The great American surprise

2 Apr

For the past two weeks I’ve been working on a secret covert mission.

Stephen told me he would be traveling on business for most of April and the end of March.

“Do you want to use my United miles to go back to the US while I’m gone?” he asked.

I didn’t know what to say. While I enjoy my time in my old Kentucky home, I was mentally prepared not to go back for a year — I had only been back in the UK for two months. But then a little voice in the back of my head whispered “Over the Rhine. Live. With the Cincinnati Ballet.” I missed their joint performance in 2011 and it killed me. I could also be back for my mom’s birthday. I could give her tickets to the ballet for her birthday. I could be there for Easter. I could buy more PB2 (yes, this was seriously one of my first thoughts. Powdered peanut butter is ridiculously expensive on Amazon UK). I could have a LASIK consultation (more on that in another post).

I was sold. I booked my ticket less than a week before my travel date, and was struck with a dilemma — how should I tell my mom? Email her my flight with the subject line “Surprise! Happy birthday!” Tell her over Skype? …Or just show up and surprise her?

I knew what I had to do.

I crafted an elaborate back story about my mom’s “birthday gift.” I told her I bought her something online and it would not be ready until after 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 23 (the day before her birthday) and my dad would have to go pick it up. I texted her this information because I am horrible at lying face to face and it already took all I had to contain my secret when we Skyped three days before my intended arrival. I was so excited about my secret plan that I literally had trouble sleeping. I had never attempted a surprise of this magnitude before. I emailed my dad the plan and my flight schedule. He could not have done a better job executing it. Thankfully my flight was on time. My dad told my mom to count to 10 before she came out since he had to “set up” the present in the garage. I hid in the backseat and shouted “Surprise!” when she came out to look at her gift in the trunk. I believe there were tears of joy.

The thrill of the surprise was so great I knew I had to do it again — with my 38-week pregnant best friend. This was her first week off work, so we scheduled a Skype chat for Monday. For a week I had to keep the fact that I was in town a secret — no Instagram, blog or Facebook posts. I even went so far as to not like her statuses too late that would seem unreasonable for being on UK time. On Monday instead of Skyping from London, I downloaded Skype onto my phone, drove to her house and answered her call from her front lawn.

“Are you at home?” I asked her, then immediately rang the doorbell. She didn’t put the two together.

“Someone’s at my door, I think it’s this annoying election lady.” She said. I told her it was OK to answer it.

“No, I’m going to ignore her, she keeps bothering us!” she said.

Uh oh. I rang the doorbell again. And again.

“Maybe you can peak through the curtain to see who it is,” I suggested.

“No, then they’ll see me!” she replied.

Just as I was about to give my presence away, I saw her appear in the window with the biggest smile on her face. (Let me say here that I actually googled “Can surprise induce labor?” before I arrived because this was a genuine concern of mine. Apparently it can’t.)

After the initial shock and “I can’t believe you’re here!” wore off, we went out to lunch and a movie. I was lucky she had the rest of the day free, you never know when you just show up on someone’s doorstep instead of calling them from across the pond. Both of my secret covert missions could not have gone better and so far it’s been a lovely trip back. Here’s hoping the good vibes continue if I decide to have lasers cut open my eyeballs next week.

And now a gratuitous photo of Old Man Squirt:

breakfast butthead buddy

I sent this to my parents while they were at work the other day with the caption “breakfast butthead buddy.” He came into the kitchen still covered in his blanket from his crate so that he could bark at me while I was eating.



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