Happy Anniversary

Usually I think of couples having a second honeymoon to celebrate a milestone like ten, twenty, or fifty years, not one. But my husband’s idea was romantic—to celebrate our first anniversary at the same country inn that we went to for our honeymoon. It was a nice idea, but the reality…

We were a young couple in our early twenties—pre-kids/cellphone days. Working as live-in house managers for a group home, our only expenses were food and car insurance. Spontaneous spending was fun back then…like the shiny new acoustic guitar Gene had to buy on our trip that hogged the back seat. He didn’t know how to play the guitar and still doesn’t. So though it was a hot day in July, Gene decided he needed Timberland winter boots. I tried not to roll my eyes or point out the obvious—I mean, this was supposed to be romantic—but may have let a tiny grunt of disapproval squeak through my teeth.

I forget the order now…did he buy the boots, then realize he locked his keys inside the car, or did he realize he locked them in and decide to go buy boots anyway? Did the torrential downpour start after we asked the salesperson to help us call a locksmith, or as he spent five minutes twisting a wire through the cracked open window to unlock the door? Either way, it wasn’t fun. We were hot, wet and irritated at the weather and each other, but he had boots.

The problem with trying to reenact our honeymoon was the high expectations we placed on this vacation. Was it fair to compare this week to one of the best weeks of our lives? How could we reenact those fresh moments of discovering places for the first time: splashing in the bubbling brook behind the inn; racing barefoot downhill through the dandelions and soft grass; row boating on the glistening waters of Lake Winnipesauke. It would feel like we were acting out a favorite movie.

The next day was sunny, a great day to try horseback riding. Not that we knew how to ride horses, but we felt safe, led by a guide up a mountain trail. Mounting the horse was harder than I thought, and the view much higher than it seemed from the ground. The branches and crisp leaves crunched under the weight of the horses. A light breeze tickled my neck in the shade and coolness of the mountain path. All was quiet surrounded by the peace and beauty around us; birds singing and chattering, horses snorting…until Gene sneezed.

“God bless you,” I said.

He sneezed again, and another rider said, “Bless you.” The third time he sneezed, a different rider blessed him. The fourth time, well, he got a few looks.

“Are you alright?” I whispered, wishing the thunderous sneezing would stop and I could the listen to the birds again.

“No, it’s allergies. I must be allergic to horses too.”

Gene gets asthma around cats and some dogs, but they’re a fraction of the size of the horse he was sitting on. I couldn’t hear anything but Gene’s wheezing for the rest of the trail. I prayed he wouldn’t need a trip to the emergency room. Thankfully, his breathing improved the farther we got from the horses.

The allergies left him with a nose cold for the next two days. This wasn’t the honeymoon I remembered.

We decided to surprise my cousins on the way home and stop by their summer home on Cape Cod. We could spend the day at the beach and drive home in the evening.

They were surprised alright and so were we by the look on Cathy’s face as she met us at the door. “Hey, what are you doing here? Didn’t you hear the weather report?”

“No, we’ve been at a country inn in New Hampshire without a TV.”

She laughed. “A hurricane is on its way here in a few hours. Now you’re stuck here.”

“A hurricane? No way!”

Gene and I laughed so hard as Cathy said, “By the way, happy anniversary.”

For future trips, we vowed to check the weather reports and travel with anti-allergy medicine…just in case. As crazy as that trip was, it would be the last week long vacation we’d take since God blessed us with five kids to raise. Maybe for our thirtieth anniversary we’ll celebrate a third honeymoon, but I say we head in a different direction. Jamaica sounds nice.


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