Secrets

December 12, 2003

For the past eleven months I've been living with a secret. Only now can I write about it here, and I can honestly say I am relieved. Keeping a secret is hard work, and it forces you to lie by omission. I discovered that I don't like lying, even by omission, to my wife.

You see the secret was a surprise weekend visit by her best friends in honor of her birthday. Michele's birthday falls on December 24th, which has meant that it was always overshadowed by Christmas. In the 7 years that I have been with her for her birthday I have tried to make it special in some way.

Last year we took a Hawaiian cruise, the year before we traveled to her adult hometown of Tampa to see family and friends. This year however we are staying home for the holidays. So I decided to bring her friends here.

In January I sent out an e-mail invitation, and everyone agreed to come. Planning something 11 months in advance isn't easy on ones stress level. So much can happen in a year. For a while this summer it looked like we would be relocating, I was afraid that my plans would have to be postponed for a year. I was happy when that eventuality never came to pass. I could never have kept my mouth shut for an extra 12 months.

A few weeks ago I had another round of e-mail and cell phone conversations with her friends and they were all still eager to come. Flight times were examined and schedules confirmed. Now the pressure to keep my big mouth shut was really getting intense. Simple conversations were fraught with peril. Not saying, "Gee, when the girls are here, why don't we..." became a tough thing.

This week has lasted forever. Knowing that I would finally be able to let my guard down made it even harder to not say something. Several times I nearly gave away the surprise just so I could relax and sleep normally again. On my way to work this morning, knowing that the next time I saw Michele the cat would be out of the bag, I was almost giddy with relief. As I sit here in the airport awaiting the plane's arrival, I am anticipating her excitement and joy at seeing her friends.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.