This year we celebrated our fifteenth anniversary by beginning a three day road trip to Florida. (Though we thought it was our sixteenth Oops. Not sure when we started the miscount, but I do know we celebrated our fifteen year anniversary last year. Which made this fifteenth a bit anticlimactic.) But what more appropriate way to celebrate fifteen (Right? Yes. Ok.) years of marriage than by road tripping with our progeny?
An hour into the drive, Lily puked all over the back seat, the Starbucks pastry bag not quite up to the vomit challenge. Then we hit rain which lasted for most of the day, then a pretty bad dinner at a disappointing brewery, then missed the exit to our hotel by many miles. To top it off, we realized I left my purse at the sub-par restaurant twenty miles back, so Marc drove to get it while I put the kids to bed two hours late. But here’s the thing: there were moments of pure beauty within that mess of a day. Moments when fifteen years of marriage showed. Where countless hours of learning each others’ habits and moods, the act of co-mingling our passions and interests, the bond of having babies and loving them together, creating a family of our own – all of that – came into play.
We stopped for boba (bubble tea), one of our long-time favoritist things even though it was out of the way. Because we like it. Because it’s our thing. We listened to NPR stories, podcasts, audio books and the Muppets soundtrack because that’s what we do. We ate at a brewery because Marc loves beer. We played the alphabet game because our kids enjoy it and have yet to learn the state capitals. We worked as a team – Marc driving and me dishing out snacks; acting as mediator between disgruntled children; manning the air conditioning, and then we switched. If I was going to paint a picture of a Havener family road trip it would include these things. It is us. It’s what we’ve built, for better or worse. The puke, the missed exits, the rain – just the unexpected parts, wrapped up in the usual stuff.
The usual. I love that we have a usual.
After two more days of fairly uneventful travel we arrived at the beach. It was our third year staying in the same house, walking to the same stretch of sand with the same wagon, riding bikes to the same pizza place overlooking the ocean. We have a history there now. Another thing that’s ours together. Another usual. We ate breakfasts on the porch, dinners around the dining room table or at our typical haunts, took a now traditional bike ride through Watercolor, swam in the same neighborhood pool. There were enough new things to make this trip it’s own: the rainstorm with the towering double rainbow, the new popsicle shop, our first year of jellyfish stings. But it was surrounded by the familiarity of our usual vacation. Like a big hug. I’m not saying we’ll do the same thing every year, or that we should. But it was an appropriate celebration of fifteen years of building this thing we call our family. Just right, in fact. I may even want to celebrate our real 16 year anniversary the same way.