I was sweating the schedule, big time. We were supposed to be on the road but he wanted to meander the sidewalk a bit more slowly, take a few additional photos, drive to peek at the golf course. I tried my hardest to push him along, all while bursting with a big secret. He did not know why I wanted to rush off from this lovely location so soon.
When my husband turned thirty years old, I set up a big surprise. He knew we were going on a trip and I told him what type of clothes to select for the suitcase. Other than that, he was kept in the dark. I drove the car and with his knack for maps, he continually guessed destinations.
On Friday night that week, we stopped in Savannah at a lovely hotel with a comfortable room and a sparkling view of the lights along the river. He thought we were done, but I informed him that we had another trek in the morning. We were staying just one night. He thought the surprises were over, but I had a big trick up my sleeve.
What my husband did not know was that I had arranged for his south Florida-based family to meet us at the second location. For months prior, I secretly emailed and spoke with them, searched for upscale accommodations to fit ten people in locales that did not require significantly more drive time for one group vs. another. I pinpointed St. Simons Island, which happens to be almost an exact midpoint from where they lived at the time and our suburb of Atlanta.
So while my dear almost-thirty-year-old husband was meandering and snapping photos and becoming frustrated with my "go, go, go" attitude, I was sweating the schedule. I knew his entire family would be sitting in a random outlet mall food court, wondering where we were and why it was taking so long. I knew they needed a precise time of arrival so they could get situated and surprise him without a hitch.
We did not have text messages back then. They did not know that we were significantly late. I managed to sneak a quick phone call when he stepped away for a bathroom break:
"We are running behind. Expect us in 25 minutes - BE READY. He's coming, gotta go... bye!"
Finally, we arrived at the meeting point. I claimed that once again, I had to visit the restroom. I somehow explained why I had to use the restroom at the outlet mall, and why I insisted on finding a bathroom location in the food court, which turned out to be all the way around the main building... and (oops) abandoned.
He reluctantly followed me in the empty and dingy former food court, surely thinking I had lost my mind. I believe he began to protest (he had seen a restroom sign elsewhere) when he got quite a shock!
Out popped his mother, sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephew. People who were supposed to be in an entirely different state on a regular Saturday in May. He was speechless and may have turned an interesting shade of red.
Eventually, I was able to explain that we were going to St. Simons for three more nights. But we weren't going alone! We had all taken vacation days and chipped in on a luxurious four-bedroom condo with an ocean view.
We spent a long weekend all together with cake and swimming and family togetherness. I'd say that was a pretty good birthday gift.
Do I have to trump it when he turns forty soon?
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Linked up to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop (Thursdays). Prompt: "the best gift you ever gave"