While unpacking my Christmas boxes this weekend, I found the beautiful red leather gold leafed Christmas Memories book that my sister gave to my husband and me when we were first married. It struck my heart because this personalized diary was designed to store twenty Christmases and all their details.
Right on the shiny red cover, in swirly golden letters, alongside our new family name, it reads "Our Christmas Memories. 1994-2014." Gulp. When we first read the opening pages of this book 18 years ago, 2014 seemed like a century away. I ran my hand over the pages and it struck me hard, how we only have two more Christmases to fill in here.
I looked through all the Christmases that I've faithfully recorded on these pages, and thought about how reaching the book's end once seemed so ridiculously far away. There's a lot that's happened since 1994, all that's happened with almost twenty years of marriage. There are some wonderful memories that live in my mind. Our life together has pretty much played out the way it began: two unusual, not run of the mill people, finding each other and figuring out life one lesson at a time. I think back to a very telling, very representative indicator of what our life together was going to be like.
Indulge me, would you, while I tell you of the introduction to life with my husband. We begin at the very start: our honeymoon.
My husband and I married later in life, and we planned, executed, and delivered a wedding production on time and on budget (his exact words punctuated with much tones of pride.)
We brought the day together like the adults we were; we pulled it off and deserved a honeymoon with sun, water, food, drink, and each other. That's what we worked for, that's the carrot that dangled in front of the cart but the story doesn't begin with a couple rolling around on a white sandy beaches.
Our honeymoon story begins with how I almost killed my husband on Day 3 of our new life together. The crime scene: idyllic Cozumel, Mexico.
I decided to marry my husband for many reasons. The biggest ones being his stability and level headedness. He is predictable in his moods, and emotionally even keeled. Just what an alarmist like me needs. He is the voice of reason after my WebMD search results of moles that look like India have me writing out my will.
I count on him pulling me in off the ledge. There could be a cobra viper anaconda strangler 5 feet from my face, ready to strike at 851 mph, on the most vulnerable part of my body, and he’d soothingly promise me, “I'll take care of it. Just, no sudden movements."
With my husband around, I can scream “the sky is falling!,” when the sump pump goes out after a heavy spring rain, and he'll tell me that's why he bought the back up pump.
The man would’ve come in handy at Woodstock.
Well, he--of the permanent delta brain waves--and I--of brain waves they've yet to categorize--are sharing a resplendent open-air honeymoon suite in Cozumel. The cross breeze is to die for. Our room faces the ocean and just like a Hallmark commercial, the sheer white curtains are billowing in the wind. The hotel features an all-day buffet fit for a king, and we claim ourselves the royal couple. Grazing, all day long, and far into the evening. We relax, we spoil ourselves, we do a lot of nothing.
We spend the first two days doing my two favorite activities: eating and being lazy, but then we decide we should really visit a Mayan temple or something. So we sign up for a group sight seeing bus tour. We are going to see temples and ruins. We're so blissfully heady from food and wine that we don't take notice that this tour is All Day. We will leave by 7 a.m. and be back in time to catch the dinner buffet.
We don’t think to pack food … we’ve forgotten what hunger is like--we've been tended to as if we were demi-gods for only two days, but we got used to it fast. We set out at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, taking nothing but our cameras. I think I may have remembered to grab some bottled waters.
It is a day long tour of walking, hot sun, walking, more hot sun. There is ancient ruin stair climbing involved, there is boarding and unboarding of the bus, there is a long day without food packed involved.
Do you know the signs and stages of low blood sugar in another person? I can tell you. I watched my husband fly through them at warp speed:
Stage 1: irritability. HIGH irritability
Stage 2: accompanying stupor
Stage 3: full sentences disappear
Stage 4: every man for himself
I am no stranger to low blood sugar-–I have trained myself to overcome its effects and to push on through. I didn’t fit into my beaded lace princess seam wedding dress like a glove with just luck.
No, I know how to deal with the physical symptoms caused by long periods of no food. But, my new husband, my poor new husband: he had no idea what to do with the lightheadedness, the shakiness, the spots swimming before his eyes, the beads of sweat on his upper lip. He shifted into the most basic primal state: survival.
Never in my life had I imagined that I’d be able to write my own, real-life account of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But I did on that day. My level headed Dr. Jekyll had become the raging, combative low blood sugar induced Mr. Hyde; his dark side running wild--grumbling at me to hurry up and decide on a seat on the bus already. Snarling at the poor, unsuspecting retired couple to quit holding up the bus by always getting lost.
Spencer Tracy himself couldn't be more Hydey.
The fear of what my future held with this man had me break down into tears. And Mr. Cool wasn’t there to bring me in off the ledge.
This was not the person I had said yes to spending eternal life with--is there a more panic stricken thought for a newlywed? The bus ride home was made up of me thinking I had made a huge mistake–HUGE–and of him, pupils dilated, sweat soaked forehead, animalistically caring about only one thing: someone who would throw him a piece of meat like he was a lion at a zoo.
I was ready for him to take over the bus, commandeering it straight into the jungle, where he’d tear off his shirt, run wild, and then return like a crazed native with an ocelot hanging out of his blood-soaked mouth.
Yes, I was freaking out, and I needed his voice of reason. I knew he was this close to sacrificing me atop the ancient ruins we had just toured in exchange for someone’s saltine cracker. My only way to survive this? I’d have to kill him.
We endure the bus ride back to the hotel, with me stifling my wails and making a quick mental run through of annulment procedures. We pull up to our hotel and my husband forces the bus' doors open with his shoulder; he then heads--wild eyed and stumbling--straight for the buffet. He begins grabbing food off the buffet because who needs a plate, right? His Cro-Magnon brow receding and his grunting speech slowly returning to full sentences with every handful he shovels in. At meal's end, he is back to being Dr. Jekyll and we are left with a *funny* low blood sugar story.
But, I am not left the same. I've learned a life lesson.
Before we board a plane, train, or automobile, before we do anything else, I buy my husband two King Size Kit Kat bars. And I keep them accessible for the duration of the trip. He smiles and laughs now when he sees them poking out of my purse.
It’s a funny story. NOW, it’s a funny story--but it wasn't then.
My advice to any soon to be honeymooners: work in the Kit Kats, the Snickers, the Twix. You can spare yourself the scene of diamond rings flying past billowy balcony curtains, for just two bars, $5.00 plus tax.
|Don't let the dimples fool you. The man's a RAGING MANIAC. But I won't know that till Wednesday. And then I'll cry.|