Friday, May 16, 2008

Celebrating 15 years . . . in Los Angeles

Jen and I were married fifteen years ago this month. To celebrate, I thought it was important to do something special. I mean, she's special. She's even more special for putting up with me for the past fifteen years through two graduate programs -- in completely different fields -- and the debt that comes with such (perhaps ill-guided) decisions. So in December, I contacted Jen's college roommate about the idea of using this occasion to surprise Jen with a trip to L.A. to visit her since they hadn't seen each other since the move to L.A. about a year ago.

First, I had to secure the services of someone to watch Keegan. No offense to the little guy, but mom and dad need some mom and dad time if you know what I mean. And K-Man doesn't fit that plan. So I clandestinely contacted Jen's parents about watching Kee. They agreed. Then I had to pick a date. I tried to get it planned around our anniversary date, but my sister had the audacity to schedule her nuptials for the weekend that fit that. No problem. I'm flexible. I found another weekend that fit. And made sure that worked for our friends in sunny Californ-I-A. It did. Plan moves forward.

On Valentine's Day, I told Jen that I had a trip planned for our anniversary. I told her I'd reserved a place at Amelia Island. (Why Amelia Island? Because I knew there was no way that I could pack secretly for Jen. So I told her a beach location that she could pack clothes that worked for L.A. too.) I also told her that she couldn't go online to search out stuff to do and start researching the area; I would plan everything for us. She agreed. I told her that her parents had agreed to watch K-Man while we were gone too.

Then we just had to wait 3 freaking long months. In that time, we had a family emergency with Jen's grandmother and there was a question of whether our babysitting arrangements would hold. But they did.

Finally, the day arrived. We left for the airport yesterday morning. We got in line at the check-in kiosk at the airport. I upgraded us to first class (because I knew how long the flight was going to be and the option was there). Jen didn't notice the kiosk screen's indication of the arrival site of our flight. Then we got in line to check our bags. The guy took the printed tags and wrapped them around our bags. Jen noticed the "LAX" on the tags and said "those say LAX on them."

"I know," I replied.


We walked on to security. I handed Jen her boarding pass -- which prominently displays "Los Angeles, CA" on it. But we passed through security without any cavity checks and without Jen bothering to read her boarding pass.

On the train, I tell Jen that I upgraded to first class. Jen says "I wish the flight was 5 hours long to enjoy that."

"I bet you do."

We get to the gate. Still Jen is oblivious. I make a point of looking at the gate board and saying, "looks like we're supposed to leave at 9:25." "OK" Jen says without looking up to see where this 9:25 flight is going.

As we are sitting waiting for the flight, Jen says "so are we flying into Jacksonville?"

(I realize this probably is going to be my only chance to finally spring this surprise on her.)

"No" and I hand her the boarding pass . . . again.

After a few seconds, it registers what she's reading.

And all of the effort to get to that look on her face was worth all the wait.