The stuff of life

May 7, 2016

One of the realities of my husband’s work as a wildland firefighter is that during the warmer months when most families are taking vacations, my husband is working. Hard.

And we love him for it. We love his dedication to his dual passions: fire and family.

We love Smokey the Bear. And because we have two little boys in the house, we love, love, love firetrucks.

But sometimes, like any other family, we just want to get away. Last weekend my husband was home, so we packed up the car and left.

We didn’t go far, which is fine because as much as our three-year-old enjoys adventure, he does not enjoy sitting in his car seat very long.

We packed sandwiches and yogurt and apples and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip bars.

We threw in the swim suits and goggles, and rented a room at a hotel with a pool.

We asked the front desk for a recommendation for the best pizza delivery in town. We were not disappointed.

It arrived at our door fast and warm and gooey. We ate propped on pillows watching movies on TV.

The boys were excited to share a bed, and mom and dad were excited they were both finally old enough to sleep through the night without our assistance.

We took our time in the morning, sleeping in and savoring the nests we’d built out of the down comforters.

The weather was breezy and brisk. Aside from going to and from our car, we didn’t leave the hotel in two days. We played a brand new board game that had been collecting dust at home.

We bought a weekend pass to a museum. We gaped at dinosaur bones and buffalo robes and antique cars.

The three-year-old caught fabric fish with a magnetized fishing pole until he was so exhausted we had to drag him away for a nap.

While my husband supervised naptime, the nine-year-old and I discovered that a planetarium is not for those prone to motion sickness.

We steadied our heads in the gift shop searching for treasure in the polished rocks and plastic dinosaurs.

There is something to be said for a short family vacation with bad weather and a tight budget.

We weren’t sprawled in separate suites, agonizing over what local attraction to take in next.

We had enough time to make some memories, but not enough to drive each other crazy. We were still laughing at each other’s jokes when we checked out of our hotel.

We tickled and snuggled and left again before we started really getting on each other’s nerves.

Our nine-year-old put two quarters in a machine and watched a penny be squashed into a souvenir that I will undoubtedly find in the bottom of a drawer when cleaning out his room after he leaves for college.

I’ll close my eyes for just a moment and remember kissing the top of his head and smelling chlorine from the pool. I’ll remember him smiling up at me and saying, “Cool!”

Then I’ll slip it into the bottom of my sock drawer, to be forgotten again until the next big move, when roles are reversed and I’m smiling up at my son, remembering that one time we took that weekend trip.

This is the stuff of life, and it is good.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on May 7, 2016.