We arrived in Miami on a humid Saturday afternoon. There were no functioning cash points at the airport and neither of us had remembered to get dollars before we flew, cue much meandering of the airport and wringing of hands whilst trying to decide how we would get to South Beach with no money.
The more I fly, the more my fear of it seems to grow. So I take drugs now. I don’t know if it was watching ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ chased with ‘Inside Out’ on the plane or the drugs or both but I was feeling pretty emotional.
Last year was a hard year, on reflection, I think actually a good year but hard. I don’t remember the summer, I was on my final nursing placement between May and July and then after a week spent horizontal, mainlining Charmed, I started as a healthcare assistant at my first nursing job whilst waiting for my NMC pin. Oh and we were in the process of selling my flat and buying a house.
People told me how selling a flat and buying a house was one of life’s most stressful events, up there with death and divorce but I didn’t believe them. I thought they were exaggerating and being babies.
I was wrong.
To cut a story long enough to be its own post short, I really needed this holiday.
My summer had finally arrived. We checked in at The Betsy on South Beach. They handed us both a glass of complimentary prosecco, delighted and giddy, we went to the room and awkwardly tipped the bell boy. The Betsy looks like it should have been the set of a film noir. We lay on the bed and watched the ceiling fan tick round.
That night we went for dinner at Prime 112. My first night in America I always have a blind spot to portion sizes. I think we ordered enough for 6. If you’re ever at that restaurant, the mains are big enough to share. After dinner, my feet swollen from the flight, my strappy shoes too tight, we walked several blocks to find a Walgreens to buy an industrial sized pack of peanut butter M&M’s. For later.
Things carried on in much this fashion for the next day or so. I tried to badger Gavin into buying swimming trunks at Macy’s but he wouldn’t. He doesn’t like to swim. My little Australian brain can’t comprehend it.
I had booked a greyhound, realising at 11pm the night before we were due to travel that the collection point was 2 hours drive from our hotel and that we needed to find another option. We managed to book a shuttle going from the airport.
Another couple on the shuttle tried quite hard to befriend us during the journey, I can’t remember their names. She gave me a small bottle of sweet wine to drink, he joked about English people using the word chemist over pharmacy and how we may as well be saying apothecary. Conversation faltered over the seven mile bridge.
Our B&B in Key west came complete with cat, situated directly behind Ernest Hemingway’s house. I turned 32. There was a dress I was determined to wear on my birthday and whilst we getting ready to leave for breakfast the clasp broke. Gavin tried to fix it and I shouted at him.
We trundled on and got a bit drunk at breakfast, there was a nice dog, I recall. We took a trolley around the island and stopped at the southern most point. The line to take a picture was 30 deep, which was funny because there wasn’t really much to look at apart from a painted bollard.
Walking back to the B&B, I dragged Gavin into a tourist shop, intent to buy him swimming trunks. While we were talking about it in the large but empty store filled with knickknacks and swimwear, the manager turned off the loud electronic music playing and told us that the store was not for talking. Furious, we left without any shorts.
Gavin took this weird interaction quite hard. I didn’t know why. We went for lunch at Blue Heaven. We both calmed down.While we were at lunch Gavin told me that if I didn’t like my present then we could return it for something else. I idly wondered if maybe he was going to ask me to marry him. Then we went back to the B&B for a nap. Lolling on the bed, Gavin asked if I wanted my birthday present.
“OF COURSE I DO”.
He presented me with a ring and for a moment he said nothing. I wasn’t sure if he was proposing or if it was just a gift.
“Will you marry me?”
With tears in his eyes, we squeezed each other.
“Sorry for saying totally.”