I love to travel more than anyone in Austin. It’s a bold statement but I’m resolute.

For our honeymoon twenty years ago, my husband and I splurged and flew to Italy. We spent two weeks romping around Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Our travel agent (remember those?) took charge. She insisted on small places. Florence over Rome. A Tuscan town that listed “sitting” as a brochure-worthy activity. The small village of Positano, so obscurely wedged on a cliff, we fought paralysis driving the two-lane highway to find it. We also found my favorite, the Isle of Capri, and a shack that took 45 minutes to make our caprese sandwich (not including bagging it). 

We unwound so completely, reentry was painful. We pledged “Venice for Our Fifth!” and kissed as we entered customs, t-shirts stuck to our skin with “Howdy, It’s Houston” humidity.

But as our fifth anniversary approached, I was pregnant with our son. Somehow, instead of Venice, we ended up at Sea World. Sea being the constant variable? Quickly realizing we were the only adults without kids, we pumped our hands, summoning Shamu 2, to hide our age. We held hands as kids screamed for dolphin key rings we knew would never make it out of the minivan once home. We watched, horrified, as exhausted parents gave in to Dippin’ Dots.

My husband fetched a pretzel for me. “We’ll always have Sea World,” he said, as I bit into salt.

Now, nearing our twentieth anniversary, in a pandemic, quarantining at home with two teens, it’s obvious: no travel. But is it odd that I feel lucky? We had Italy, at least. And we even had sad, politically incorrect Sea World. It was the perfect segue into the weird, wild world of parenting.

As the oven preheats tonight, we’ll share an icy Topo Chico and laugh about the 45-minute caprese sandwich. We’ll steal a kiss and be glad we have each other as we pull back the plastic film of the frozen eggplant parmesan.

We’ll always have Stouffer’s.


Cate Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at cateberry.com


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