“We’re all a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
This is the story of my the moments leading up to my initial departure from Miami, an oldy but certainly a goody, it is meant to inspire the spontaneity in each of us.
After a delicious harvest dinner replete with feather extensions, designer blue jeans for sale and of course a shmancy champagne toast, I headed to the condo to tackle the arduous task of packing my life. With some help from my journalist/culinary-crazy friend Mandy Baca, the place really shapes up nicely!
Happy Halloween! The morning of Halloween I taped the last box shut; two hours and a generous amount of girl power later we shut ol’ Sally’s trunk and drove to Sunset Tavern for brunch and a mimosa (or maybe a couple bottles worth of mimosas).
So the journey began. To Pembroke Pines, Florida to say goodbye to my second family (over another couple rounds of mimosa, to no surprise). Tears fill my eyes as I watch Lindsay Houston and her two handsome boys wave in my rearview mirror, and off I jet to Naples, Florida to bid farewell to Mark and Amy Young, a couple that holds a very special place in my heart, as well as Rita Halloran, the cutest darn lady that I ever did meet. Next stop: Ft. Myers to spend the night with my sister Lyann Fernandez and my gorgeous nieces Bella and Gianna. Soaking up every last possible ray of sun, I zip off to Jacksonville, where I spend a wonderful evening making messy ice cream sundaes with my nephews Tristan and Ethan and my niece Trinity. All of this bonding time with family warms the soul.
Alas, the family escapades cease and I head to the airport to pick up some precious cargo – Max Nunn, a tall, handsome friend who I met once in Miami and happened to be spending the weekend in Jacksonville for a wedding. Let the real shenanigans begin!
After an absolutely flawless and sunny afternoon on the beach where we were staying in St. Augustine, we find ourselves in the midst of a hog-wild night out on the town filled with great food, lots of laughs and – who knew – signature Kelly dance moves. Friday – time to meet Max’s good friends (who turn out to be a blast), pretend like the sight of beer doesn’t make me sick, and get to know the nightlife in downtown St. Augustine.
Rewind for a moment. I’d like to recap how I came to meet this Max character anyhow:
Cue flashback audio: It is late April 2011; one Thursday afternoon at TresKoi PR a hungover and tired Kelly is reluctantly dragging herself through the day when her boss asks her an odd question – her boyfriend will be having a co-worker in town for a couple days and she was hoping I would like to grab a cocktail with them that evening on Lincoln Road?
‘A blind date-ish?’ I think to myself.
“I’m not sure,” I respond to my boss, shivering at the thought of adult beverages, “I’ll let you know later.”
“I know it’s a weird request,” says my hopeful superior,”but we would love you to come – it’s his first time in Miami.”
“Oh my god, suck it up, you’re going,” growls an affectionately angry Jersey-girl coworker. (Dramatization applied, though likely not far from the actual conversation)
Well alright then, I guess it’s settled, snap back into party mode Kel…
Somewhat delusional from lack of sleep and dehydration, I suck down two tasty mojitos with this sexy and witty boy named Max as I attempt to introduce him to the Miami culture (which unfortunately involves people walking into him on the boulevard and nearly being hit by several cars while crossing the street). After wandering through the tony (Dejha, you like?) Gansevoort Hotel and The Shore Club, we end our night at none other than a South Beach staple – a gay bar. Exhaustion hits and I call it a night, quickly exchanging numbers with this mystery man and indifferently offering to show him around town during his stay.
The next evening Max and I are in touch and decide to go to a brewery near my place, where I notice an unexpected but pleasant spark of chemistry as we get to know each other over a few delicious brewskis. Amazing night number one. Saturday night, another amazing night, spent on the beach sharing endless laughs and disclosing tidbits about ourselves – our dreams, goals and outlooks on life – until the wee hours of the morning. Three for three? Sunday and we are attached at the soul somehow, and I am simply heartbroken to say goodbye. It is intriguing to reflect on how timing plays a role in the lessons learned and the stages experienced in your life. That weekend, I gained a glimpse into the possibilities beyond the confines on Miami, and it was enough to refocus my energy on getting out.
Max and I keep in touch a small bit over the next months, but inevitably communication dwindles. I try to put him to the back of my mind, overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my future and the distance between us. And then, suddenly I see him one weekend in October when he visits Miami for work again. With a few minor doubts in mind, we have a fabulous night of dinner and drinks in Miami and then it is again time to say goodbye. But not for long – we have discovered that Max will be in Florida in early November – just in time for my road trip home, and conveniently I am still looking for someone to help me make the journey! Coincidence? I tend to think not…Now, where was I? Oh right, the wedding.
St. Augustine turns out to be a charming town, each winding road offering a smorgasbord of artsy shops and pubs with live entertainment. I came on this trip not knowing what to expect, and as I peer through sleepy eyes across the table at Max and his friends, I am reminded of the first Sunday in Miami, and I remember why I liked this boy so much in the first place. Though I could describe in every detail the quirky 80’s/zombie-themed wedding we attended in Jacksonville the next day, I’d rather skip back to the road trip, with a note that it was an awesomely amazing and eccentric once-in-a-lifetime experience (to say the least).
The drive home was both wildly entertaining (as fate would have it, Max’s sense of humor is just outlandish as mine!) and utterly draining, courtesy of the open bar at the zombie wedding the night before.
Monday we are refreshed and head out to my first honky tonk in Nashville – The Wheel, where Jeremy Macomb plays every week, including his hit song “Wagon Wheel.” Tradition has it that Jeremy likes to introduce each person that walks into the bar, and every time somebody new walks in he likes to regurgitate everybody’s name – by memory. It makes for quite the entertaining atmosphere, especially when he gives you a quirky or unique tagline – when it was our turn to recite our names, Jeremy said, (interrupting me just as I was slapping Max’s arm, giggling like a school girl at a corny joke) “Alright now Max and Kelly, are y’all married?”
“No,” said Max, tomato-red with embarrassment.
“Alrighty thennnnnnn, we got Max and Kelly they ain’t married but they DO like to play the slap and tickle!”
That was our name for the next twenty rounds of introductions. That was the moment I fell in love with Nashville (the town).
On Max’s birthday night at midnight, we were in another honky tonk, where I gave all of the change in my pockets to the band, slipping them a napkin that said “please say Happy Birthday to Max!” Conveniently just as he turned around and looked at me they announced his big day.
Moments later a man visiting from Ireland walked up to us and through a heavy Gaelic accent said, “Are you two married?”
“No,” Max said, bashful once again, looking at me strangely.
“I’ve never seen two people so in love, whatever you’re doing, keep it up!” said the man genuinely as he disappeared, leaving Max and I in a bit of shock and awkward discomfort. This is the recurring nature of our relationship – the extreme irony and shocking moments are innumerable!
One week later, I was absolutely moonstruck with Mr. Nashville, sad to part ways and eager to plan our next rendezvous. Exactly two weeks following that, I woke up on Sunday morning and chatted with my friend Sarah, trying to make plans for that day. As I moaned and groaned that there was nothing to do, I jumped up and decided all at once to throw as many clothes and shoes as I could into a clothes basket and head out to Nashville to surprise Max.
And so I did just that. Mustering up energy from my smitten state of mind I drove straight through and arrived in Nashville around 11 p.m. to surprise Max, who exclaimed that for the first time in his life, he had absolutely no words to describe how he felt. There’s something incredibly liberating about following your heart on a whim – give it a shot sometime, you only live once! Amped up with positive vibes and complacent with my daily routine in Nashville, I stay for another week with Max and then it is once again time to say our goodbyes.
But not for long – Max and I meet in Indianapolis two weeks later and drive back to Chicago to spend the holidays together. The tests of all time passed with flying colors, as my family and friends all fall for this cowboy and give the stamps of definite approval. After nearly two weeks of shenanigans and exploration of the city together, Max leaves for Nashville and we shift gears for the next chapter of our lives.
To this story I say…fate is a reality! Who knew that dragging my feet all the way down Lincoln Road could have led me to such a destination? I consider myself lucky to have met a man like Max, respectful and caring beyond the capacity of most people I know. There are very few gems that shine as brightly as he does among the men of my generation – I wish for each girl I know to find her Max, because a good girl simply deserves a good man, and I believe that whole-heartedly.
So what about now? Well, as two open-minded young adults, we’ve decided that we will give this demented idea a fair shot and keep in touch often. We’ve also agreed that life hands us unexpected experiences sometimes, and if that happens to either while we apart, well then we will cross that bridge at that point. For now, we’re forging one of the greatest blind date love stories of all time! Take that Roger Lodge, how is that for an ending?
(Please tell me somebody caught my reference to the poorly-produced “Blind Date” show of the 90’s!)
My apologies for the lengthy flashback, though it’s a little out of place with the sequence of events, it gives a good base for the state of mind I am in when I hop on a plane to Hong Kong days later, and it is a story I’ve been meaning to tell for a while – Max, I hope I did it justice babe.