On an anniversary trip…you don’t want to fight. Or bicker. Or find something you’ve decided you absolutely MUST ASK your husband…even though you ALREADY KNOW the question will result in a knock-down-drag-out.
Leave it alone. Bring it up on the way home.
BUT DON’T RUIN THE TRIP.
Those words…should have been said to me. Someone should have given me a little manual of THINGS NOT TO DO WHEN CELEBRATING AN ANNIVERSARY.
Because it would have changed the lasting memory of this trip.
The memory where I managed to create World War III in the spab of a few miles on a peaceful, serene path where you’re supposed to enjoy simple pleasures like deer feeding on early morning grasses and birds waking up and the sun peaking through the mountains.
Tim and I had planned this biking excursion to Cades Cove as part of our anniversary trip for months. It was supposed to be seven looped miles of nature. No cars. No highways. Just other nature-loving nuts like us.
We started out just fine…enjoying the deer and the cool, misty morning, working up a sweat on the steep hills.
And then…after a particularly difficult climb, I say to Tim: “Honey, I have a…question…but-don’t-get-mad…”
Whatever the exact wording of that question was…something like, “How do you know you’ll never be unfaithful?” (I know, totally romantic thing to say…) was a HUGE MISTAKE.
It put him on the defensive…and instead of me just shuting up and letting it pass…I kept pushing.
Eventually, Tim went all out ape shit on me. Which…he was probably well within his means to do…after hearing and being expected to answer -repeatedly – a stupid question like that.
We had to keep stopping in the middle of our wild, made-up, completely imaginary accusations to allow people to pass us…because we didn’t want them to know WE WERE FIGHTING.
Though, I’m sure they heard us anyway.
We came up on a clearing with about a dozen deer, eating and watching people pass by. And instead of stopping together to enjoy the peaceful moment, Tim took off on this looooooong downhill, kicking up dirt and gravel all the way.
I watched, thinking how I was going to explain the resulting injury to the doctors in the emergency room…”how’d he end up with a tree branch through his arm?…you say he was fleeing?…because you asked him what?!…unfaithful??…I suppose I don’t exactly blame him.”
I’m not as mountain bike saavy as Tim and there was NO WAY I was tearing down a hill, ending with a sharp right turn. I’d end up over the handlebars in a tree. If he wanted to test his luck, so be it.
So instead I sat there at the top of the hill. With the deer. Wondering if Tim would end up back at the car and decide to leave a note and ten bucks with the ranger for a taxi. The deer kept staring at me like, “You know, it’s YOUR FAULT. Should’ve kept your thoughts to yourself…ruining everybody’s morning like this. I mean, it’s Frank’s first time out since he was almost made road art by a truck and here you are…spoiling his experience.”
Eventually, I made my way slowly down the path. Prepared to finish the trek alone.
And Tim was there. Waiting. Just beyond my line of sight from the top of the hill.
He looked at me all, “What the hell took you so long?”
We finished the rest of the ride in silence. I’d pedal up the hills AS SLOW AS POSSIBLE while Tim would wait at the top, looking down at me all, “STOP PRETENDING. If you were FINE you’d had raced me to the top.”
Which is true. I’m competitive to a fault.
By the time we made it back to the car, we’d seen enough happy couples, cute kids and frollicking wildlife that we couldn’t help but just get over it and apologize.
We managed to get along the rest of the week and chalk it up to no sleep and no breakfast.
But I learned my lesson.
And I refuse to recreate such a catastrophe.