Henry and I had planned a romantic weekend get-away for our 25thanniversary. We found a lovely inn with a room overlooking a lake, complete with fireplace, balcony and a complimentary massage or facial for both of us. After two decades of family vacations with special needs twins, I thought we were overdue for a couples-only weekend. With the reservations made and the date marked in my calendar, I smiled all day thinking about cozy, uninterrupted conversations by a crackling fire and sipping wine as the sun set by the lake. Finally, I could enjoy a complete respite from childcare. No shopping at the last minute for whatever Max needed but forgot to buy; and I would not need to explain to Sarah, for the umpteenth time, why she couldn’t bring her knitting needles onto the airplane. Best of all, I would not need to order the “vacation supply” of my kids’ many prescription medications without which any trip was doomed. CVS, you’re on own this time!
It all seemed so easy, until Max called home from college later that day.
“My last comedy show is on Saturday, April 27th,” my son says. “You’re coming, right?”
Bull’s eye! Max has just named the Saturday of my newly booked anniversary weekend. Of course this last minute invitation is for the final comedy show in my son’s college career because he is about to graduate.
“I wish you had told me sooner.” It’s the ultimate, lame reply uttered in the subdued tone of someone who has just stepped in a mound of dog poop. “Dad and I just booked a reservation for our 25th anniversary that weekend.”
I know my husband would tell me to skip the show and keep our vacation plans. But I hear my own voice saying: “I’ll have to see if we can re-arrange things.”
We missed Max’s previous comedy show– I can’t help but remember– because he hadn’t given us enough notice. Henry is right when he says Max needs to take responsibility for his actions and think of others occasionally. And God knows I want Max to take charge of his own life, and realize that his parents have a life too. Unlike our son, we don’t meet up with friends and drift spontaneously into weekend parties. We plan ahead. But it’s Max’s senior year, and the last comedy show before he graduates. If we miss it, there won’t ever be another one.
Besides, I actually enjoy Max’s comedy show. It gives me a chance to see him perform, watch his videos and appreciate his wonderful writing. In other words, I get the chance to laugh and be a proud parent. Who would want to miss that rare combination?
I know it will be up to me to rearrange everything. I check the calendar. The May 3rd weekend is out of the question. Sarah is appearing in a Columbia graduate student’s film at Lincoln Center. She’s been talking about it for a whole year. No way I can miss that. I’m excited about it and proud of her too. Sarah somehow managed hours of filming and rehearsal on top of getting an A in her summer Computer Science course and showing up for her volunteer job at a special ed school at 8:15 every morning.
Okay, May 3rd is out, so I look at May 10th__ a weekend that also includes Mother’s Day. I’m worried the inn will already be full. I tolerate muzak on hold for what seems like an hour until a recorded voice informs me: “All our representatives are busy helping other customers, but your business is very important to us.” While waiting to complete the transaction, I double check Sarah’s college calendar and notice that her school year ends on May 10th. So now the 10th is out too. Mentally, I start over while the recorded voice reassures me that “someone will be with you shortly.” I realize that my only remaining choice is April 19th, eleven days ahead of our anniversary.
The reservation specialist finally picks up the line and tells me all the lake view rooms have already been booked.
“Don’t feel bad,” the reservationist consoles me. “The lake will still be covered in ice, not as pretty as in summer.”
I have a headache and a mountain view by the time I hang up. But I have successfully reorganized our weekend trip. My husband and I have a new room, new dinner reservations and new spa appointments.
“I’m so relieved,” I tell Henry. “Booking this vacation was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.”
“I’m happy if you’re happy. Of course there’s a small chance I might have to prepare for a trial that weekend, if my witness is called.” He smiles and squeezes my hand. “But don’t worry, that’s very unlikely.”
I hope he’s right. I won’t be able to reschedule our 25th anniversary again. Sarah will finish her school year on May 10th, and Max will graduate from college on May 26th— a milestone event. If only my husband and I can sneak away for one short weekend, maybe– just maybe– all the pieces of the puzzle will fit together for a change.