After our last vacation together, my wife said, “Never again! All you do is mope, and complain, and wish you were home. Next time, I’m going by myself!”
She was right, right, right. I’m a homebody. When I’m on vacation, I think about all the things at home that I could be getting done. I count the days until the nose of the car points toward home.
Our vacation last May to Williamsburg, Va., with just the two of us, was what did it for her. I love history, and she hates history, but she tried very hard to keep me happy. We spent a day at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va., burial sites of Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals George Pickett and JEB Stuart, actor Clifton Webb and mobster Bugsy Siegal. We visited my cousin Lenny, author of a ton of books on the Appalachian Trail. We toured the museum at Tredegar Ironworks, where the South made cannons and cannonballs.
I should have been happy as a lark, but I was moody, morose, melancholy – all those sad “M” words – because I would rather have been home.
We decided to eat out once a day. She let me pick the restaurants. At each one I found fault with my meal order. I blamed it on a run of bad luck. She blames my attitude.
“You can’t blame me for the pancakes,” I said in my defence. “I ordered strawberry pancakes and they came with no strawberries.”
“And when they put some on, you still weren’t happy.”
“All they did was cut up a couple of strawberries and dump them on top. I even had to ask for the whipped cream.”
That’s pretty much how the vacation went.
WHEN WORSHRAG’S wedding last Labor Day had to be postponed because of his bride’s emergency appendectomy, they stood to lose the cost of their honeymoon reservation in Gatlinburg, Tenn., because the resort would give them neither refund nor credit. Honey and a sister went and had a nice time. I stayed home and rebuilt the deck.
Last March, when Honey’s other sister moved to Jacksonville, Fla., to be with her daughter’s family, Honey promised to come visit her for a couple of weeks every winter. Call it cabin fever, call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, call it what you want, Honey gets it bad during the dregs of a long, cold, snowy winter. She wants to go South where it’s hot.
She said I wasn’t allowed to go because I would spoil the trip. She would get her other sister to go with her, and that was fine with me.
As time for the trip came near, however, the other sister said she couldn’t go.
The only one who will go is a grandson, Bob. Bob is good company, but he’s only 15 and can’t help drive. It’s a long drive to Jacksonville, especially when she’s taking a side trip to deliver a cooler of frozen beef to Worshrag and Busy Bee at Ft. Bragg, NC There was no room for it when they moved last October.
When I tentatively suggested that I could go to help drive, Honey’s reaction was predictable.
“No! Absolutely not! I want to have a nice visit with my sister, and you’ll just be a curmudgeon.”
Later, when I renewed the offer, she said, “Tell the truth: do you really want to go?”
WHEN I HESITATED, she had her answer.
Just why had I offered to go? I asked myself.
Two weeks away from home. hmm. I like the beach. The ocean isn’t far. Neither is St. Augustine. Loads of history there. Bob and I could go if Honey doesn’t want to. I’m sending boards in the car to Busy Bee to make raised garden beds. I could help her put them together.
I thought on it, and gave Honey time to think on it, before bringing the subject up again. The beach, St. Augustine, garden beds: those things weren’t why I wanted to go.
“You’re my wife,” I told her. “It’s a long trip. I would worry. I should be with you.”
It was her turn to hesitate.
“That’s very sweet,” Honey said, and the tone of her voice told me it was settled.
“I’ll be good,” I said. “I promise.”