My parents grocery shop together. I can remember as a kid going to the grocery store every Saturday morning (after waking up late and watching Saturday morning cartoons) watching my mom and dad look through the pantry and refrigerator, calling out items that we needed for the week, and then I got to make the list. My mom would grab her coupons (ever so organized), my dad would grab the car keys, I would grab a book (I read even on the 3 minute ride to Randall’s) and off we would go the grocery store. There were samples and free cookies and some bonding time for my family…overall a good Saturday experience. Even to this day, my parents still get up and go to the store together. I’m actually looking forward to the day that they get to take Macy with them and she can experience all the grocery store fun.
Jeff’s parents don’t grocery shop together. If you’ve ever been to his parent’s house, you already know that it would be silly for them to – their backyard is Kroger. When Jeanette sees that she needs something, she runs over to the store, sometimes with a grandkid or two, sometimes with me, or sometimes alone.
So when Jeff and I got married, I assumed we would carve out time to go to the store together. He assumed I would just go when I had time. And here in lies the conflicts all married couples have…the expectations you bring with you to the table without even realizing it.
Here we are on our wedding day. You can tell by my smile that it’s one of the happiest days of my life.
Jeff’s family also loves to camp. At least, that’s what they did for fun. His mom packed up a trillion meals for the five of them complete with tents and bedding and off they went. My family, on the other hand, did not camp. Unless you count the time that we stayed in the hotel in New York City that was a walk-up. Hmm.
So when Jeff and I started dating, we had, um, different ideas about what to do for fun. My idea – go to a concert, to a coffeehouse, or to the latest movie. His idea – be outside. Hmm, I thought. Outside. Is that where the hippies hung out? Like during Woodstock? Could be interesting.
What I found was that me and outside don’t exactly get along. For one, I have frizzy hair. Frizzy hair does oh so much better with air-conditioning. Two, I’m not a huge fan of sweating. Three, I enjoy showers. Without bugs. And I could go on…
But the outside and I were destined for each other, because Jeff and I were destined for each other. So off we went.
My first time camping was pretty rough. An air mattress that deflated within seconds of me laying down on it, flying bugs in the shower, and noises that kept me awake most of the night. The second time was somewhat better as Jeff and I had gotten one of those foam pad things you sleep on instead of the air mattress (which apparently is never a good idea while sleeping on the ground).
And as time went on, the outside and I formed some kind of relationship, but were still very wary of one another.
Fast forward to now. We were invited to take a trip to a friend’s family’s home for the new year holiday. I love these friends and love spending time with them. But their family lives in the countryside. This, of course, is like the ultimate outside. My first reaction (thinking back to the failed air mattress) was that I just couldn’t handle it. But after some prodding, I agreed to go.
Arriving there, I just remember thinking, “cold”. It was cold. There was, of course, no heat in the home, the bathroom was virtually outside, and the floor and walls were cement. To get from one room to another, you had to walk outside, so you never really warmed up.
Trying to keep Macy warm with lots of clothes and blankets
So here I was – in the great out (or in) doors, trying to stay warm, and trying to adapt to my new surroundings. The caterpillar in me kept reminding myself that this was doable. At least there weren’t any blow-up mattresses, right?
We spent our days walking around town, checking out the fair that was going on, and even getting a hair wash. Yes, I, who has never gone for more than a day (except for like international flight days) without a shower, did not take a shower for two…no make that three full days. Whew. It was really cold, but my hair still managed to get pretty greasy. So it was an extra special treat to have someone else wash it. Best $1.50 I ever spent. Nights were spent popping fireworks (the boys), eating, and talking around the fire (which, I might add, was in the living room).
I may have had some minor physical discomforts, but in all other ways I was more than taken care of. The way our friends treated us took away any of the cold I felt. Their hospitality, shown to us in many ways including homemade granola for breakfast, was overwhelming. It made me realize, again, that no matter where you are in the world, it’s the people that are around you that can make you feel at home.
As we pulled out of the bus station on our way home and waved goodbye to our friends, I actually found myself sad to go. Believe it or not, the outdoors and I had found a way to bond. And we even found time to roast some marshmallows together.