Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Worth the Wait

In eleven days I will be heading to Florida for a seven day cruise. In eleven days I will be experiencing my dream vacation--something I have wanted to do since I was engaged and contemplating how I wanted to spend my honeymoon.

But in those days--way back in the day--we were poor as church mice as we were college students with student loans. We got married on Sunday, August 2, and Roy's contract officially started on Monday, August 3. Since we didn't really have the money for a honeymoon, we decided to do the smart thing and drove straight to Colorado and he started on Tuesday. I will forever remember how the Campion Academy staff threw us a surprise wedding shower that Tuesday evening, complete with a picnic supper and a wheelbarrow decorated with ribbons and filled with gifts. Once all the gifts were opened, they made Roy push me around in it--but I don't remember the reason for that. But it was a joy-filled party and I basked in all of that newlywed attention.

We got quite a bit of money of money from gifts from others and after setting up our little home with all of the necessities of living with the exception of a vacuum cleaner (I borrowed one from the girls' dorm--trekking over and asking the dean if I could use it; carried it back to the apartment; vacuumed; carried it back to the dorm), we had a whopping $100 left.

Campion Academy is nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. We quickly discovered this heavenly drive up those majestic beasts to this little town at the very top called Estes Park. It was a bit of a tourist attraction and we absolutely loved it there. They had this grand all-white motel complete with pillars that we drove by on every trip up and we both longed to stay there--just one night. We dreamed about it so much that I called to see what it cost. A whopping $100.

And so, since we had foregone the honeymoon for practicality, we decided that gosh, wouldn't it be fun to just be carefree for a minute and spend a night in that luxurious motel?! And so we booked an evening one weekend, packed our suitcase, and headed up the mountain for a night of romance and splendor and pampered glory.

But on the trek up, I started thinking about that vacuum cleaner and my regular treks to the girls' dorm. We were still so poor. Roy made a whopping $17,000 (still remember that figure), and I was a college student so every penny counted. And so, with a heavy sigh, I said, You know, we could buy a vacuum cleaner with that $100.

And so we went to Estes Park, walked around, enjoyed the day. And then we headed home, stopping by Walmart on the way so that we could put that $100 to use on something practical.

I've never regretted it.

A couple of months later, the principal of our school, Hal Hampton, told Roy that there were a group of kids that needed a ride to Wyoming for homeleave, and since we hadn't taken a honeymoon, he offered that trip to Roy, claiming the school would provide the vehicle and the gas and the motel so go enjoy yourselves.

And so we did, dropping the kids in Wyoming on a Wednesday and then trekking through Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. It was a fabulous trip and we both loved every minute of it. And other than our food? It was free.

But my dream vacation still beckoned. We always talked of how someday we would take a cruise. About the time we could finally afford one as we were both teaching full-time, I discovered I was pregnant with Ciara. My mom came to live with us to help care for her, and Roy's mom visited often. It wasn't long before I was pregnant with Savana and so, in the early days of my pregnancy with her, Roy and I know, we're about to have two babies. We should take a cruise now while our moms are here to care for Ciara. And so, we booked it. We even put a few hundred dollars down on a cruise that sailed out of Las Angeles. That's all that I remember other than the fact I dreamed and imagined and hoped that day would arrive quickly as I simply couldn't wait. each day got a little closer...and the actual boarding of the ship...Roy and I both got cold feet. Ciara was such a fragile baby and her life was no guarantee. I'm not sure which one of us suggested that maybe we should cancel the cruise, but I do know that once those words were out, the other of us leaped at the idea. We cancelled, losing our down payment in the process, but no matter. We couldn't bear leaving our precious baby girl.

And so we opted instead to spend a couple of nights in a motel nearby. That way if our moms called to say there were problems, we could whisk home on a dime. Roy's mom had already made plans to be there the week of the scheduled cruise so Ciara had plenty of care.

We packed our bags, booked the motel, and headed out one evening for two nights and three days of splendor, freedom, stress-free living.

But...I can't even remember how many times we called home that evening we were away from Ciara. We'd never left her before for more than a couple of hours and I had a difficult time trusting anyone to care for her as I did. She had problems breathing, and since she was kind of a loud breather, I could hear her stop taking a breath from anywhere in the house. She's not breathing! I would call, and whoever was holding her would massage her chest a bit, and she'd gasp. I was always listening for that when I was home.

And so, we called. A lot. How's Ciara? Is she breathing? Has she had any seizures? Is she okay? Should we come home?

But of course...everything was fine. Our moms happily answered all of our questions, assuring us that she was just fine and we should feel free to enjoy ourselves.

We went home early the next morning.

And then, of course, we had Savana...and a couple of years later we had Darian...and we trekked across the country on a teacher's salary, moving from place to place while I worked part-time as I couldn't bear to be away from my babies for too long. We went on plenty of trips through the years but most of them involved visiting family and such as we couldn't really afford much more...but honestly, those were good times and I don't regret any of it.

But now? Life is different. The girls are grown. Jace will be happily playing at camp. We have nothing to detour us. The cruise is officially paid for.

And so, on July 6 we are going to sail away. We're going to laugh and dance and watch the sunset from our balcony. We're going to explore St. Thomas and St. Marteen, walking hand in hand along the beach.

Totally carefree.

It has been worth the wait.

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