Pulling into the garage, my heart was racing. I’d never done anything this bold in our marriage before, but I was hoping it would make up for my selfishness the previous weekend.
Jim had been so sweet that Saturday afternoon, patting the spot on the loveseat next to him, probably hoping to dazzle me with the oceanic scenery on his laptop. “So Punkin’,” he said, “Wanna go away with me?”
I snuggled in close. “There? Looks beautiful. Where is it, Hawaii?”
“Okay, off to finish the laundry,” I said as I stood, knowing that would stop the guessing game.
“It’s Australia. Near the Great Barrier Reef.” He seemed to study my reaction as he patted the spot next to him again.
“Riiiiiiight. Keep dreamin, Sweetie.” I returned to my spot and he nudged the laptop closer to me.
“Actuallyyy…” he teased.
He can’t be serious. “Jim. It’s AUSTRALIA. That’s like, a long, loooong ways away.”
He clicked on the next picture. “I know, but I was thinking we’d take a few weeks next Christmas—and just go. We talked about wanting to go there early in our marriage, remember? It’s got coral reefs like no other, and matchless beaches. Add in the famous spots in Sydney, and it’s the perfect vacation.”
“I can’t believe you’re considering Australia, Jim. We don’t even have passports…But if we were thinking along those lines, wouldn’t we go to New Zealand? Jody lives there, and she was one of my best friends in high school. She’d be livid if we went all that way and didn’t see her.”
Jim continued clicking Australia photos. “I considered New Zealand. It’d be heaven to go there too, but we don’t have enough time to do both. Believe me, we don’t even have enough time to see all that Australia has to offer.
“Wait.” I glared at him as his face flushed red. “Did you already book the tickets?”
He closed the laptop abruptly. “I thought you’d be excited. Y’know, floored at my romantic spontaneity. I had no idea you’d respond this way,” he groaned, putting the laptop in its case. “Just forget it. The tickets are only on hold anyway.”
Oh dear. I sighed and touched his crouching shoulder. “Jim, I love that you wanted to surprise me. I’m sorry I responded that way. It’s just that I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand to see Jody. She emails me about their kayacking and hydro-slidng adventures. And did you know last Christmas they wore paper crowns? Of course, Australians may do that too…some English tradition I think—but anyway…I know you were trying to do something special for us. I was caught off guard. Could we discuss it a little further?”
Jim touched my hand and said, “Sure. But later, okay? I need to go for a drive. Clear my head.”
I knew he needed his space, so I let him go, but I couldn’t help wishing I’d reacted differently. Lovingly.
* * *
So, even though I’d never done anything this spontaneous before, I couldn’t wait to see the look on Jim’s face. It must’ve been so difficult for him to cancel those tickets. He told me that he was embarrassed he’d been “so impulsive.”
After having prayed about it with some friends at church, I’d made my bold decision. Now, as I pulled into the garage, Jim was organizing his tool bench. He had a glimmer in his eye as he met me at the car, opening my door for me.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” we said in harmony.
I gave him a wink. “Well, my surprise is better than your surprise,” I argued, rubbing my hands over my purse as if it were a discovered gold mine.
“Oh no, my dear. Mine is definitely better…” He pulled an itinerary out of his flannel shirt pocket and pointed as I read the words “NEW ZEALAND!”
Oh dear. “That’s, um, great. WOW, that’s quite a surprise alright.” Swallowing a thick lump of pride, I took the tickets to AUSTRALIA out of my purse and looked at Jim with eyes full of tears. “What’re we gonna do? We’re booked in two different countries at the same time?”
Jim smiled and helped me out of the car. “I told you my surprise was better. I found out when I called the travel agent that you’d booked the other, so I rearranged the dates to the whole month of December. Australia AND New Zealand, here we come!”
***Author's note: This piece is dedicated to my incredibly adventurous and spontaneous husband, who plans to take our family to both countries this upcoming December (2009). I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time, Sweetie. I hope to be writing a whole new story about Australia and New Zealand with you next year!
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