Disclosure Notice:This page shows our sappy, sentimental side, and is printed here for the purpose of giving hope to relationship-seekers everywhere…
Mixing Business With Pleasure
It was 1998. Both of us were living & working in Florida at the time.
Each of our companies shared a mutual client by the name of Knight Images, and that client had a Holiday Party for all of their business friends in December of 1998. We were both in attendance.
I spent most of the evening with my UCF co-worker (Darla) while Jim had invited his brother Steve (from out of town) to join him. After the party had moved from the Knight Images office building to Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub just down the street, the fun really began!
Before long, Jim’s brother started up a “friendly” conversation with me while Jim was talking to other clients. Realizing this, Jim quickly stepped in to “rescue” me. That was our very first conversation.
Having just returned from a cruise to the Virgin Islands, I was sharing my exciting stories about “snuba”-diving (where you don’t have to be licensed, and you’re tethered to an air tank floating 50 feet above you) and traveling to The Keys. Jim was commenting on all the materials he’d printed about scuba diving, as well as some of his recent travels.
My first sign that Jim was a perfect gentleman was when he offered to walk blocks away from the party (late at night when everything was closed) just to fetch me a piece of gum. We’ve always viewed that exchange of Big Red chewing gum as our first step toward a friendship (…and Big Red has been our favorite ever since!).
Getting To Know Each Other
From there, our communications took place via e-mail, since we lived 1-1/2 hours apart. But Jim started making more and more business appointments in the Orlando area, and we met for the first time “on our own” after work at a pizza place on Church Street downtown Orlando. (Neither of us saw this as a date. It was more like a professional after-hours business meeting.)
Still seeing nothing more than a professional relationship at this point, the e-mails continued. But they started to get longer, and funnier. By now, we were each completely intrigued by the other, and we became moderately interested in where this might lead.
Our first real date soon followed. What started out as an after-work little get together turned into dinner and a very late night at a Rio Bravo Mexican Restaurant (…which, incidentally, ended with our first kiss). This was the point that we realized that we share very similar beliefs and experiences, and we started to get caught up in the intrigue and mystery of where this all might lead.
(It might also explain why we still have such a fondness for Mexican food!)
From There, It All Went So Fast!
We spent Valentine’s Day together (which, by the way, was the first time Jim said “those 3 little words.” I was overheard uttering those same words on our first Blue Moon camping trip). Then came the Florida State Fair, and I was excited to introduce Jim to my dad who just happened to be in town visiting.
I’ve never felt the urge to introduce any of my dates to either of my parents before. Was it a sign? Perhaps.
Coincidentally, my childhood friend, Suzie, was in Orlando visiting — which gave her the opportunity to also meet Jim. (Since I rarely shared such personal information as dates and love life with my friends OR family members in the past… how unusual that 2 of the primary people in my life had officially met this one?!)
Soon, Jim and I were talking about how our careers had hit a wall and lacked the challenge that once drove us, and how we were both itching for something completely different. So… we dove in head-first!
In Search Of A New Challenge
Jim had been asked to move to Pensacola Florida for a job at Gannett Offset — a printing company. He’d turned it down before, because the timing wasn’t quite right to pick up and move. But now he started to entertain the idea again.
I was all for it, and thought it was just the “new start” I’d been longing for. Everyone knows that I firmly believes in the saying, “Change is good” and I’m always looking for an opportunity to mix things up and try new things.
So we drove to Pensacola one weekend to check things out. We both fell in love with the place, because it was sooooo different — a true beach community. Just perfect in more ways than we could count.
A few weeks later, we drove to Pensacola again to explore where we might want to live.
Then, a few weeks later, we started one of many long-standing traditions, where we drew our dreams in the sand. After which, we each gave our respective employers nearly a month’s notice that we’d be moving.
It was just 3 months after we started dating that we moved in together and began our lives in Pensacola, Florida.
And They Lived Happily Ever After…
Such is the story of our whirlwind romance, which ended up in marriage — all in the course of 8 short months!
I firmly believe this:
You find who you’re looking for when you least expect it.Truth is, neither of us was looking for a relationship at the time…
- I was happily enjoying my new-found independent spirit with spontaneous travels to all points Florida (and beyond!) and long-distance biking trips that were consuming all of my free time. Jim was actively moving up the career ladder in the printing & publishing world and was quite content with his happenin’ bachelor-style life at the moment.
- Prior to meeting Jim, I had recently shot off an e-mail to a friend about how I didn’t see myself as a married person anytime soon, because I envisioned true happiness for women in the form of “independence” and “adventure” rather than being “tied down.” (I still have that email!) Jim was a few years post-divorce to his high school sweetheart, and certainly wasn’t up for any kind of serious relationship at this point.
One thing’s for sure: what was meant to be will be!
Here’s more about our one-of-a-kind wedding of a lifetime
Here are more photos from our fun times while we were dating.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).