Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hawaiian Magic

"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. 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.


DeNae said...

My first experience with snorkeling was on a semi-cloudy day, and I adapted just fine. That meant I swam blissfully around the bay for three uninterrupted hours -- while the UV demons did their worst on my back.

It didn't help that I had -- ahem -- a wedgie. Which meant that there was a 2-inch wide, rainbow-shaped segment of ME which had never seen the light of day, until then.

I also relate to the fact that a good marriage, while requiring the occasional formal respite (aka a vacation) is really just one day after another of 'doing your best to get it right'. Twenty-four years into this gig, I would still rather be with, gab with, laugh with my husband than anyone else in the world.

Mona said...

WOW! DeNae - you've done it again! Nailed it (in spite of the wedgie...)! I LOVE you!

Bri... only she said...

On labor day weekend (the weekend of our honeymoon), we curled up and watched a HUGE storm on the beach of Bear Lake, UT through the bay window of our comfy cabin. I have no complaints. ;)

I laughed and laughed at the "solving the World's problems bit." A very apt description! :D

Yay for having a private little paradise that exists between two very in-love people. What a wonderful example you have set for us!

Love you!!!

The cuddlers

Happy Mom said...

Reliving shared memories acts like crazy glue to our hearts. Love the thought! Soo true! No one knows or loves me like my Hubders because no one else has so many shared memories with me.

The story of the Hawaii trip was to typical of the times that we plan so carefully to have wonderful times together. I always find that my best moments with my man tend to be completely unplanned. The planned ones, maybe because I have such heightened expectations, don't usually live up.

Larsen's said...

wow! What a vacation!
My husband has taught me to have a little humor in things. I tend to be a little more serious.
I love sitting up at night with my husband after the kids are asleep and just laughing about little things about the day. Sometimes, when I am really tired just about anything can make me laugh. Thinking about our honeymoon gets me laughing...and I can't stop.
I am a sleep talker and I sat up in bed, scared my new husband to death by screaming that I was
5'6" a few times. On another night for some reason he yelled, "Good Night," so loud like I was in the other room but I was right beside him. It was too funny. Just thinking of it makes me laugh! I just have to Yell Good Night to my husband and we both laugh.
Thanks for your thoughts...I do think laughter is so very important. Especially while raising our children!! :-)

Mona said...

Bri: I'm so glad you got the real gist of it: "Yay for having a private little paradise that exits between tow very in-love people." That's it!

Happy Mom: You sound like you've been married long enough to get past fantasy and hit rock-solid wisdom. Hurray for the "best moments", which ARE usually "unplanned"!

Lason's: I've heard some funny honeymooner stories - but THAT one takes the cake! Toooo wonderful that you are still laughing!

Carrie said...

Carey and I have been laughing together for ten years now- and our goal is to never stop.
Our best days are spent together, talking about everything and nothing. Like DeNae said above, I'd rather hang out with my than with anyone else. There is nobody else in this world who knows and loves me like he does. Nobody who shares so many memories- both good and not so good, that we have worked through, grown through, and laughed through together.

John and Laura said...

Oh! What an experience. I hope you get a chance at honeymoon #...3? in Hawaii sometime soon. You have a great attitude.

With three small children, long stretches of uninterrupted time are infrequent and heavenly. It reminds us of how we felt when we dated, of the friendship we have (and that we don't have just a relationship of co-parenting!), of the blessing of being in love.

Thanks for the reminder.

Mallory said...

How funny! I definitely enjoy the time I get to spend talking with my hubby. We love taking random road trips. Over New Year's this past year, we were planning a trip to NYC to visit my sister and her husband. We -were- going to leave in the morning. But, my husband randomly said, at 8pm the night before we were planning on leaving,(because we were done packing) "Why don't we just leave now?" So we did! And we had the best night driving ever! The baby slept, and we kept eachother awake talking about everything. Bliss!

Lois Brown said...

We have a lot of vacations and travel times that end up not as planned - and we have said this so much that even our girls say it now when things don't go as planned when traveling 'in 2 weeks this will be a bonding experience' and it is so true the things that we always laugh about and retell at family reunions are the funny "bonding" moments we have had as a family. No one tells about the time everyhting went right but we all roll with laughter and relive the time that everything went wrong and the crazy things that you do to get out of it. i.e. I met my son-in-law for the 1st time and we were headed to Ogden to go to dinner and have him meet all of the Browns when the car broke down on the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere --- yes, thats the kind of first impression you want to make. But we laugh about everyone's comments in this situation and I personally shared an inside laugh with my husband who when he called me on my cell phone (because of course I was dealing with this on my own in Utah while he was in Texas) to see if I had called a tow truck and to make sure I was o.k....he who thinks he is funny said "What I want to know is did you swear in front of our new son-in-law" which brought on laughter from both of us and my comment of which i will not repeat!

What I find from these times is not only precious moments of solving the worlds problems together put the gaining of private inside jokes just between the two of you that make it fun even when your apart and help to put everything into persepective! What a joy to have 31 yrs of those!

And just so you know my new son-in-law won huge respect from me when he said..."this just made the weekend more of an adventure!" You gotta love someone like that!

Mona said...

Carrie: You two keep everyone else laughting as well! "There is nobody in this world who loves me and knows me like he does...." should be true of all marrieds...AND is why it is so crucial to treat each other with great deference - there is a lot of power to hurt as well as make happy in that, isn't there?

Laura: The "BLESSING of being in love"! What a way to put it. It's a gift and a blessing to settle with a partner we value so much -- then, the gifts of the Spirit (patience, kindess, longsuffering, love unfeined) are the only way to KEEPING and EXPANDING the blessing,

Mallory: Spontaneity make for some of our most treasured memories. Thank you for the reminder to all of us.

Lois: HAHAHAHA! I can just hear you and Alan! You are so right about it all. Can you believe we've made it 31 wonderful years, my dear, with those mena of ours? Marriage IS like a secret club, that only two people have the keys to. Inside jokes (usually from shared memory) are one on the keys on the ring.

Sara Lyn said...

A lot of these stories remind me of Elder Wirthlin's talk "Come What May and Love It." (That talk is on my top favorites list.)

We love talking and solving the world's problems. Boy, have we got it figured out! We just need a plan of how to get somebody to listen to us. :) Our best talking time is, of course, while we're laying in bed, supposed to go to sleep. Many times, my poor spouse is exhausted because he still has to get up on time, even when we've talked hours past midnight. But he says he wouldn't trade it for anything. And neither would I. Our relationship was built on good conversation and so far has continued on it. Here's to many talkative days to come.

Cougarg said...

I'm not yet married, but I know the principle. I found a group of friends when I came out to BYU that have persisted for the last ten years. As freshman and recently returned RM sophmores, we played games late into the night. One of the games we played is called roleplaying. There are a lot of rules, stats, and dice, but what it boils down to is group storytelling. Every time we got together it was like we wrote another chapter of a novel together. But not only did we write a new chapter, but we recounted all of our old stories, all of our reactions to what happened.

One by one, each of us have gotten married and left for parts elsewhere in a new life. But occasionally we come together for a wedding, call on a holiday, chat online late at night after their kids are in bed. And we relive some of those moments, not just our make-believe stories, but all of our adventures and misadventures. And it is almost like those things just happened.

I miss those guys and those times, but they are creating their own stories with their wives and families now. I've made other friends and had fun times with them, but each time I move or they move the bond is broken and the times we made together start to fade. These new times are just so short.

What I want, and what I hope I have found is a co-author for the stories that we will write together. I hope to write a multi-volume work, one of those that never seem to end. It will have comedy and tragedy, action and adventure, small moments and stunning drama. It probably will never be adapted for the screen, but I that won't bother me.

Kristy Lynne said...

Chuckle. So as I am feeling warm fuzzies about the whole "i'm not alone in this world of wrotten trips" I smell something. So I pull back the diaper to see if it's true and I stuff my finger right into it! It was oozing to the top. I let out an involuntary shriek and then laugh inside.

So, I guess life is unpredictable, eh?

It gets better. As I sit down to tell you of our lovely trip I hear Riiiiiiip from the velcro. He's gone and taken the new one off! I race to the rescue and secure it with a onesie and a hug. Chuckle.

Now about that vacation. Our dream vacation finally happened. It was accompanied by 30 screaming teens and 15 adult chaperons. We had some alone time on Fisherman's Warf and in China Town. The rest was a glorious time filled with ballroom instruction, whiney happy teens, and food allergies.

The details are a week long, so I'll spare you. But, funny enough it really was a wonderful bonding time with my sweetheart Brian.

P.S. Mona, I've really been enjoying your CD. I listen to it while I'm doing my Sunday tasks. Yesterday my 3 year old was dancing to the one about Ishmael's daughters. Thank you!

McAuliffe Bunch said...

I very much enjoyed the time we had on a drive from Utah to Michigan one winter. I know, winter is not the best time to drive, but we did it anyway! The hours we spent talking really strengthened our relationship. We spent hours talking about our hopes, dreams, family, etc. Anything, and everything, nothing was off limits.

As for taking a vacation, none of our vacations have ever gone as planned. We laugh at the time we took the train to Niagara falls, but didn't have hotel reservations when we got there and on the ride back, there was this crazy guy threatening to hurt some of the men (my dearly beloved included!). These experiences keep us laughing though. We have had so many experiences togetther and we love to remember and laugh together. What fun!

Mona said...

Here's a comment from Mattye, recieved via email:

I guess I would say that our conversations strengthen me and in turn strengthen our relationship. What I mean by that is for example; just this weekend Troy and I went on the Mt. Hood Railroad for our anniversary. The trip was fun and there was a man telling about the sights as we went along. The funny part was inevitably just as he would be saying something interesting the train whistle would blow and we wouldn’t be able to hear half of what he said. One thing he spoke about was a building used for storing the fruit from the orchards. I couldn’t hear what he said but because Troy has a background as a produce manager he was able to enlighten us with the information. I learned that they fill those buildings to the top with fruit then they suck the oxygen out of the buildings and fill it with a gas that brings the temperature to just a couple degrees above freezing and that keeps the fruit from ripening. Then they can leave it that way until they are ready to transport them to the grocery stores where we shop. I learned new things on this trip and mostly I give credit to my husband as he was knowledgeable about things that made me smarter. I also know that several of the things he says and does are to make sure I am taken care of. I feel like most of the time when we have an opportunity to be together if I just listen I can learn so much and it makes me proud to be married to a man who is humble yet quite smart.

Mona said...

Sara Lyn: Talking in bed is the best -- except when you're a Seminary teacher of course. I once heard a males Seminary teacher tell me that the best he could do is sort of groan and his wife would immediately exclaim: "What do you mean by THAT?"

Cougarg: YOU ARE PROFOUND! This is amazing romantic writing:

"What I want, and what I hope I have found is a co-author for the stories that we will write together. I hope to write a multi-volume work, one of those that never seem to end. It will have comedy and tragedy, action and adventure, small moments and stunning drama. It probably will never be adapted for the screen, but I that won't bother me."

I'm sure all my fellow sister
Musers are saying..."Catch this guy NOW!!!!"

Kristy Lynne: Life must be wonderful with you. I'll be your Brian would endure a lot more than poppy diapers, teens and chaperons to be with you. And THANK YOU so much for your kind words about the CD! The image of your little one dancing to "Bountiful" made my day!!!

McAullife Bunch: Niagra Falls!?! Too funny. I hope all those who are preparing for marriage are taking note: NOTHING ever quite turns out "as planned" but, as we used to say, "It's an Experience!"

Mattye: How important to listen, admire and respect what knowledge our partner can share with us! On our way to Utah, I found I was monopolizing the conversation, so I started asking questions about the windmills and cell towers we were passing and TA!DA! - Dale was off and running and loving it. Your point about just listening is wonderful. Too many us wives (me included) forget that! THANK YOU!!!!!!

Kira said...

Laughter is a great medication. Anger fades quickly with each dose.

Elisabeth said...

I feel like such a prude. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts on how laughter uplifts their marriage and I must agree. But the conversations my husband and I share are usually pillow talk about our day or issues in our family we are trying to address. We also study our scriptures before bed together as well. What I like about reading together is it gives us an opportunity to learn from one another and for me to remember why I love him so much; because of his love for the gospel. Reading scriptures together helps to deepen my knowledge of the gospel thereby strengthening my testimony, but it also helps me fall in love with my husband all over again as I listen to his wisdom and knowledge. I am so grateful to be married to a man who puts the Lord first in his life. He also helps me laugh too. Words are my love language, so regardless of what we are talking about, any conversation helps me feel loved by my husband and after almost 6 years of marriage I think he is starting to understand that need more.