Two months ago, my husband I were married in a small ceremony with friends and family on a ranch by the Carson river in Nevada. It was a balmy day filled with love, laughter and mishaps. I got stranded in a strip mall less than an hour before the ceremony (long story), one of the groomsmen forgot to pick up his tux, and the officiant came down with the flu. Despite these things we had a lovely day, because my husband and I (and everyone helping us) were prepared for things to go wrong and so took things in stride when they did.
“Savor the moment.” That’s a great way to remind ourselves to take in every detail of a special moment, trip, or occasion and file it away in our memory for future enjoyment. But what about those details that you want to forget. That you have to forget, so that the story about your trip to Ecuador is “Remember that time we stood at the equator?” instead of “Remember that time we almost froze to death in the Andean Mountains?” It’s choosing, in the moment, to asses the situation, stay positive and plan to salvage the moment. Then you can have an experience that can be savored over and over again. My new husband and I have had enough whacky moments to get good at this. We’ve also learned some great lessons and established patterns for how to make the most of an unexpected trial. Here’s how we do it.
In fact, it was looking back on another near disaster in our recent past as a couple that encouraged us to keep positive on our wedding day. It was December, 2012 in Ecuador and we had had a series of unfortunate events: a harrowing bus ride through the Andean mountains; being left on the side of the road at 3:30 AM in the middle of said mountain range; crazy guide; faulty gear; altitude sickness... and the list goes on. We took lemons (scary mountain trip) and made lemonade (impromptu trip to El Mitad Del Mundo, or “Middle of the World,” in Quito). We decided to remain positive about all the mishaps and even gave them a cutesy name “Mitad Del Mundo,” a motto to remind us to laugh in the face of trials.
While my husband, Mathias, and I were prepared to be positive during our big day, we did not prepare for all that would go wrong with our honeymoon immediately after.
My husband planned a romantic beachside getaway for us in what was advertised as a “charming” and “quaint, historical” inn. After an eight hour drive (twice as long as we’d planned for thanks to faulty navigation system) we arrive to a quirky, small, old inn miles away from the shoreline of Daytona Beach Florida. Since it was the middle of the night, we ignored the fact that it didn’t look like the post card. The friendly staff escorted us to our room and I immediately went into my habit of inspecting our room for cleanliness and proper accommodations. To my horror, I found broken glass behind the curtains, dirty towels hung in the bathroom, filthy dishes under the bed and a bottle of lube spilling out of the night stand... This was definitely the honeymoon suite, and someone had a good time in it. When we informed the staff that our suite looked like a scene out of The Hangover, we were kindly escorted to a larger suite with an ocean view. The ocean view room came with friends: cockroaches, mosquitoes and termites (oh, my!). It was too late to go anywhere else, so we built a fortress on the bed and stood watch against creepy intruders until dawn.
Next, we assessed our losses. Romantic mood: dampened. One night’s pay at crappy inn: lost. Time: one day of our special getaway gone. We were outraged by our experience until we reminded ourselves that we’ve had worse vacation moments and started planning to make our honeymoon a trip worth remembering. In the end, we still had each other and that meant things weren’t as bad as they seemed.
During our honeymoon experience, we kept positive and realized the situation could be salvaged. We didn’t want to spend the rest of our vacation at the infested inn, so we worked on plan B: Disneyworld! Until we realized that did not work for our budget or timeline… on to plan C! We quickly mapped a route to the nearest beach, Daytona, and planned to just enjoy the time with each other instead of trying to make the trip perfect. The result was, for us, near perfect. We spent one day sleeping in, eating pancakes and being beach bums. We learned to paddle board with a Hawaiian native who showed us how to go with the flow of the waves; and we enjoyed the local nature and vegan food scene. Finally, we laughed at how everything that could go wrong with our plans did. We had fun anyway.
As we age and start a family there are likely to be dozens of stories that start with “remember that time when...” We knew that this would be a story that we’d look back on and laugh at, but what turned our dud into delight was our determination to laugh now. Who cares that our bridal party wore mismatched outfits. Everyone was beautiful and I think that’s a trend now. Sure, it looked like the set of the Hangover in our honeymoon suite, but so what! At least somebody had a good time in that termite infested chateau that shall remain nameless. We managed to salvage the memories of our first landmark moments as a married couple: time spent with dearest love ones, priceless. Here’s hoping that there are many more to come.