Last week, we packed up the dog, the babies, and a metric ton of accoutrements and road-tripped it down to Gettysburg to visit the in-laws. This might be stressful if you have any in-laws other than mine. When it comes to in-laws, though, I pretty much won the lottery.
The first time I met Beth, Manny’s sister, I was sleeping on Manny’s sofa in Guam. She had no idea where her brother had picked me up, and I had no idea that she didn’t know I was coming.
It had been a couple of weeks since I met Manny for the first time on the neighboring island of Saipan. He invited me to spend a few days with him and his sister, who was visiting for a few months, on my way back to the states. I switched the first leg of my plane ticket to a few days earlier than planned so I’d have three days in Guam on the way back home. On the day I flew in, he had to go to work. So he picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at his house, disappeared to change into his uniform, and left.
I hadn’t slept the night before. Literally at all. Because the powers that be at the school in Saipan had ruled that no one should have to get up at 4 a.m. to take me to the airport, they had dropped me off at 11 p.m. the night before. I arrived in Guam a cranky mess and passed out on Manny’s sofa before he made it out of the driveway.
When I woke up, Beth (who blogs at Righteous Tree) was sitting on the chair opposite sofa Indian-style with her Macbook in her lap. She peeked over the top of the screen at me a little quizzically. At first glance, I noted that Manny had lots of books–two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full, which endeared him to me at once. I also noticed that Beth was the kind of person who had a Giving Tree decal on the back of her Macbook pro, which rendered her definite Friend Material.
We introduced ourselves and talked about Guam, about Saipan, about Christian colleges, about life. It wasn’t until around noon, when Manny came back for lunch, that I realized he hadn’t said a word to Beth about my visit.
She was just cool enough to act like it was completely normal to wake up to strangers on the living room couch and to make them feel at home (in a home that wasn’t even hers).
A few months after Manny and I married, we crashed Beth’s wedding on a whim–flew in to see her with no prior notice, surprising her a couple of days before the ceremony–and I had the honor of being a very last-minute bridesmaid as she exchanged vows with the love of her life.
Fast-forward four years, and we’re all on the lawn outside Manny’s parents’ Gettysburg home, wrangling our twins and Beth’s toddler with the parents’ help in an attempt to get a good photo of all three. And it occurs to me that, of all the bizarre family dramas I’ve experienced, I’m very, very thankful that my in-laws aren’t one of them. I’m also thankful for the very cool sister I never saw coming.