"It seems like such a simple thing, but how much time do we spend laughing with our spouses and enjoying their company? In our daily interactions, appropriate humor can defuse tense situations and counter negative reactions to some of the troubles of life. Laughter and a cheerful disposition can create a bond of friendship. They are medicine for the heart and lighten the troubled soul.” (Carin Lund, Ensign, August 2000)
You know how relatively little time Dale and I have together because of his business travels. So, it was a twist of irony that -- when he finally lined up a whole week at home earlier this month -- circumstances took ME away to Florida (Dream House), while HE stayed home with Ashley (Angel Talkin). I consoled myself musing about “compensatory blessings” (What You Don’t Have or Have Lost) and sure enough! he got a second week knocked off his regular itinerary! When I returned, we hit the road TOGETHER for Hannah's concert at BYU, Grant's 23rd birthday, and Easter.
What a glorious 12 hours in the car -- non-stop conversation. Come Monday morning however, I was in the Provo Regional Medical Center, diagnosed with shingles! The wonder of it is that as I sat for hours on the emergency room gurney, my honey, rather than huff frustration and disappointment, continued the conversation. Running now for 31 years (from far and near) this conversation is part practical, part pleasure, part daydream, part counsel, part observation, part opinion. We call it “Solving the World’s Problems.”
We also like to reminisce, as most couples do, or should. Not only does re-living shared-memory act like crazy glue on hearts, on that morning in the hospital (as it has so many tough times before) reminiscing gave us the right dose of perspective: the best possible prescription.
This is what we remembered…
Two days and nights in Salt Lake City; not exactly the exotic honeymoon a boy or girl dreams about, but with the pocketbooks and planners of university students, it was the best we could do. Our professors expected the new "Mr. & Mrs." back to campus in time for winter semester finals.
Our reminicing wasn't about those two days though. It was about five years and two babies later when the chance for a "real" honeymoon finally presented itself. For years we had dreamed...and in the weeks leading up to our great Hawaiian adventure, we ate, slept, and spoke of almost nothing else: visions of solitary strolls on the beach, hand in hand, timid waves glancing our bare feet. We would return a radiant brown, renewed by strange vistas, quiet nights, and lazy days.
On page one of our photo album we are framed by a sagging palm tree and a stop sign at the airport. Our get-a-way was not yet a postcard one, but we could smell it from there. That night we had dinner at an outdoor table on Waikiki Beach. The same breeze which ruffled our hair sent pink clouds chasing across an amber sky. Flaming torches lit our faces...which occasionally broke from concentrating on each other, to look out over the violet sea; sails and ships were silhouetted against a glorious sunset.
It was the beginning - and the end - of a dream come true.
The next day, we decided to snorkel off Hanauma Bay. Having a touch of stateside practicality still in hand, I lathered up with my #45 sunscreen. I was generous to every appendage except my head and (accidentally) a little triangle of peach just below my shoulder. Dale, on the other hand (a Californian by birth) thought nothing of absorbing ultra-violet rays in the raw. An experienced snorkeler, he "geared" us both up for our undersea exploration - BUT - despite the best flippers money could rent - I just couldn't overcome my fear of the deep. A couple of fainthearted attempts to navigate the reef left me smarting with lacerations where unforgiving corral had met unpracticed diver. Dale, of course, evaded similar injury. He moved with ease through the water; but that was the last time he moved with ease on our entire vacation.
Scorched from top to bottom, his inflamed skin progressed gradually from a concerning pink to an alarming red. The sun's effect on me was more immediate. The moment we got back in the car, I screamed with horror into the rear view mirror. What was that big, red balloon I used to call my face?! I had no eyes, no nose, no chin; just a bloated crimson sphere with a crop of curls on top.
Frightened, we hastened to the hotel and hobbled to our sanctuary. Blisters had begun to swell between our toes. Though they were the preferred foot-gear of the tropics, we were more accustomed to rubber boots than rubber thongs.
Inside our room even bed sheets were painful to the touch. We were burning up. What could be more soothing than a cool swim? Diving out the window to sizzle in the hotel pool provided a few minutes of relief...but, as we began to pucker up like sun-dried tomatoes, we headed back . Toweling off, Dale suddenly knew he was in trouble. An ominous sting began to creep up his shins, his already irritated pores now infected with chlorine! The sting blossomed into a full-body itch, and the rest of the long night was spent trying to purge his enraged epidermis. Countless runs to the drug store proved ineffective. We were beyond desperation -- nothing would stop that itch. Of course by now, the fire had spread to Dale's brain and my island-lover had become a mad-man. His only salve and salvation, at last, was to sit in the bathroom, beside a scalding shower, steam and sweat working their magic.
In the morning we learned that our welcome to paradise was not yet over. Dale had a rocketing fever and throbbing pain inside both ears. An expensive trip to the doctor confirmed our own diagnosis: infection caused by entrapped water. Sensitive to the touch and yowling in agony, all we could do for the next several days was to administer medicine every two hours and watch all-night reruns of "Hawaii Five-O".
When we finally braved the world of the living (on our last day of "vacation"), we moved with the speed and agility of injured skiers in full body casts. Somehow we managed to taste fresh Dole pineapple, cry a little at Pearl Harbor, and sit very still in the canoes of the Polynesian Culture Center.
As we waved Hawaii good-bye from the clouds, we knew that the “next time” we would give ourselves at least three weeks: the first for exposing ourselves to the hostile Hawaiian environment, the second for recovery, and the third...well, we never really did have that Honolulu honeymoon. Although...by the time we get around to going back...T-shirts for grandchildren and viewing Hanauma Bay from a tour bus will be all the romance we'll need.
Oh. And a lot of wonderful conversation.
Muse with me: How have you seen enjoyable conversation strengthen your marriage or other's marriages? Though there's not a Hawaiian Vacation drawing for commentors on this one -- how about dinner for two? On May 17th, I'll draw for a $30 gift certificate to the favorite chain restaurant of a lucky fellow Muser and their honey.