Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Married MacGyver

I think like most women of my generation I pride myself on my independence and “can-do” spirit. No task too great, no mountain too steep; no goal unachievable if I set my mind to it. I’m a parent, a well-travelled, fairly educated individual who has lived alone. I know how to change diapers while changing a light bulb!!

However, and there is a “however”, I have certain challenges. One is that my internal compass had to be consciously created to prevent the continual disorientation I felt when trying to go somewhere. The other is if asked whether something is two inches or six I’m not sure I could answer with any degree of accuracy. My can-do spirit has allowed me to say I can find a ruler and measure, and then give an answer.

This summer I have faced a few challenges. Before embarking on three day trip to the beach with my children I purposefully studied several maps and written directions before walking out my front door. Given the previously mentioned issue with my internal compass I have a tendency to over prepare. Well, it didn’t entirely help. I was confronted with a literal fork in the road that hadn’t appeared on any maps or written direction.

It was hard to ignore the knowledge that help was just one little cell phone call away. Looking in the rear view mirror I saw that the kids were happily listening to a book on tape, munching away on a bag of snacks, oblivious to my confusion. So, I quickly pulled out the cell phone, dialed the familiar number, and was instantly connected to my man, MacGyver.

After providing him with the location of the fork in the road, he had me pin pointed within moments on a map and had me reassured that I was headed in the correct direction. My man MacGyver hadn’t fashioned a home-made compass using a piece of steel and random sewing kit he found lying conveniently in the hallway outside his office. No! He had used his computer!!

Checking my rearview mirror, I pointed my car in the correct direction, the one I was already heading, and let the roads take us where they may (as long as it was Southwest)! Not too long after, we drove through rolling hills peppered with small towns and farmland, the random and oddly located cemetery, and little else. As a bonus, the sun was shining brightly adding to the bucolic scene.

An hour or so later, the rolling hills had been replaced with the coastline. A dense grey layer of clouds had hidden the sun and a heavy mist bathed the stunted woodland hills just outside the town of Newport. “We’re there,” I called enthusiastically to the children, who were still distracted in the back of the car, this time playing video games. Thankfully, a road construction crew was working on the road, giving me an opportunity to look at yet another map to find out where we were staying.

Twenty minutes later I’d driven up and down the same short stretch of road several times and couldn’t find the address I was looking for. Not wanting to get overly irritated in front of my kids, I parked out front of a lumber store, pulled my cell phone out of my purse and clambered from the warm comfort of the car into the cold, wet, and darkening day.

Dialing the phone number quickly, I huddled in my shorts and t-shirt against the hood of the car, letting the heat of the engine keep me somewhat warm. “Hey, it’s me,” I said to MacGyver once again. I quickly explained the situation, and in no time he’d found a map that showed the cross streets I had given him and gave me a very quick explanation of where I needed to be. Gratefully I thanked him, chatted for a few moments and then leapt into the warmth of the car.

Soon the children were running throughout the house we had rented on the beach, checking every nook and cranny, claiming their beds, and neatly arranging toys, pillows and blankets brought from home. I paused to take in the view of the harbor from the living room windows as I lugged in another load of suitcases and tote bag of beach toys. “Just the cooler,” I thought to myself.

My parents, who had joined us minutes before, were settling into the bedroom they’d be using for the week. The kids were now talking a mile a minute to their grandparents about the suite upstairs, and could they, would they, come take a look at it? Being very indulgent grandparents, they quit unpacking mid suitcase and wandered upstairs, offering much praise for the way the children had decorated their newfound bedroom.

The evening past cheerfully; the warmly painted walls, cozy furniture, and filling dinner left everyone feeling replete and happy. Not too late, everyone drifted off to their rooms to sleep. Kids tucked in, grandparents chatting behind closed doors, I tiptoed out onto the balcony overlooking the bay that sparkled lights from boats and houses back at me. Dialing the same number as before, I chatted quietly about the rest of the day and then listened to the recounting of his day; we chatted for a little while about whatever came to mind before saying goodnight. I slipped back inside and quickly got ready for bed.

This is when I have to introduce my greatest challenge. Sleeping!

It was while I wrestled with my white noise machine, trying to remember what plugged into what, that I noticed the skylight above my bed. I groaned when I realized I didn’t have a sleep mask. Mentally calculating when the sun might rise, I quickly figured out I’d get six hours of sleep. That included the time it would take for my sleeping pill to kick in, and I’d finally fall into deep, nourishing oblivion. I congratulated myself when the rush of soothing noise erupted from the speaker that would rest next to my ear all night. My last thought of the day was that I’d find a sleep mask tomorrow.

The sun rose close to the predicted hour and I tried to find enjoyment in the sunrise. Unfortunately the sun was deeply hidden by another wall of dark grey clouds. I made coffee and spent a few hours pleasantly reading while the rest of the family slept.

The day went on to pass quickly; playing on the beach, running up and down sand dunes, shopping for fresh seafood, cooking, swimming in the pool, running up and down the ramps that lead to the boats anchored in the harbor tired us all. It wasn’t until I was staring at the skylight that night that I realized I had forgotten to buy a sleep mask. "Tomorrow," I thought.

I followed the previous day’s routine of sneaking quietly about the house while others slept. Tired and envious of their abilities to sleep through sun and sound, I drank coffee, read, knitted, organized, tidied, and whatever else I could until the others rose well rested.

Slightly less energetic from two nights of sleep deprival, I dozily participated in making plans for the day. We set about kite flying, running around sand dunes, building sand castles and walking through the local tourist shops. By dinner I was asleep in my plate. I sat up with a jolt when I realized that I still hadn’t purchased a sleep mask. Irritated I tried to convince myself that I was exhausted enough that surely I would sleep through sunrise.

Somewhere around five a.m. I woke and stretched an arm out for the extra pillow. I plunked it down on my head hoping it would block the light. Unfortunately the air got too warm, and the only solution was to pull the pillow off. I tried various permutation of this until I gave up, quite grumpily I might add. I stared up at the skylight with great disdain cursing the inventor, designer, contractor, and anyone else who had anything to do with my window to the sky.

After a few cups of strong coffee and a talk with myself about attitude, I set about rounding up all the paraphernalia we’d dragged in and carted it back to the car. It was check out time! I was thrilled. While schlepping suitcases and coolers isn’t much fun, I was about to move inland and to a new abode! Even after several breathless and exhausting trips to the car I giggled at the thought of a room with no skylight and a good night’s rest. We said good-bye to the indulgent grandparents and went off to explore the day and meet MacGyver’s train late in the afternoon.

All went well, until, and I kid you not, we hit another fork in the road. At this point, if any of you are cartographers, I plead with you to include forks in the road. They are loathsome inventions that confuse the compass challenged amongst us. We have a split second to make a decision that could take us to into the wild or thrust us onto one way roads of towns that are best forgotten.

So, I did what any sane person would do, I asked for help. The local had no idea what to do. So, I did the next sane thing, I used my GPS gadget. Are you wondering at this point why I was only just now using it? I’d forgotten I had one. It’s that simple.

MacGyver was on the train and had intermittent cell phone reception and was without wi-fi! So it was just me and my GPS gadget. When we finally got to the train station (three times around a series of one way streets), I literally wanted to explode out of the car and find justice. However, all the caffeine I had consumed along the way in order to stay awake had other demands. So, I quickly kissed MacGyver hello, and ran for the restrooms.

Happily ensconced in the front passenger seat I recounted the horrors of one-way roads, forks, and the fact that I couldn’t hear the man on the GPS machine. With a gentle tap on the GPS screen MacGyver showed me how to turn the volume up. Just one little tap on the screen, that’s all! I actually smiled. What I was really happy about was that a bed in a dark room with my name on it was just a short distance away.

Being quite late and dark when we arrived, we set about schlepping all the paraphernalia into our new abode. The kids were settled and life was good. I sat down to rest on the corner of the bed and only then noticed a pained smile on MacGyver’s face. That’s never good!

I began to scan the room and quickly realized that the room was open to the floor below, there were huge windows allowing the woodland view into the living-room just below our bedroom, and lo' and behold, there was a skylight above our bed. Someone has a twisted sense of humor!

I will allow your imaginations to decide what I said and felt about all of this. You may paint a kinder picture of me that I actually deserve.

So! Exhaustion had caught up with me enough to allow me to sleep until seven o’clock. We spent a lovely day playing in the gently flowing river and strolling through the scrubby woodlands. Late in the afternoon the sky turned graphite grey, the booms of thunder were loud, and the rain fell in massive globs to the ground. People ran pell-mell for cover. After dinner the storm had passed, so we ventured out for a late swim and found the remnants of the storm; beach towels and pool toys all around the pool deck.

Now, one thing to know about MacGyver is that he is a tidy guy. He piled the spoils of the storm under shelter while the rest of us readied to return to our woodland abode. After everyone had readied for bed and were settling down, MacGyver asked our daughter for a pillow she made for her doll. I guessed it to be the size of pot holder. She handed it over and went to bed.

Reading in bed and waiting for the sleeingp pill to take over, I looked up to see a satisfied grin on MacGyvers face. He handed me the doll pillow and a nose plug. The pillow was sewn from brown and blue fabric that had the drawings of Tiki characters on it. The nose plug was a bright pink “U” shaped object on the end of a very long white elastic band. Utterly confused for a moment I suddenly realized I had a sleep mask!

Laughing at how ridiculous I had to look, I hunkered down with the pillow hugged to my face by the nose plug! I slept until ten o’clock!

I never did buy a sleep mask. I so appreciated both MacGyvers inventiveness and the fact that he loves me so much that he could look past how ridiculous I looked that I happily slipped on the pillow with nose plug every night. After all, the least I can do is support his ingenuity!

Thanks for reading!