This is my weekly post where I offer a slice of a british writers life in the Florida Keys – what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading online, and of course a few anecdotes from my life in the Florida Keys.
Welcome to my third edition of Notes from the Backpack. This is basically a personal note from me to you, for the readers that know me, for the frequent visitors to the site, and of course to any newcomers. I moved from London to the Florida Keys in January this year and have been having a lot of laughs adjusting to this easy, breezy, Keys’y life. Read last week’s post here.
What I’ve Been Reading This Week
I have been reading Zadie Smith’s latest book, Swing Time, this week. Zadie Smith is a beautiful writer – some sentences just make me stop in my tracks. Her human observations are second to none, and her social commentary very witty and spot on. But…. she does waffle on a lot, and you have to try very hard (match sticks in the eyes) not to drift off. One reviewer said she should write less, say more, which is pretty much how I feel about this book. Worth the perseverance.
What I’ve Loved Online This Week
- The best thing about a looming new year for me is buying a new diary. I love these leather ones from the Happiness Planner.
- I have made a huge life changing decision this week…which is to try to create a capsule wardrobe. It is a huge decision for me because I have so much bloody stuff. This blog inspired me to do it.
- I munched my way though every happy hour in the middle keys to create this list. Headed to Marathon? You’ve got to try some of these!
- About to have your first Christmas away from home, like me? This post by travel blogger Candice Walsh is really helpful.
- How CUTE are these gorgeous gifts from Bunnies by the Bay? I absolutely love this brand for buying presents for babies.
- And lastly, I loved this article about why you should pick up a pen and write your loved ones a letter this Christmas.
This Week’s Story – What It’s Really Like to Elope
I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but never really found the right moment for it. So here goes…
A few readers who know me well will know that in February this year my man and I got married. However most readers and many friends may not know this, and this isn’t anything to feel bad about… the reason being, we did it in secret.
In fact, no one knew.
We got engaged in Ecuador in 2014, and had a long distance relationship for a long time, living in London together for 6 months, followed by moving to Florida at the beginning of this year (you can read our travel love story here). We had been planning a wedding (which we are still doing!) but getting our families together, deciding which country to get married in – it all became such a headache.
In February, we were about to embark on a road trip around Florida and planning on spending a few days in Miami for the week leading up to my birthday when we just had this crazy idea – we should just get married!
A quick google search gave us registered officiants in Miami, in fact there were hundreds. I picked up the phone and dialled one lady, feeling rather out of my depth, but a few minutes into the call everything felt right. She understood it all, she was free this week, and it was swiftly arranged.
When the day came I felt so nervous, and about all guilty. I should be doing this with my family, I thought. But if I called them now they would feel sad about missing out on it, and then I would be even more sad… so I calmly got ready (gin and tonic in hand) and Uriel and I walked across the road to the beach at 1pm to meet our officiant.
She was late. It was funny that we were waiting for her, dressed in our blue and white, snapping a few photos, feeling a bit surreal. She finally arrived half an hour later, speeding up towards our hotel and parking on the side of the road, obviously in the midst of a busy day. We were just part of her to-do list. This made me feel calmer, somehow, as if it wasn’t such a big deal.
On the beach we stood facing one another whilst she snapped a few photos of us on my i-phone. The beach was really quiet, but a few people watched on, not that I really noticed. We listened to her read the vows, which were beautiful, and repeated after her. Then the rings were exchanged. We kissed.
We were married!
All my fears drifted away. The inky pastels of that Miami shoreline was the most stunning backdrop to our special moment, and I felt overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. Because what it came down to was that it was just us. Not even those people on the beach. Not even the busy officiant rushing through her beautiful words. It was just us, and the ocean, and suddenly it felt more right than anything in the world.
Because that is what marriage is about. Now, when it is just us, muddling through, trying to work out how to be husband and wife, there isn’t anyone else there to help, there isn’t a sea of guests to witness every day life. Marriage is between two people – intimate and individual, and therefore our little ceremony on the beach felt like the best way to begin everything.
After saying goodbye to the officiant and watching her walk off the beach we wandered hand in hand for a while, a blissful feeling of contentment surrounding us. We came by a little beach-side restaurant, I think it was Lebanese or something, and stopped to have a bottle of prosecco, watching the ocean, admiring our rings.
After this we jumped in an Uber and went for a ridiculously expensive meal on South beach, which felt special enough that it wasn’t just any ordinary day. We ate lobster and seafood, surrounded by smartly dressed Miami locals who were eating as though it was just an ordinary day.
It felt like our special secret.
The emotions had been exhausting for me, and so in the taxi back up to North beach after the meal I fell asleep on Uriel’s shoulder (I would like to retain this image of a blissful snooze but in reality I drooled on his shirt) and we went home and put the telly on.
It was a beautiful day, it really was. Of course I felt sad that my family wasn’t there. I wanted to talk to my sister, for a few words of wisdom, for her to help me with my makeup. I wanted a hug from my mum, for my dad to give me away. In fact even as I write this it brings a tear to my eye, but then I realise that I can still have all of this, and I will.
We are planning a wedding next summer at my family’s home. I am so excited to have everyone together, to have those ‘official’ moments. But the most important bit, the actual saying of ‘I do’ between two people. Well that happened between just us. And I won’t ever regret it.
Thank you for reading all about our story of eloping in Miami!
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