For the past 5 weeks (maybe a little more) I had been lying to everyone on my Dad’s side of the family, and most people on my Mom’s side of the family.
I was sitting in Sea-Tac airport, getting ready to board a flight to Los Angeles, and my Grandma from Ohio was texting me about Thanksgiving and asking about where I was going.
I texted, I’ll be at a friends house. I leave this afternoon, without a second thought. I still had to be careful. I had kept my secret this long and it wasn’t going to be unveiled until I was standing on my cousins’ doorstep.
All my friends from school knew. I had to explain why I wasn’t going back to Colorado, but to California instead.
I had done a pretty good job of texting my cousin and telling her how much I was going to miss her, and I occasionally posted the same message on her Facebook wall. I did it to my brothers as well, telling them how jealous I was that they got to be in Cali and I didn’t.
I did more than just lie. I was downright conniving.
I could hardly contain my excitement as I boarded the flight, and I texted my Dad, “I’m leaving school now, have a great Thanksgiving!” My Dad and Mom actually knew I was coming, so those were simply code words just in case someone over read the text on accident.
I had the very last seat on the plane. 20D and I ended up sitting next to a couple with a six year old girl across the isle, and a 2 year old ginger-haired boy that they were keeping on their laps.
Most people would have mentally prepared themselves for disaster, but I hadn’t interacted with kids nearly at all since I left for school. I was more than thrilled to talk to him and I eventually got to hold him for a while.
Eventually, he got worn out and fell asleep, which allowed me time to read for school. I read more in those 2 hours than I would have read in 6 had I still been in my dorm.
After I landed I called my Dad, made my way to the baggage claim, and then out the sliding doors to stand on the gray sidewalk of terminal three. I had a long sleeve gray shirt on, a Rockies baseball cap, and jeans. It was 72 degrees out and I felt like I was suffocating.
When my parents pulled up in a mini van a huge grin spread across my face, and when my Mom got out I pulled her into a hug and didn’t want to let go. I had seen my Dad a few weeks earlier in Seattle, but I hadn’t seen my Mom in months.
My Dad threw my suitcase in the back and we were off. I had a plan about how I wanted to surprise everyone, but since it didn’t happen that way I won’t bother to explain it.
I’m not one that normally asks, “Are we there yet?” I tend to leave that job to my six-year-old cousin, and youngest brother, but I recall asking it at least twice on the ride to my cousins’ house, which was pointless since I knew almost exactly where we were the whole ride back.
As we pulled up to the side of the house I slid down between the seats just in case someone was outside, and my parents went into the house to scope out where everyone was.
My Dad texted me: Everyone is all over the place. Come ring the doorbell.
I opened the van door, and climbed out feeling like a stowaway or criminal. I walked across the street as casually as I could and walked up to the front door. Then I rang the doorbell, which was an odd feeling because whenever I had arrived in the past it had always been wide open to greet me.
My dear cousin Mackenzie answered the door (I had been pulling her leg the most) and when she saw me she said, “What?” and backed away from the door. I yelled, “Surprise!” and then we were laughing and hugging and my youngest cousin Ruby joined in on the hugs as well.
My brother Robert was standing there, just staring at me. I’m pretty sure he went into shock and remained in that state the rest of the night. He told me later he had been super confused because he was absolutely certain I should still be in Washington and not in California. That’s how good I had been at lying. It took him a while to adjust to the fact I was actually present.
After surprising those three, I walked out back to where the pool is. Sure enough, Mark and Xander, the inspirable family members, were floating on inner tubes in the pool. I was walking toward them and they were looking at me when I got tackled by my sister, and engulfed in a hug. Then the boys were yelling and climbing out of the pool and joining in and soaking everyone.
I couldn’t believe it was finally happening!
Next I surprised my Grandparents, who were next door in the guesthouse practicing for the “Battle of the Bands” which ended up not happening because I showed up. My Grandpa was the first to realize that it was me standing there and not one of the other grandchildren. He started saying, “Oh my goodness!” while my Grandma continued to bang on the drums. When she finally saw me she covered her mouth and got up to come hug me. I definitely can’t count on all my fingers and toes how many hugs and kisses I received within the first 10 minutes of arriving.
I still had to surprise my Aunt and Uncle, and within a few minutes my Uncle came back to the house after a run. I hid behind a wall and jumped out as he rounded the corner.
“Elisabeth! Wow! Don’t hug me!” He was pretty sweaty after his run, but I proceeded to hug him anyway.
Surprising my Aunt was possibly the funniest. Everyone sat down around the dinner table, and I had my back to the entry of the kitchen. My brothers, sister, and cousins then began improvising a discussion about what would happen during “Battle of the Bands” later that night. As they were talking my Aunt walked into the kitchen.
“Hey guys!” she said as she placed some groceries on the counter.
Everyone responded through a mixed chorus of hellos and continued to talk, and snicker. In the reflection of the French doors by the table I caught my Aunt leaning toward my Uncle and asking, “Who is that at the table?”
I started laughing, I couldn’t help it, and I turned around to reveal myself. My Aunt was definitely surprised, and both of us had tears in our eyes as we hugged. At that point everyone was screaming and laughing and some of us were crying. My sister had been crying throughout the whole thing, so I made sure to give her another hug.
Everyone began to ask me about all of the texts and Facebook posts and how long have you known you were going to do this again? How did you manage to hide it from us?
“Guys!” I laughed, “I guess I’m just a really good liar.”