Things Keeping Us Going: Nothing is Going to Plan Edition

My Personal Chef and I are on vacation this week. Our plan was to finally make the trip to Canada that we had scheduled for our 30th anniversary two years ago, that had to be canceled back then because of Covid restrictions. See, for our first date, I got picked up from work on a Friday afternoon and whisked away for the most amazing weekend in Montreal. A few months later, our first vacation together was a road trip to Niagara Falls. We thought it would be sweet to go back all these years later. Canada is open to tourists again, so we planned a pretty epic week.

Covid is still wreaking havoc, though. Nine days ago, we became close contacts to someone who tested positive for corona virus. While we could still make the trip, the idea of being stuck in quarantine out of the country if we did get sick made it wise to cancel.

I’ve once been described as “relentlessly optimistic,” so I didn’t spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. Instead, my husband made us a great dinner (have I mentioned he’s a chef?), and then over after-dinner drinks, we came up with a Plan B that was far closer to home, but still captured an “anniversary trip” feel.

We are an hour drive from the Rhode Island beaches. We were going to kick off our week with an overnight beach trip, a great dinner, and a stargazing cruise out of Newport Harbor. First, we could not find a room (well, there was an $897/night/per person room at this exclusive, SUPER swanky, Newport property). Then the tour company canceled the stargazing cruise. We can rebook at any time, forever, but not this weekend.

Sigh.

We redeemed the day with a wonderful dinner at one of our usual spots with some of our oldest friends. Our youngest son and his girlfriend invited themselves along, because our friends love them. About halfway through the meal, our oldest son and his girlfriend walked into the restaurant accompanied by one of our “foster kids” (a close friend of my son who lived with us for several years as a teenager) and his girlfriend. It wasn’t at all the special night we planned, but it was full of laughter and love.

Despite that good night, yesterday I woke up with a serious case of melancholy. An early morning walk along the Quineboag River with a sisterfriend helped, but I still couldn’t shake the blues.

When I got back home, though, my husband was prepared. He had a cooler packed for a picnic lunch at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It’s the site of an historic lighthouse that still warns ships about the rocky coastline. There are some trails, rocks to scramble on (or fish off of), and a grassy berm with some scrub pines. It was under these pines where we set up our chairs and just sat. And sat. And sat.

It was therapy for all of my senses: the taste of the cucumbers we just picked this morning; the scent of the salt air mingling with the beach roses; the site of butterflies and kites in the foreground, sailboats and surf on the horizon; the feel of the hot sun and the gentle breeze on our skin; the sound of the sea repeatedly slapping against the rocky shore. It was a balm for the soul.

We have made more plans for this week–an overnight in Boston, an overnight in the Berkshires full of museums and music and fancy meals–that I was counting on to make up for it all. Our Plan B is designed to be full of special experiences to make our belated anniversary celebration noteworthy. What I am coming to realize, though, is that what we really need is to connect to one another.

What made our first date so special wasn’t the grand gesture–staying in the elegant hotel, going for a fancy dinner. It was the conversation over the breakfast in the small diner we ducked into to get out of the cold, and the quiet moment shared at the Cathedral de Notre Dame that knitted us together.

So, now we are making Plan C, choosing to do things that encourage us to connect, strengthening the weave that will knit us together for the next thirty years.

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