Three years ago today I woke up in a room of the Hampton Inn, my legs hanging over the end of the love seat, my bed the previous night, the darkness of the room, that pre-seven am darkness surrounded me and begged me to go back to sleep, but I was too excited, so I sat up in the dark and listened to the sounds of my granddad and his brother snoring, and waited for the day to arrive. We went downstairs for breakfast and I had a bagel with some cream cheese but didn’t finish it, I was much too anxious. We all, me, my mom, grandparents, great uncle and aunt, and two brothers, all piled into a couple of cars and I directed my mom through the palm tree lined streets of Port St. Lucie, Florida and towards the Atlantic ocean. We walked among the dunes, the seagrass blowing in the morning air, smelled the saltiness of the ocean, and took the obligatory family pictures in front of the water. We went back to the hotel where my dad was waiting to pick me up, and off we went, he and I, back through the same palm tree lined streets.
We had about six hours to fill, doing things around town, something we’d become well versed at over the years when he would come to Little Rock to spend Saturday’s over the course of my childhood. We drove to the home depot parking lot and sat in the car discussing what to have for lunch, simultaneously waiting for eleven o’clock to arrive and the restaurants to open. We went to Park Avenue BBQ and ate lunch, then I opened some christmas and wedding gifts. We drove around Port St. Lucie some more and talked while I texted excitedly with my fiancé who was keeping me up to date on where she was in the wedding day process, getting her hair done, taking pictures, etc. As four o’clock drew closer I became more and more anxious, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to go to Starbuck’s, as the caffeine did nothing to calm my nerves. To be clear, I wasn’t nervous about getting married, I was excited about that, but to be honest I had my doubts as to whether Leticia would show up for the wedding. I figured that at some point she would come to her senses and realize she could do much better than me, so I sat in the comfy Starbuck’s chair drinking my grande caramel macchiato and freaking myself out.
My dad and I drove over to the area where the ceremony would be happening, and killed some time in the bass pro shop across the street, where he bought me one of my absolute favorite shirts that I own. It was nearly time to get married, so we drove along the brick paved streets into the charming community of Tradition and tried to figure out the best place for me to change into my wedding clothes, as the ceremony was outside and had no changing rooms. I don’t know how many people can claim, shamefully or otherwise that they got dressed for their wedding in a McDonald’s bathroom, but I’m guessing that I’m part of a very small percentage in that regard. We drove down to the gazebo in front of the lake where the rest of my family and some of Leticia’s family were waiting. I stood on the platform next to my granddad and waited for my bride, butterflies in my stomach, convinced she wasn’t coming. Four o’clock came and went and Leticia was not there, but before I had adequate time to give up hope, there she was in her white dress, walking down the sidewalk arm in arm with her father. I was the happiest guy in the world and all of my doubts disappeared the moment I saw her. I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life, bad and good, but on that day, three years ago, I said “I do”, and made the greatest decision of my life.