And the only reason I say that is because driving 2000 miles in 10 days gives you lots of time to think. And listen to Atlas Shrugged (but more on that later.)
On Sunday, after we dropped Will off in Durham with the St. A group bound for their mission trip, we headed toward Charleston, SC. There's much to be said about that drive, our detour to Myrtle Beach, hotwire.com and the awesome 3 days we spent in Charleston; maybe I'll write on all of those later, too.
As we first drove into the city, I saw a huge line outside of Hyman's Seafood on Meeting Street; whether that signaled "tourist trap" or "ringing endorsement", we decided to try it. The meal was great -- Clay thinks he had the best scallops and mussels he has ever eaten, and that's saying something; he's been to countries where preparing seafood isn't just cooking, it's art. I had crispy flounder, my favorite fried green tomatoes and an outstanding Bloody Mary, but the food was almost a minor part of the experience. First, when the hostess took us to our table, we noticed little brass tags at each place, noting the celebrities who had sat there. It was very cool that Martin Sheen, Jodi Foster, some Senator and Bob Villa had all shared our spot, but we were thrilled to see the little brass tag noting that NEIL ARMSTRONG had sat at our very table.
When we were almost done, the owner of the restaurant, Eli, came around and talked to us. I told him how we were so happy to be seated at that table, as we were Purdue grads and Clay had worked at NASA; Eli told us that of all the celebrities who had eaten in his restaurant, Mr. Armstrong might just be his favorite -- kind, quiet and unassuming. It made me a little teary.
Anyway, on the tables at Hyman's were little inspirational cards, which we were encouraged to take. One of those listed the "40 Promises for Marriage." I won't list them all, and I will confess that we don't celebrate our birthdays in a big way (#25), send flowers on Valentine's Day (#35), set up romantic getaways (#28) or date once a week (#3), and neither one of us is much good at #36, admitting when we are wrong.
The ones we do do, and do well, I think, are these:
#4, Accept differences. Tall/short, conservative/semi-liberal, left brain/right brain, ISTJ/ENFP (for those Myers-Briggs types), fit and sporty/not so fit and not so sporty. If we didn't accept each other's differences, we'd be sunk.
#10, Laugh together. When you put "shortest route" into the GPS and find yourself in the middle of north central Kentucky between Lexington and Louisville on winding, narrow country roads for an hour and a half without much sign of human life, the very best thing to do is laugh.
#14, Encourage. While Clay doesn't really need much encouragement to do anything, without his encouragement, I would be a sad little slug. Maybe not a couch potato with 12 cats and a penchant for courtroom drama shows kind of slug, but certainly not as motivated as I am.
#16, Fix the other person's breakfast. Coffee counts, right?
#18, Call during the day. There's not much better that getting that lunchtime call, even if it's only for a minute.
#33, Reminisce about your favorite times together. The favorite phrase in this family is "remember when?" Reminiscing is almost as good as a phone call.
#34, Treat each other's friends and relatives with courtesy. I hope I am as good at this as Clay is. All my girlfriends think he is a prince, and my family is pretty darn fond of him.
#29, Be Positive and #30, Be Kind. There's no other way to be, is there?
#19, Slow Down. Clay doesn't think I can do this at all, but I think that's what we did in Charleston. I bet the last time we intentionally walked together in the rain was on our honeymoon; walking down to the Battery under the umbrella/souvenir we bought at Hyman's, peeking into gardens, was one of the highlights of this trip.
#38 is "pray for each other daily." I don't know if Clay prays daily for me. But my recent thinking on prayer follows that of Meister Eckhart: "If the only prayer you say in your whole life is 'thank you', that would suffice."
In that case, yes, I do. Not just daily, but every hour, minute and second. Thanks.
(PS -- I Googled "40 Promises for Marriage" and found this, "50 Promises"; apparently, 10 more wouldn't fit on the little card at Hyman's!)