Mike and I have finally begun putting together a living room we can be proud of. It's only taken four years to start this project and it'll only take (I'm sure) another four, but hell I'm calling any progress a victory at this point.
In January, we painted the walls a nice steel gray, and we've bought frames for the many pictures we want to hang on them. Over our couch, we've decided to hang travel photos, just scenery shots, and it was such a fun ride through vacation memory lane, choosing which pictures we should display. We chose one from Puerto Rico, Chicago, St. John, Boston and in the middle we hope to find just the right photo from College Station. That might not be your vacation city of choice but all this travel, all this everything, began with that tiny Texas town.
Of course we chose a photo from the family roadtrip we took in the summer of 2011 (here, here). You might remember that trip if you've been reading my blog since then. We traveled through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and a tiny bit of Arizona for a family wedding. We took Kyle, then two and a half, and Molly, then (and now) a giant but lovable pain in the ass.
As I searched through the hundreds of photos from the trip for just the right one to frame, I remembered how we almost didn't go. My car broke down (to the tune of many dollars) the week before the trip and the day before the trip Kyle got a Mystery Fever. No money and a feverish child. Yeah, that screams fun family vacation.
But, against all rational thought, we took the trip. We packed the car, we booked a couple cheap hotel rooms, we filled a cooler with snacks and filled my laptop with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes, and we hoped for the best.
We ate burgers in Amarillo, drank margaritas in Santa Fe. We hiked in Arches National Park while watching a storm roll through one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen before or have ever seen since. Kyle threw up in the backseat on a particularly curvy Colorado mountain road but then we saw a deer inches from our car a few moments later, and he quickly cheered up. We visited the Four Corners. We graffitied the cars at Cadillac Ranch. We introduced Kyle to family he'd never met and we sat around the hotel pool with them, catching up and slapping mosquitoes against our arms. Mike's parents treated us to a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride above Gateway Canyons, where we stayed for the wedding. We off-roaded to visit Shiprock.
We also had this one giant fight, on a New Mexico highway late one night as Kyle slept in the backseat. It was ridiculous, as many giant fights tend to be, and Mike and I stewed quietly after it ended. I went to sleep angry. He slept with his back to me. We apologized in the morning, after coffee, a good night's sleep, and a strong dose of perspective, and we shared a family hug in our cheap hotel room before eating the worst continental breakfast we'd ever had.
There was also this beautiful moment on a straight stretch of road, driving out of Utah as the sun was setting one night. Kyle had just fallen asleep and Mike and I were talking about anything, nothing, I don't even remember. Maybe our trip, maybe stopping for gas, maybe Kyle. I think my favorite thing about my relationship with Mike, or maybe just my relationship with anyone I've loved so long, is the ease of conversation. You realize how rare that is, as you get older, when there is no anxiety or self-consciousness or even awareness of what you're saying. You just talk. It's like breathing, talking to Mike, and I realized on that Utah road that I was just so damn grateful we decided to say yes to a trip we nearly said no to.
It was one of the most incredible trips, no weeks, of my entire life. It was magical, it was beautiful, it was exhausting, it was fun, even the fight, even the carsickness, even the bad felt good on that trip.
We almost said no, but then we said yes. We hoped for the best, and that's exactly what we got.
No other reason to write this than I just wanted to remember all of that today.