about the boob touch, of course with accompanying air quotes.)

Back in the kitchen I realized there was no kinetic rope in sight. I was still stuck in that emotional hole. Eventually, I decided to climb out myself.  

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

There I was. I was standing next to the trash can drawer. Then I turned, looked out the west-facing window, and noticed the spring blossoms.

“Everything’s so green and alive.” I happily thought to myself.

Dave walked back into the kitchen. 

“Hey buddy.” I gently said. 

He paused to look in the fridge. 

“I have been thinking about what you said regarding your writing. Honestly, I cannot wrap my head around your words.”

Dave stopped foraging and looked at me. Before he could speak, I blurted (in a nice voice — for real),

“Come on, man, how can you be ok with not adjusting yourself for someone else? It makes no sense. See,  I never thought I could just let someone, especially a work colleague, accept me the way I am. I come from the generation where a woman was told to hide her emotions. You know that place where a woman’s workplace tears are a sign of weakness. I come from the family where I was told if I want a man I should learn the rules of football. Thank God you don’t like football. I come from a religious heritage where I was told that a man is the boss of our home — a.k.a. the patriarch. As a result, what I have received is the message that my own thoughts, feelings and insights are insignificant, or better, that my thoughts are significant unless I check them with a man first.” 

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

I don’t know if I had fully processed what had  triggered me. I am certain Dave had no idea why my words were directed at him or how they had impacted me. I think that is ok. Should he? Possibly. I am certain no one ever told him that his directness makes people think he is a bitch, or that his effective organizational skills makes others feel threatened, or that his confidence would disrupt the ‘sorority-girl’ vibe, or that his human tears make him appear unstable, especially in the workplace. Nevertheless, I think it is ok that he (and men in general) understand this perspective. 

After I finished processing out loud, Dave walked toward the sink, turned on the faucet, and rinsed his hands. Then he walked in the direction of our west facing kitchen window. He paused again, turned toward me and said, 

“If anything I have been told to show more emotion.”

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

We both laughed and quickly fell into a tangent, where I compared his family to Vulcans from Star Trek: 

(According to Wikipedia, “Vulcans are a fictional extraterrestrial humanoid species in the Star Trek universe and media franchise. In the various Star Trek television series and movies, they are noted for their attempt to live by logic and reason with as little interference from emotion as possible.”)

I thought to myself, 

“Our therapist always says that logic is an emotion, (which I love more than I can adequately articulate here).” (She says “logic is an emotion,” in response to Dave asserting that all I ever care about are feelings not facts.)

I was not mad at Dave, yet I wanted to be mad. Somehow I managed to do some quick self talk. I told myself,

“Beth, it is time to stop. Please do not walk this strange and introspective moment into a heartbreaking fight.”

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Thankfully my self talk worked (enough). Instead of fighting, I quoted the most prominent Vulcan, Spok: 

“I do not understand your human emotions.”

Then I looked at Dave and said, 

“Dave, you are like Spok. You don’t understand my human emotions.” 

We laughed again. We talked about why Dave likes every incarnation of that television series from, “Deep Space Nine,” to “Discovery.” I said that it makes him feel closer to his people (as if to imply that he was raised not to consider others or their feelings). Even though I said it in a fun loving tone, I thought I was being mean. In truth, I was not mean, nor was I kind. 

 (*By the way, I call these humorous digs pain avoiders. Instead of feeling and processing pain, these funny slights are effective at undermining the impact of my words. Thus they keep me lodged in a self-reinforcing space, a space where I believe I need a man to tell me that I am ok.)

I was connecting. I was feeling the pain of my conditioning, the one that tells me my worth is based on the concept that I need a man to validate my worthiness. 

In the sunny afternoon light, I paused again, (not something that comes easy for me). 

I let myself feel the intense flood of my past pain and inadequacies. For a second I thought I would drown. I looked at Dave, and he became my kinetic rope. Thankfully, he took it, at least enough so I could catch my breath. 

Marriage. ❤️ 

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

A few hours later:

As a result of yesterday’s allergy shots, my right bicep is twice its normal size. Because we have dinner tonight with some relatively new friends, I am feeling terribly insecure. I reach for my new eggplant-grey colored shirt. I put it on. I love how the color looks on my skin. I walk over to the office wearing my new shirt and  ask Dave if he likes it.

“Not particularly.”

“Why?” I asked.

“It looks like one of those ‘Flashdance’ shirts.”

“That’s the point!”

“Well, you asked me if I liked it.”

Defeated, I try to muster a comeback. Nope. I feel myself falling. Then I say something like, 

“But my arm. I need something to cover my crazy swollen arm. Are you sure it looks bad?”

“It looks fine.”

“I wish you would throw me a lifeline. I wish you would like it.” I say.

Dave quickly responds, “If you did not want my opinion, you should have not asked.” 

“Dave, you are not wrong,” I say to him and then play those same words on repeat to myself:

“I should not ask for his approval. I should not have asked for his approval.” Then I add, “Beth, you should trust yourself.” 

Us, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

And really, what does Dave know about fashion? Have you seen his dark brown, bright orange bottomed snow sneakers he is currently wearing?  Eli often says that it looks like Dave is wearing potatoes on his feet. (I point out his “potato shoes.” We both glance at them.) The difference is: he does not care that we think his shoes are hideous.

Maybe that is it (at least for me). I have been conditioned to doubt myself and to seek a man’s approval/validation. Can’t I wear the shirt if I like the shirt? Apparently not. I am returning it. In between sentences, I am packing it up now. 


Artist’s rendering of my shirt (By artist, I will mean, while editing, Dave inserted this image into post):

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Traveling Sucks Until it Doesn’t: our day in Yosemite National Park.

At the Ahwahnee. Stick figure made by Dave. Changed into a woman by me.

Heading east. Heading home. Writers we met along the way were all female writers. Kyle tells me we need to write a book together. I am convinced I need to write. He wants us to share our story, his story. We should. I like that he wants to share it together.

Looking into the flat, dark night, I think about our day. Fighting is all we did. We’ve been fighting a lot, dying on swords for patterns we hope to break. Eli freaked out. Kyle pestered. I screamed. Dave screamed once and then remained quiet. Wrapped into the backs, forths, up and downs of our uncertain day, Dave made lunch reservations at Yosemite’s lovely and grand Ahwahnee Hotel. I did not know they close at 2:00 p.m. “How on earth would we not be in Yosemite by 1:00 p.m.?” That was Dave’s complaint.

Our Super Hero Boys climbing over Yosemite’s Giant Rocks

In the enormous expanse of granite peaks and giant redwood trees I felt small. We were little action figures, really superhero action figures, and we were working our way through the dollhouse that is Yosemite National Park. My super power is still hearing and Dave’s, well, I will ask him. I am back in Utah editing my post. It is Monday morning and he is sitting next to me. Surprisingly his “current” super power is close to mine. He looks over at me and sweetly says, “listening.” “Listening?” I ask and then because his power appears to be so close to mine, I look back at him and laugh. “Listening to someone talk about their friends and all of their friends’ problems. Listening.” Dave responded and I laughed again.

Back in the car: I am writing while listening to music. I’m always listening to music. I should have been today. These headphones could have prevented the angry, sad and nonsensical words that were hemorrhaging from my lips. The Avett Brothers, that is what I am listening to. Their new album, The Carpenter. Eli reaches his hand up. I think he wants to hold mine. Letting go he begins tapping, tapping fervently on my head then my shoulder. Fear filled, I remove the headphone from one ear. “I am not ready to re-enter that world. I am not ready to listen to the narrator’s voice on Disc 3, Track 2, read another word of the “Beyonders.” My headphones are keeping me safely tucked away in the sweet melodies. “I have been homesick for you since we met. I have been homesick for you blah, blah, blah if I die, its for you,” the tapping wont stop and the headphone is removed.

“Mom, can I use my iPod?” Eli asks and as if they had written their very own, (sing with me), “Mom, can I use my iPod,” song together, Kyle really, without missing a beat, then asked, “Mom, can I use mine too?”

They knew they had me. They know I want some space. I said, “yes,” and started handing said iPods over my seat while Eli stated firmly, “Mom, that is Kyle’s!” I kept passing those electronic babysitters/fight inducers back and encouraged them to work it out. “Eli, Take yours and pass Kyle’s to him.”

As I get farther along in this Avett Brothers album I am feeling lukewarm. I have sped through a few songs and hung onto a few others. If only I could have pushed pause on those moments. I was losing my mind or completely fast-forwarded through my less-than-lady-like language. I hate swearing in front of my kids and as hard as I try not to, I do.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park (Yes, there are climbers on that rock!)

Eli melted down hard at El Capitan. Before the collateral damage was too great, I walked him, while holding his upper arm, to the car. I can’t blame him. His mom and dad were not being especially nice, and when I say not nice, I mean that Dave and I were not being nice to each other. As I think about Eli and our El-Capitan-incident, I also remember how insane I thought those rock climbers were as I stood and watched while they scaled El Cap’s 3,500 feet. I wanted to take pictures and Dave wanted to drive on. He wanted to see the sun set at the top. I did not know that. I just knew he wanted to go. In those short seconds of meltdowns and miscommunications, I thought I might lose my mind. Instead, I took a breath, made space for Eli, and once near the car I stopped Eli. I did what my mom has always told me to do, “Even if they push back, even if they are mad, don’t. Don’t let them push you away. You hug them. You hold them close.” I felt Eli relax in my arms, where he safely looked into my eyes, and told me why I suck. I listened. I apologized, told him that I thought we both had made some big mistakes today and I was sorry. I held him close. His eyes are so blue and the late afternoon sun pierced those blue eyes into my heart. I looked at him and heard my mom say, “You are the mom. Don’t let them push you away. Hold them close.” I held him close and have not stopped. Since this moment Eli and I are better. We’ve been talking about grizzly Halloween costumes, and at least six times a day he says, “Mom, I love you!” Thank God for that kid.

Eli let go and we both walked. Only a few more steps and we were at the car, where Eli immediately slipped, and because our car was parked at such a severe angle, his door bounced back and slammed hard on his legs. “I hate this!” He shrieked. He struggled his way in the car, where he desperately tried to shove his head deep under a pillow. He took a deep breath and then sobbed, “We should have stayed home! I mean it! I know we should have stayed home.”

Out of my seat I maneuvered the crazy-way-our-car-was-parked-angle, and made my way to Eli. Safely in the car, I shut his door and made my way back. “Boys, give me your iPods. I think we all need a break.” And somewhere between losing their iPods and Eli’s meltdown Kyle shared, “Mom, I need more music on my iPod. I really like “Green Day.” They totally calm me down.” Flashbacks of my older sister Brenda blaring, I mean, blaring songs like Led Zeppelin’s Blackdog, “Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove,” I didn’t see it coming. Eli seems like our Green Day kid. Kyle? Is it all of our fighting? Is Green Day his teenage right-of-passage, which will hopefully lead him into the alternative and easy-listening music of Adulthood? Will Green Day bring him to Feist or The XX or maybe even Coldplay? My twelve year old is listening to Green Day for relaxation and somehow I think it is my fault.

Dave and I are great partners, but somehow today we threw ourselves down the rabbit hole. We left El Cap and headed east-ish toward the Tioga Pass, stopping at a, and I am not kidding, $5.49 a gallon gas station. Dave was hoping for some caffeine and before I could get out of the car he was on his way back. “it’s closed.” I got out anyway and asked Kyle to stay in. Eli was now snoring. Really. I even told him later on, “You snored. You know that sound Wawa makes? That’s what you did,” and then I promptly made the noise [insert swallowing, snorting noise here] so we were clear. We both laughed and he seemed a little proud of his great snoring snort.

Out of the car I looked at Dave and said, “This isn’t good. I think the boys are acting crazy because you and I are fighting.” he agreed. “Are you ok collectively apologizing?” First we told Kyle and once Eli was awake we told him.

Damian Rice’s, “Cold Water” is now playing and as I typed this paragraph’s first seven words, Dave literally almost hit two wild horses in the dark Nevada night. Damian Rice’s mellow serenade is perfect and would have calmed me, even if Dave had hit those horses. Thank God he didn’t. Oh thank God!

We left the gas station, gaining elevation as the sun began to set. “If we had been twenty minutes earlier we could have seen it set on Half Dome,” Dave said and I heard his disappointment. Along the way I realized I was missing something and then I said as much, “Dave, I am sorry. I am sorry that I did not appreciate how important it is for you to maximize your days off.” I knew Dave was feeling discouraged and that traveling with me was for the birds. We kept driving and I kept thinking.

Seconds after the lady asked if she could take our picture we took this & yes, we are “Facebook Happy,” if you know what I mean?

I thought of the lady who offered to take our picture when we were on our Yosemite Hike. She asked and I responded with such disturbing laughter I believe I hurt her feelings. I saw her down the way and apologized, “it’s been a hard day and I would have loved for you to take our picture. Thank you for offering.”

Dave wasn’t talking much. I think that’s what guys do when there really isn’t any more to say. I wanted to make it through the other side of this. I heard words I have been told before, “You fight for your marriage! There is no autopilot, ever! You see things from their perspective. You back down and then you fight some more.” I took another breath and apologized for our rotten day. Insecurely I asked him, “are you still in — even a little bit?” he said, “a little bit.” I don’t know if he was being literal, sweet or funny, but I took it. I talked about how when the boys were young he always took them to the pool while I was getting ready and now when we travel we do all boy/men things and I never take a minute to decompress or shop or drink a green tea without a, “MOM, Mom, can we go? Mom, mom, I want to leave. We are SOOOO bored!” I can’t go with the boys without them fighting and many of our current trips consist of Dave working and me 24-7 testosterone managing. I think Dave heard me because he seemed more relaxed. I asked him if he did and he said, “yes,” in a very nice way. I reminded him that it goes both ways. We need to make space for each other and for each other’s priorities and then I think we can travel better.

We left it at that and stopped. Dave pulled into the backside of a look out point. Immediately my eye saw a woman in a pink jacket. She smiled. Kyle, Dave and I got out of the car, walked up to the edge and then walked further to get a better view. Eli, who had been sleeping, woke up and made his way. As we walked back to the car the lady in the pink jacket’s (Stacey) boyfriend asked me, “where in Utah are you from?” We talked canyons and the awesome hippie gas station just south of Boulder, UT. Dave walked up, Eli got back in the car and Kyle entered our conversation. I started talking to Stacey. I needed to talk to Stacey. Immediately we connected, “sometimes I just do not care what rock formation we are looking at,” I said to which she laughing responded, “Seriously. Monoliths. He wants me to understand every little canyon and geologic formation.” We were laughing so hard I was crying. I was relaxing and oh thank God she was there. “As Dave and my boys get older I feel less in touch with them and all of their man-ness. I am this alien female creature trying to communicate with three dudes. They have no idea what to do with me. It’s lonely and sometimes I just need a moment to catch my breath. How many Sci-Fi-Fantasy-Books-on-tape can one mom listen to or tune out?” She understood and even said something like, “they just don’t get it, but women do. I am glad I am here.” I was glad too. Thank goodness for the overlook, sun gone or not.

At the Look out Point and this is literally the moment Easy E stumbled out of the car to catch up with us.

We exchanged emails and stories. She shared her favorite books and by the time Dave made his way back to me, after walking straight into a pole first (ouch and yes, blood), of course he had one read one of the books too.

We are not perfect. We are scarred, flawed. I swear and yes, I have to tell Dave exactly what I want for Christmas, pick it out online and put it in a shopping cart. He does the same for me. It helps. It’s not easy being married. It is not easy being a family. Friday, October 19, 2012, it was not easy being on the road. I don’t blame Eli for wanting to go home. I am understanding and respecting Dave’s silence and totally get Kyle’s newly acquired Green Day need. I, well, I couldn’t turn my mouth off and even suggested I have my vocal chords removed so I would shut up already. Kyle immediately said and then Dave, “but you have a lovely singing voice.” (Those words meant the world to me.)

We made it through. We fought our way to the other side. Once over the
Tioga Pass, which parallels the Donner, by the way, we did not starve, we were not stuck in snow with know way out until spring and mostly we did not have to eat each other. Although there were moments when I would have.

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Riding Over the Sharks is Better Together


Standing at the brand new park near our home, the evening was the kind of Autumn chilly I love. It was just cold enough for me to zip my hoody all the way and wear a favorite hat (kind of an aqua blue with a grey pom-pom on top). I promised Eli we could go to the park if he finished his homework. Dave was leaving for San Francisco the next day and had a million things to do beforehand.

It was already dark when Eli finished his homework and I heard him from the other room exclaim, “Dad, I am finished. Let’s go!”

“Eli, I’ll throw the football outside with you for a few minutes.” In my mind I wanted to hit pause putting both Dave and Eli in suspended-animation. During this time-stopped moment, I would run over and fill Dave in about the promise I had made. Oh life, where is your pause button when I need it?

Instead and because I felt Eli’s temperature rising, before a complete melt down ensured, I said, “Hey guys, let’s go. Dave you can stay home if you want, but I promised.”

“Beth, it is so dark and I have a lot to do.” Dave replied.

“You can stay home, but I want to follow through.” I said as I rushed the boys first to put on their pajamas (track shorts and an old t-shirt) and then out the door. “Don’t forget your sweatshirts. It is cold.” The boys, indulging me, assured they had them and also assured, “Mom, really? It is not cold.”

Once at the park, I left the boys and Dave (yes, and yay! he came) to play Frisbee (with their brand new Frisbee) in the brand new soccer/lacrosse field while I started to walk the long circle that outlined the field. I had no idea how they could see the Frisbee clearly enough to not get smacked in the face. On my second lap, Dave joined me. We could hear the boys screaming in the darkness and knew they had made it over to the playground. “Mom, can you see us swinging? It’s crazy! If we jump off we fly right into this big pole.” Sure enough, Dave and I made our way through wood chips and playground equipment to see the boys swinging hard. “Mom, look. See the pole?” Kyle said as he swung higher and higher. “Mom, you have to watch this. Watch.” All of a sudden Kyle was airborne and flew right into the pole thankfully with his hands outstretched. The pole was indeed large and also unprotected. The park is new and knowing this Dave and I both uttered, “Poor planning. They are going to have to do something about that.” And then I continued as I often do, “As soon as some kid gets brain damage, you know they will.”

The boys were having a blast so Dave and I continued our chilly, dark evening walk-talk. It has been a hard few days. Between Dave’s frequent business trips, the new and long daily school commute, PMS, a combo sinus infection/double ear infection, I have been off. I mean, crazy off. I sound whiny. I know. Usually I can swim away all of life’s sharks and rise above my own insecurities. I just wasn’t cutting it and felt like I was starting to sink. I don’t know if it was the PMS or the nasty cold, but something definitely shoved me off center. Petty issues were turning into giant monsters and as soon as I would pick myself up or take a deep breath, something small would grab my ankle and knock me over again. And because I was feeling discouraged from feeling knocked down, even smaller things were grabbing my attention. Dave and I walked and talked. I whined. I finally said, “Why does everyone have to be so dumb? Why are some of the most annoying, cruel and undeserving people the most successful? Why do people who work hard and long get screwed? Why do people our age still care about being cool or popular? Blah blah blah I am feeling sorry for myself!”

Dave responded with some harsh words or really what I felt like were harsh words, and I felt worse.

As I walked and fumed I thought to myself, “I know Dave doesn’t mean it. He has my back. I know he does.” Then I thought about what he told me the other day when something else was bugging me, “Even if you do not care to be a part of the group, no one likes to be actively excluded.” I know Dave gets my pain. I knew he understood I was feeling blue. Why the harsh words? In that second I got it. I re-grouped and realized he was just trying to help me SNAP OUT OF IT!

“Hey Dave, I am sorry. I don’t think I am expressing myself well. I feel bad because in this moment I feel alone. I think some people are really lame and I do not understand why things happen they way they do.”

It really didn’t matter what I was complaining about because I was. Dave got it and after I told him I didn’t think I was expressing myself well, then backed up and slowed down, he began sharing how he understands. He explained the pitfalls, ups and unfair aspects of his chosen path. “It doesn’t make sense.” He responded.

It does to me. It is about empathy.

Struggling to climb up for air, all I needed was some genuine I-know-how-you-feel feelings. It is much easier to swim past the sharks when someone is there holding your hand. It is even easier when you are in a life boat together and that they totally get why you need to stay afloat.

Our conversation continued, we were in the car, had found the lost soccer ball (twice), the new Frisbee made it too (thankfully) and were on our way home. Dave cracked me up because when I told him how much it meant that he empathized he informed me that he felt his advice was useless and that his words had merely been selfish: “All I did is tell you the bad things that happened to me.” And then Eli jumped in, “Empathy? Empathy? What does that even mean?” I am not sure he really cared as much as he wanted to be a part so we told him, “It is kind of like sympathy, except you have experience that same or similar things yourself.” “Oh.” He responded.

We were home walking our trash cans to the curb. I brought up our conversation.
“Dave. I am so glad you said what you said. I loved it. You told me things that reminded me that you get it and that I am not alone. You see, my friend, it is much easier floating on a raft with you than all alone. At least when you die, I have you there to eat you so I will not starve.” I shared.

And then Dave added, “Really you need to eat me before I die when I am nice and healthy. If you don’t the meat will go bad and you will starve too.”

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Hey Europe, Next Time We Are Taking The Kids

Sheep Herding in Chamonix, France 2011

We flew EasyJet from Geneva, Switzerland to Gatwick, England. I loved our time in Geneva. I mean, I love, love loved our time traveling from Geneva to Gruyere and then onto Montreux, where we hung out at the stunning Château de Chillon. After Montreux, we drove the windy, grapevine-covered roads to Chamonix, France (Mont Blanc territory), which guess what, yes, we also loved. Seriously, the second I saw the those three-hundred sheep cross the road in Chamonix, Dave and I insisted (for about the billionth time) that we find a way to bring the boys here. “They would love this! Really! No. No. I am not kidding. Look. Look at those crazy sheep! And the dog. It is going nuts. The sheep herders are so cool. This is awesome!” I giddily exclaimed. “Dave, we need to find a way.”

He agreed, and since our 2011 European adventure-business trip, we have been trying to find a way. Wait. In truth, since our 2010 Ireland Adventure-Business trip, we have wanted to take the boys to Europe. And if I was really honest, I have always dreamt of taking our boys here. We will find a way.

Beth & Dave Dublin, Ireland 2010

Us Above Lake Geneva, Switzerland 2011

With my new Swatch in hand (I know, how appropriate), we left our lovely Switzerland behind. A short flight later we landed, gathered our carry-ons and headed for customs. Passports stamped and on the other side, we had to walk at least twenty-seven miles [wink wink] until we made our way to the Gatwick Airport Hilton Hotel. Step after tired step, I doubted and then asked, “Really? Really, the hotel is literally connected to the airport?” “Yes. Yes, Beth it is.” Dave answered as we walked the seemingly never-ending airport pathways. And then a happy thought occurred to me, “Europe is on to something and what they are onto is something really healthy. You really can’t go wrong walking miles of airport hallways. You are actually forced to walk a very long way even before you can find a cab, your car or even your hotel. And those delightfully cute old ladies on bicycles, well, they sure seem a better choice then the scooters you ride to get around Disneyland. Go Europe! May your life span be longer than ours, (especially the cute old ladies on bicycles).” We made it. We checked in, found our room and settled in for the night and with laptops phones and laptops charging, I snuggled in our hotel bed and uploaded hundreds of pictures.

Gatwick Hilton Shower

Initially our plan was to spend the night at Gatwick, rent a car and make our way into London and then head on to Brighton. Our day started with that plan. We enjoyed our lovely hotel breakfast after showering in our super cool hotel shower. “Why mention the shower,” you ask? Well, it was really amazing and very European in a comfortably American way. Way to go Hilton! We packed up, checked our email, video chatted with my mom and the boys and we were on our way. I did lose Dave somewhere in there yet with Dave’s expert knowledge and experience of left-side-of-the-road driving we were safely on our way. We found our way to Kensington where I had noticed (because Dave had located it on the Map first) the Whole Foods. Shame on me. I was in another country and I needed a little piece of home. The Kensington, England Whole Foods, however, is the most lovely and amazing Whole Foods I have ever shopped at. We figured out that if we spend twenty-five Pounds we could get two hours of free parking. No problem. We ordered a fancy Vermicelli made-to-order Noodle Lunch and I video-chatted again with my mom and the boys. Double bonus. I shed a few glorious tears as I found several new dark chocolate candy bar varieties. I was buying and then taking the coconut dark chocolate one home. Yum! We paid for our goods, left paradise, walked the super cool and fancy London Hipster neighborhood and were happy that we had our two-free-parking-hours to explore this part of town. Directly behind Whole Foods, out of the hustle, bustles and hipster-ness, Dave and I found the most adorable neighborhood. It is something out of dreams or movies or both. We talked about how much money we would have to make to live here. “Could we do it?” I was in heaven.

Barclays Cycle Hire

Our two hours was up and we wanted to see London. We found our way to some great street parking just outside the “congestion zone” where you have to pay a fee to drive your car, and we walked to the edge of Hyde Park where we picked up our first set of Barclays rental bikes. Dave had figured out if you swap your bike at one of the many Barclays-bike-stops every forty-five minutes, your bike rental was limitless and would only cost you one Pound for the day.

Man Dipping Feet into Buckingham Palace Fountain

We made our way through Hyde Park and biked our way from Barclays stop to Barclays stop. We biked around Buckingham Palace, where we saw a man talking to himself chastising the world about the use of flash photography and then out of nowhere he took his socks off and dipped his bare feet into the Buckingham Palace fountain. We biked through the city on to to Big Ben during Rush Hour traffic and over to Trafalgar Square. We stopped and walked. We stopped for snacks and to take lots and lots of pictures. My favorite things were the red telephone booths. How British, right?

Red Telephone Booth just outside of Trafalgar Square

We biked and biked and saw and saw, past the London Eye all the way to Westminster Abbey. Gleefully I took in all the things we had only seen in pictures. Everyone was biking and as the sun set we made our way back through Hyde Park and back to our car. I loved it! We loved it! What a great way to see London. We made our way back to Whole Foods. I am not kidding. Hey, you cannot go wrong with free parking and free WiFi and thankfully we did find free WiFi because after checking some emails and listening to some voicemails we learned we needed to fly home the next day. We had booked and expensive hotel for the night and our flight left early. Dave and I looked at each other and I think we both had the same idea. “Hey, let’s skip the hotel and stay up all night.” We thought it sounded crazy good. We made our way to a few stores for last minute gifts and then we decided it would be hilarious to rent those bikes again. “Wouldn’t it be cool to bike London in the middle of the night?” So we did. It was even better then our daytime ride. By now we had a handle on things. We found areas that were hard to get to during the day, places we would never know about like St. Katherine’s Dock. We biked. We laughed. We felt entirely safe. Surprisingly or not so, we ran into several other all-night tourists, even some tourists on bikes. My very favorite part was biking back and forth over the Tower Bridge. Glee! It really was pure unadulterated glee! Dave and I did not know when the last time was that we had not only been up all night, but had been out all night long too. We felt free. We felt grateful. We saw London in a way we never imagined and it was perfect.

Me Biking on the Tower Bridge, London, England 2011

We made our way to the rental car place where we repacked our luggage and changed our clothes. Best night ever. Who cares that we had $400.00 cash stolen from Dave’s coat, $400.00 we could have spent on a fancy London hotel, during our ten hour stop in Chicago. At least they didn’t take our passports. We were home, safe and already convincing the boys we needed to go back. “Boys, we have to bike over the Tower of London Bridge together. It will be awesome!” Now they are convinced. In truth, once they heard the word, “castle,” they were totally in.

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One wrong word & my switch flips. Thank God for Old School Rollerblades!

Rollerblading at the Farm Park

We were finishing our fourth lap around the Farm Park and Dave said one thing. I lost my mind and then wanted to punch him in the mouth. I am a lot like Eli or is he a lot like me? Instead of punching Big Daddy in the mouth I said, “I am driving home. You take the kids in your car. I will make dinner. Goodbye.” I kept my word, got in my car and drove away.
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Happy Seventh Anniversary, Dave!

Copper Tea Kettle
Copper Tea Kettle

Last week this copper tea kettle came in the mail for me. Dave and I had seen one just like it on our recent trip to Washington DC. Dave had secretly ordered it for me. Because I can be a little wishy-washy about things, once it came, I wasn’t sure if I wanted this tea kettle or the one with the automatic hand mechanism. That was until I made a certain discovery. Unbeknownst to either one of us, the seventh anniversary just happens to be the copper/wool anniversary. With this knowledge, at once my wishy-washy copper tea kettle became this beautiful (albeit slightly sappy) copper symbol of our love, a fortuitous little kettle that was meant to be in our home. Funny how simple information can change an opinion, isn’t it?

. . . When Dave and I were dating and our communication was colorful and open, I know many people thought our open communication would break us. Some people could not even fathom that we were a romantic couple because we were such incredible friends. Au contraire! It is that same open communication and fantastic friendship that has made this marriage work, and work so well.

You are my best friend, my husband, my rock-star lover and the father of our children. There are moments, like last night when you accused me of putting the chicken in the freezer, when I want to bite your head off and eat it. Those moments are brief compared to all the wonderful, amazing time we have spent together. I mean it. Last week as we drove past the Bethesda Residence Inn, where we spent the first night of our marriage, I felt glad and amazed at how fast it has gone. As we drove by our Poolesville, Maryland  reception site (now a Chinese Buffet  — and of course), I thought of posing (again) for those unconventional wedding photos we took on on the Poolesville lawn. I thought of our very yummy cake that was way too small. I cringed thinking about my dress that was way too tight. I laughed out loud when I thought of a particular ex-girlfriend of yours, the one who hit you in the head, hard, with the bottle she was supposed to be using to blow bubbles with. Our wedding was absolutely perfect!

Dave and Beth Rockville, Maryland 2005
Dave and Beth Rockville, Maryland 2005

As I read my archives (which in many ways articulates my feelings much better), I was reminded that last year our anniversary slipped your mind and I was a little upset. Consequently, you felt and appreciated my sorrow then and now. This year not only has the calendar on you computer been flashing reminders for the past week, but so has your PDA. I have seen the places you have written our special date down and yesterday you asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary. Thank you for not forgetting. I know you are remembering because you know how much it means to me. And this is precisely why I think our marriage works so well. Thank you for loving me and letting me love you.

Happy Anniversary Dave! I love you!


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