Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back to the Future

The spring of 2005 was a turning point in our lives. If our story was a novel or a movie (admittedly, I often think of it that way), that season would definitely be the climax, or the "point of no return," which is how I have taught that literary term in the past. I actually have aspirations of doing some serious writing about what I consider to be both the best and worst period of my life, so for the purposes of this post, I won't go into too much detail. But I digress.

Jon and I met and fell in love during that magical time in Bamberg, but we also met and fell in love with some people we now consider lifelong friends. It's hard to live with six other women and not bond quickly, and I'm sure Jon would say the same about the close ties that form between those serving in the military together. We're all scattered across the country--and world--now, but I think we've done a good job of keeping in touch. Our latest adventure is proof of that fact.

Instead of merely talking about how awesome it would be, we actually planned and took a trip to Washington DC to visit our dear friends, who will now be referred to as our doppelgängers. When this couple also met and fell in love in Bamberg, she was a high school English teacher from Missouri, and he was an Army officer. Sound familiar? The Doppelgängers have always been a few steps ahead of us, though, actually admitting they were a couple way before we were ready to do so, and consequently blazing the trail with their engagement and marriage. They've even lapped us in the kid department.

At any rate, we've remained close through the years and were very excited to spend four glorious days with the Doppelgänger family. First we had to get there, however. Delta has loosened its death-grip on the airport in Memphis somewhat, so we were able to snag a direct flight to DC via Southwest. Check-in was uneventful, but we were a little disheartened to learn that due to weather conditions on the east coast, we would be delayed. For better or for worse, our delay took place mid-air, as we were held in a holding pattern, not once but twice.

This would have been a mild annoyance to our old selves, who would have taken the opportunity to read a few more pages in our respective books. For our current parent selves, flying around in circles required extra manuevers in the art of "baby wrangling." We pulled out Elsa's toys, pumped her full of snacks, and even let her read (or eat, whatever) the Sky Mall catalog. Finally I was able to nurse her to sleep at the end of the flight. In all honesty, she did fairly well. She certainly wasn't the loudest kid on the plane. If you ask Jon, however, he would tell you that she did horribly. His expectations were much too high. Did he really think she would sleep the whole time like she did when she was a little baby?

Needless to say, we arrived at our destination later than expected. We immediately put Elsa to bed and headed that way ourselves. We were greeted bright and early the next morning by the controlled chaos of two little boys and a dog...and it was great. I think Elsa was initially taken aback, but it didn't take her too long to join in the ruckus.

We slipped right into the household routine, and I, for one, was taking mental notes. Since we're a few years behind the Doppelgängers, I've always looked up to them as an example. I learned a lot from watching them parent and even gained some reassurance that we maybe, sort of, kind of know what we're doing.

Mesmerized at the National Zoo
Our time in DC was a very kid-centric affair. Fortunately, the kids all maintained similar sleeping and eating schedules. Pretty good considering we were dealing with a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old. We took advantage of some of the great (free) things to do in the city, like the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the National Zoo, but we had just as much fun hanging around the house, reading books, playing games, telling JOKES! (when you're four, you have to let other people know when you're telling a joke because it's not always obvious), and going on "potty seat rides."
Yes, that is my child being carried around on a toilet seat
Naptimes and the evenings after the kids were put to bed were the perfect opportunities for us to reminisce with the Doppelgängers while watching the World Cup or playing board games/cards. So, maybe it wasn't like the old days of staying out too late at a brewery, but it was still pretty fantastic.

There were many highlights from the weekend, but one of my favorites was at church on Sunday. I had one of those moments where you kind of mentally step back and observe what is occurring around you. It was truly a beautiful scene, and I know God was infinitely happy with what He saw. The six (and a half) of us had taken up an entire pew, which was scattered with books and crayons and Cheerios. All the kids were so comfortable with us and with each other, that at one point Mr. Doppelgänger was reading to his boys while Elsa sat on Mrs. Doppelgänger's lap and then minutes later, Jon and I had all three kids--who were eating eating each other's snacks--with us. It was as if we were performing a graceful dance, interacting so naturally and so fluidly with one another. It made my heart glad to both witness and be a part of it.

Sadly our trip came to an end far too quickly. It was wonderful to remember good old times and to also get a glimpse into our future. Watching the kids play together was just as incredible as we thought it would be. We are already talking about our next reunion, and I can't wait. Doppelgängers, can we come back?


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