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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


The Birthday Saga Part X ~The Curtain Call

If you want to start from the beginning of this story click:
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX

Bryan looked at me and asked Melanie if they should tell me what we were doing next.  Melanie said something like, “I don’t think Clay would mind given his current state of health.”

Bryan and Melanie proceeded to tell me that we all had reservations at a nice hotel in Kansas City.  We were going to head to the Plaza to have dessert and then go to the hotel for drinks, but now that Clay had exited the scene and we weren’t sure if he’d made it to the van or not, we decided if he was still amongst the living we would take him to the hotel and let him go to bed.

I paid for our dinner and Bryan pulled his vehicle up to the door.  There was a Walgreens on our way to my van, so I asked Bryan to stop and let me run in to buy some medication for Clay.  Did you know that the prices at Walgreens in the sweet part of Kansas City are astronomical?  Neither did I.  I bought Clay some more pain medication and I bought myself a box of  band-aids to adhere all over my feet where my cute new heels were rubbing away flesh and creating the most lovely blisters.  The cuteness of those shoes was totally worth the pain and now they are all broke in and the skin on my feet is as tough as leather.

I saw that the passenger seat was lying down and the van was running.  Bryan told me to follow him since I had no idea where we were staying.  I gently opened the door knowing  that Clay’s head must be pounding.  I was met with a gust of hot air.  Clay had turned the heat on high and was sleeping in a blast furnace. He was lying back, his arms crossed on his chest with his eyes closed,similar to a corpse,  “Honey, I got you some medicine, do you want to take some?”  I asked gingerly trying to cope with the lack of cool oxygen in the van.  Clay’s response was to turn his hand over in a gesture for me to place the pills in his hand.  He slowly popped the pills in his mouth and without water, swallowed.  I’ve seen him do this before and I will never understand how he can swallow pills without anything to drink, but I was glad he was able to do that now since we didn’t have any available beverages in the van.

When Clay gets really sick he doesn’t want to be touched, he’ll lie very still and wait until he feels better.  It’s almost like he places his body in a semi-conscious state until it heals.  I’ve had moments that I’ve had to travel while suffering a migraine and I knew that Clay’s head was hurting. I didn’t want to take any sharp turns or hit any potholes while I was driving thus disturbing his self- induced coma.  My goal was to get Clay to the hotel without him knowing we were moving.  I thought I did a splendid job of driving too.  But, Clay later told me that he swears I was swerving in and out of traffic at record speeds and concentrating on hitting every bump in the rode.  We were obviously in two very different realities at that moment.

As we were driving we kept passing some very nice hotels.  I was getting excited that Clay had picked a really luxurious place for us to stay.  “Honey, what’s the name of the hotel where we’re staying?” I whispered

“Melanie picked it.” the corpse responded.

Oh, no.  If Melanie picked out the hotel that meant it was the cheapest deal in Kansas City.  If we were staying at a nasty hotel, I was just going to head home.  Melanie can not pass up a good deal, she likes quality, but if something is free she will be on it like flies on poop.  Clay had suggested that we stay in a Bed and Breakfast, but when Melanie saw the price she insisted on finding a better deal.



Here’s a little sneak peak into the conversations via Facebook Clay had with Melanie and Bryan during the planning process:

  • Clay Phillips So I’m working on a plan…
    Clay Phillips…to surprise April with a stay at this place: the weekend of her birthday. would you and the big B consider joining us there for a nice, relaxing stay? I’m working on pricing and availability but I wanted to get your read on it
  • Melanie YES!!!
  • I mean, let me check with Bryan first.
  • No, I really do mean YES!!! 
  • Clay Phillips You’re a bit odd…
  • Don’t let April know
  • Melanie We’re up for doing something, but the internets say that it is $750 per couple for a couples retreat. Is this right? I did notice that they ran a special last march which was a buy one get one free, which would make it half off. I’m guessing my dear bride would still find this expensive. Let me know what you find out. –Bryan
  • Clay Phillips Heavens, I hope its not that expensive.  Okay, I couldn’t get anything for free…what’s up with that…but the prices aren’t as bad as $750. For a Friday night stay, it is between $150 and $250 depending on the room. Here is how the day will go…
  • On Friday, we’ll plan on meeting you guys there around 5:30p or so. We can have a picnic dinner provided by the people for $50/couple or we can just make one ourselves and then just hang out at the place that evening. You and Bryan will be the surprise so don’t spill it Carter…
  • The next day we’ll get breakfast at the place and then we can do whatever, but I think it would be fun if we all went to the KC plaza and hang out. We can do some shopping, movie watching, eating and general merry making. I figured Friday night would just be the four of us, but I’m planning on having April out all day doing stuff with other friends so if you guys wanted to bring the kiddos, I think Ellen could watch them that night at our place and bring everyone to the plaza on Saturday. What do you think?
  • Melanie What weekend is her birthday?
  • Clay Phillips Seriously? April 8th. 
  • Melanie I couldn’t remember if it was May or April.
  • Clay Phillip…my wife’s name…you do remember my wife’s name…right?
  • Melanie Um… June?
  • Clay Phillips Yes, that’s right. I don’t know what I was thinking.
  • Melanie Ok, so… if this place is in the $150-250 range, and we aren’t planning on really spending time there other than overnight, have you thought about checking out some other places?
  • Clay Phillips How about you just come and stay at our house?
  • Melanie LOL – I didn’t mean to sound THAT cheap!
  • Clay Phillips uh…a rose by any other name…
  • Melanie Alrighty my friend – how about this— I find a nice hotel in Kansas City for us all to stay. I’ll do the research and let you know what I find.
  • Clay Phillips It better be nicer than the Super 8
  • Melanie Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a bench in the park. What can be better than free??
  • I find one in Overland Park. We could go out adults only Friday night and hit the town and then the kids could come and join us on Saturday and we could swim in an indoor pool.
  • Clay Phillips Aren’t they just as expensive? And park benches are nice…
  • Melanie I’m looking in the $65-$85 range. 
  • Clay Phillips I see the Super 8 in the future…
  • Melanie No, you see someone who knows how to bargain. I’m not staying in a crappy motel. I wouldn’t spend $10 on a super 8. 
  • Clay Phillips I don’t think anyone spends more than $8.99 on a super 8.
  • Melanie That’s a good $9 down the drain.
  • Melanie r Just to put your mind at ease, this is one of the places I’m considering.
  • Melanie Geesh. What? Do you work or something?

  • Clay Phillips Sorry, busy day. I’ll have to call you tomorrow.

  • Melanie What do you think about a nice dinner in Kansas City and then staying in Overland Park (Drury Inn – it has AWESOME ratings; #1 out of the 38 hotels. Free hot snacks and soda in the evening too. 🙂:-)

  • We can have drinks (free!) at the hotel after dinner. The next morning, the kids can join us for breakfast (free!) with scrambled eggs, sausage, Belgian waffles, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, bagels, and pastries. Then stay and swim in the indoor/outdoor heated pool. Fun for all! For a whooping $63! 
  • Clay Phillips Sorry, it’s hard for me to respond when April is sitting right next to me.


I’m still amazed that all of this was going on, while I was in the room no less, and I had no clue.


We continued to pass the fancy hotels and then we got into the more budget conscious offerings.  We turned into a drive and all I could see was a big parking garage then I noticed the hotel was attached to the parking garage in the back next to the interstate.  The Drury Inn.  Oh, Lord….I didn’t have a good feeling about this place.  I followed Bryan’s vehicle into the semi-circle next to the entrance.  Clay was asleep so I quietly got out and entered the lobby.

It was a very nice lobby with marble floors, dark wood furniture and lots of comfy couches.  A large screen TV was playing something and the a glass elevator disappeared into the floors above.  The lobby was full of people. There was a police officer talking to someone and about thirty adolescent boys and girls running around the place.  Uh?  I think we might have a problem here.

I looked at Bryan and Melanie, we approached the front desk to ask what was going on.

“There’s a big soccer tournament.  All the teams are staying here.”  Replied the weary front desk attendant, “But they aren’t staying on all the floors.”

Luckily, they weren’t on our floors, but unfortunately our rooms weren’t located on the same floors either.  Melanie tried her hardest to get two rooms that were by each other like she had asked for when making the reservations, but there was nothing left.

We received our plastic entrance cards and I headed back to the van to park in the parking garage.  Clay was sound asleep.  As we entered the garage there was a group of teens making a raucous by the entrance door, we circled up to the next floor, more teens, next floor, more teens, next floor, more teens….they were on every level of the parking garage, running in and out of the parked cars, holding the  entrance doors shut so their friends couldn’t get out, screaming, laughing…oh, the noise.  When we reached the top, Bryan made turned around and we headed down a couple levels.

I pulled into a parking spot.  I waited to open the door.  I didn’t have the heart to wake up Clay.  I thought if I sat there long enough maybe the kids would go away, sort of what I hope when my children call, “MOM?!” four hundred-billion-trillion times when they want to ask me a question and I’m in the same room.  I see them, I hear them…why, oh why, do they need me to acknowledge them?

I had just decided that maybe I could get out and ask the kids to settle down when I heard the corpse beside me murmur, “I’m not getting out until That goes away.”  That being the kids.  I told Clay I would unload our luggage and get our room set up and then come back and get him, oh and there are several hundred soccer kids staying at the hotel.

I got out of the van and walked over to Bryan and Melanie’s vehicle.  Bryan told me that he was thinking if we went up to the top of the garage that maybe we would run out of teenagers.  I grabbed our bags and headed to the door that was clogged with kids.  In my new heels I was hovering around 6’3″, as I approached the door I put on my death glare and for the first time in my life… worked.  There was nothing but silence when I approached the door.  I’m still not sure if it was because I looked so mean or if it was because I was big enough to crush them.  Probably a little of both.  There were kids running up and down the hall and coming in and out of rooms.  They were running up and down the stairs.  We decided to take the elevator.  When the doors opened several kids came out giggling.  Melanie, Bryan and I rolled our luggage into the elevator and pushed the floors we needed.  Instead of going up we went down and the doors opened on every-single-floor.  The kids had been running up and down the stairs hailing the elevator.  Then as we finally started our assent, the doors opened on every-single-floor.  I was so glad I didn’t let Clay come with me, I think he would have surely died a thousand deaths in that elevator.

I told Melanie I would text her once I got Clay settled.  I dropped all our bags in our room, got Clay a glass of water, turned up the heat, pulled down the covers and headed back down the elevator to retrieve the corpse from the van. I was praying that the kids would quiet down and that I would be able to get Clay into our room without a ten minute ride up and down the elevator.

I opened up the passenger door and touched Clay’s arm, “Come on Hon, let’s get you to bed.”  Clay opened his eyes, they were red and bleary, he was pale, he looked terrible.  The kids were gone from the parking garage, but as we entered the hotel several young boys in the hall were chatting and laughing.  They glanced at Clay and I and immediately were quiet.  I was digging this new scary look we had going.  I swear Clay looked like he was going to kick their little butts if they said anything, all the boys headed in the opposite direction and one boy made the wise decision NOT to get on the elevator with us.  My worries of them running up and down and screaming and laughing and making Clay’s head explode dissipated. We even managed to get to our floor without the little extra ride involved.

I opened the hotel room door and Clay immediately dribbled off his jeans and shirt and slid into bed.  He took a sip of water and asked if I could turn up the heat.  I kissed him on the forehead and told him I was going  to go hang out with Bryan and Melanie for a bit,  I smiled and told him this was the most fabulous day.  He closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

I hung out with Bryan and Melanie, we almost watched a movie, we almost went out for drinks, we almost got some dessert, but instead we just had a gab fest.  Melanie lamented that we didn’t take advantage of the free offerings from the hotel, but I think we would have been swallowed in the sea of soccer kids.  I was tired, this day had been unlike any day I’ve ever known.  It was unreal how much Clay had done for me, all the details, all the people involved.  I felt so loved.  So cared for and so appreciated.  Just the feeling that every mom, wife, daughter, woman, girl needs the most and I had enough of it to share.  The best gift of the day were the people that Clay had strategically placed to spend one on one time with me which happens so rarely without interruption.  I was completely content, I will never complain about a birthday ever again…until I’m eighty, then I might need special treatment and special care and special aids of all sorts.

I headed back to my room after a couple hours of chatting.  I quietly opened the door expecting Clay to be sleeping, but he was sitting on the edge of the bed, drenched in sweat.  His fever had broke and he had just got up to turn down the furnace.  “Hey, are you feeling better?”

“Yeah, that was crazy.  I’m so sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry about Clay.  I’m so glad to see you alive.”

I got ready for bed and crawled in beside him.  He turned on his side to look at me, “There are no more surprises.”  I smiled and kissed the man that had just given me the best day.  I didn’t need anymore surprises, I just needed him by my side for the rest of our lives.

~The End



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