In Honor of Nate

Nate tells me I need more humor here. More funny-Sara posts. This is typically not hard for someone who has awkward-and-uncomfortable-at-the-moment-but-later-very-funny anecdotes that follow her like Pigpen’s dust cloud.

However, the intensity of this adoption has distracted me from noticing the wake of funny I’m leaving behind me everywhere I go. (This is the same sort of distraction I blame for my latest red-light ticket — last month.)

My dear sweet birthday boy has reminded me, however, that laughter is one of God’s greatest medicines. And since the interaction I had in the parking lot last week with a woman who all but pulled a full beauty salon out of her bag to help me with Eden’s hair is still too sensitive for me write about, I will tell you about another memorable birthday of Nate’s.

His treasured thirtieth birthday:

I decided the boy needed a surprise. Very few moments of my daily life are untouched by at least an attempted plan, therefore, my husband has begun to crave (planned-by-me) spontaneity.

I decided to surprise him for his 30th and take him camping.

For most of you, this is no big deal. But for me, who has a hard time when we lose power for a few hours, camping just about gives me hives. I knew that adding surprise to the very thing I already decided I’d dislike if I ever tried it — and which Nate had developed all sorts of childhood memories around — was dynamite. (Not to mention that, for weeks in advance, I made a habit of discussing just how much I disliked camping. Just so he’d think my plan, when unveiled, was an even bigger sacrifice. :))

We’ll leave out the part that he found me out three days before (and saved me from having to construct a scavenger hunt that would lead him to the trail-head start of our camping trip) when he looked at my grocery list and saw “propane tank.” I think he said something like “how do you know what a propane tank is?” when he saw it.

To start with, I asked advice from friends who didn’t take me at my word when I said “I really am not the camping type” and still sent us into what I’m sure was the deepest ravine in the Blue Ridge. To sleep, of all things.

Two minutes into the hike down the only valley in the Blue Ridge mountains, we broke their hiking stick. I can’t remember who did it — I blocked that out of my mind. But it cost us nearly $100 to replace.

When we got to where our friends suggested we camp, I thought to myself surely they gave us the wrong directions. I mean, this place, in late afternoon, was dark. No potential for a star-lit night under which we could share our deepest hopes, dreams, secrets and desires for the next decade of our lives together and no moon to reveal if Winnie-the-Pooh was hiding behind the corner to eat us.

So we kept hiking. “There has to be a better spot, let’s not settle” became my new response for every place Nate suggested we stop and set up camp for the night.

We hiked for about 4 hours before I caught the first whiff of what might be frustration from the birthday boy towards his wife — who was trying very hard to not be high maintenance. I successfully reigned it in and became much more willing to bend, but (thank God) by that point our options were even more sparse.

The combination of my usually-resourceful over-packing skills and my heretofore latent fear of sleeping under a canopy of really tall trees, left my rugged groom with a tough decision: Does he coax me into fulfilling what, a few hours earlier, had been a really cool birthday adventure at the expense of (what I argued was) my life?

Seven hours later, our packs were still sixty pounds. And we discovered that our hike to the ravine had an uphill ending that left us right back at the car.  Who knew it was a loop?!

We didn’t even crack open the cool camping stove to cook the yummy gourmet enchiladas I’d prepared for us.

So, what was intended to be a birthday camping trip ended up more like boot-camp for marrieds. A seven-hour hike, down-hill and back up, sixty pound packs, and a growing intensity as my expectations for a five-star camping experience collided with Nate’s desires to simply see his birthday gift come to fruition.

I gave him the option to camp in the back of the Explorer?

I spent the ride home pretending to be deflated and share in Nate’s disappointment, hoping he couldn’t tell I was secretly ecstatic that I was going to sleep in my bed that night.

Win/win. I planned an awesome trip that made me look like the granola wife Nate never had and I got to wash my face and floss my teeth before climbing under my 400-threadcount sheets.

The bubble bath the next morning washed away any second thoughts I might have (pretended to have) about our aborted camping trip.

Epilogue: Three years later, I redeemed the averted camping experience and we had a blast. See, He makes all things new!

So there. Happy Birthday Nate!

Note: this post was an edited version of an earlier post. I am drawing from old wells for my humor these days :).