Cathie and I were out last night and were reminiscing about our honeymoon. Seventeen years ago today was a Sunday and we woke up from our hotel room on the corner of Grand River and Hagadorn in East Lansing. We headed over to my parents for brunch and to open some of our cards and wedding gifts. We took out every dollar of cash from the cards and then Cathie's parents took us to the airport. This was a huge trip for us.
We were 21 and young. I was in my senior year at MSU and Cathie had just graduated. This was our first trip together, our first plane ride, just Cathie and I, our first everything for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kurt. We had never rented cars, gotten our own hotels or traveled on our own schedule with just the two of us.
When we got to the airport we were hit with our first dilemma: There was a major hurricane heading towards Miami and we may not be able to get there from here because flights were being diverted. We boarded anyways, figuring that together, as husband and wife, we could make the best of any situation. The American Airlines gate agent noticed our shiny rings and probably our post-wedding night glow, not to mention that I was telling the whole world that this was my wife. She gave us our tickets and we boarded the plane. We walked all the way to the back of our plane, unable to find our seats anywhere, thinking how much worse than the back could they be. We asked a flight attendant and she pointed us towards the front. The gate agent had upgraded us to first class as a kind gesture. What a start!
We were heading to New Smyrna Beach, South of Daytona. My groomsman Web Smith's parents had been kind enough to let us use their condo for the week. We made it through Atlanta and landed in Daytona, excited for the week to start. We went to rent a car (not easy to do when you're not 25) and again gushed about our new marriage. The guy upgraded us to a cavalier convertible and we thought we were in heaven.
We made it to our condo, navigating our way there in the times before GPS and Mapquest. What more could a newly married couple want: A condo in florida, a convertible, a week of being together and doing what we wanted and more cash than we'd ever had on us in our life (probably $800 - which seemed like $10,000 at the time). We actually hid the cash in a cookie jar because we didn't want to carry that much money on us and apparently because we figured that the elderly community in florida were all cat burglars on the side.
We got to our room and turned on the TV to watch Hurricane Andrew start to destroy Miami as the wind blew around us, but it was nothing compared to what was happening South of us.
Webb's dad had written me a note, explaining to me where everything was and a list of things that a good husband could do for his wife - like go get fresh croissants and fruit for breakfast in bed and romantic restaurants and places to go for a walk. I took him up on all of his suggestions, figuring he knew what he was talking about.
We went wherever we wanted to go - the beach, the dog track, the mall - all in our convertible, thinking we were the greatest thing in the world. Cathie and I were reminiscing about a few things last night:
- We went to a mall in Orlando and bought the book Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy, based on the Saturday Night Live shorts. I would drive as Cathie would read this to me and we would both laugh until we cried. Genius stuff like, "Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you'll be a mile from them, and you'll have their shoes."
- My Dad gave us two free passes to the newly opened Universal Studios in Orlando.
- We walked the beach at Canaveral National Seashore at the end of the New Smyrna point. As we walked, we saw a dude in the distance on the beach who looked pretty naked - and creepy. We continued to see more and more of these people - all old, creepy and saggy. Turns out, we'd wandered onto a nude beach. Ew.
- We went to the dog track and bet on dogs based on which one relieved themselves before the race. We even won occasionally.
- We went to restaurants and couldn't figure out why the were so empty in the evening. Turns out people don't like the hurricane season and old people in Florida hit the restaurants at 4.
- Our theme song for the trip was, Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane. We heard this every time we got in the car and we turned it, again, in our convertible as we drove.
We've been on some great expensive and exotic vacations all over since our honeymoon, but as we talked last night, we agreed that nothing compares to this first trip. We were young, didn't expect much, didn't have much except each other and a cookie jar full of money. We returned to reality in our 400 square foot apartment in University Village at MSU, but proud because it was ours and knowing that we were doing it together, and had nothing but the future ahead of us.