I had been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks. Mostly, I've been waiting for the right moment. A time when Syl is out of the house for at least a couple of hours, and my frame of mind was tuned in to the appropriate attitude channel. There is nothing worse than tackling a project when your attitude isn't really willing to be flexible. Like, your heart really isn't in it, but you know you still have to finish it any way. Yesterday, all the planets were aligned and the surprise I had in mind for Syl began to take shape.

Now sometimes, when a person plans a "surprise" for someone, even with all of the best intentions, the end result is less than celebratory. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, timing. Even the mood the recipient may be in, could turn the expected laughing, hugging, wonderful outcome, into a soap opera nightmare.
However, there was no chance at all that my attempt to "surprise" Mrs. S. would result in anything but a roaring success. I knew it for a fact. It had nothing to do with the 42 years that we have been married. Or that we have known each other for more than 50 years. No, this treat has to do with a place that makes both of us smile, sigh, hug, countdown to, hold hands and jump up and down, or suddenly become calm, tranquil, even misty eyed, at the mear mention of the word, Couples. Yesterday, I brought down the suitcases. I just knew that when my life long partner sees the bags, here in the computer room, she will react with hugs, smiles, kisses, maybe even with some very loud vocal sounds of positive Ecstasy and joy. All of that just from seeing the bags. I am still amazed.

We were about to embark on our 30 pilgrimage to the an island we had only read about in National Geographic, or in eighth grade social studies. "Can anyone tell me, boys and girls, what is the name of this island"?

With all of the excitement and Adrenalin rush we experience each time we travel , the three or four or maybe more weeks before the actual trip, when the bags are here, we become like two kids who have been told they have to wait five days for the trip. Whiny, pouty, not happy at all. Now imagine those two tarts were told they had to wait 27 days. I'm staying out of their way.

The only thing standing in my way of carrying out my plans, was the dreaded, even dangerous terrain that I was about to encounter in the two bedrooms up stairs. Any guesses as to why I fear for my life when I attempt to find an object
My somewhat shopaholic wife is a S A V E R ! Those of you that are S A V E R S, know immediately what that means. To those of you who, like myself, are married to a S A V E R we have no idea what is going on in his or her head. We just deal with the "stuff" when it comes through the front door. And for reasons that I still do not understand, it it comes in, it almost never leaves. "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave". Welcome to the warehouse, let me warn ya, you enter at your own risk.

The only thing that fueled my passion and allowed me to remain focused on the task at hand, was the look on Sly's face when she sees the bags. So regardless of any difficulties or dangers that I may encounter, I remain steadfast with confidence. I bang loudly on the barrier in front of me. "Okay, I'm ready for you", I say out loud. and I put on my heavy leather gloves, steel toed boots, grab a flashlight in case the lights go out.I can also use it to send Morse code messages for help if I should be disabled or lost.

I know that the only obstacle that I will encounter when I swing open the huge massive gate that holds back the tons of potentially dangerous missiles just 13 stairs above me will offer no resistance and I will easily remove the vacuum cleaner from the hook and put it aside. Now the treacherous climb up the steep and narrow path. I arrive at the landing at the top of my first climb. Here is where I must keep a keen eye out for unseen and unwanted encounters with anything that may reside in this dismal dormitory of domestic dumps.

Needless to say, I managed to deal with all of the truly life threatening, frightening problems I was faced with. I was able to find the bags in only 4 hours and 27 minutes. I shaved off 11 minutes. I'm shooting for under 4 hours for the April trip in 2010.

I think that I can hear some snickering out there. What? You don't think it was all that wrote about? Okay. Fair enough. I'll give you a small insight in to what was facing me as I stood on the landing I had reached.

First of all, the air was so much more difficult to breath "up there". Musty. Dusty. Webs. Scary objects that cast even more scary shadows. The single 60watt bulb overhead, was infinitely insufficient to guide my movements. No sooner had I gathered my thoughts and courage, and began to enter the smaller of the two rooms, unknown debrie that laid before me was overwhelming.



There was some light coming in the through the small attic type window. As I began moving things about, the sun picked up the tiny flecks of dust that I was causing to fill the room as I stumbled over the box of books, and sought out more cleared wilderness.

I had managed to make my way to what looked like safe terrain. Enough room so that I could actually place both my feet on what I hoped to be the floor. I had no need to have any support from the walls or other solid objects around me.

As I stood there, feeling proud and with a great deal of satisfaction, I could see the two objects that I was after. When I shined my flashlight on the dark foreboding items piled high all around me, I was able to catch a glimpse of the two containers. My heart was racing. There they were. I just had to move slowly and carefully less than three feet and I would be at the base of the tower of twills and tweeds. That's when it happened.

As I tried to keep my balance on this uneven ground, I saw a piece of paper in front of me. I recognized what it was and I began to bend over and retrieve the note. It was then that the term "life threating" came to mind.

As I slowly reached for the paper, I was unaware that somehow, a part of something was sticking out of the mound. It wasn't until after I began to bend that I realized I had accidental bumped the log jam with my butt. The next thing I knew the entire mass of materials began to topple. Much like an avalanche as it roared down on me, and I was covered. I screamed out, but my voice was muffled by a muffler that was around my head. I could smell the moth ball aromas. I was doing all I could to remain conscious.

Then I remembered that the hard solid thing that I held in my right hand. It was the flashlight. Anxiously, I fumbled in the dark to find the switch. 'Click' The only thing that I could now see, was that there was a ton of stuff on me and if I didn't manage to find a way out, I could be here until Syl figures that I'm missing.

Once I was able to calm down and tell myself that I would indeed extricate myself from this perilous position. In the dim light of the flashlight, I saw what looked like a belt. I was able to grab that belt, make some quick knots and cast it out and over the mess that had come down on me. The loop on the end of the belt landed on the handle of a small closet. I tested the belt, pulling on it gently. Then, with a final thought of my wife and my daughter, I pulled myself out of harms way and in to the light.

I don't know how long I laid there. I was pretty loopy from lack of oxygen. As my vision began to clear and my ears stopped pounding, I realized i was okay. And next year, when it's time to do it all over again, I will gladly put my life at risk. Again.

There are somethings that are just worth it.

Richie