When Weddings & Road Trips Morph into Anniversaries

I met DH on a road trip near my hometown 36 years ago.

That meeting, where I heard Carole King singing I Feel the Earth Move in my ear, led to my accepting a Houston job four months later.

I worked at the local all-news station. Chuck led the newsroom at the cross-town country music station.

First road trip, 1984: check out these youngsters!

Competitors, we began dating.  

Our first road trip took us to Galveston’s Flagship Hotel. 

Our romance made Houston’s newspaper gossip columns. The bosses, gratefully, didn’t mind our courtship. 

Thirty one years ago this week, we married and began traveling. I retired from radio, as DH later did. We began a crisis communications business that took us around the globe.

We overnighted in all 50 states plus 24 foreign countries and three continents. Those trips came many modes. On land, in air, and over water, here’s the (partial) exotic list: 

  • LAND: camel (Australia), funicular (Austria), Ice Explorer (Canada), dog sled (Alaska), horse-drawn carriage (New York), Segway (Colorado), pedicab (Illinois), moped (Bahamas), cable car (San Francisco), ice skating (Houston)
  • AIR: canoe (New Zealand), international flight (Italy), prop jet (Denali), helicopter (Florida), hot air balloon (New Mexico)
  • WATER: cruise ship (Mexico), glass-bottomed boat (Florida), catamaran (St. Thomas), tubing (Wyoming), ferry (Washington), riverboat (Louisiana),

But we haven’t traveled via these modes:

  • Parasail, parachute, zipline, and any activity that might break a bone or blow a body gasket

Aging brings wisdom and we’ve both got hearts, brains, and other body parts to protect these days.

Other wisdom I’ve gained with the years is that both marriage and travel involve journeys of a type. If you can open yourself fully to the possibilities of each, you’ll eventually experience the good, the bad, the ugly, the weird, and more. It’s all Life.

For instance, this month for me marks not only a sweet anniversary but also what I call the beginning of my Lost Decade. Eleven family funerals and 20 hospitalizations/surgeries. One day, I’ll tell that tale, an heartbreaking/heart-expanding journey through (seemingly) unending disease, death; loss, grief. 

But this week, I focus on a happy day and blessed memories. That’s a choice, something that awaits each of us.

Through it all, I also try to remember to lighten up. 

Only eleven years left and the real fun begins?

DH and I keep this plaque in our house, reminding us that when life gets intense, laughter lightens the load.

On some days, it’s the laughing that gets us through.

That’s as true in marriage as it is Every Single Day.

When the Road Offers Memories & Change

March’s road trip to Austin offered a two-fer.

Celebrate author-friend, Dorothy Van Soest, at her latest book reading.

Swing by the University of Texas campus and cruise around on grounds where I once stomped.

I stop mid-plan.

When, precisely, did I attend UT-Austin? When did I leave?

My mind races back to graduation, spring of 1979.

I dig out my college diploma. Discovery yields an oh-my-god. 

I graduated from college 40 years ago.

Today.

What are the odds? 

And…40 years? How did that happen?

The new-graduate photo at right offers a trio of chuckles: an Instamatic photo enlarged to pixilating — beyond the limits of this ancient technology; Farrah Fawcett wannabe-hair; and pair of ghastly raccoon eyes.

More questions: what was I thinking? Why, UT-Austin, was my tassel red and not orange?

DH marveled at my pre-DW look, worn so proudly a decade before we married. He marveled, too, at the UT campus, amused at how little I recognized.

My sense of loss-and-big-change began at the communications building, my life center for three years.

Dull brown now covered the building known as the Rusty Bucket. Framed in weathered steel, the building’s exterior had morphed during our college years into a distinctive orange-brown hue. So, we renamed the building. It stuck. What do they call it now?

New also is the building across the street: a stand-alone home for UT radio with twice as many stations as in my day.

I began my radio career here, at KUT. But our studios sat deep in the bowels of the Rusty Bucket, an afterthought.

My chest puffs up. In today’s era of social media dominance, it’s a new point of pride that my alma mater supports radio like this. Even the pedestrian street-bridge reeks of extra resources, even special privilege. 

If faster access results in better news and information, bring it on, kids!

Down the street, I spot The Co-Op, where we bought our textbooks. Nowadays, turntables appear to headline the sales.

I laugh. Old becomes new? I ask DH“how quickly will the youngsters figure out we dumped records and record players—for a very practical reason?”

At the Co-Op’s door, the welcome sign brings a laugh. I reach for my phone. In that instant, I remember how picture-taking has also changed.

Snap a photo and wait a week to hold it in your hand. Take fewer pictures because each print costs a dime, or more.

How much has changed, and how little.

All in only 40 (short) years.