My high school reunion is this Saturday.
Thirty years. 30.
It’s impossible to type that number and not be awestruck by how quickly time’s passed. Despite the reminder of how long ago we graduated (!!!) I’m looking forward to hugging dear friends I’ve seen recently…
…and hugging people I’ve seen only on Facebook since 2006.
Our reunion is local and would be easy for me to attend.
There’s just one problem: I might not go.
I have a reason—one that makes sense to me and my family—which is all that really matters. But I hope if I miss the reunion, everyone else will understand.
This fall we’re sending Jack to college in another state. Oregon, to be exact. And Karly’s planning to head to the same state the following fall. The tuition and housing costs are staggering. The price of plane trips to and from (for them, for us) is daunting, too.
So besides flying Gardners between California and Oregon, we have no other trips planned this year. Or next year. Or the next. Etcetera. This isn’t a complaint. We’re beyond grateful to have the opportunity to send two kids to college. But we still haven’t figured out exactly how we’re going to pay for it. We do know we shouldn’t spend money on anything frivolous.
This is one of the reasons we took no vacations this summer and why Bill and I haven’t planned our 20-year anniversary.
With Bill’s unpredictable work schedule and Jack’s job and three dogs and a tight budget, we do hope to swing a last-minute (inexpensive?) overnight or two. One as a foursome. One as a couple. Because 19 years of family is something to celebrate. So is 20 years of marriage.
I know for many people, even a single night away is a luxury; and if we can get away in the final weeks of summer, I’ll count myself fortunate.
But we have to wait until Bill has a weekend free from work to go somewhere (probably wine tasting). And if Jack gets the same weekend off and our neighbor can watch the dogs, our whole family will go somewhere we love. Maybe Santa Barbara (where there’s also wine tasting).
If the stars align this Saturday, I’ll be elsewhere with these goofballs.
Such perpetual spontaneity puzzles many people but it works for us. Bill is a sales consultant for spine implants and other instruments used in spinal surgery. He’s spent 15 years in the operating room with his doctors. He knows what they need, can anticipate problems.
When people ask why Bill can’t get someone to cover his territory, all I can say is this: He does. But it’s rare.
Usually we’re driving distance from the hospital.
Traumas happen 365 days a year, 24-hours a day. These surgeries are often complicated and Bill knows his doctors better than anyone else. If someone you loved were having surgery (ON THEIR SPINE) wouldn’t you want the very best person for the job in the room?
Of course you would.
Bill has missed some holidays and birthdays but we make these sacrifices because most of the time, he’s the very best person for the job. He worries sometimes he’ll be remembered by Jack and Karly as the dad who chose work over them. Over us. But we know better.
When he is here, Bill’s ALL IN, the kindest, most loving, involved father. Husband. Human.
He wants everyone else to be there for their loved ones too.
And sometimes on Saturday mornings there are no cases scheduled. No traumas come in, nothing Bill believes he must stick around for. On those occasions we take advantage of the freedom. I think we appreciate these times (perhaps even more) because they’re never guaranteed.
Then again, nothing in life is. Guaranteed, I mean.
Family comes pretty close though.
To me they’re everything.
A note from the author (me!): Yes, Tuck from Letters for Scarlet is in surgical sales and Corie is a teacher, but I chose those careers because I could relay them with decent authenticity. My book is fiction and we’re nothing like the characters.
If you haven’t read LFS and want to see the storylines and characters I created, you can buy it here for your kindle or in paperback.
Finally, you can sign up for my newsletter here and get a free sample of my memoir Running with Pencils. You’ll be the first to hear about giveaways, book sales, and news on my writing/signings/events.
And that, my friends, is a guarantee.