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, room service is how you do it. you book a room at a semi-fancy hotel downtown somewhere (seattle) and pay extra for the 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're going to do this thing, you're going to do it right.
you check in at three 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 second of it. you thoroughly enjoy the ride 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 hundreds of thousands of kids before you and so on and so forth. 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. truth be told, you sort of want to jump on the bed too. they're excited and this excitement, it's contagious. you find yourself ripping back satiny white bed sheets 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 like 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 how quickly this will all be over, you try very hard. but the three other people in the room with you make it nearly impossible to feel anything other than wild excitement. 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, think about buying flowers from one of the street vendors, 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. you 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, check swiftly paid. the long trek back to the hotel begins and you feel the luster of the day begin to fade. but you fight this. you fight to keep it shiny and happy because you are not ready to give up the shiny and 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 the mountain of 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 instantly, he feels bad. and then you feel bad for making him feel bad. but it's too late. you inhale the rest of your lo mein while watching america's funniest home videos. this is so not the scenario you had originally hoped for but you are exhausted. you don't even care anymore. you slip on the thick white robe that hangs in the closet. it feels so good next to your skin, you think seriously about stealing it. you realize this is probably one of the most unoriginal thoughts you've ever had. everyone wants to steal the hotel bath robes. besides, the hotel would only charge it to your credit card. 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 this is how it will play out. again, you are wrong. you are the one who falls asleep, you fall into a deep, delectable sleep your body has been craving for way too long.
and then, around three 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 the little spot on the floor right next to the large window that looks out over the city. you realize you would follow this person pretty much anywhere in the world. the thought of this makes you happy. room service comes and the whole set up is such a delight, so perfect you don't even want to touch it. white linen napkins, neatly folded, goblets heavy with 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 his type. you talk about your wedding day, about life before kids, after kids. about how this has been the craziest year yet. what will the next thirteen years be like? thirteen years from now, you'll celebrate your 26th wedding anniversary and ava will be 20! ezra will be 16! you can't imagine this. you hear the sounds of them breathing, they are sleeping hard. in this moment, you are filled with so much love for them, you almost want to wake them up. almost. they will be sorry they missed the chocolate cake. which is why they must never, ever know about it. you must immediately hide the evidence.
he lets you have the last bite because, love. and 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 the handmade cards you usually make for each other (but didn't this year) and he would be right. you return the favor by leaving him the last of the ice cream because, love. and 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)