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For Kelsey & Mini Mont.,

August 12, 2008

And…. we’re back! After an overwhelmingly hectic 3 weeks of nonstop work and travel I am finally able to resume posting. Judging by my site counter, Most of my regular readers (i.e. family) stopped checking for updates sometime last week so to those of you reading this right now – thanks for stopping by even though the chances of there being something new were very, very slim!

As reparation for my virtual disappearance, I promise to make at least one post per day for the next two weeks. Whether I’m working 17 hour days or only 12s, I will be sure to find at least 10 minutes a day to share all of my fascinating (ha!) activities, thoughts and observations. Besides, I have SO much to catch everyone up on that it’s going to take several posts to get you all up to speed on what’s going on in Britt land. (ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit on the “SO much.” More like “a moderate amount given that 15-17 hours a day are spent in a boring office”)

But. Where should I start??? The Ghentse Feesten? MarktRock? My new car? New people at work? Go Team America parties??

How about my FAVORITE part of the entire summer thus far:

My trip to Myrtle Beach.

Yes. While the rest of my coworkers jetted off to exotic locales such as Spain or Greece or Croatia for their vacations, I headed for the good old state of South Carolina. Why the shores of the Atlantic over the white sand beaches of the Mediterranean?

In a word, Schmuckaface. (also known as Kelsey)

(well, I suppose Mini Monteleone there in the middle had something to do with it too…)

See, sometime in May my parents told me about their plans to have this year’s vacation in Myrtle Beach. Given that I am fundamentally unable to say ‘no’ to anything that involves sun, sand and WAVES, I responded “Gotta check with the managers but pack a Boogie Board for me!”

Then I checked with the managers.

“Last week in July? That’s the start of busy season. Sorry, but no.”

I relayed this to the fam. It was sadness all around. Not only would my presence by missed (who was going to eat their weight in chocolate pancakes if I wasn’t there?!). But. I was going to break one of the cardinal Spencer rules: “You MUST immerse your toes in saltwater once a year.” (This is one of the unspoken vows of my parent’s marriage. Right after ‘love & honor’ and before ‘cherish.’ Failure to abide by it fully – salt in the bathtub doesn’t count – would be grounds for divorce. Just kidding. No, but seriously.)

So. From May through July 29 I spent a small part of each day emailing with Kels about how upset I was that I was going to miss out on sun, sand, WAVES, steak at Joe’s, bodysurfing, shopping at Barefoot Landing and, most importantly, Baby’s FIRST trip to the beach. Got her all disappointed and downhearted.

Ditto for me. Breaking 24 straight years of family beach trips to work?? Ugh. What’s the point of working to make money if you never have any time to use it? What happened to the ‘play hard’ in the cliche “Work Hard. Play Hard?”

So. I made a deal with the managers. In return for taking off Wednesday, July 30 through Friday, August 1st, I would work late(r) nights and Saturday & Sunday mornings (instead of just Sunday afternoons & nights) in the weeks preceding my vacation.

Ok. I know you are yawning right now and thinking, “That’s way too much buildup just to get 3 days off for some sand. Besides. Last minute tickets in July aren’t cheap. Are the waves REALLY that important?” Yes and no. But stick with me. There are TWO big reasons for all the melodrama.

The first: No one told Kelsey about the change in plans!

EVERYONE (mom, dad, Boyfriend, Big Sister, Dave, Dave’s brother, Aud, even Baby) was in the loop. Kelsey – oblivious!

From June until the day I left we had countless “I really wish you were coming” conversations. I even developed a whole set of fictitious events – a special company dinner on Friday, Aug 1st. (even sent her a menu and had her help me decide what to order) and a trip to the Scheveningen beach in The Hague on Saturday, Aug 2nd. so we could “both be at the beach at the same time.”

I became obsessed with the idea of surprising her. No Idea why. When I couldn’t stay awake in a meeting or was stressed at work I would think about the look on her face when I walked into the condo and suddenly it would all be okay. It was like the giddy anticipation you get during the Holidays- knowing you’ve found someone the PERFECT present and looking forward to their reaction when they open it up.

After two months of elaborate smokescreens and preparations, the day of my flight to Myrtle Beach finally arrived. I carefully packed all of my goodies – belated bday presents for the Big Sis, mom and dad (whose gift was 12 bottles of Belgian beers – among them a WESTVLETEREN 12- which I overbundled like a protective mother whose child is about to go play in the snow for the first time (wrapped each one in socks, ziploc bags, t-shirts and then tied with jeans)). Sent an email to Kelsey pretending I was at work. Wrote up another email and gave Boyfriend strict instructions to press “send” at 11pm Belgian time (5pm EST) so she would spend her evening thinking I was across the ocean, completely unaware that I was on my way!

After some 19 hours of traveling (Brussels to Munich to DC to Myrtle), I arrived at Myrtle Beach around 12:30am. A quick hour passed with me talking at my parents (yes, at not with since I was super hyper and couldn’t shut my mouth) and before I knew it, we were at the condo.

I crept in the front door hoping that they would still be awake. Sadly, at 2am, the lights were were out and everyone, including Baby, was fast asleep.

Which meant I had to run and jump on Kelsey’s bed.


[Look of complete shock mingled with confusion}


[more confusion]

“What are you doing here?? You just sent me an email!”

Mission accomplished.

Ok. So that was exciting moment #1.

Now for the reallly BIG one. The REAL reason I went back to the US just for four days.

After 3 perfect days of pushing Mini Mont around the pool in a giant blowup crab, proper hamburgers, shopping with dollars, suntanning, bodysurfing, sleepovers and other fun stuff, exciting moment #2 arrived:

Kelsey got engaged!!!

It’s her story to tell, but I’ll give you the highlights: moonlit beach, fireworks and shooting stars.

An artist’s rendering of the night:

So yes. That was my favorite part of my first European summer: a trip to South Carolina. The usual vacation fun with the family, surprising Kels and celebrating her engagement! (Oh, and hanging with the little one. That was cool too.)

Note: to any family members that might be reading this. I’ve already requested off for next year’s vacation. To say that I’m excited for the ENTIRE family (aunts, uncles, cousins, Big Sisters) to spend a week together by the ocean is something of an understatement.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Suzy permalink
    August 13, 2008 2:48 pm

    Hey! I’m glad that your plan to surprise your sis worked out beautifully! That’s so fun!! I can’t believe your lil sis is not only a mom but getting married!! I still remember when she was in 1st grade. =)

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