If you’ve arrived here thinking this is John’s Guy Fieri-esque food blog, I am sorry to disappoint. Although it was an “epic snack-down” that inspired the name.
Last August, John and I took a trip out to California. A friend was getting married and we decided to make a vacation of it. Outside of a couple sparse weekend trips to drive-able places, we hadn’t been on a real 7-day vacation in 5 years, so we were pretty excited. To save on airfare, we decided to fly out of Nashville, but before heading to the airport, we decided to stop off at John’s favorite Nashville breakfast spot: the Pancake Pantry.
Part of the Pancake Pantry experience is standing in a long line. The wait is typically no less than an hour. There are no reservations or call ahead seating. You can’t put your name on a list and go shopping. There is a very small sitting area once you get to the front of the line, but for most of your wait you are standing outside in a long line that wraps around the building. Depending on the weather and your attitude, the wait can be lovely or oppressive. In late August, it was quite hot, but we took turns holding place in line while the other ducked into a bookstore or boutique for a few minutes to get cooled off. And since it’s Nashville, there was a guy on the corner with a guitar accepting requests to kill the time. Still after awhile, we were tired of standing and we found ourselves saying “These pancakes better be good.” When we finally did reach the front of the line, a man who is one part host, one part line enforcer, opened the door and before ushering us to the next open table exclaimed “Let’s go have some pancakes!” And so we found the two catch phrases of our trip.
And yes, the pancakes were very much worth the wait, and in fact, I think the wait made them all the sweeter.
Over the next week John and I took some amazing adventures together. We toured San Francisco, drove down the coast to the Big Sur beaches, hiked among the redwoods, swam in Yosemite and took in a beautiful wedding in the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains with friends. Each time we would embark on a new adventure we would say “Let’s go have some pancakes!” And when we were met with long drives or unforeseen obstacles, we would say “These pancakes better be good.” They always were.
John takes trips all of the time. Any time he gets a day off he is hiking or visiting a historical landmark, but it had been a long time since I had taken a trip. I’m much more of planner and John is much more of a doer. I need an itinerary and game plan. John just needs a friend-of-a-friend’s couch and a GPS. People sometimes think it’s a little strange that he will take trips without me, but I know he needs those adventures. They recharge him and comes home a happier person, and quite frankly, his trips would stress me out. I realized on this trip that I had lost my sense of adventure. I always had an excuse not to try something new, usually for fear of plans going wrong. I’d forgotten how much a new adventure can really energize you. That trip to California was amazing and some of the greatest memories I have with John came out of that week. I found my sense of adventure again and I would return to that trip in my head many times over the next year to sustain me when things got really hard — and they got really hard.
In our kitchen there is a chalkboard plaque that sits on the window sill above the sink and we often change out the phrase written on it to something that sort of embodies our season of life at the time. It still read “Let’s go have some pancakes” in January when we set out on our greatest adventure to date and I found out I was pregnant. I then crossed out “some pancakes” and wrote in “a baby” and that’s what it still says today. The past year has been unequivocally the hardest year of our lives and certainly left us wondering many times whether the wait would be worth it in the end. At 20 weeks, we found out that our sweet boy would have Down syndrome. We were devastated by the news. To compound things, it seemed that everything else was falling apart around us, literally. Each week the house had a new expensive problem or there was a health issue, and just a few weeks before giving birth, we had to put down our dog. These were just a few things on the long list of things that went wrong this past year. More often than not we doubted whether all we were going through would be worth it.
Looking back, I’m not going to say that everything that happened was “meant to be” because honestly I don’t believe in that. I do believe that everything we lost that seemed important revealed what we know to be truly important.
Last night we took our first walk around the neighborhood as a family with our sweet Owen who is 4 weeks old now. Life is not easy, but easy does not equal happy, something we too often forget, and something that can make us miserable when we forget. Looking at the photos from our walk, I realized that despite all the moments this year when I felt that I had lost something, I have never felt like I’ve had more to lose than I do right now. Life is full of all the right things. The pancakes are good.
This isn’t a “Down syndrome blog,” although I’m sure that aspect of our lives will color our experiences and we will certainly write about it quite a bit. This blog is about our lives. It’s about Owen, who is much more than Down syndrome. This blog is about our adventure in this next endeavor as a party of 3.
Let’s go have some pancakes.