When I first met Andrew, he told me he loved to travel. I shuddered a little bit. I’ve shared before that leaving my comfort zone is not my favorite thing to do — travel included. But I have learned that a relationship is all about give-and-take. So, over a year later, I planned a real vacation with Andrew.
We settled on Carmel-by-the-Sea for a few reasons. First, I gave him 36 Hours, a travel book, for his birthday, and the pages about this little Pacific town were spellbinding. Second, we both loved watching “Big Little Lies” on HBO, which took place nearby. Third, neither Andrew nor I had ever been to Northern California. We decided to experience it together.
Southwest had a sale in early summer — we bought two round-trip tickets, and that was that.
For some reason, this trip felt like a really big deal. I worried for weeks leading up to it. Andrew and I had traveled together once before (to visit his family in Georgia) but our California vacation was different. It would be just the two of us for five days — a few friends of mine remarked that this could be a “make-or-break” weekend for our relationship. After hearing that, the pressure was on.
I wanted the weekend to be perfect. I wanted to look effortlessly chic (I googled “how to dress in California” for inspiration), feel my absolute best, drink fine wine and enjoy a few lazy, sunny days with Andrew. I wanted to post gorgeous Instagrams and get a lot of likes.
Of course, life isn’t perfect, and neither is vacation.
Here’s what actually happened: I had a straight-up panic attack shortly after our plane took off, then cried my eyes out in the airport. I felt sick for a lot of the time we were there. I didn’t wear half of the clothes I packed in my suitcase. I got a zit. I wouldn’t let Andrew take a single picture of me.
But somehow, by the last day, I felt more secure in my relationship than ever. That was the first time Andrew had seen me at my absolute worst — and he still wanted to hang out with me. I was baffled.
When I think back to last weekend, so many of my memories are happy ones: driving up the coast to Big Sur, dining al fresco in Carmel’s storybook town (only one square mile!), sipping old-fashioneds, sitting in the sand, talking about serious things, talking about silly things, listening to our Spotify playlist (affectionately named “california songs”), eating the very best mussels I’ve ever had, and drinking coffee in the courtyard at our dreamy hotel, L’Auberge Carmel.
I will skip the mushiness and just say this: Our vacation taught me so much about Andrew. It was a glimpse of what life could really be like with another person. Just like vacation, life is full of ups and downs. There are some days when I’m cranky and tired, and other days when I’m soaring. The same is true for Andrew. To continue to love a person through those highs and lows is something I’ve never really known.
So, no, it was not my perfect weekend — but it was God’s perfect weekend. And that is something to write about.