Second Chances

Today’s guest post comes from Amanda, over at Manda:  In Training.  We actually just recently became blog friends, so I am so happy that she is able to guest post for me!  Take it away, Amanda!

I’m going to tell you a classic love story. Boy is born and raised in New Jersey. Girl is born and raised in Wisconsin. Boy and girl meet on the internet. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy proposes to girl. Boy moves halfway across the country to be with girl. Boy and girl get married exactly a year after they meet. Boy and girl have a luxurious and relaxing honeymoon in lovely…Rhinelander?

I know, I know. Not your typical love story. Then again, Blake and I aren’t your typical couple. Allow me to explain.

Blake and I met on a website called LiveJournal, which was THE site to be on before blogs became THE thing to have. Both of us, huge fans of American Idol, joined a community to discuss the show with other people. I read one of his posts and agreed 100%. I commented, we became “friends,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

He was in love with his best friend at the time, as was I. The more we talked on the phone and computer, the more we forgot about them. We decided that we were going to exchange Christmas cards. I am really glad I waited to send mine, because I was not expecting a bracelet or the request to come visit me in my card. Needless to say, we set a date for him to visit, and I was elated because I would have my first real Valentine. I, however, did not expect one of the best days of my life to occur at one of the worst times in my life.

You see, part of the reason that Blake and I bonded was that we were raised so similarly. Growing up in proud Sicilian households, we were both raised in tri-generational households. We were both so used to having our grandparents around. A stroke the year before had left my grandmother paralyzed on her left side and she was losing the will to fight. Cancer struck Blake’s grandfather and he was deteriorating a little bit more each day. The day that Blake and I met face to face was the day of my grandmother’s funeral.

When I called to tell him that she passed, I expected for him to reschedule his visit. Instead, he stood by my side the entire night and met my entire family at once. I should have known then that he was the one for me, but it was only after a pep talk from my mother that I truly realized that my angel in heaven had brought me my angel on Earth.

Fast forward six months and we are engaged and moving Blake to Milwaukee so that we can be together forever. Fast forward another six months and we are married. We really did not waste much time because we knew that we wanted to be together.

However, being two twenty-somethings in school full-time and working full-time, proved to have the best of our honeymoon plans. A honeymoon in February was just not in the cards for us. We spent two lovely days holed up in a hotel, but that wasn’t a honeymoon. It was a breather from all of the pomp and circumstance of a wedding, and all of the after-wedding events. We knew that we would have to have a honeymoon in August because it was when we were both eligible for time off from our jobs. We did not have a lot of money, so even with Blake’s flight benefits (he works for an airline), we would not be able to leave the state.

My mother found an ad in my father’s union newspaper for a cottage in Rhinelander for $300 for the entire week. It was right near a lake and it was completely furnished with a full kitchen. It sounded like the perfect plan. We jumped at it, and that August we were off for a week of sunshine, water and domestic life with few worries. We thought it was going to be our own, cheaper, version of paradise. Boy, were we wrong!

We finally find the cottage after four plus hours of driving, pay the remainder of the fee, and go to settle in for the week. It happened to be the hottest week of the year, might I add. We expect to be cooled off as we enter our haven, and realize that it is not air conditioned. We forgot to ask and assumed. As my grandfather always said, what happens when you assume is that you make an “ass of u and me.”

Not quite discouraged yet, we decided to unpack later and take a trip around the lake in the peddle boat we were told we could use. The lake stunk like a sewer, and the peddle boat squeaked so loudly that we could not hear one another. Our relaxing afternoon turned into a comedy as we tried to turn the boat around. My husband accidentally knocked me in the pungent water and fell in himself trying to save me.

Drenched in what looked and smelled like pond scum, we decide go inside and wash up. I quite honestly think I’ve seen larger bathrooms in Polly Pocket toys. After my shower, I decide to take a nap and realize the bed in the “master suite” was a double. We are used to a king-sized bed. Blake, not much of a napper, decided to lounge around by the television, which shockingly was not black and white. When I awoke, we decided to make dinner together. The “fully-furnished kitchen” was older than either one of us and all of the appliances worked as such.

We still tried to make the best of it by using the grill instead and eating outside, which was cooler than the inside. We were eaten alive by mosquitoes and flies, and even the bug spray we were wearing did not help. After running inside, we did not even think about the bag of lingerie I had packed. Our evening was spent playing card games and watching Degrassi: The Next Generation on DVD. Warm, itchy, and frustrated, we went to bed.

Waking up the next morning, we realized we could not spend another night like that. We quickly devised a plan to set the mattress up with the couch pillows to make a larger bed in the kitchen. Not the most ideal setup, but it worked. We went shopping in wonderful downtown Rhinelander for the half-hour it took us to get around. We tried the lake again, but the smell still turned us off. We played more card games and finished our DVD set.

After the fourth day of this, we realized we couldn’t take anymore. We drove home the next morning. We were not relaxed and did not enjoy our honeymoon. When we came home, my parents told us that they had a very similar experience on their honeymoon twenty-five years ago. We were comforted, but still could not laugh about the fact that we did not have the honeymoon of our dreams. At the end of the day, we enjoyed each other’s company and that is what mattered.

That, my friends, was almost five years ago. February 11, 2011 marks our five-year anniversary. These five years haven’t all been sugar and spice, however. We have dealt with successes and failures, births and deaths, greatest joys and seemingly unbearable sorrows. The very same thing that brought us together, the computer, almost tore us apart. Curiosity almost killed the cat, you could say. Amid all of that, we started our own family, and put our all into our son. In a family of three, sometimes you forget that it all happened because two people fell in love. It’s easy to put the spouse on the backburner and focus on the child. We were both guilty of this.

We decided on our fourth anniversary that we were going to go all out for our fifth anniversary. Most people did not think we would make it past our first, so this was big. Besides, we wanted to celebrate not giving up when it was the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, making it to a fifth anniversary is a huge deal. We had seen more divorces than happy endings in our friendships. Lastly, we decided that we needed to do something to focus on the two of us.

We knew that we did not want to stay in the state. This meant that we had to get the “okay” from my parents. After we got the okay, we jumped into a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. A few months later, when it was time to make the necessary plans, we realized that we may have bitten off a little more than we could chew. First off, we would not be able to get to our son easily if something happened. We trust my parents, but accidents happen, especially with a terribly two-year-old who may be just a little hyper. Secondly, “free flight benefits” is a fancy term for standby. If we got bumped on our flight, we missed our cruise.

My parents returned from Las Vegas completely refreshed and happy (not to mention $1,000 richer, but Mom was lucky this time around). We started thinking that maybe that could be an option. As we started looking at the prices, we realized that we should have done this all along. So we booked a hotel at a great price farther down the strip. The South Point (where Jerry Lewis holds his telethons) has a bowling alley, a bingo hall, a movie theatre, and restaurants galore. We are a far cry from no air conditioning, a double bed, an ancient kitchen, and mosquitoes galore. We can walk the strip and do all of the gambling and drinking we wish, but then we can walk back to our quiet hotel.

We also decided that since we are in Sin City, we should rent a cheesy chapel and renew our vows. We had thought about doing that on the cruise, but it proved to be more expensive than our budget would allow. So I looked around and we’ve rented the Victorian Chapel at the Chapel of the Flowers. It’s a cute little chapel and even with just the two of us and the officiant, it’s going to be special.

If anything, I see this as our second chance. Our honeydoom, as I like to call it, did not start our marriage off on the right foot. We, however, persevered and made it through all of the struggles. Without those rough times, we would not enjoy and cherish the good times as much as we do. I am excited to spend an entire week with just my husband and get back to basics. It all started with just him and I and it will all end the same.



Filed under Guest Blogger

2 responses to “Second Chances

  1. Thanks for having me Amy!

    If anyone has any great tips on how to “do” Vegas on a budget, please let me know!

    Also, I’m on Twitter as @OneHotMomma and would love some new friends!

  2. There’s a place near stratosphere that has DIRT cheap foot-long hot dogs! We survived on them, that plus the free drinks while we gambled!

    I think your vow renewal will be AWESOME! And what a crazy story! I love hearing that other people can work through hard times and make the best of them, it’s very inspiring.

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