The story of our romance continues now with Act 2, Part 5…
That’s what I told Sara as we headed back to Texas.
It’s not my fault that my statement was followed by a week of freezing weather in Austin. That’s highly unusual for Austin. This year, for instance, it’s 72 degrees on Christmas Eve!
But that December week in 1989, we had us one for the record books, as I recall. It didn’t just get cold — it stayed cold: all day, all night, all week long, every night dipping deep into the 20s. Truthfully, I did not have to endure the cold as much as Sara did. Throughout that freezing week, I got to go to work every day in a heated building. Meanwhile, she was huddled under the blankets on my heated waterbed because my rent house had no central heat — just space heaters. In select rooms only.
I mean: it never gets cold in Austin, right?
To get us out of the cold house at one point, I took Sara to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Offering a relaxed shopping experience with exquisite hand-made gifts, the Bazaar also featured live music daily and food and drink (and does to this day!). Since the year the Bazaar outlived the ‘Dillo building itself back in 1981, the event had shifted locations several times, and that year, it was in the old Austin Opry House.
Heading to the ‘Dillo Bazaar always felt like going home. Not only did I know a number of the artists and craftspeople from my days at the Renaissance Festival, but I shot a video program at the Bazaar every year through the 80s, always shooting, editing, scheduling and showing it on ACTV before the Bazaar closed.
This time, though, I carried no camera — just my sweet Sara on my arm. Actually, she was usually more like snuggled up under my arm, her arms wrapped me as well. Wonderfully lost in the throes of our new romance, we clung to each other, shamelessly in love. Most folks fawned over us, delighting in our obvious joy, and we basked in their smiles and support.
Not everyone appreciated our blissful togetherness, though. One of the people I’d known at the Reni Faire saw us sauntering through the show, cuddled together and scowled, saying, “People in love make me sick,” in an almost convincing tone of voice. We immediately adopted it as a slogan, and set out to infect the world.
One of the main reasons for heading to the Bazaar was to shop for wedding rings.
We started shopping for wedding rings with a jeweler I’d hawked for at the Renaissance Festival a year or two before, but Albert’s cynicism about romance, love and marriage quickly turned us off. So, we wandered around until we found another jeweler — actually two, or a couple, that is — whom we resonated with. Their rings featured simple designs of nature symbols on gold bands. We loved the designs, and selected several specific to each of us for our rings: moon over the mountains, clouds & rain, trees & forest, and rising/full suns. Sara asked them to design a new, custom icon for her, one for water, and they agreed to give it a try.
They even agreed to our tight timeline for delivery despite the crush of the Christmas season.
See, by this time, we’d decided to get married up in New England in early January. There were, of course, many other wedding details we were starting to work out at this point — but I’ll tell you about those in the final act of this tale. There’s just too many tales to fit into this part.
Before we left the Bazaar, I snuck away from Sara briefly. I had seen what I wanted to buy her, but had managed to spend all my cash on hand. Spotting an old friend in the crowd, I hit him up for $5 to buy the purple hat Sara had seen and loved.
Christmas that year offered the added challenge for our family of being the first one since Jessie died. Thanksgiving is one thing — Christmas quite another in the wake of the loss of a young child. While my folks had enjoyed hosting everyone at their house for Thanksgiving, they had decided to go elsewhere for this holiday to take our minds off our loss.
So my folks had booked us all rooms at the historic Hotel Galvez in Galveston. Even before Sara entered the picture, they’d already reserved me a separate room, so no additional reservation or room-juggling was required.
We did have a bit of fun while checking in, as the clerk sorted out room numbers and who was with whom in which room. “And there’s the third room,” he looked at us, continuing, “for the…newlyweds?”
“Um,” we responded, “Nearly-Weds.”
The wintry cold had swept all the way down to the Gulf that day, and Galveston received a rare snowfall the night before Christmas Eve, so we were greeted with the spectacle of snow still standing on the beach, decorating a town better known for summer days.
Though we received no more snow, and it started to melt a bit in the sunshine, this marked my very first White Christmas — appropriate to commemorate our own ongoing Christmas miracle.
End of Act 2, Alan & Sara: A Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance in 3 Acts
There will be another brief intermission before we return with our final act.