Her hair curled in frizzy clumps as it flew away in the soggy tropical air. His pale face glistened with a combination of sweat and grease as he struggled not to notice how stifling the soggy tropical air felt on his Minnesota skin.
Her glasses slipped down her nose. He pushed damp bangs off his forehead. They were miserable from a long day of travel, and now equally miserable sitting in front of me in the humid heat.
“I’m glad to finally meet you in person!” I said, extending my hand toward him.
He wiped his forehead again, ignoring my now awkward, unanswered handshake.
“Is it always this hot in December?” he asked with a slight edge of panic.
“Shouldn’t be. Cold front will come through soon, though, even if it is six weeks late in getting here,” I laughed.
She stared at me, pushing her glasses back up on her nose. He stared at me, pulling at his collar as sweat began to permeate his long-sleeved shirt.
Time to get this over with. Better yet, maybe time to delay getting this over with.
“I just need to go over some timeline details with you before tomorrow evening. And I want to show you the set up. But would you like to check into your hotel first and come back in a few hours?”
This was, as it usually is, a seemingly trick question to the travel weary couple. Neither she nor he could answer. They simply stared at each other.
“Or we can do it now, and you can always come back later if you have questions,” I smiled, knowing they would remember none of what I was about to discuss with them. Oh well.
I showed them the dining room chart I’d drawn up. I went over the minute-by-minute account of their evening–from their arrival to the champagne toast to the first dance to the buffet dinner to the cake cutting to the bouquet toss.
They nodded. They nodded some more. And we were done.
As I watched them struggle to collect their multiple rolling suitcases and hanging bags, I tried to envision the transformation I knew I would see in 24 hours. They would check into the hotel down the street. They would shed their heavy winter garb for colorful summer wear and sandals. They would decide to take a walk and check out Duval Street. They would stop at one of the outdoor frozen drink spots and order something pink and sweet. They would smile at each other and toast themselves. At that moment, their everyday selves would allow a hint of the Keys elixir to slowly seep in.
It matters not what they do for a living, it has nothing to do with personality types. Combine the relief felt when a long-planned wedding event is finally happening with the unique Keys atmosphere that attracted them here in the first place, and to a bride and groom the fretting evolves into smiling and the angst is replaced with anticipation.
By the time I see them walk into my establishment, she is always beautiful with fragrant flowers tucked into her cascading hair; he is always handsome with his happiness and pride clearly worn on his linen sleeve.
As I struggle to adapt to living in this incredibly unique town, as I push through the newness of a job I used to know how to do but am having to completely relearn in this structureless environment, as my great guy and I figure out how to support each other through all that we least expected, I look to my beautiful brides and handsome grooms and quietly borrow just a little of their unconditional happiness and limitless love that swirls between them, suspended in Keys time.
What happened yesterday is forgotten; what happens tomorrow is unimportant. Every day, I know–I hope–will be a little better.