Monday, August 17, 2015

Adventures with Souvenirs

I'm not sure how many guarantees there are when it comes to marriage: Some people date for years before getting married, and have good luck, while others don't; others date for seemingly days and stay happily married for decades, while others don't. I'm not sure there's anything one thing one can do to guarantee a happy marriage.

Being Catholic, Ed and I attended a Pre-Cana Engaged Encounter retreat, a weekend meant to get us talking about what turned out to be pretty much all the things we had already discussed: finances, living arrangements, careers, parents, procreation, etc. Oddly, while birth control was discussed, it was only in the confines of the rhythm method. There was zero discussion about planning for children otherwise in terms of timing, the number of children, infertility, financial discussions relating to children, who would stay home - things that I think would be good for us and other couples to have talked about more - but there was  absolutely no discussion about these topics whatsoever. As such, we found the weekend not a good use of our time (as I wrote here and here). 

What turned out to be as helpful, perhaps even more so, in many cases, was that we traveled together before we got married. We had begun planning a trip to Stockholm, Tallinn, and Helsinki before we got engaged, but traveling after the fact put us into close quarters with each other, where things could ostensibly go wrong in three countries where neither of spoke the language. While I believed that I could marry Ed and be happy, it was this trip that confirmed this.

And not for nothing, a lot of it had to do with our having the same interests and wanting to check out the same things, while being open to seeing things that we might not want to see if the other person had an interest. Sine we both like eating, we were able to have some good meals without worrying that the other person was going to be a picky eater.  In other words, it came down to flexibility, shared interests, and an interest in the other person's interests as well. It's okay if I want to see one more church, and it's okay if Ed wants to see All the Things in a museum. 

We've been married for just over four years now - not an especially long time, but long enough to get into a groove when it comes to traveling. We do our research ahead of time; we tend to want to see the same things. If one of us needs to slow down or take a break, it's not an issue.

This also means that many of our souvenirs are things we share, mostly relating to books on places we've visited, or Christmas ornaments (because we like having ornaments of places we've visited), or posters for the wall. We used to only buy flat things (like books and small posters) or small things that were easily packed in our luggage. Then we realized that all the places we were visiting had these things called post offices - or, in at least two cases, Mailboxes, Etc. - and that we could mail things home. Since many tourist places offer international shipping, things often work out really well in those cases, too. 

Sometimes, though, interesting things happen. (I'm using "interesting" fast and loose here.)

Our most recent trip was to Ireland and Northern Ireland; we started in the west of Ireland, and drove north up through Northern Ireland, stopping at the Giant's Causeway and Belfast, before driving south to Dublin, where we spent the last week of our trip. We noticed that the Giant's Causeway ship offered international shipping, so we bought some things, filled out a form, and was told that we'd be called once they figured out international shipping costs in order to get our okay, and ship things. We gave them our address, phone number, and my e-mail address. Foreign addresses are always a bit wonky, so we made sure to confirm all information before we went on our merry way.

It took them more than a week to get to the post office; after several calls back and forth, we finally connected with the correct people, who were finally able to tell us the shipping charges. Then we got another call saying that they couldn't read our e-mail address in order to send us the tracking number. (We cared less about that and more that our package was actually shipped.)

Today our package arrived. Both my first name and last name were misspelled (which I care less about; outside of Poland, it's a weird name), as was the name of the town in which we live. And instead of writing out Utah, or abbreviating it correctly, VT (the abbreviation for Vermont) was used. So ultimately the package was sent to Micelle Szetella in West Jordon, VT.

Somehow the post office still got it to us. 

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