Most mornings I wake up in Oxford thinking, “Awesome. Time to go take a Greek Exam. Time to go get punched in the face.”

This morning I woke up thinking, “I get to see my wife today.” I literally woke up with a smile on my face.

The Big Surprise

Lyndon asked me the other day whether I planned to meet Jen and Steve at the airport. I told him I wasn’t sure. I told him I had class.

He gave me a look like I was crazy.

“Oh, you’ve got to go, man. Why don’t I drive you?”

He said he had a class, but that he’d see if he could miss. So he could drive me to London. To meet Jen & Steve at Heathrow. This guy’s amazing. Time is so valuable here. With all the workload. For him to take a half-day to drive me to the airport was huge.

I thanked him profusely for even offering it. He shrugged it off like it was no big deal. But it was.

“Oh, no worries, man.”

And he was right. Once he mentioned it, I knew I had to go.

I e-mailed Jen a list of things Monday evening. Items we could use here. Things to pack, if she had room. Her flight itinerary. And directions to get to the bus that would take her and Steve from the airport to Oxford. She knew I had class, and they had planned to take the bus. She had no idea…

Lyndon and I had Greek this morning. And we took off right after class. To Heathrow International.

We arrived at the airport five minutes after their flight landed, which meant we’d have some time before we saw them.

“How ’bout a coffee to help get you even more excited?” Lynde asked with a smile. I wasn’t going to pass that up.

The coffee shop was only 20 feet or so away from the door for international arrivals, so we could sit there and chat while waiting. Watching everyone come through. Waiting for Jen and Steve to arrive.

“So, is Jen going to text you when she arrives?” Lynde asked.

“No, her phone won’t work here. And even if it did, she doesn’t have my new number,” I told him.

“Oh wow. So, if we miss them somehow, how will she get a hold of you?” he asked.

“Well, she doesn’t know we’re here,” I told him, forgetting that I hadn’t filled him in on that little detail.

“No way!” he said with big eyes and a laugh. “Well played!”

We had a great time talking. Catching up. I felt bad for continually looking to the door, but every time it opened I felt myself hoping it’d be Jen and Steve walking through.

Another wave of people. Still no sight of them.

I told Lynde I was about ready to run through the doors and start shouting for Jen. He told me if I did, I’d probably find myself with a black bag over my head and thrown into a van. He told me England law allows a suspected terrorist to be held for up to a month. I told him that was the only thing holding me back.

I forgot my camera at home, so Lynde offered to snap photos with his iPhone. I told him he’d better be ready. That I was likely to take off running as soon as I saw them. No matter how much I told myself not to.

After about an hour, I was starting to get nervous. Wondering if something went sideways with customs. Or if we had missed them somehow.

I asked one of the women who walked through the arrivals door where her flight was from.

“Iceland,” she told me. “They shouldn’t be far behind.”

That was encouraging. At least now I knew this was in fact their flight.

Another 10 minutes went by. Still no sight of them.

Lynde and I had been talking the whole time leading up to this point. We weren’t talking at this point. We just stared at the doors. At each face that walked through. Waiting. Nervously. I was growing more anxious by the moment.

And then, all of a sudden, the doors opened up and I caught a glimpse of them. First Steve. I noticed his sweater. I have the same one. I wore it yesterday, of course. This is the way it goes with us. It’s kind of weird, actually. Then I saw Jen. She was just behind him. And immediately my face lit up. With a smile that split my face from ear to ear. I couldn’t help it. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Times a million and a half.

I started walking down the walkway leading up to the doors. With people on both sides waiting for their loved ones. They waited. I didn’t. I couldn’t help it. My chin was quivering. I was so happy to see them.

I walked right up to them both. Flowers in hand. Steve was first, so I patted him on the shoulder. Then I grabbed my wife and gave her the biggest hug. The kind of hug you save up for for weeks. There’s no better feeling than holding your wife after not seeing her for so long.

I kissed her. I told her I loved her. And the whole time I was smiling. I couldn’t help it. I was so happy.

“How’s that for a surprise?” I asked.

I told them I was so happy to have them here. And I was. So much. I introduced them to Lynde. I told them how he had driven me here. To surprise them. And they thanked him. I think they were just as happy about not having to take the bus as they were about seeing me. Maybe more, after their long trip.

I Have Guests

We pulled into our place around 2 this afternoon. 6 am Washington time. I was surprised by how well they were doing. Considering the time difference. Considering the travels. They were doing great.

After showing them around (they loved our place), Jen decided to lay down for a nap. It was so nice to tuck her into bed. Our new bed. She told me I had lost weight. That I was too skinny. I kissed her forehead and tucked her in. She closed her eyes and pulled the covers up to her chin. She had a smile as I closed the door behind me. Which made me smile. I was so happy.

Steve stayed up. This guy’s a machine. He hadn’t slept since, Monday night, I believe. He said he felt great.

Steve checked the cookie jar, in hopes of finding some homemade cookies. Instead he found the strawberry wafers my Grandpa had sent over the week before. A look of incredible disappoint spread across his face.

“I thought I told you to bake me something sweet?” he asked. I laughed, knowing what was waiting in the oven. The cake I had baked for him the night before. In honor of his birthday I had missed.

We worked away from the kitchen table. I on my Greek. He on his e-mails. And Skyping with Jamie back home.

It was so nice. I was used to working on Greek on Wednesday afternoons. I wasn’t used to working on Greek with my best friend across the table from me.

He helped me run through my flash cards, and I told him I had decided he’d have to stay here with us. He said, “okay.” (Sorry, Jamie. I’m afraid I’ve let you down already…).

After several hours, we decided to get some fresh air. Jen was still napping, so I left her a note. That we’d gone for a run.

It was so refreshing to get outside and get some fresh after being inside most of the day. And it was a great way to introduce Steve to Oxford.

I’d point out buildings as we ran. Wycliffe Hall (“Where Lyndon goes”), Eagle & Child (“Where Lewis & Tolkein used to shoot the breeze”). There were several street performers on Cornmarket Street as we ran. A guitarist. And an amazing drummer. Dodging people as we ran through the city center.

A 31st B-Day Cake

I promised Jen pizza when she got in. Her favorite. So Steve and I walked down to Summertown to pick up our takeout order after getting cleaned up from the run.

“I can see why you’d love it here, man,” Steve said as we walked along the cobblestone sidewalk to Summertown. Leaves underfoot. It was encouraging to hear him say that. It was nice to share this with someone from back home. For him to see my new world. To be a part of it.

I told him it still feels unreal most of the time. Like I’m still living back home. It’s a weird feeling. Hard to explain.

We grabbed the pizza’s and walked home. Pizza and sodas in-hand.

After several weeks, it was great to share a meal with Jen and Steve, here in our new home. So great to sit around the table with them again. To talk, in-person.

We cleaned up the table and I pulled the birthday cake out of the oven. Frosted from the night before. Jen and Steve were both plugging away online. Jen on my laptop. Steve on his. So I managed to light the candles and turn off the lights before he realized what was happening.

I began singing. Jen joined in. He looked up with a look of complete surprise on his face.

“What? No way!”

“Oh, now I feel bad for giving you a hard time for not baking me cookies,” he said after blowing out the candles.

It’s not often I’m able to surprise this guy. It was nice to get him twice in the same day.

Jane and her family got in around 8:30 tonight. From Rome. I asked Felix how it was.

“Yeah, it was quite good.”

I asked him what his favorite part was. He told me it was the coliseum. He told me about all the animals they used to keep there. This kid loves animals. I should’ve seen that one coming.

He’s on break right now from school. For another week. It was so good to see him again. I’m really enjoying getting to know that kid.

Jane came over as we were dishing up cake and ice cream. To say “hi.” And to meet Jen and Steve for the first time. Everyone was quite tired from traveling, including Jane. So she didn’t stay long. But it was great to see her again.

I put four pieces of cake on a plate, covered it in saran wrap and snuck it into their kitchen. Along with a note thanking them for letting me borrow their cake pan (well, Beng let me while they were out).

The Happiest Guy in the World

I’m living in England. I’m studying Theology at Oxford. My best friend is visiting. And my wife is now here with me. I’m the happiest guy in the world.