Monthly Archives: September 2011

empire state of mind

In about 4 hours Pete and I will be boarding Southwest Airlines flight 1265 headed to New York City! Well, technically headed to Baltimore where we’ll stop for a couple hours and then board a different flight because the non-stop version of this story cost twice as much and we’re definitely the kind of people to do the less convenient thing when said thing keeps our bank account a little less depleted. And yes, the title of this post was taken from the title of the city’s latest theme song by the illustrious and consummate rap artist Jay-Z, mostly because it has been playing on repeat in my head for the past week. It’s just so catchy. He’s damn good, that guy.

Back to the matter at hand…we’re going to New York. I’m not sure most folks realize what a big deal this is for me. Despite my air of worldliness and undeniably cultured persona (laugh at will), I’m about as well traveled as a Saimaa seal. Of course I’m speaking hyperbolically – clearly I’ve been away from home before since home was originally in California and then Florida and now North Carolina, but the extent of my international travel reaches to a ferry ride over to Boblo Island in Canada when I was super young and a post college-graduation cruise to Mexico, the Caribbean and Belize. The cruise was a one time experience I was glad to have, and Pete and I had a blast, but anyone that’s been on a cruise knows that your exposure to another country is fairly limited, and in the case of Mexico, can best be described as a bunch of white people funneled into a defined area where the Mexicans sustain themselves selling gaudy souvenirs and burritos to white people. I’ve been to quite a few places in the United States, but I’d say a good 90% of that travel was to visit family, both sides of which are spread across the country, and not to vacation or spend time exploring another city. In truth, apart from our cruise, this trip to NYC is the first time Pete and I are taking a vacation as a couple that doesn’t somehow involve visiting people and isn’t within a few hours drive of our house. And that’s saying a lot seeing as how we’ve been together for ten years. Pete has been across the country and out of it, including a couple trips to the Big Apple before I came into his life, so this may be slightly less novel for him, but he’s of course equally excited for our adventure.

So, yes. Big damn deal for me.

I could ramble on about not being able to afford to go anywhere, and it’s true, we’ve been fairly low on the fundage for the better part of our relationship, but there are plenty of folks with less money than we have that find a way to make it work. It’s all about decisions and sacrifices. For example, we very well could have decided to stay in a small, inexpensive rental property to keep our bills low and enable funding for other things such as travel, but we wanted to buy a house. And then we wanted a wedding on the beach and to buy a different house and to start a family and pay off some credit card debt and a VW Vanagon and bicycles and a Macbook and so on and so on. All of those are choices we made, and would make again, for how to spend our limited monies. What has changed? Well for one, while certainly not swimming in cash, our monies do become less limited with each passing year, but for two, we both decided it’s time we make some different decisions. Not about being married and having a house and starting a family, duh. But about buying stuff. Sometimes you have to buy stuff because you need stuff, and let’s be serious here, we’ve certainly never been big spenders. We’re frugal at best, true bargain hunters, uber excited about sales and all about pre-owned – our last car purchase was a ’97 Subaru wagon with 150,000 miles on it. But still, there are things, physical things, that we can choose not to spend money on and instead put our funds more toward experiences. That’s what travel is all about, right? Experiencing a new place. And when it’s with someone you love and care for, the memories of that experience will do loads more for your perpetual happiness than any piece of furniture or article of clothing or new gadget.

We’ll arrive at LGA around 8 PM and catch the M60 bus to the Upper West Side where we’ll check in to a cozy little apartment that will be our home for the next four days. We’ve got oodles of ideas and a mile long list of recommendations, but no formal plans. Just our walking shoes and wide eyes, ready for whatever the concrete jungle may throw our way. It’s going to be amazing

Elderland out, XO.

ten years

This Saturday marked 10 years of being together for me and Pete. Woooo doggie! That’s one third of my life spent with the most wonderful man in the world. I am quite the lucky lady. Here’s how it all began…

At the end of my freshman year of college at the University of Florida I took a job as a hostess at a local restaurant called Gator Greats. Getting a job in Gainesville was no easy feat as there were upwards of 50,000 other coeds vying for any available part-time position that didn’t involve operating a deep fryer, and in truth that’s just what some of them wound up doing for it was that or dig yourself even deeper into debt with additional student loans. The most sought after job was serving tables at a restaurant – cash money in your pocket that at least in part was based on how hard you worked (better not to get into a lengthy diatribe on tipping). I desperately wanted a serving job but there’s this funny little paradox in the restaurant biz where you have to have experience to get a job, but you can’t get experience without getting a job. I suppose that applies to all sorts of occupations. Anyway, you have to get a foot in the door, so hostessing it was, in the hopes that they’d realize I was competent and hard working enough to move to the floor. Indeed they did, and within a few months I was training other new hires. One such trainee? None other than Pete Elder himself.

It was August 2001 and Pete had just come off of a summer long road trip with two of his best buddies during which they toured the country and many of its beautiful national parks. Having given up his serving job at Sonny’s for his nationwide adventure, he was now back and low on cash. John, Pete’s brother, tended bar at Gator Greats so he was able to put in a good word for lil’ bro. On his very first day, I was Pete’s trainer and on that very first day, I was hooked. Love at first sight? I don’t really believe in such things. But the attraction was immediate and I promptly decided, as Brandy so well put it, the boy is mine. A few plays – ex: bringing a group of my friends to sit in his section and leave him a big fat tip – and a couple of group hang outs later, and we were inching closer to coupledom. On Labor Day weekend 2001, I went down to South Florida to spend time with friends and visit my ex-boyfriend for his birthday. There was a Labor Day gathering to be held at our friend Ron’s house back in Gainesville, and I was going to miss it because I’d planned to stay in South Florida through late Monday. But while down there I had a few phone conversations with Pete that left me aching to get back to see him. Monday morning, as soon as I woke up, I bid farewell to my So Fla friends, hopped in the car and drove the four hours back so I could get to Pete’s house in time to go to the party with him…an event that we’d later deem our first date.

So here we are, ten years later,  a happy little family living an amazing life in small town America surrounded by wonderful people that we love dearly. Later this month we’ll celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to NYC! So. freakin. excited.

May 2002, Pete’s graduation day, the earliest I could find on short notice. I have a crappy scanner. Elderland out. XO.