Friday, June 23, 2006
T is for Tahiti!
Thirty-two years and eleven months ago, my parents got married.
They went to Ocean City, NJ for a few days right after the wedding. They stayed at The Tahitian, a theme hotel a block off the boardwalk. A month later, in August 1973, they flew to Hawaii for their real honeymoon. My mom had never flown before. She had never seen palm trees before. She fell in love with the tropics and latched on to the idea of someday going to Tahiti.
They went to Europe. They found a dog. They bought a house. Amanda was born. Two years after that, I came along. They bought another house. My mom got her masters' degree. My dad got my mom a vanity license plate in the mid-80s. The actual spelling for Tahiti was taken, so he ordered "Tahete" instead. The license plate moved from her elderly little Datsun to a green minivan I drove during college.
They provided every opportunity for my sister and me. They fostered a love for adventure and travel in us. We went to the beach every year, plus road trip vacations every summer. We took music lessons, shared a used car, always got a new formal dress for every prom we each attended. We sent them on a second honeymoon for their 25th anniversary in 1998, with Nanny's help and contributions from guests at a big party in their honor. Obviously, we couldn't afford to send them to Tahiti.
(My mom is making sure they have the special contraption my dad needs to keep from snoring his face off at night. She's saying, "No snoring in Tahiti!") We went to private colleges. I got to study abroad and major in photography (with the required investment in camera gear.) I got help when I moved to Florida and back. Amanda got help with a law degree, an MBA, and a wedding. I have a kind, sweet, generous, well-meaning and OFTEN REPEATED offer for help paying for a wedding.
My mom has always said, "If I never get to Tahiti, go without me and a drink a mai tai in my memory." Honestly, one of my biggest fears (throughout all the years that I have been the appreciative recipient of their generosity) was that they would never get to take this trip. Every time I got to travel and go to college and benefit from their generosity, my mom always said she was enjoying the experiences just as much vicariously through me. I never really understood how that was possible. But... getting to be there and shoot these pictures as they left (they saved a couple hundred bucks by parking the Tahete van on my street and taking a shuttle to the airport), seeing how elated they were to finally, finally take this dream vacation of a lifetime, I think I understand.