It all started in Hatteras. If I close my eyes I can still see the light from the Hatteras Lighthouse blinking in the distance the night Mike kissed me on the beach. I was wearing a gray sweatshirt. We were drinking wine. I still have the cork.
A few months later, we took our first trip to Savannah. We would go back many times over the years, even got engaged there. We bought this ornament of the famous Waving Girl the day after he put his mother's diamond ring on my finger. That night at dinner, Mike kept fidgeting with his shoe. He had put the ring in his sock. Don't ask. That was just Mike. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I couldn't finish my lobster bisque.
We would go back to the Outer Banks to get married. Hurricane Alex (or was it Isabelle?) had done some major damage to Hatteras the year before, so we got married in Duck. We bought this sand dollar ornament the day after we stood barefoot in the sand and said "I do." We had just climbed the Currituck Lighthouse. We felt like we were on top of the world.
We honeymooned in St. Thomas. We snorkled for the first time. I loved it! Mike, not so much. He couldn't see all the fish without his glasses, but he indulged me. He also tolerated the Jimmy Buffett that played everytime we went out on the boat. Once, while the boat was docked offshore, we jumped off and swam to the beach. I don't ever do anything like that! I remember lying there in the sand, without even a towel, and thinking if I died now, I would die happy. I didn't think anything better could ever happen to me.
April and October meant horse races at Keeneland. Sometimes we went alone. Sometimes we went with friends. Mike had an elaborate system for betting. He liked to pick jockeys. I bet based on horse names. Our wins were about equal.
We spent a long weekend in the other Charleston. We fell in love with it and wanted to make it our home. We tried. But it didn't quite work out, work wise, so we had to move on.
For Mike's 50th birthday, we went on a cruise. Right after I booked the trip, I left AAA and stopped at Publix for a pregnancy test. It was positive. I was about four months along by the time the cruise rolled around. Mike thought it would just be the two of us (actually, the three of us) but once we boarded, he was surprised to find his sisters and brothers-in-law on the ship.
Five months later, Julia was born. She was only two months at her first Christmas. Her gift was Goodnight Moon. I still read it to her.
When Julia was nine months old, we flew into Washington DC, the closest airport to Canaan, where our good friends Marina and John were getting married. It was our first trip away from the baby. Our luggage got lost somewhere. So instead of driving three hours into the mountains and then having to come back, we decided to spend the night in DC. We checked into a hotel, closed the blackout curtains and napped for hours. It was bliss. Mike bought this ornament when he went to pick up our bags.
This is why Christmas is so hard.