alternately titled: I love room service.
because 24-hour room service is how you do it. when you are celebrating a wedding anniversary with kids in tow, this is how you do it. you book a room at a semi-fancy hotel downtown somewhere (seattle) and you pay extra for one with a good view. because it's your 13th wedding anniversary and dang it if you don't deserve a good view. if you are going to do this thing, then you are going to do it right.
you check in at 3 o'clock in the afternoon because it's the earliest they'll let you check in. you're paying good money for this room and you plan on milking every last cent out of it. you thoroughly enjoy the ride all the way up to the 41st floor. you are so happy you don't even notice your kids fighting over the elevator buttons. they always fight over the elevator buttons. you fought over elevator buttons when you were a kid too, as did millions of kids before you and so on and so on. since the invention of the elevator, kids have been fighting like dogs over who gets to push the button. and who can blame them? sometimes it feels good to push a button.
once inside the room, you allow the kids to take over. they whoop and holler, whip curtains wide open, dump backpacks full of toys and swimsuits all over the floor. you even let them jump on the bed. you let them because they are just so genuinely excited. and this excitement, it's contagious. you find yourself ripping back the satiny white sheets of the bed nearest you and jumping inside. you giggle and squeal and this is funny because you are not really a giggler. a squealer maybe, but not a giggler. you stare at the floor-to-ceiling windows and oooh and aaah with the kids over the view. the seattle skyline is laid out before you, pedestrians and taxicabs look like colorful little wind-up toys below and you can see the water, you can see the coming and going of ferries and boats. for a second, the room is quiet. you try not to think about how quickly this will all be over. you have a bad habit of doing this sort of thing and you vow to stop. the three other people in the room with you make it nearly impossible to feel anything other than wildly excited. you give in to this and it feels good. really really good. you happily vanquish all thoughts of time and money. you are celebrating. you are on vacation, even if it is only for 24 hours.
you do a little exploring outside the hotel room, out on the streets. you watch people, you think about buying flowers from a street vendor, you splash in and out of fountains, wander in and out of shops, let the kids touch things and watch drummers perform. you decide to eat someplace nice for dinner but quickly regret this decision. you got cocky and thought maybe the kids could handle it. you were wrong. someone doesn't like the way the honey sesame chicken tastes and almost bursts into tears when she can't figure out how to use the chopsticks. the other one spends half the dinner standing on his head and the other half poking everyone around him (namely his sister) with said chopsticks. you cannot believe you gave that kid chopsticks. you try to blame that one on the mister but he's wise to your schtick and you back off. then someone says she feels sick and the whole meal is hastily boxed up, the check quickly paid. the long trek back to the hotel begins and you feel the lustre of the day begin to fade. but you fight this. you fight to keep it shiny and happy because you are so not ready to give up the shiny and the happy, not yet. you stop at a drug store and stock up on ginger ale, soda crackers and cookies. just in case.
in situations like this, an indoor swimming pool works special magic. you know what you must do: you must wear them out with all the swimming. problem is, the swimming wears you out too. afterwards, all you want to do is climb into that bed with the super deluxe sheets and all the soft white pillows and fall into a deep delicious sleep. then you spy your better half wolfing down the leftovers from dinner. you were hoping maybe after the kids had fallen asleep, the two of you could eat the rest of the chinese food together at the little table by the window. sort of a last ditch effort to salvage your fiasco anniversary dinner. you say something about this to him and he immediately feels bad. then you feel bad for making him feel bad. and it's too late anyway. you inhale the rest of your lo mein while watching america's funniest home videos. this is so not the scenario you had originally imagined but you are exhausted. you don't even care anymore. you slip on the thick white robe hanging in the closet. it feels so good next to your skin that you seriously think about stealing it. you realize this is probably one of the most unoriginal thoughts you've ever had. you are certainly not the first person who has thought of doing this. besides, the hotel would only charge it to your credit card and this would make you feel stupid.
you decide to spend the rest of the evening watching a movie together. sure, meet the robinsons wouldn't have been your first choice but the sick one has spoken and you desperately want her to feel good. she wants to watch meet the robinsons and you are only too happy to comply. the kids snuggle up together in that heavenly bed and the room is dark. surely they will be asleep in minutes, you think. you are confident that this is how it will play out but again, you are wrong. you are the one who falls asleep. you fall into a deep, comfortable sleep that your body has been craving for way too long.
around 3 o'clock in the morning, someone gently nudges you awake. this person, he whispers sweet anniversary wishes in your ear. there's talk of room service and you feel strangely refreshed. you wrap yourself up in sheets and follow this person to a little spot on the floor right next to the large window that looks out over the city. you realize you would follow this man pretty much anywhere in the world. this makes you happy. room service comes and the whole set up is such a delight. it's so perfect you don't even want to touch it. neatly folded white linen napkins, goblets heavy with ice water. dark chocolate cake scribbled with raspberry sauce, pretty sliced strawberries on the side. you sit close together and you eat the cake. you eat slowly, with intention. and you talk. about the first time you met. about what if you never met? about how you were sure you weren't really his type. you also talk about your wedding day, about life before kids, life after kids. about how this has been the craziest year ever. what will the next thirteen years be like? ava will be 20 and ezra will be 16 when you celebrate your 26th wedding anniversary. you can't even begin to imagine it. you hear the sounds of them breathing, that ava and ezra. they are sleeping hard. you are filled with so much love for them at this moment that you almost wake them up. almost. they will be sorry they missed the chocolate cake. which is why you must immediately hide the evidence.
he lets you have the last bite because that's how much he loves you. you were too busy to make cards for each other this year. you always make cards. he figures the last bite of the molten chocolate cake with the sexy raspberry sauce on the side would be the next best thing to a handmade card. and he would be right. you return this favor by leaving him the last of the ice cream because where would you be without him? it's the least you can do. you look out at the city together. the lights, the water, the few cars that are out at four in the morning and you feel something that can't really be articulated. you sit there and you feel it (this wonderful thing, whatever it is) and you soak it in for as long as you possibly can because soon the sun will be up and the kids will be up and the fourteenth year of marriage will begin.
in this moment, you are thankful for many, many things but mostly, you are thankful for room service. and for the man who thought to order room service for you in the first place.
(for more of the big anniversary weekend, take a look at this. also, many, many thanks to all who've left such sweet anniversary wishes for us here)