Planning

I’m at the forest preserve where I walk my dog. I’ve dropped my phone, and I’m trying to get it back into the pocket so I can leash the dog and get moving. A voice interrupts me, startling me a bit, since I hardly ever see people here, much less talk to them.

An elderly man asks where the dog show is. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Then he asks if I know where there’s a motel nearby. I have to think a minute, because I don’t have occasion to stay in hotels much in this town I live in. I recall one, give him directions. Then he asks “do you know if they take dogs?”

At this point, my critical nature kicks in. “Nice planning,” I think, shaking my head, “did he really not know he was coming to this dog show? Was this sprung upon him? An emergency? How do you not call ahead on such things?”

That kind of planning isn’t inherent to my nature, but I have become an efficient architect of time and events. As a secretary, I found that everything benefits from advance preparations. Indeed, some things are quite impossible without making arrangements ahead of time. Add the experience of being a mother, and then being a mother of a disabled child, and I’ve developed some mad planning skilz.

But no one, and I mean *no one* plans like my husband. He is the quintessential OCD planner–in the best possible way. He doesn’t even run to the grocery store without a detailed list and itinerary for his trip. Every move he makes on an errand run is mapped out. If we’re going to be gone overnight, you bet we know exactly where we’re going to be staying and how long we’ll be there (and whether the facility allows pets).

When I went on the epic road trip with my daughter two summers ago, it was Tim who made all of the hotel arrangements. I decided the path (after an arduous battle over where *I* wanted to go as opposed to where he *wanted* me to go), but he found the hotels. And wow, what an amazing job he did finding us great rates at nice, clean, serviceable hotels. Through his careful foresight, we also brought along coupons from Restaurant.com, some he bought for 10 cents apiece. These coupons made it possible for us to eat at a couple of very nice restaurants for very little money. That’s planning.

However.

While I know how to plan, I am much more flexible than he is.  Having children at a young age forced me to become pragmatic, but I’m comfortable (read “thrilled”) with the idea of packing a bag, getting in the car and just driving with no destination in mind. It was this inclination that found me on a train a few weeks ago headed downtown Chicago simply because I had a free afternoon. This urge is also what drives me to leave Chicagoland behind and move to Colorado. It’s only because of the commitment we made to the children to keep them in one school district that we aren’t leaving sooner. If it weren’t for them, we’d be long gone. At this point in my life, I am beyond ready to move, to leave, to shake the dust of this suburban confinement and explore the mountainous beyond. I feel fettered, shackled, trapped here, and it’s all I can do to not chew through the netting and bolt.

But the magic of our marriage is that my husband, the careful planner, the man who can’t sleep unless he has a list of what he is going to accomplish the next day, is willing to go on this adventure with me. Our compromise is this: he’s willing to move out of the only kind of environment he’s ever known and launch a new life with me in the mountains, and I’m willing to give him enough lead time to make all the preparations he needs to make to be able to sleep at night.

I think that’s a pretty good deal.

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