Yesterday (Wednesday), Team Odette headed up to Clearwater in Pinellas County, Florida, for me to visit a potential new JAFRA Consultant of mine. (That appointment went great, even though I forgot to take my anxiety meds. She's going to sign up next week!)
Afterward, the children were starving, so I took them nearby to Steak 'n' Shake for dinner. Surprising absolutely nobody, and true to form, Sophia ordered mac & cheese, Jack ordered chicken fingers, and Chloë ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. Par for the course. Robert had to stay outside in the car with Paco - voluntarily, of course. He spoils that pooch something awful (and I'm a bit of an enabler, myself)!
Since we were already in Pinellas, and St. Petersburg was on the way home, we offered to take the kids on a slight detour through St. Pete Beach and show them where we had our second wedding on the beach at sunset fourteen years ago. They were all over that like white on rice. Our first stop was to visit where Mama used to work before going to graduate school: Larry's Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. (I gained so much weight snacking on the Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavor!)
Since the kids had already had shakes with dinner, I simply ordered a vanilla cone for our ice cream-lovin' spoiled pooch, Paquito, and let the kids get a chocolate-covered pretzel. And, come to find out, the same owner(s?) are still there from when I was 22 and heading off to University of South Florida to work on my Ph.D. in shark feeding ecomorphology with Dr. Phil Motta. (Totally name-dropping there.) She didn't recognize me, but when I told her that I had been there 16 years earlier, she said I must have been a baby, so I was too flattered to remind her that she fired me because I was leaving for grad school four months later!
And finally, we meandered down Gulf Blvd along the coastline to Pass-A-Grille Beach, the site of that fortyear post-nuptial wedding ceremony.
You see, we had originally planned for that sunset-on-the-shore wedding to be the actual nuptial ceremony. However, circumstances changed in that I had to rush up to see Rob unexpectedly a week or so after my previous visit to see him for a Navy Christmas party, wherein I found it almost impossible to drive away back to St. Petersburg at the end of my visit. For this latter drive up, I already knew by the time I arrived in Panama City Beach, where he was at Coastal Systems Station, that it would be utterly impossible for me to leave him again.
So, after we returned to PCB from Missouri to bury his stepfather, Gene, we hauled ass back to St. Pete together to put in my notice at work, pack up my apartment, get my dog Johnny... and elope! We filled out our marriage license paperwork on the 30th of December and had to wait until the 2nd of January to get married. Rushing to the courthouse after I finished work on that 2nd day of January, 2001, hand-in-hand and laughing our fool heads off, was the absolute best moment of my life.
We got married at the courthouse that day, just us and the Justice of the Peace. She shut the blinds, left, and let us smooch to our hearts' content after we exchanged the rings.
By that time, however, some of our family and friends had already made their travel arrangements for the planned beach wedding. We decided to go on with it and get married in front of them, our pastor, and God. (Not that He wasn't present the first time, but, you know.)
On February 17th, 2001, which also would have been my mommy's 50th birthday, we had our beach wedding after all. I had found out sometime around January 20th - just a few short weeks after we eloped - that Chloë was on the way! So I went to our wedding pregnant and, kicking off my shoes, finished the scenario barefoot to boot. I knew people would think my pregnancy was the reason we got married two short months after we first met, and that wasn't helped by her arrival a month early! Haha! But no matter, because Rob, God, and I know the truth. (And my OBs, natch.)
Anyway, 14 years later, there we were at twilight, with 13½-year-old Chloë, along with nearly-12yo Jack and nearly 10yo Sophia cavorting in the sand on Pass-a-Grille Beach. And just like we had those years ago, Rob and I kissed in the moonlight whilst dancing to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." However, with Paco in Rob's arms, those kisses turned into puppy licks and, um, eww.
Once we gathered up the children, who were disappointed not to have seen any sharks or cownose rays as I'd suggested might have happened, we decided to head up to St. Petersburg's 34th St S and visit where I used to work at the Law Offices of James M. Brickley.
Jim died while watching the attacks on September 11th, just four days after Chloë was born, so sadly the law firm was no longer there. It was replaced by a dental office. The Gold's Gym in that plaza was another gym chain now, but the Domino's was still there. The bagel shop that had the best bagels and cream cheeses on earth (which I've been craving ever since our elopement) was shut down and empty inside, and the plaza had expanded to include many more shops including one of those ubiquitous Dollar Tree stores. I got a little teary-eyed remembering Jim and his wife Pam, who I had considered my mom-figure once upon a time.
Anyway. All-in-all, it was a pretty rockin' day, and we had the best time. The kids and Paco snoozed almost all the way back home to Miami, and Rob and I held hands and rocked out to songs on the radio. And I drove entirely too fast.
Thanks for strolling with me down Memory Lane!