Not many people would be thrilled at the idea of getting up and going to work with their fiancé at 6am on Monday morning. But when your fiancé works at Panera and that means free coffee/snacks/lunch/etc and 8hours of unmolested reading time with the occasional break for kisses; I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited. The prospect of doing this for 5 days in a row added to the pleasure, so come Monday morning I was stoked to head off to Lake Mary Panera.
Just to fast forward, by the end of the week I was almost over the whole reading thing, but that’s probably because I spent the whole week doing heavy reading (read: Puritan theology/philosophical analysis of Greek thought/exegetical commentary on Genesis). So 40hrs of Panera does wear on you even if you spend it sitting around pleasure reading. I can only imagine what it’s like to work like Ali does (probably somewhat analogous to when I was the opening shift at Sbux).
So Monday afternoon we chilled. And by chilled I mean watched Arrested Development, ran a couple of errands and hung out with the boys Ali nannies for later in the afternoon (which also involved Arrested Development). Most notably maybe, I had my first ear candle experience, which apparently are quite controversial but I know a glob of my own earwax when I see it (I would, wouldn’t I?). Maybe someday if I get the time (read: never) I’ll conduct some experiments with the ear candles to see how well they actually work. In the meantime though, it was quite the thrill of my life (not really, but I did get unnecessarily excited by it).
Tuesday morning was of course a repeat of Monday morning and would ominously foreshadow not only Wednesday morning, but Thursday and even Friday as well. Tuesday afternoon involved more random errands, as well as hanging out with Matt for a while before dinner (you should know who Matt is by now). Tuesday night we delivered Sheena’s birthday present to her, which involved my first experiment with in-home espresso machines. All would have gone smoothly had the machine been plugged into the wall, but that of course made troubleshooting rather easy once we hit a roadblock. Thank goodness I’ve worked at Starbucks all these years.
Wednesday brought us to mid-week and that meant a trip to the beach was in order. Matt and Melissa decided to come as well, and this meant we would necessarily be in for an adventure. For a few moments of trepidation we wondered whether or not we would run out of gas, but the crisis was quickly averted and within minutes we had arrived at New Smyrna Beach (a nice 25-30 or so minutes from Ali’s Panera) Even during Spring Break, the beach wasn’t particularly crowded and obnoxious, probably because as I mentioned before we were in New Smyrna and not say, Clearwater or Daytona.
After getting sufficiently sunburned, Matt and I got a little crazy and decided to bait the roaming seagulls by placing goldfish crackers in our belly-buttons and then assuming a supine position near the oncoming surf. This of course did not work and we both secretly feared for our genitals in the event that it did in fact work. One brave seagull almost succumbed to Matt’s extended hand, but merely fluttered over his groin before getting wise to our little ruse and backing off. After few more minutes we gave up and instead decided to corrupt a little boy within eyesight by showing him how to feed the seagulls with unwanted crackers. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.
Once we were assured the seagulls would not starve that night, we decided based on the proximate location of the sun in the afternoon sky, divided by the shade of red on my shoulders that it was time to head back to Oviedo and descend upon Thai Basil like the flock of seagulls descended upon our scattered goldfish. This all proceeded according to plan and we all had our fair share of curry (well Melissa had spring rolls) and then after a heart to heart with Matt & Melissa ended a rather fulfilling day.
Thursday meant my parents were well on their way to town as they had left the day before from Knoxville. This would mean the infamous meeting of the parents (as opposed to the infamous meeting the parents). Fortunately, no Meet the Fockers-esque shenanigans ensued, but instead they hit it off quite nicely from what we could tell. Our dads had a vague recollection of meeting before, which is actually entirely possible as Ali’s dad had sung at our church in Knoxville sometime in the late 90’s. Apparently they had enough of a conversation afterwards to remember one another. Weird.
But then again, what part of this story is not a little bit out of the ordinary? You’d be hard pressed to find a part that does not have some unique twist of the normal plotline or flow of development (which may be two ways of saying the same thing, but oh well). In any case, this brings us to Friday which mounted to my parents driving up to see me and Ali at work and then consisted of a brief lunch in the Sanford mall before heading down to Longwood to see the community center where we will be getting married come August 1st. It was quite the place. Since I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of where I would get married, I was sufficiently satisfied with what we found there, and after being also sufficiently splashed from the fountain outside while having a photograph taken to commemorate the event (the visit, not the splashing) we headed back to Ali’s house to hang out for the night.
A nice family dinner brought the day to close and on we were to Saturday. I drove Ali over to the boys house (the boys she nannies for) the night before and then kept the car so that in the morning I could take her younger sister Naomi to some sort of Awana activity while Ali slept in for a bit. This excursion involved a brief stop at Friendship Park and thoroughly exploring a playground before dropping Naomi off and then heading to pick up Ali. It was not long after this we found out Skittles died (Skittles being our schnauzer back home in TN) which was disconcerting, but not entirely unsuspected (she had started collecting health problems). This put a damper on the day much more for my parents than for me since I had the benefit of already having adjusted to not seeing Skittles all the time (but still), however, we would not be undeterred in getting the most out of our last full day in Florida.
We visited the open house that Ali’s mom was showing in Winter Park and then later had a delightful lunch in an Italian restaurant by a small man-made lake. Afterward, I took a moment to harass the ducks before we headed back to Ali’s house via the Oviedo mall to pick out our wedding rings. Ali’s rings needed to be sized and mine had to be special ordered, otherwise we could have just eloped afterward, so as it stands right now we are still waiting until August. It is an unfortunate but amusing side note that Ali finally decided to get her engagement ring sized with the effect that her first day back to work after I left was with a ring missing from her finger and this generated quite a few questions of whether or not she was still engaged. What a silly question.
Sunday brought us to church at Northland and the realization of our imminent parting-of-ways. This fortunately did not really put a downer on the day until the drive to the airport where the weather accordingly responded with ever-darkening skies and eventually rain drops once we were actually saying goodbye, which helped to cover up the tears more or less (well at least on my end).
Once again I was back to being by myself and once again about to be roused by the joys of air travel. The flight to Atlanta (of course) was non-descript and the layover in Hartsfield Jackson was what you would expect to have in order to walk 500ft from one gate A18 to gate A28 (over 2hrs). The sun slowly set while I was there and the day pretty much ended much sadder than it had began and a flight back to Dallas was everything that a flight back to Dallas usually is (read: no comment).
So here we are, back in not only separate states, but separate time zones, and thus the story progresses, but not as interestingly and so of course the next part will go back to where we last were, which also involved me journeying to Dallas, but by land and into a largely unknown future of seminary, which is where the story really starts to pick up speed. But not much mind you, as we’re picking back up in August of 2007, which is still over year before anything that resembled dating would start, and even the dating takes place rather inconspicuously and could be missed if one blinked long enough. So until next time…don’t blink, you might very miss something significant.