“The mysterious magnet is either there,
buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Vacationing and sightseeing are not the same thing.
A good vacation has medicinal value balming soul and spirit with rest and relaxation; a fun sight-seeing trip broadens experience and brings to life the places otherwise relegated to a book's page or a World Market canvas. A bad either one of those can breed frustration, flat wear you out or give you legitimate reason to sell your kids to the circus.
Eight years ago we packed up our kids, loaded up the van, and made the nine-hour trek to Washington, DC. Clearly, this was not a vacation.
DC is an amazing city, and after visiting many times before we had children, we couldn't wait until they were old enough to go. At the time they were 13, 11 and almost 9, the perfect age for a visit–old enough to log a thousand miles on foot without excess complaining and potentially able to remember what they had seen.
Between three kids in a private, Christian school at the time and my husband earning our only income, money was tight. We made the decision to share one hotel room among the five of us. Lest you get the wrong idea, this was no fancy schmancy suite-hotel. We had two queens (fulls??), a lop-sided roll-away and a single, small bathroom.
The city's vibe may be all power and seduction, yet D.C. is a wonderful family destination. Entry is free to most museums and there is nothing compared to standing in the very spot at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech or swaying at the top of the Washington Monument. I'm sure I felt it.
After four days of touring every monument and museum in the city we headed home, exhausted but happy. As is often the case on road trips, I fell asleep not long after we were on the road. My husband takes that bullet for me, driving the majority of the time. What may be a control thing for him is sweet gift to me.
By the time I woke up, the kids were asleep, a perfect time for uninterrupted, adult conversation. Though we had been together constantly during our trip, my husband I were missing each other. Being jammed in a hotel sardine can doesn't make for many romantic moments.
What he said next is one of those things I've never forgotten, the kind of thing that fans flame in a quarter century-old marriage (though at the time, we had been married 18 years).
"I had a chemical reaction to you."
My cocked head and squinchy eyes asked him to explain, so he did.
"When I looked at you while you were sleeping, my body reacted to you. I looked away, then looked at you again, and the same thing happened."
Quite possibly, no sweeter words the man has ever spoken.
All these years into a marriage, I know that feelings don't always
reflect love; particularly ooey-gooey honeymoon, fairytale,
cartoon-hearts-circling-your-head kinda love.
Yet, without a word, without a touch, the very sight of me stirred something within my husband that attested to his affections for me.
If that isn't testimony to the power and the wonder of a woman, I don't know what is.
Q. Can you think of an exchange in marriage or friendship that testifies
to the power and beauty of your relationship?
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