I had to drive my son to a volunteer shift this morning. On my way home, I had a full view of the entire front range of the Rocky Mountains in Denver. We have many sunny days in Colorado, but the clearest ones often occur in fall. The mountains have a light coating of snow, so they appear larger than they have all summer. The foothills seem closer because of the scrub oak bushes that have turned orange and red. And with the bright blue sky overhead, it’s simply gorgeous. This morning was so beautiful, I shed tears in my car as I headed west towards our home. I am so fortunate to live here. I moved here when I was 8. I’ve lived 75% of my life here, not long enough to be considered a native, but it’s home. Every day I get to wake up and remember I live here.
So, on Friday morning we were just lounging around home, accomplishing nothing. With all the gift buying and wrapping, card writing and sending, cleaning, and cooking in preparation of the holidays completed, we were firmly rooted in a state of vegetation. Sitting on the bed, staring out the window, it occurred to me that for the first time in weeks we had no plans. Not one thing needed to be accomplished. No errands to run. The house was clean. The laundry was washed, folded, ironed, and put away. For giggles, I checked the calendar on my iPhone. For the next three days, there was nothing on the calendar but a dinner reservation we could easily cancel. A brilliant plan hatched in my brain. Our mountain house was vacant. When it’s cold and snowy and there’s nothing pressing, the best place in the world to be is on our couch in Steamboat, watching the snow fall and hanging out with our boys. We needed to get there. Stat!
Thinking this was such an incredibly genius plan, I sprung the idea on my husband.
“So, what are we doing today?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he replied. “Just hanging out.”
“Well, we could go to Steamboat,” I suggested. “We’ve got nothing going on for the next three days and it’s empty. If we’re going to hang out, we could do it there.”
“But what about our dinner reservations for Linger tonight? I was kind of looking forward to that.”
“They’re reservations. We can get in another time,” I said.
“It took us a long time to get a reservation there,” he replied.
“I know. But, we can find another reservation.”
“I don’t know,” he hedged.
I am not proud, but at this point I began pouting. I love a spontaneous trip..a change of plans…a shift in scenery at the last minute. The boys would be home with me for Christmas Break for the next two weeks. I felt I’d already seen enough of the inside of our house. I wanted out. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t have the opportunity I have to lounge at home. For him, a few unscheduled, unstructured days at home sounds like heaven. He saw me pouting and took the bait.
“It’s just a lot of work to get out of here,” he said. “We have to pack everything up. I need to get a haircut. I don’t feel like spending three hours in the car.”
I continued pouting. It was obvious we were at an impasse.
“There’s nothing left to do,” I said. “We’re all ready for Christmas. We haven’t been to Steamboat since July. The place is open. We have three free days. We could head up there and spend some time relaxing before three full days with our families,” I tried again.
“Maybe we could find some fun things to do around town and do those instead?” he suggested.
“Like what?” I inquired in my best you-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about tone.
“I don’t know. We could do some research.”
“Go get your haircut,” I said, clearly annoyed.
“We can talk about it,” he said. “I mean, I guess we could go. You’re right. There’s nothing stopping us.”
“But, you don’t want to go. And, now I know you don’t want to go. So, if we go then I will know the entire time you’d rather be doing something else and that kind of ruins it for me.” After a long pause, I said, “We don’t ever do anything spontaneous anymore.”
“Yes, we do,” he said.
“Deciding on take out Thai food instead of cooking is not the kind of spontaneity to which I am referring,” I said plainly.
“It’s harder to be more spontaneous when you have kids,” he replied. I cannot argue with this. It is a fact. A sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.
“Well, we’ll talk about it after your haircut,” I sighed. “Whatever we do today it can’t happen until after you get that taken care of, anyway, so go.”
I sent him on his merry way. While he was gone, I did a little prep work. I knew he would come around to the idea of a quick getaway once he had some time to get used to the idea. I packed up our winter gear. I gathered up holiday movies, our Christmas stockings and their stuffers, and prepped the boys on what they would need to pack. When he got home and realized how quickly we could depart, he just might give in.
When he got home, his attitude had been adjusted as I suspected it might be. We quickly tossed a change of clothes into a duffel bag, grabbed some food for the dog and a couple groceries from the kitchen, and hopped in the car. Three and a half hours later, after a stop for gas and the required latte bribe, we were in Steamboat. It’s not that we’re not spontaneous anymore. It’s just that spontaneity requires a bit of lead time when you have responsibilities. First you have to throw off your natural inclination to size up the amount of work the spontaneity requires. Then you have to let go previously visualized plans, no matter how loose and open they were. Then you have to be willing to give yourself over to the moment. If you can break through those three obstacles, adult spontaneity is entirely possible. A bit delayed, perhaps, but still possible.