Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Honeymoon…

So the mystery adventure that kept me from blogging was an excursion we’ve (that’s me and T) been putting off for nearly seven years. We FINALLY took a very late honeymoon…and truly, I am glad we waited!

T and I had dated three years when he proposed (keep in mind, that was our senior year of high school and our freshman and sophomore years of college). It was during the summer before our junior year that he proposed. Immediately after becoming engaged we set a wedding date (and again, keep in mind we’d wanted to marry since Christmas of our senior year – no, I am NOT kidding. In fact, towards the end of our senior year, T asked me to cash in and combine my life savings of a few thousand dollars with his life savings of a few thousand dollars to purchase some land out in California. His plan: run away, get married, and live off the land. I was quick to inform him that my parents would kill me and it just wouldn’t work.)

So we went off to college and kept dreaming of the day we’d say “I do.” So he proposed, I of course said yes, and we set a date for early May, three days after school was out. Just enough time to return home, attend the necessary pre-wedding festivities, tie the knot, have a short honeymoon, and head south where his summer internship would be waiting…after two weeks of being engaged we knew we’d be in sin if we didn’t move that wedding date up. We were in love and had known for so long that we wanted to marry. Being engaged for ten months…well, let’s just say Paul says it’s better to marry than to burn with lust. We wanted to honor God with our engagement. So we took His divine counsel and moved the date up…we picked Saturday, January 5th. So we began lining up the church, etc. But then the University we attended cut winter break by a week…making the first day of classes Monday, January 7th. That Saturday wedding just wouldn’t do…the church I’d grown up in didn’t allow weddings in December (due to all the Christmas décor…) and I was dead set on marrying in that church, so it would HAVE to be a January wedding…so we moved it to Thursday, January 3rd…kind of weird, but it worked out SO well!

(that's us kissing in the back seat of our getaway car...away from the church and to the reception!)

So about that honeymoon…we decided we’d honeymoon during Spring Break and we’d saved a few thousand dollars…and about a month into the marriage our one little car’s, an ’86 Honda Civic, timing belt broke. We were stuck on the side of the road a few miles from a Honda repair shop… (oh well, as long as I’m telling this story, I might as well add in all the details…) we didn’t have a cell phone, so we walked about a mile to a car plant and I believe if I remember correctly, we jumped the fence. The guards didn’t take too kindly to us knocking on their little guard shack and asking to use their phone, but they agreed. However, they did not agree to let us use their bathroom…needless to say we were thankful the property was fairly wooded. So we made arrangements with my parents and the towing company. They would tow the car and the shop would call us with the news…and Mom and Dad picked us up on the side of the interstate. It must’ve been around Valentine’s Day because I remember Mama having her yummy heart shaped iced sugar cookies! Yummy! Once in Birmingham we got word on our little Civic…the timing belt had broken. She was done for…good only for scrap metal.

And that’s where our honeymoon stash went…for a down payment on a “new to us” used car…on the way home we stopped by the Honda Shop. I had high hopes of leaving with at least a few hundred dollars (which was really optimistic since I only paid $400 for her!). The lady informed us towing had run $35, which they had paid when the tow truck made the delivery, and they could give us $50 for the scrap metal…so after paying the $35 for towing, we left with $15 in hand…oh well…we cried and we laughed and we thanked God. Though it meant no honeymoon, it also meant the first time in my life I’d ever driven a reliable car. For that I was very THANKFUL! I’ll tell you stories of the marmot mobile another day…

So back to school we went. “We’ll honeymoon another time” we thought. After all, we had each other! What more could we want? And well, how can I not tell this entire story??? So my English professor from the semester before remembered that we had wed over the Christmas break and had not honeymooned. He called me and asked if we’d like to house sit for him during Spring Break…he described it as an opportunity for a little honeymoon in our own college town. PERFECT! A little house built in the 1800s that he and his wife had had moved and then had restored with their own hands. “The house,” he claimed, “is now set on a lake and has authentic period furniture and an outdoor hot tub, surrounded by trees.” He also offered us use of his boat and mentioned the beautiful gazebo. Oh, and that we’d be welcome to eat anything in the house, including the meat in their deep freeze.

Hmmm..does it get better than that? We LOVE older homes! Especially one that’s been restored! On a lake, with a hot tub and a gazebo! I pictured snuggling up to Taylor in the gazebo, drinking coffee and watching the sunrise while we had these amazing quiet times…I would relax and finish wedding thank you notes in front of a roaring fire! It would be so romantic! And since we were “house sitting” we assumed we’d be compensated.

So on the Friday afternoon marking freedom from school for one week, we packed our bags and drove out to Mr. and Mrs. Professor’s home. Mrs. Professor had left for their destination the week before and Mr. Professor had invited us for dinner and to spend the first night with him there so he could “show us a few things.” Things he simply “couldn’t explain in a note.”

With such high hopes and my entire trousseau packed, we made the twenty-minute commute. We’d followed the directions perfectly. Surely we were at the wrong place! As we slowly drove down the driveway we noticed hardened bags of concrete on either side of the driveway. There was trash and other bits of debris littering the ground. As we got closer we could make out a lean to house of sorts…with a ladder leaning on the tin roof…and a washer and dryer on the front porch. Um, not exactly what I’d pictured. But, ok. I’m sure the rest is better.

Mr. Professor met us at the door and welcomed us. He’d just put a giant slab of still thawing meat on the indoor grill. Blood from the meat ran off the stand-alone butcher block and dripped, puddling on the kitchen floor. After a time of sitting at the kitchen island, he poured some bleach on the butcher block and wiped it with the kitchen towel and then removed the meat from the grill and placed atop the butcher block and cut off a few slices…tossed ‘em on our plates, and returned the rest of the frozen chunk to the grill. After dinner, he began showing us around…”now to turn on this light, you have to move these books and flip the switch.” He showed us the master bath…with a claw foot tub! A nearly rusted out claw foot tub full of paint rollers and paint cans! The shower was so tiny I couldn’t bend over or lift my knee to shave my legs…and then there was the gazebo…that I’m sure was once beautiful, but at the time, it had been struck by lightening and had mostly burned down. And then there was the boat…a little aluminum row-boat, that had a trolling motor on the front, but to run the motor, you had to take the battery out of the broken down truck in the side yard, oh, and the boat was leaning against the side of the house. The “lake” would be more accurately described as a pond…measuring the size of a football field, minus the sidelines…the meat in the freezer dated back to ’93. The year was 2002. The bulk of the food in the kitchen was infested with some kind of little bugs. The cats that we were “cat sitting” had been de-clawed. We were told in NO uncertain terms that should we accidentally let them out, they would most certainly die and we WOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE and those cats were their babies! Oh, did I mention the cats had a litter box, that they DID NOT USE!?? (Sorry if I offend, but I find cats repulsive! Cleaning up after them in that manner was very ick to me!) And then, just before bed that first night, Mr. Professor told us that the home “had last been occupied by the original builder, a barber. He was not just any barber. He had murdered one person and was arrested as he tried to finish off his second victim.” Mr. Professor continued to share with us their amazing discovery of “several pairs of scissors and razors”, etc during the move and restoration of the home. And with that he told us “good night and sweet dreams.”

We climbed the narrow staircase to our upstairs room. There was one room upstairs…with terribly sloped ceilings so that you could only stand your full height in one part of the room. There was a bathroom upstairs, but Mrs. Professor had moved all her plants to that sink and shower. There was also a plethora of roaches. We climbed into bed and as the rain fell and the little house creaked, I scooted ever closer to T. I’m not sure either of us slept that night.

When we woke the next morning, Mr. Professor had left. There we were in his old house with a hundred finicky things to figure out…what a honeymoon! I wrote a few hundred thank you notes and we spent the majority of our time in the hot tub – with the neighbor’s big dog’s face and paws propped up on the side, watching our every move!

Nine days and lots of cat poop cleaning up later, Mr. and Mrs. Professor returned and told us they had a little something for us…they brought me a little salsa bowl and they brought T a six-inch piece of drift wood with three L hooks screwed into it. “Thanks,” Mr. Professor said. “I’ll see ya on campus.”

And that was it. Thanks, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot for your pest infested food and for giving me the opportunity to feel I needed to sanitize every surface in your home. Thanks for the opportunity to wipe your cats’ rear ends. Thanks, thanks for everything! Now I’ll chunk this cheap little momento, ‘cause I don’t want to remember this!

So life went on. By the next summer, we figured between the little we’d managed to save added to what we thought we could set aside, we’d have enough for a nice honeymoon…and then like fools, we bought a house and used the money towards that.

Then that fall, our last semester, we got pregnant with MW and decided we didn’t want to honeymoon with me pregnant. (We’d wanted to go somewhere tropical…) We’d wait…and then life began to happen. We wanted another baby and our timing wasn’t God’s timing and so in the summer of 06 we decided we’d start saving to go to New York…we’d go in the winter of 07. So we started saving and as the weeks passed, I realized I’d still be nursing. I didn’t want to lug a breast pump all over New York and I wasn’t going to let a trip ruin my one year of nursing goal…so we decided to postpone until early spring…but that was T3’s birthday…and all that time we’d been saving.

One day T came home and told me he was calling a travel agent about an ad he’d seen for a trip to….ITALY!!!

I thought he was crazy. He was. He was crazy and determined. So many, many, many, many months of working every overtime hour he could, we’d saved enough to take this trip to Italy. I admit I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to spend the money that way. I didn’t want to be away from the children that long. Plain and simple, I didn’t want to go. The sacrifice of all those overtime days was hard and I didn’t want to go. But, T said, “we are going.”

His parents agreed to keep the children. After weeks of planning just how to have all the loose ends tied up (plants, the dog, mail, children, church responsibilities…there was more than I’d realized), T’s dad drove us to the airport and dropped us off. My Mom stopped by to say “good bye.” And just like that, we were alone, just the two of us. It was very surreal.

So, that is the mystery trip that kept me away. That is why I’ve been playing catch up. This post has already been overwhelming, no doubt, so I’ll write on Italy in another post, perhaps in a few other posts.



  1. Ok, you've left me longing for more!!!

    ps- I hate cats too.... they're GROSS!

  2. I can't wait to read about Italy!! I never knew about that housesitting adventure - scary!