When Spring Break rolled around last week, we were faced with five whole weekdays with no work or school but also no plans. Though we knew it was coming, we had treated the week with hesitancy. When the optimistic part of your brain is in a constant state of hope for travel news about the final stages of an adoption making plans that include family vacations—events that require both time-off and money—are tricky.
A few days before the week began, I called up our dear friends who live in Memphis to make sure they’d be in town: We were westward bound! We booked a Quality Suites in a nicer part of town with an indoor pool and Continental breakfast. We could’ve just stopped there. If push came to shove, our kids would be cool with a deepish puddle and a waffle maker. That was about all the hotel had to recommend itself but that was okay. We were actually going for three main reasons: 1) To see old friends, 2) To show the kids where we used to live, grocery shop, worship, etc., and 3) To get out of town.
We arrived on Monday afternoon. Our first stop was the house we moved to after we’d been married a couple of years. (Fun fact: It dead-ends into Rosser Road.) It looked basically the same: It had the same brownish gray wood siding and the grass still won’t grow under the large oak trees in the front. The new owners had upgraded the mailbox from the one we had. Ours came with the house. It was topped off with a metal silhouette of a couple on a bicycle. Considering that it’s now a very basic, very plain, standard-issue black metal mailbox, I don’t know if that really qualifies as an upgrade. The “bicycle-built-for-two” mailbox was probably a collector’s item.
After our car ride down memory lane, we went to our friends’ house. Russ and Amy moved to a different house in town just before we left Memphis but for a big chunk of our time there they had lived across the street from us. In other words, the couple on the two-seater Schwinn on our mailbox could’ve pedaled to their house in about thirty seconds. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly six years, but we picked back up with a comfort and familiarity you only experience with old friends that have been your rescue. That may sound a bit over-reaching but it’s true. I have friends from high school that I can go for years without seeing and then—click—we’re back to our same roles, our same conversation shorthand. That’s because we were each other’s rescue from the teen years. It’s the same with Russ and Amy. We were young adults together, navigating responsibilities like church work and trash day. We were newlyweds together, discussing what was normal to fight about and cheap to serve for supper. We were new parents together…no explanation necessary. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re supposed to be doing. We spent Monday night laughing and reminiscing and watching our kids blend seamlessly like they’d never been apart. On Tuesday, we went to Graceland. If you’ve never been to Elvis’ home I highly recommend it. Our kids have now been to the Trifecta of American Homes: The White House? Check. The Biltmore? Check. Graceland? Check! Afterwards we went to lunch at our favorite hamburger joint, Huey’s. Then we took a tour of the children’s hospital where Brent used to work. Guess which part was the kids’ least favorite? Luckily, it was Resident Appreciation Week and they were serving frozen yogurt in the conference room. Phew! Barely missed a huge Whine-a-Palooza! (If your kids don’t whine at some point, it’s not a real family vacation.)
We took the kids back to the hotel to squeeze in a little swim time before returning to our friends’ house for supper. The kids needed to splash and yell a bit after Graceland lines and hospital tours. While they were swimming, they took turns baptizing each other. After Ella took Knox’s confession and gave him a good dunk, he looked at me and asked, “Does that count?”
“Does what count?” I asked.
“Ella just baptized me. Does it count?”
Hmmm. “No, honey. Daddy wasn’t watching. When you do it for real I’ll make sure he’s not on his cell.”
It’s been almost nine years since we left Memphis but we still carry it around with us. No, I’m not suggesting that Brent wears a white, bedazzled jumpsuit under his clothes every day. I’m also not saying that we are renovating our house into the shape of the Pyramid. What I mean to say is that during the years (eight for Brent and about 6 1/2 for me) we lived in Memphis we became “BrentandAbby,” an entity, a team, a force to be reckoned with. We did the “leave and cleave” God was so jazzed about in Genesis. After five years of married bliss, we brought home 10 pounds of beautiful baby girl. (That’s 10 lbs divided by two, for any of you mathematicians out there. Our twin daughters weighed about 5 lbs each.) If our marriage were a book, Memphis would be a really pivotal chapter most likely titled “Campbell Soup and Grilled Cheese again?” or maybe “Making Our Dreams Come True (Or Other Phrases from the Lavergne & Shirley Theme Song).” Either way, it would be an amazing chapter!