Fifteen Minnesota State Fairs. That's how long Glen and I have been together. And I can still remember meeting him at that first state fair like it was yesterday.
We celebrate the crossing of our paths by returning to the state fair each year - and this year was no different.
What was different this year - at least different from our past six state fair visits - was that we didn't take the kids with us.
Yes, I just died a little inside putting that down on paper, because now there's no denying it. But as hard as the decision was for me to accept, it was the right decision.
After our trip to the fair last year, Glen announced on the way home - or maybe even before we left the fairgrounds - that we were not bringing children with us to the fair next year.
I agreed. Most of what I remember about last year's state fair was hot, sweaty, crabby kids.
However, when it came time to make our plans for this year's state fair, a little piece of my heart kept wanting to bring the kids along.
To me, the people who can say they've been to the state fair every year of their life are incredibly lucky. I was in high school before I took my first trip to the Minnesota State Fair. I wanted my kids to have an opportunity I didn't while growing up. I wanted my kids to be part of that lucky group.
I even tried to figure out how Glen and I could bring the kids for just a few hours and then go back together, with just each other.
In the end, I squelched the little voice that kept telling me to bring the kids. The decision was well worth the anguish that went into making it.
Our friend who watched the kids for us assured me that I wasn't ruining my kids' lives by not taking them to the fair. Instead, she said, this was some much needed time together for me and Glen. As parents, I believe we sometimes get so caught up in keeping our children happy that we forget to keep our marriage happy.
Our state fair date was relaxed and enjoyable. And, as it turned out, it was one hot date. We picked one of the 90-or-so degree days to go to the fair. Within minutes of arriving at the fairgrounds, I realized that we would have melted our kids had we brought them along.
Maneuvering around seemed effortless compared to the past several years of steering the stroller through the crowds.
We listened to the band in the bandshell for awhile and didn't have to worry about how much noise our kids were making or whether they were running away or not.
We ate what we wanted, when we wanted. And we didn't have to share. That meant I had a whole bowl of Nitro Ice Cream to enjoy all by myself. Well, I did let Glen steal a couple spoonfuls.
Maybe next year we'll bring the kids. Or maybe not.