Our wedding was lovely. More than two-hundred guests were there to wish us well and a lot of them came to say good-bye. Everyone knew that we would leave Bremerton for our honeymoon and not return. All of our household goods had been sent ahead to San Diego. Our new home was waiting for us, and I was sure we were going to start our happily ever after.
Thank goodness for the honeymoon. Who could complain about seven days and six nights in Antigua? The water was warm, the drinks were cold, and the music in all of the clubs was excellent. We enjoyed ourselves and only smiled when we got on the plane because we were heading for our next adventure.
The first hint of trouble came on the plane ride. A young couple with an eighteen-month-old baby was sitting behind us. Every two to three minutes, I felt a kick or shove against the back of my seat. Despite being tired, I didn’t get any sleep.
Turbulence followed us across the route, and there wasn’t any food service. I’m one of those people who becomes a monster when I’m hungry and tired. Needless to say, I wasn’t at my best. I continued to set my watch to the correct time, and I was counting the minutes until I could get off the plane.
My sweet hubby, Patrick, slept peacefully for the majority of the plane ride. He also became a monster when tired and hungry, but right now, he was down for the count. I didn’t even have anyone to commiserate with me.
I was miserable.
When we entered the airspace above San Diego, the captain came on the intercom. “Well folks, it appears there’s a bit of a traffic jam on the runways today. We will be circling the area until the air traffic controllers give us the go-ahead to land.”
Really? Seriously? God, what did I ever do to you to deserve this? I need to eat, and I need to get some rest and I NEED to GET OFF THIS PLANE!
My new hubby opened his eyes and shoved his arms out in front of him for a big stretch. He smiled at me and gave me a kiss on the forehead.
I wanted to respond in kind. I really did, but my brain was fried, my stomach was in knots, and I was tired beyond reason. So, I simply gave him my best fake smile and when he reached for my hand, I interlaced my fingers with his.
Once we were at the airport, I wanted to go get something to eat as soon as possible. Jack thought we should go and get our baggage first.
“If we don’t go and get it now, they might put it aside somewhere, and it will take us a couple of hours to track it down. I’m sure you can wait for ten more minutes to eat, right?”
I glared at him for an answer.
“Someone’s touchy. I guess the honeymoon is really over.”
My glare became glacial.
Airports rarely have the kind of food I want. There is either fast food or bar-type restaurants. A lot of people do not eat, they just drink, and I hate being around people who are drunk.
We ordered and I just prayed the service would be quick. It should be – right? Didn’t most people in here need to catch a flight somewhere?
After about forty minutes, we finally received our food. I placed my hand over the plate. I didn’t feel any heat.
I’m in hell.
When we finally left the airport, I was still in a horrible mood. Patrick was surprisingly chipper, and he was trying his hardest to cheer me up.
“Wow. Look out there. Can you believe how pretty the Pacific is down here?”
The view outside of the cab windows didn’t look anything like the photos I’d found online. While the ocean did look great, we were driving further and further away from it. After ten minutes of driving, we were in the apartment district. The temperature rose about fifteen to twenty degrees with every block.
For the first time, I wondered if it had been a great idea to rent an apartment online. While the price was right, maybe the neighborhood wasn’t the best. When the cab stopped in front of San Diego Plaza Apartments, I felt my heart drop. The buildings were old with flaking paint. It looked like there weren’t any screens on the windows, and most of the front doors were open – presumably to get air. But there weren’t any screen doors, and I couldn’t help but think about the number of flies that were crawling around in those apartments.
Patrick chattered in my ear as we walked toward the manager’s apartment. We passed the pool, which was full of dead leaves, and looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in months. There was a lot of litter in the courtyard, and as we walked, the other residents stared.
Obviously, we would be the only gringos living here.
When we knocked on the manager’s door, it was answered by a man dressed in only a dirty pair of denim shorts. His hair was unkempt, and he looked like we’d woken him from a nap.
Patrick said, “Hi. We’re here to get the keys to our new apartment. We’re the Fasano's.”
“Yeah. I think I’ve got ‘em right here. But I didn’t think you were coming until next week. The painters are still getting the unit painted, and then the new carpet needs to be laid.
“Trust me, you don’t want to move in until the carpet has been down for at least twenty-four hours; that glue they use is awful.”
I felt sick. Between the heat, the fact I’d eaten way too much at the restaurant, and feeling too tired, I just wanted to lie down.
“So, where should we go?” I asked.
“There’s plenty of hotels down on hotel row. Just get another cab and head down there.”
“Okay,” said Patrick. “By any chance, did our household goods get delivered?”
“Oh, yeah. I have them locked up in the storage locker in the basement. They’re okay.”
Using my cellphone, I located the hotels on hotel row. We were low on cash, and I didn’t want to use a credit card. Foolishly, I let my wallet pick the hotel – just as I’d done with the lovely apartment at San Diego Plaza.
The cab pulled into the lobby area, and my heart sunk.
“Come on, honey. Where’s your spirit for adventure? We’ll be fine, as long as we’re together, right?”
I tried to believe Patrick’s words. Over the next two weeks, as the apartment continued to be worked on, and our move was delayed, I sat by the pool of the hotel, while Patrick reported for his new job. We could only afford one car until I did find something, so I was stranded all day.
Every night when he came back, he was full of excitement about the new company, his new coworkers, and how much he loved the city.
As I listened to him, my mood became worse and worse. My spirit was broken and all I wanted to do was get back to Bremerton. We hadn’t had time to go to the ocean, and despite it being March, the temperatures were in the high eighties.
While the hotel had air conditioning, I knew the apartment we were waiting for didn’t. I couldn’t look for a job until after we moved in. I didn’t want to try to work full-time and unpack all of our belongings and turn the apartment into our first home together.
Finally, we got the call that the apartment was ready. I actually felt my spirits lift. All I needed to do was unpack everything and then I could look for a job.
We drove Patrick’s new car deep into the inner city. We had one assigned parking place, and when we pulled in, Patrick turned to me.
“This is it, Mrs. Fasano. Are you ready to see where we’re going to live?”
“Of course,” I said. “Anywhere we’re together will be wonderful.” And I meant those words. I really did. But then, everything changed.
“Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Fasano. Let me take you to your apartment. I think you’re going to like the new paint job and carpet. I also got you a new fridge and stove – knowing your newlyweds and all.”
My heart was feeling lighter and I looked forward to the manager opening the door.
The walls were a sickly green, and the carpet was a dismal grey. I could barely believe my eyes. I swallowed a few times before I asked, “Is there any way you can help us get our boxes up here?”
“Oh?” I said.
“Well, about your stuff. It looks like someone broke into the storage unit, and they went through all of your boxes. I’m not sure what, if anything is missing, but all of the boxes are opened.”
Those sick feelings were back. I looked at Patrick with tears in my eyes.
“Don’t worry, honey. We’ve got renter’s insurance that will give us the money to replace anything that’s missing. Just hold it together.”
Five abysmal months have passed. I can’t get a job because I have a full-time job working with the insurance company to get everything we’d lost replaced.
I can’t prove it, but I think the manager had something to do with the robbery, and since I didn’t have a very good inventory, I know there are several things that won’t be replaced, and then there are the things that can’t be replaced. Like the needlepoints made by my grandmother, or the hurricane glasses my parents got while they were on their honeymoon in New Orleans back in 1947.
I cry a lot.
But Patrick is happy. He leaves for work every morning with a smile on his face and joy in his heart. I know he thinks I’m being ridiculous. I’m sure he wonders why he ever married me.
This morning, I went online and booked a plane ticket back to Seattle. From the airport, I’ll make my way back to Bremerton and then I’ll file for divorce as soon as I get a job.
Who knew San Diego would be the biggest mistake of my life?