Back with another Life Before Blogging post; this one, a recap of the first vacation Andi and I took together -- a four-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas.
The year was 2005, and Andi and I hadn't even classified ourselves as an couple yet. We obviously liked each other very much, but were co-workers for the same company and trying to keep our feelings on the down-low. What first began as an idea for a group vacation with several co-workers, quickly morphed into plans for Andi and I to go on a four-day cruise together following business meetings in Chicago.
I hadn't been on many vacations, let alone traveled outside of the United States before, so Andi took the lead in booking our trip. The plan was to depart Chicago after our work meetings wrapped and "lay over" in Miami on our flights home to Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. (Andi lived in Minnesota at the time, and I lived in South Dakota.) The company we both worked for had a loose travel policy, so no one would have noticed /or even cared that Andi and I both booked long lay-overs in a city logistically opposite of our home states. The Carnival cruise ship would leave Miami, spend one day at sea and one day in Nassau, before finally returning back to port in Miami.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans often go awry. It was mid-December and a terrible snow storm blew through Chicago on our last night in town. We trudged through the storm to attend a work dinner on the final night, followed by drinks and dancing at a local club. Nightlife was a big part of our company's culture. I think a few members of 98 Degrees were at the club with us, but the details remain fuzzy because I drank way too much alcohol that night. At some point when Andi realized leaving Chicago in the inclement weather might be a challenge, he dragged me away from the bar and back to our hotel where he spent several hours on the phone with the airline trying to re-book our trip. If we missed our flights from Chicago, we'd miss our cruise line's departure out of Miami.
I was oblivious to all of this, of course, because I was three sheets to the wind. Not my proudest moment. Andi and I hopped in a cab and headed to the airport, turning 360's on black ice covering the freeway. Some time later, Andi finally convinced an airline ticket agent to re-route us through Fort Lauderdale by telling the lady he'd planned to propose to me on our trip. (Spoiler alert: he wasn't; we weren't even dating yet!) From Fort Lauderdale, we rode on a charter bus to Miami and made it onto the cruise ship just in time for take-off.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Andi decided he still liked me after all of that and asked me to be his girlfriend while we waited at the airline gate in route to Florida. I happily said yes, and we embarked onto one of the most memorable trips of our lifetime.
The trip itself was nothing spectacular; it was lovely, of course -- white sand beaches, beautiful blue water, and cruise line food buffets as far as the eye could see -- but the real magic was the chemistry between Andi and I. In those few sun-soaked days, we started our life together.
Thinking back to that trip reminds me of the many reasons I fell in love with Andi. His determination, creativity and ability to never take 'no' for an answer (to name a few) have shaped the nature of our lives today. Andi opened my eyes to a whole new world of travel and adventure on that trip, and for that I'll always be grateful.