Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An Audacious Plan

I heaved the laundry basket out of the way to check the dryer for loose socks. Those things went missing at an alarming rate. Aha! There it was, stuck to the side. A black crew-cut.

I overturning the basket on the bed and set to sorting, folding, stacking, and stashing. One more task checked off the list. One more mundane activity. One step closer to taking my shoes off and collapsing in front of Poirot reruns.

Photo by Shawn Harquail

Mondays made me fatalistic. This Monday was no different, as Steve had mentioned that we should plan our annual family vacation. Really? Did we have to discuss it? It would be Iowa. It was always Iowa. Cornstalks, flat fields, pigs, cornstalks, windmills, bad food, cornstalks, the occasional tulip, cornstalks. I questioned my choice of corn-on-the-cob for dinner.

Just because Steve had one million relatives who were still alive and begging to see him and I had no one besides two old uncles in Georgia, we were condemned to a lifetime of two-week expeditions to corn country. Every. Single. Year.

On my journey back toward the laundry closet, I glimpsed a purple-spotted heel peeking out from beneath the coffee table. Well, that was one sock that would have to wait until next week. I bent to pick it up and noticed it was acting as a bookmark in our picture book of Scotland. I opened it to the page on Inverness.

There it was: the land of my dreams. Rolling green hills, mysterious castles, lochs sparkling with sunlight or obscured by mist...it was a fairy tale come true.

A wild thought crossed my brain. What about Scotland? What if we ditched the in-laws this year and got two tickets to Edinburgh International Airport? The idea was too wild. I grabbed the sock and fled.

Once the mind gives birth to an idea, it's a hard thing to kill. All day long—as I vacuumed, called a friend, picked the kids up from school, seared steaks—the back of my mind churned. Scotland meant emerald fields, tea shops, ancient ruins—a land that lurked in my daydreams.

Steve came home for dinner, loosened his tie, and took a seat at the table just as the corncobs came out of the microwave. "Steve, I've got a thought."

"Mmmhmm." He didn't look at me, just put his napkin on his lap and reached for a roll.

"I mean, it's kind of crazy, but I can't get over it."


I thought I'd better just go for it. "What if we go to Scotland this year?"

That got his attention. "Scotland? Like, the country? Why?"

"Well, you have two weeks of vacation, and we've never traveled overseas. Wouldn't it be an adventure?"

Steve got a look in his eye that said he was debating the pros and cons of having an insane wife. "But, we always see my family in Iowa."

I took a bite of steak and rolled it around in my mouth for a moment. "I know, honey, but wouldn't you like a change?"

Steve’s eyebrows raised, his lips set in a thin line, and his eyes focused on mine. He was trying to figure out whether or not I was joking. I decided to remove all doubt. "I researched ticket prices. If we leave next Tuesday, we could get two round-trip tickets for $1,300. It's a great deal."

He spat out a mouthful corn. "$1,300? Just to fly?" Maybe he saw something in my eyes then—the look of a woman who has been hunting for socks and wrestling children and paying bills all day (or all year, for seven years). "I mean, I guess...you really want to?"

"'Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.' Mark Twain said that, not me. I think it would be good for us!"

Steve wiped steak sauce off his lower lip and stared into his lemonade for five minutes. When he looked up, he said, "Do I have to eat haggis?"

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