“How close will we be to Niagara Falls, I have always wanted to go?” I asked.
“Not far, a few miles, according to the map,” Dad replied.
“Should we stop?”
As we drove, we knew we needed to get to Maine that May afternoon. We didn’t know what we were going to find when we got there, or if we would even find jobs or a place to live, but we were ready to face whatever lie ahead.
As the exit approached, a decision was made:
“Do we get off the Interstate and see the Falls?”
Scott and I had seconds to make this decision, we were 23 years old, adventurous, and we were certain the world was our playground. “Nah, let’s keep going and get there today. We can always go back, it’s not far from Maine, just 7-9 hours.”
Except, when we were 23 we didn’t understand things like bills (sure we paid them before, but grown up bills are different from college bills), insurance, time, gas, and how quickly two $20,000 salaries can be spent just living life. Years passed and we always talked about Niagara Falls and how we wanted to go. God gave us our little miracles; and the bills raised more; Scott had night school; we diagnosed a child with autism; vacation days could never line up; plane tickets to see our family in Virginia and Nebraska were purchased. As we were packing to leave Maine and drive a bigger moving van and a slightly newer Hyundai back to Nebraska, I couldn’t stop thinking, “I wish we would have taken the hour or two to see the falls.”
Then, the accident, and all of sudden my days felt numbered. We weren’t living the 23 year old’s life we set out to live. How many other opportunities had we missed because of time and money? It is a terrible feeling to realize that you are living the wrong life, with the right people. The feelings were buried another year and half, the wrong life was still being lived and I couldn’t stop wondering what Niagara Falls looked like. I have few regrets in this life, but obviously, driving past the exit on that sunny May afternoon, became one of them.
A few months ago, I snapped. “I AM NOT LIVING THE WRONG LIFE ANY MORE. I need to find that 23-year-old who loved life, wanted to see and do everything, and the world felt fun. I am not going to die living like this, hating a job, always wishing I was someone else. Life is too short.”
One night I told Scott, “We are taking our honeymoon this year. It’s been 10 years and we have never gone. Mom said she would take care of the kids. We can find a way.”
“It won’t be Hawaii,” Scott said realistically.
“I don’t care. Let’s take the honeymoon that we would have taken as 23-year-old kids. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? Let’s drive there.” Hence, our road trip out west, with just the two of us was planned. It wasn’t Hawaii, it was better because Scott and I found each other again on that trip. Someday, we will go to the island, but at least we took our honeymoon.
Three weeks ago, we decided to drive to Maine. We had been hoping to go for a year, plane tickets were too much. We could either drive as a family, or stay home. Despite finances, and other things, we knew what we had to do. We went and it was worth it. Our savings will grow again, and the memories are magical.
As we drove through New York state, 10 years older, with our two kids, when it came time to take the exit, we did. The kids LOVED Niagara Falls. They were mesmerized by the water, they danced in the drips, they came alive in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. We weren’t meant to get off the interstate 10 years ago, instead, God intended for us to see it as a family.
A life with no regrets; that is the life that Scott and Courtney Fitzgerald, newlyweds, intended to live and are living again. 2012 is the year we became us again.