So, some of you know this story, or if it seems familiar to you, it was one of my submissions into an ebook, that some friends put together, a couple years ago. Since today is the 20th anniversary of my wife and I being married, I just thought it would be a good idea to post this, somewhat lost story, here. For you all.
When I got married, I knew everything there was to know about being a good husband. I’m pretty sure that my wife knew everything there was about being a good wife. The thing is, when you get married, you take everything you know about being a husband or wife, throw it out the window, and start writing a whole new playbook.
I need to back up a little bit here. It’s not like one day I wasn't married then the next I was. Well....yes, I suppose, but not really. My wife and I had lived together for a while before getting married. Actually, she was pregnant with our second kid when the ceremony took place. That wasn’t quite the plan. It was supposed to take us a while to get pregnant. (HER to get pregnant) We thought there would be a chance at a baby being in her belly by the time the wedding came along in June. Not that she would be visibly pregnant! Seems, together we have exceptionally fertile, baby-making, super powers.
The day after our wedding, and after the gift opening, and after everybody left, my pregnant wife and I struck out on our honeymoon to the coast in a 12 foot borrowed truck camper.
Oh ya, it was raining.
Now, somewhere along the process of getting married, someone gave us a night’s stay at a hotel in the city that has theme rooms. That was our first stop. Without actually going on a holiday, you can drive to the city and stay in a room that looks like you’re in a jungle, having a sleep over on Gilligan’s Island. Or, if you have a little redneck in you, you can stay in a room and sleep in a bed fashioned in the box of a pick-up. Classy things like that. For some reason, we stayed in the Igloo room. Because, I guess, nine months of winter isn’t quite enough if you’re a Canadian and we felt the need to recreate the frosty bitterness of the dead of winter by sleeping in a bed shaped like an Eskimo home in the middle of June. Each room also comes with a hot tub and complimentary champagne for newlyweds. Neither of which we could properly take advantage of because our kid was hitching a ride in my wife’s belly.
Even though we had been with each other for a few years, this was the first time that we were going off on an adventure all by ourselves. Together and in love, we headed for the west coast. It’s about a fourteen hour drive straight through. At the time, and because I was the guy, I had a sense of the things I had to do for my wife. Things that are my job. Like making sure that I’m on the traffic side when we’re walking down the street. Just in case I have to hurl myself in front of an out of control car to protect her. Things like pushing the shopping cart so people don’t wonder why the Hell that lazy bastard is making his wife do it. And making the fire if that’s how we intend to cook. Except I couldn’t make a fire in the rain. My pregnant wife had to crawl down out of the back of the camper to get the fire going, while I watched, so we could cook supper in the campground. That made me a little bit pouty. And also, because it was raining and we couldn’t go for a walk or anything, we found a Yatzee game in the camper and she attempted to teach it to me. Then she kicked my ass at it and that made me even more pouty. I was a little less manly than I thought I was. (because of course, while fire making is indeed manly, succeeding at yatzee is the ultimate test of ones masculinity.)
For a pregnant lady, a truck camper isn’t exactly the most luxurious of accommodations. I had a step made but it consisted of about ten different pieces and was wobbly as hell. Not really the sort of thing to go skipping on up to the tail gate for a woman in a family way. And campers can be hot. Too hot for a belly full of baby. Then there’s the little thing that our bedroom consisted of about two and a half feet of crawl space over the truck cab. Another climb for the pregnant lady. All that and the fact it doesn’t allow for much room for a couple of newlyweds to fool around on their honeymoon. Although, it occurs to me that there have probably been plenty of kids conceived in those cramped quarters. It’s cozy, I guess you just need to be imaginative?
Being a farm kid and growing up on a gravel road, I wasn’t really prepared for the traffic in down town Vancouver. Firstly, the streets have names of people and things. This might be OK if you live there and are used to that, but if you aren’t, it’s a horrible nightmare to navigate. There’s probably a good idea why they don’t do it but to me, numbered streets make way more sense. I think that we might have gotten into a heated discussion about how far we were from Stanley Park because my wife couldn’t read the map since she had forgotten her glasses, which she rarely even wore at that time. Then, as the traffic crawled along downtown, the truck started to overheat from lack of air movement and we got stuck in an intersection when the light changed and the people started walking across the street and trapped us there. It was a little stressful for me. There’s a good chance that I swore.
Something I can do is change a tire. But when you get a flat on the narrowest road in the province that every car in the lower half of British Columbia happens to be traveling on while you are changing that tire on the traffic side, chances are, you’re going to get a little testy.
We had always said, that the first thing that we were going to do together as a married couple when we got to Vancouver Island, was stop at the first nice restaurant and have a fresh lobster supper. And we did. It was late when the ferry docked and off we went. As the daylight faded everybody else with campers and trailers started looking for a place to camp, we had a wonderful feast of lobster and melted garlic butter. I remember that it was delicious but when you are completely unfamiliar with the area, it’s not a bad idea to find accommodations BEFORE it gets dark and then eat. It was close to midnight by the time we found a place to park and set up our camper for the night. Also, turns out lobsters come from the east coast.
It wasn’t a complete disaster of a trip. We did fun things and laughed and figured problems out by ourselves. One of my favorite memories is going to Flintstone Park. It doesn’t exist anymore. Most likely a lot of kids don’t even know who the Flintstones were. But it was raining and everyone else hid in the gift shop and thought we were idiots while we played mini-golf in the rain. That memory makes up for a lot of the less than fun stuff that happened.
A honeymoon is the first step a couple takes together as a married partners. Even marriage is a test at times. Sometimes you win, sometimes you fail. What you take from those experiences and apply to the future, determines whether you will be successful at it or not. Eighteen years since that first trip together, we’re still writing our playbook. I can make a fire in the rain because my wife taught me how. She wears her glasses all the time now and because of that, together, there isn’t any place we can’t get to with her as navigator. I still try to walk on the traffic side of the street and sometimes, if she wants to, even though it still bothers me, I let her push the shopping cart.