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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 VII ~ The Finale

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


When I reached to pull down the visor to start applying my make-up the eighth envelope fell into my lap.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to find it, but maybe Clay really was that clever after everything else he had done I shouldn’t be surprised.

I texted him, “Number eight  just fell into my lap.  Should I open it?”

“Wait until 6:08”

“Okay, I’m getting ready.”

“Good! Be ready at exactly 6:08”

“Will do.”

I looked at myself in the mirror.  Oh boy, I didn’t look as good as I felt.  My face had been smashed in a tissue covered do-nut hole in the massage table for an hour, any make-up that I had on had been smeared away and my hair was nice and greasy from the essential oils.  This was going to be tricky.

I grabbed my bag and started digging for the proper tools to give the ole’ 41 year-old face the help she needed.  There wasn’t much I could do with my hair, but at this point I didn’t much care.  How could I be concerned about anything at this point in the day?  I was the Queen of the World and I had the new shoes to prove it!

Sorry, I don’t have a picture of my new shoes.  I know!  How is that possible? What can I say, I was at a point in the day where I was so overwhelmed by all the events that I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I snapped a photo of me all cleaned up with properly greased hair.  I checked the time it was 6:08 so I picked up the envelope from the passenger seat and opened it.  I partially thought Clay might sit up in the backseat and scare me or knock on my window.  Was he somewhere in this parking lot?  What was the next plan of action?

I started to cry when I read, “It’s time to meet you husband”  and then I really bawled like a baby when I got to, “He is waiting for you at the Campanile.”

So much for my make-up.

The Campanile is the bell tower located on the campus at  The University of Kansas.  Clay and I have had some very significant moments at the Campanile.  We had shared a moment there during our drawing class in the spring of our freshman year.  We were supposed to be sketching buildings on campus, but got a little distracted with each other.  A photographer had caught us embracing and ran up saying, “You two are the freshest thing I’ve seen all spring, mind if I take your photo?”  He totally caught us off guard because we had been so focused on each other.  He snapped the photo and it ended up on the front page of the local paper and in the hand of our drawing professor.  That professor then quietly delivered the clipped newspaper picture of us to me during class with a little note that said something like, “Could this be the reason I don’t have a sketch from you yet.”  I don’t think I’ve ever turned a darker, more beaming shade of red in my entire life.  I could have brought the ships to harbor from the glow emanating from my forehead to my clavicles.  I still get embarrassed thinking about it.

Nine years later Clay and I spent our 6th anniversary sitting on a stone bench sharing a tiny wedding cake and drinking champagne at the Campanile.  We were in the midst of a big life change. We were preparing to move to St. Louis.  He was getting ready to leave for six weeks to start a new job.  I had to stay home with Ellen who was about to turn five and Seth who was two and a half to pack up the house and hopefully sell it.  We sat on the bench and talked for hours about where our life together had led us.  We were excited about the future and a little nervous, but we were very happy and very in love.  When we left that bench I didn’t dream that I would ever see it again with Clay for any significant occasion.

I was wrong.

I reapplied my darn eye make-up and told myself not to cry again!

I texted Clay, “I’m on my way!”

“Which street are you on?”

I updated him my route with every turn and as I saw the Campanile I spied a man wearing a white shirt sitting on the bench with his back turned to me.  I would know that back anywhere.

“Hello Sweetheart” I texted.

I wanted to stop the van and run to him, but I had to find a stupid parking spot.


Clay started to walk toward me.  It was hard for me to take photos and walk in my heels and not cry or laugh hysterically from giddiness.  I was a might bit emotional at the sight of him.

Look at that man.  Oh the day he had given me.  What had I done to deserve such treatment?  Why was he so wonderful to me?  Was that a new shirt?

I was so happy to see him.  He asked me if I’d had a good day and we hugged for a very long time.  I didn’t want to let him go.  Words couldn’t express how thankful I was for the fabulous day that he had planned for me, I hoped that I could communicate it with my arms wrapped tightly around him.

“I love you.” I said quietly, “Thank you.”

“Do you like my shirt?” He asked.

“Did you buy that today?  All by yourself?”

“I’m pretty amazing when I need to be.’

“I can’t argue with that.”

“Ready for dinner?”

I had been so well fed all day that I wasn’t that hungry, but I would follow Clay anywhere he wanted to go.

We got in the van and he said, “We’re going to Kansas City.”  I found a place I think you’ll like a lot.  On the thirty minute drive we talked about what he had been doing behind the scenes all day.  I think my jaw was in my lap the entire time.  I asked him how he was feeling and he said, “I feel okay, I’ve been popping ibuprofen all day.”

We found a parking space in the quaint part of KC called Brookside.  Clay had made reservations at a lovely corner restaurant called Avenues Bistro.

As we entered the restaurant Clay approached the hostess and told her our last name and reservation time.  She said our table should be ready in just a moment.  Clay turned to me and asked, “Do you want to get a drink at the bar.”  I thought about it and was going to say no thanks, but decided a glass of wine sounded nice.  We headed to the bar and I couldn’t believe what I thought I was seeing.

…to be continued.

Okay, that was just meaner-mean-mean. I promise I’m not still celebrating my birthday, it did eventually end, maybe.

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