Monday, July 18, 2011

Anniversary Trip: A Comedy of Errors

In a blissful state of ignorance, I woke up Friday morning at 6 am and almost put off going to the gym because I thought I would have plenty of time as the morning went on to exercise. But I did get up, I did go exercise, and it wasn't long before I found out just how full my morning and afternoon would be.

You see, Friday afternoon Lauren and I planned to head out on our anniversary trip to Indianapolis. If twice can be considered a tradition, then our tradition is to spend our anniversary--or thereabouts--in Indianapolis. Or thereabouts. I mean, we've never gone anywhere else, so it must be our anniversary place.

Some weeks ago, Lauren went on Priceline and reserved up a hotel... except that she only booked one night and they wanted some ridiculous sum to add a second night--something like twice what the other night was costing us. So it was back to the Priceline Negotiator, which shunted us off to another hotel for our other night. One could see that as an inconvenience or an opportunity--hey! we get to see a different part of Indianapolis and gain a valuable basis for comparison as to the quality of our hotel stay. Aren't we lucky?

So, besides the packing that I had to do--and the dishes and the childcare and all that--I sat down at some point Friday morning to map out where our hotels were and how to get from one to the other. I'd planned on figuring out where other places were as well until I ran into a snag. Well, the first snag was finding both of the reservations, because they were sent to different e-mail accounts (something to do with how many offers Priceline allows). That was a minor snag. A bigger snag was the fact that we had two hotels reserved for Saturday and none for Friday.

I called Lauren, who was not at all happy with herself. But what help was there for it now? She set about finding us a place to stay some few hours hence and I went back to doing the dishes. Doing the dishes is actually a very good place to do some thinking. Your hands occupied, your mind mostly free, the repetitive motions can sometimes knock something loose in the brain that needs to be jiggled a little bit, to put two and two together in a subconscious process much like that which sometimes happen while we sleep and then wake the next morning with the answer to some ticklish problem. As the plates and silverware jangled off one another, a few things jangled together in my head: 1) I hadn't been able to find the car key when I'd looked for it this morning, nor when I'd looked last night; 2) we only have one car key now; 3) Lauren was the last person to drive the car and, presumably still had the key; 4) the lone remaining key to our car was almost certainly in South Bend, an hour away. I called Lauren, and while "shit" is not a direct answer to "Do you know where the car key is?"--well, it's direct enough.

She didn't feel like she could borrow her colleague's car to bring the key to me, even if she could leave the work she was supposed to be doing. I didn't see how I could take two hours out of my schedule and still pack everything and rendezvous in a timely fashion with my in-laws who were taking both our 2-legged and our 4-legged children off our hands for the weekend. And, of course, I didn't think I could take that time even if it was somehow possible to take Thea with me, which it wasn't, since her car seat was neatly locked in the car. We have a truck and we're constantly talking about "what a big girl" our daughter is, but she's not that big, not yet.

Lauren suggested calling our new friend Allison, one of her new colleagues in the science department. We me Allison, her husband, and their daughter earlier in the summer, taking her out to dinner once to welcome her to town and having them all over for dinner on Independence Day. Nice folks, and their daughter is just a few months older than Thea. Maybe, suggested Lauren, they could watch our girl while I made the trip up. Well, it wasn't the worst plan we had.

So Lauren gave me Allison's number and I called it. A man answer it. Her husband? Her husband... her husband... oh hell. What was his name? I am lousy with names, and his wasn't on the back of my tongue, much less the tip. "Hi." A solid opening. "This is John Sherck." In the silence that ensued, he was no doubt going through his own mental rolodex. "Lauren and I" (I offer some contextual reminder of who I am) "were wondering if you and Allison could do us a huge favor." Clever, eh? Confirm I have the right number by throwing out the name I do remember. "Okay," he says. I explain our situation and he tells me that they have nanny interviews scheduled for the whole day... but they do have an extra car seat that I could borrow to use in the truck. Great. He--Brian, Lauren later reminded me--came over and it turned out that after some small discussion they didn't think another toddler underfoot would be any great impediment to their interviews--anyway, our kids get along fabulously--so I packed her into their back seat and sent her on her way.

Which, of course, wouldn't be the last time I would abandon her that day. But anyway, I spent a little over two hours just getting the car key, then grabbed a quick bite to eat, threw random baby items into random bags, since I wasn't quite certain what Lauren had and hadn't already packed for the trip over the river and through the woods. With baby packed in her car seat and dog packed in hers--that is, sitting on my lap Britney-style--we started our two-and-a-half hour drive to meet my in-laws. Then I detoured into the South Bend / Mishawaka area to pick up our farm share vegetables before coming home, where Lauren has returned once she realized that it made absolutely no sense to wait at Notre Dame for me.

Hours driven to this point: roughly 7 1/2.
Hours left to drive that day: 2

And so anxious was Lauren to finally get underway that she wouldn't even give me time to heat up something to eat, so I had to manage this leg on a more or less empty stomach. Let me tell you: Lauren is lucky to have a husband with such a good sense of humor, otherwise we might very well have needed both of those hotels for Saturday night and yet another on Friday besides!

As it was, we had a very nice, if unnecessarily expensive, trip to Indianapolis this past weekend, and our anniversary should consider itself well and truly celebrated. We saw HP7 pt 2, visited a yurt factory and decided we could probably stand to live in a yurt for a decade or more, ate at some very good restaurants, and visited more malls in one weekend than we have in the past year. But all that is a story for another post.

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