Reflections from the Road | Vol. 24

Hi, I’m Angie Away and I’m a traveling bridezilla.

Ok, not really. Most of my wedding-related rage has been perfectly warranted and wholly righteous, if you ask me, but I confess I’ve been much more impatient and more prone to fits of weeping in the past few months than I ever have in my life. Planning a wedding really heightens your emotions so it’s been a roller coaster around these parts since I last checked in. Please forgive me if I bite your head off for asking how wedding planning is going.

I promise in 23 days I will return to being a normal blogger who only rants about airline incompetence, traveler ignorance and the downfall of our society as precipitated by the Kardashians.

Pondering life from atop the Vegas High Roller

I’m in a glass case of emotion! Or the Las Vegas High Roller.

In order to focus on priorities in the last months leading up to the wedding, I tried to rein in my wanderlust in the past 90 days – and still, I ended up in Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Aruba, Bonaire and Orlando. Will I ever get the hang of slowing down?!

Diving Bonaire - definitely, definitely a top dive destination

Diving Bonaire – definitely, definitely a top dive destination

Highs

Bonaire. There’s nothing like leaving responsibilities behind and descending on a sleepy Caribbean island with 3 other scuba diving friends to help naturally alleviate/distract from the wedding worries — at least for a week! I met up with Kristin, Alex and former PR colleague Stephanie to explore Bonaire, one of the world’s most famous dive locations. We did 7 dives – including a couple really mind-blowingly awesome ones with turtles, ate some incredible meals, snorkeled in a pitch dark caveraced around the island in itty-bitty Twizy cars and laughed until our sides hurt.

On our last night, the girls threw me a surprise shark-themed bachelorette party complete with custom invitations & decorations. It was a total surprise, and I’m not an easy one to surprise! I am so blessed to call these kindred spirits my dear friends.

zilla

Aruba. After a week under the sea, we left Bonaire and popped over to neighboring Aruba for 3 nights of ultimate relaxation at the Divi Aruba Tamarjn, an all-inclusive resort right on the beach. We took a SUP yoga class, bounced around for 20 interminable minutes on an inflatable ocean couch, and enjoyed the sun and sea and each other’s company.  I really missed them once we parted after 10 days! Let’s just say the group text messages filled with emojis went on for weeks after…

The wildest ride I've been on in a long time - an inflatable couch pulled behind a speed boat!

The wildest ride I’ve been on in a long time – an inflatable couch pulled behind a speed boat!

Fabulous Las Vegas. Though they tried to make it work, my sister/maid of honor couldn’t make it to Bonaire for the surprise bachelorette shindig, so she threw me another curve ball – a last-minute Las Vegas bachelorette for the two of us complete with Britney Spears tickets! It was a perfect Jet Sisters weekend complete with Elvis, Giada deLaurentis and a lot of very curious people watching. Thanks, RaeRae! (Check out the full post here!)

On the High Roller with RaeRae

On the High Roller with RaeRae

When in Vegas, do as the Elvis impersonators do

When in Vegas, do as the Elvis impersonators do

Virginia Beach. I traveled to Virginia Beach for a few days to explore on behalf of Travel Mindset and you know what? The food was unbelievable. I had to balance out all my eating with a whole bunch of activity, like SUP, hiking and kayaking. Such a beautiful beach town, no wonder it’s so popular!

Atlanta. I also took a few days to drive to Atlanta (Dumb – I should’ve flown) to meet up with my NYC pals Jamie & Lauren. We didn’t do much aside from eating tasty food and enjoying our glorious suite at the Loews. (Read about my tips on where to eat in Atlanta here.)

Bachelorettes & Showers. I’ve (we’ve) had five parties in this wild wedding season – an engagement party, a surprise bachelorette, a Vegas bachelorette, a bridal shower and a lingerie shower and it’s been so humbling to realize just how much our loved ones care about us & wish us well. (Or that some of them really want me to learn to cook and use basic kitchen tools.) It’s also bizarre to be the center of attention. I’m not used to being the one for whom parties are given; I’m usually the thrower of the party or the enthusiastic attendee of the party. It’s been a process.

Getting Paper. Between all the gallivanting, showers and wedding planning ups and downs, I’ve been working more than ever. In the midst of a couple of really exciting PR & social media projects for clients I adore, Angie Away also appeared in a Buzzfeed article about inspiring women who travel; my story 15 Lessons I Learned From Traveling Around the World ended up in both Cosmopolitan & Redbook online; I wrote a column for the Florida Times-Union about why I’m happy to have a home base; contributed to this Yahoo Travel article about life-changing tripsand I did a fun scuba diving segment for The Chat. I love the variety of my day-to-day work life, even if it can be challenging to keep up with!

Sampling Cadushi - cactus liqueur - in Bonaire

Sampling Cadushi – cactus liqueur – in Bonaire

Lows

The General Meanness of People. Are humans getting meaner by the day? While the past 90 days have been filled with quite a bit of love for Rick & me, apparently not everyone got the memo that it’s time to buy me spatulas and not be a jerk. The first notable meanness incident happened when a publicist pitched me a pair of expensive sandals to cover. In the space of 100 words or less, she went from asking me to write about her client to calling me mentally ill trash – I’m not kidding! If her behavior wasn’t so absurd, I might’ve been insulted, but I know I’m good at what I do so rather than getting my feelings hurt, I just laughed and moved on. But what in the world is happening that a professional speaks to another professional that way?

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 5.56.59 PM

The second incident was much less hilarious. While attempting to catch up on emails one afternoon, I received a Twitter notification that another blogger, who doesn’t approve of sponsored travel, told a bunch of other bloggers via Twitter that I’d been sexually assaulted a few years ago in Egypt. The truth is, I was groped by a gas-station attendant late one night. I’d fallen asleep on an overnight bus ride to Dahab and didn’t realize we stopped for a bathroom break until everyone else was already off the bus and inside the convenience store. I wandered out to find the restroom and encountered the handsy attendant. I was honest about what happened on the trip when I originally wrote about it, but this relentless blogger thought the best way to get her point across about the lack of integrity on sponsored trips was to highlight what happened to me and accuse me of making light of something very serious in order to cover for the tour company’s negligence. Except I was the negligent one and I never tried to cover up what happened at all. It ignited a bit of a firestorm on Twitter where strangers were accusing me of minimizing the incident, and thus promoting a dangerous activity to my readers, in order to keep a good relationship with the tour company.

You know what was worse than the groping incident? Being called a liar and told I didn’t tell my story right. It upset me, and not because it brought up suppressed memories of a traumatic assault. No, because I work hard to bring an honest perspective to everything I do, and any implication otherwise is libelous.

Coupled with all the wedding hiccups, it was just a bit too much to handle and I had a good, steady cry. In Starbucks. So I’m going to try working from a different location for a while…

A few days later someone spit on my car in the parking lot at our favorite after-church restaurant. Rick was furious, but looking back at the other encounters I’d had that week, I figured it wasn’t even the meanest thing that had happened to me, so I just shrugged and moved on. Some days you’re the statue…

Making a mean face to ward off any further meanness

Making a mean face to ward off any further meanness

Wedding disasters. You already know about the debacle that has been our experience with Silver Airways, but behind the scenes almost everything else has been a hot mess, too. Our gorgeous invitations were custom-made by Alex in Wanderland, but the decision to print them, cut them, fold them on my own was not my best DIY moment. Rick & I had some tense moments while trying to crop them all evenly… I’m happy to say we’re still together, but it was a rocky week, ha.

We also found out Rick’s dad isn’t coming to the wedding, people who RSVP’d then un-RSVP’d leaving us in a pickle with the venue who expected a certain number, the venue wouldn’t respond to questions about costs, our original videographer bailed, one of the groomsmen couldn’t find the right attire, another one lost his suit entirely… honestly, I could write a book about all the mishaps, but I suspect every bride could do the same (and hey – first world problems!), so I’ll save my words.

Someone recently reminded me about the Sex and the City episode where everything at Charlotte’s wedding goes wrong and Carrie advises her, “The worse the wedding, the better the marriage.” So Rick & I should be golden!

Kidney stones. My sweet fiancé had another brutal kidney stone attack and had to go to the ER back in August. What’s worse than seeing your lobster in that much pain? Oh, it’s leaving town after all seemed ok and then getting that middle-of-the-night call that he’s back in the hospital. It’s such a helpless feeling to be hundreds of miles away – I was not a happy camper. (Though I think he was the less happy camper of the two of us.) He’s feeling much better now and we are praying for a stone-free wedding & honeymoon… and also praying that the hospital bills come after the wedding. I can’t take anymore money hemorrhaging!

RIP Kiki. Our family cat, Kiki, went to heaven a few days ago. We are all taking it pretty hard, especially my dad, who also just lost one of his best friends. Kiki was an ancient 19ish years old, and she lived the most luxurious life out at my parents’ house. She loudly bossed everyone around, stole chicken wings right off the plate, ruled 2.5 acres with an iron paw and loved to sit on the piano and watch my dad play. We are really going to miss her.

Kiki was the real boss

Kiki was the real boss

Gym bummer. I’ve been working out with a personal trainer 2-3 times a week for almost three months in the hopes of getting buff and trim for the wedding. Y’all, I haven’t lost a single pound! I may be the tiniest bit fitter, but it’s not noticeable to anyone but me – and it’s only if I use a tape measure. I know it’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of world events, but I just hoped for a better result and when I’m really pity-partying hard, this is something that gets me down.

Now I’m doing Whole30, not really to lose weight, but to ward off stress eating these last weeks before the wedding. Health is more important than weight, right?

Lessons

Intentionality matters. I’ve had to say no to more requests in the past 90 days than I ever thought I had capacity to turn down, but I set that expectation for myself well in advance knowing the last few months before Oct. 23 would get progressively crazier. It’s been easier than ever to turn down opportunities that were just ok as opposed to AMAZING with that intention already set in my mind.

Perfection is a myth. I know this and yet somehow I find myself striving for it in everything I do. (See GYM BUMMER, above.) The wedding invitations, the decorations, the colors, the clothes – it’s very hard for an event-planning publicist like myself to cede control when I’m so used to making sure every detail is managed just right on behalf of clients. I am consistently reframing the aforementioned wedding disasters and trying to keep everything in perspective, but I’ve been trained to care very deeply about things like consistency of fonts and Pantone colors.

Poor Rick (and apparently, my venue) thinks I’m bonkers, that all fonts are pretty much the same and that it doesn’t really matter what color flowers we have. Thank God I have him to guide me through bridezilla territory with patience & kindness. I hit the lottery with that guy.

Life is as perfect as life can ever be… that is to say, it’s a hot mess peppered with wonderful, terrible, annoying, hilarious things, and that’s perfect enough.

Hindsight is 20/20. Almost everything about our wedding would be different if I knew 7 months ago what I know now. But I believe everything happens for a reason & things will work out just how they’re supposed to. For example, had we planned to get married this weekend, we’d be experiencing a Category 4 hurricane. Thank you, Lord, for providence!

I don’t ever want to be like the Israelites in Numbers who complained about the things they once prayed for. If I stop for a minute and look at where I am now compared to where I was a year ago, or ten years ago, I have nothing to do but praise the Lord. All this wedding planning hysteria will eventually fade anyhow, and I’ll just remember the good stuff!

I found a reason to take a real vacation.  I’d hoped to honeymoon somewhere fabulous and then write about it for my site like I always do, but I decided that if there was ever a time to disconnect from social media, it’s honeymoon week. That said, we’ve decided to have a secret honeymoon in an undisclosed location. We’re not telling anyone where we’re going or posting anything about it on social media – at least until it’s over, I’m not a saint! We’re just escaping and falling off the radar for a week. I can’t wait!

Next Steps

We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

Wedding tunnel vision. The clock is ticking: 23 days until we say I do, and only 18 days until we leave for The Bahamas. I’m excited and nervous and INSANELY busy! If you’d like to join us virtually for the wedding week festivities, we’ll be posting lots on social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat. Be our guest 🙂

Becoming a wife. The wedding itself will be whatever it will be, but the really heavy thing is that I’m about to become someone’s wife! It’s a huge spiritual deal and I’m super excited and a little freaked out all at the same time. I want to spend some time really hashing through all these emotions before I walk down the aisle, so stay tuned for a few more posts from my last days as a single soul.

5 Year Anniversary. The 25th edition of Reflections from the Road will be an epic one. I’ll be married and celebrating  my 5-year anniversary of cubicle independence and full-time blogging. Stay tuned!

Think about the best wedding you ever went to – what made it special? What do you remember most about your wedding day? Any advice for us?

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • Avatar
    October 02, 2015

    wow angie that is crazy that the PR girl talked to you like that! I have never had someone be so rude! I don’t have you on FB so didn’t know about it & I didn’t even notice the twitter stuff. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I really hope that you contacted someone from the shoe company & reported her. There should be some justice there because it’s such bizarre horrible behavior.

    Can’t wait to see wedding pics!!
    Rachel Jones recently posted..Get a Dose of Europe in India | 13 TownsMy Profile

  • Avatar
    October 02, 2015

    So many things to say about this! But I’ll start with: St. Kitts was my best trip of 2014, Aruba/Bonaire was my best trip of 2015 (so far…until Bahamas)…are we sensing a theme here? 😉 In other words, WHERE ARE WE GOING IN 2016???

    I still can’t believe the nerve of some online bullies.

    How’s Whole30 going so far? Text me if you need any recipes/moral support!!!

    Lastly, Your wedding is going to ROCK! WE CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Avatar
    October 06, 2015

    What a rollercoaster! Love these roundups, as always. My favorite line: “Life is as perfect as life can ever be… that is to say, it’s a hot mess peppered with wonderful, terrible, annoying, hilarious things, and that’s perfect enough.”
    Alex recently posted..The Great Escape: Month 47 RoundupMy Profile

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