We planned to leave our Thanksgiving holiday unplanned this year. We thought we'd just decompress after the CPA exam with a quiet dinner at home, but with the news of my grandpa's passing we were pressed to find reasonable plane tickets and make arrangements to travel to Salt Lake for the funeral. My mom called with the news Friday morning and by Friday afternoon I was on the phone with United, investigating frequent flyer possibilities. Come to find out, the frequent flyer seats available on holiday flights have all been reserved for years (unless you are willing to bequeath your firstborn to the airline, in which case, you can get half of the seat right next to the engine.) But the scarcity of frequent flyer seats is actually just the second most frustrating aspect of booking travel, exceeded only by outsmarting Mr. Automated and actually being connected with a live customer service representative. I patiently listened to the first menu of automated options, and dialed "3" to make a reservation, all the while wanting desperately to speak with a living, breathing creature. It was during the second list of requests that Mr. Automated wanted me to comply with, somewhere between "Please say your departure city," and "Please select the time of day you would like to travel," that I said, emphatically, "I want to speak to a human being!" Nate, who was studying on the couch, and knew I was trying to make reservations, burst out laughing. "Human Being" isn't on the list of departure cities, so it wasn't surprising that Mr. Automated did not recognize my request, and asked again for my desired departure city. This time I just said, "HUMAN BEING!"
"I'm sorry," he said, "I still don't understand. Let's try this one more time..." By this time Nate was laughing hysterically and chimed in, "Homo Sapien, try that!" so I threw that one out for the system to try to decipher. The old adage held true in this case, and the third time was indeed the charm as Mr. Automated finally conceded, "I'm sorry, I can't help you. I'm going to transfer you to a customer service representative." After a few measures of Gershwin, Jabib was on the other end of the line, asking how he could help. Just being connected to a conscious human being was helping more than Jabib would ever know!
This need to be connected with other human beings crops up in many aspects of life. After six weeks in Plano, we're starting to feel connected with quite a few families in the area. One family in particular has been exceptionally kind. They came over for a "welcome to the ward visit," gave us potted lettuce plants, and even helped us out in a pinch with some yard work (mandated by the city of Plano; who knew you could get a public citation for having long grass in your backyard? And I was just starting to feel good about our citizenship status again after the packing peanut disgrace.) Anyway, these very gracious friends invited us over for dinner tonight, along with another young family from church. We enjoyed the food, the company, and the fact that the Walden's had a little boy just about Henry's age and they kept each other entertained all evening. They played so nicely that I got a little laxed about monitoring their adventures. I was so absorbed in the stimulation of adult conversation, the riotous laughter coming from the kitchen was like white noise. It wasn't until Parker's mom motioned for me to come into the kitchen, saying, through her laughter, that my son had a surprise for me. My heart started racing as I imagined the damage that I know Henry is capable of, so I was relieved to find that the medium was just water. Henry had managed to find the water dispensing lever on their refrigerator door and Parker was finding tremendous amusement watching Henry soak himself. I grabbed his arm and wrung about a cup of water out of his sleeve. For a half a second or so I was embarrassed about my parental negligence, but my embarrassment quickly evaporated as I observed the euphoria those little boys had created in a puddle of filtered water. If happiness were only so easily achieved at twenty something as it is at two...
Even at twenty something, though, Nate and I still manage to conjure up happy moments, like last night playing boggle before bed. Nate had me in stitches the whole time with his creative spelling and bilingual concauctions. The laughter culminated in the moment we found the word "suey" and Nate told me that one of the new recruits at Deloitte is named "Huey." He saw a list of the recruits' names before he actually met them: Daniel, Lisa, and Huey. When two girls and a guy walked into the restaurant, Nate immediately deduced that the guy was probably Daniel, which left the two girls. Fortunately he didn't make any attempts at pronunciation. He waited for the introductions and was surprised when the name spelled H-u-e-y (which he thought would be pronounced just like Donald Duck's nephew's name) was actually pronounced "Hoy."
So, the evening was all laughs and smiles until I started getting really itchy legs. The itching escalated, until, at the end of the night I was on my hands and knees, examining our sheets in search of the bed bugs that I was certain were lurking in the fluffy darkness of the duvet. Nate didn't even bat an eye at my antics. He just knelt by the bed, impatiently waiting to pray. Surprised by his indifference, I asked, "Don't you care that I have red bumps all over my legs? Aren't you worried that there are bugs in this bed?" He calmly said, "If you didn't get itchy legs every other night, I might be alarmed, but since this is pretty much a regular thing, NO! I'm not concerned."
"Maybe my legs get itchy every night because we have bed bugs," I grumbled as I knelt down.
"Em, let's pray so I can go to bed."
That's how most nights end around here. I get myself worked up about imaginary bed bugs or some kind of social injustice and want to exterminate the world's problems before bed and Nate just wants to pray for them and go to sleep, which makes me think I should wrap up here. You see, we have a Sunday night ritual of reading the chronicle together. I should go start reading so we can pray...and go to sleep.
Good night, dear friends.