Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: Long-ago vacation friendship becomes much more

ST. PETERSBURG — The name on the website's photo credit looked familiar. Tiffany Hanscom's colleague in a Charlotte, N.C., floral shop had sent her in search of a pair of cute shoes and the picture accompanied a review of the footwear.

A few clicks later, she sent an email: Was he the John T. Braun she had met on a family vacation back in middle school?

The answer came back less than a minute later: "Tiffany: You have got to be kidding me."

During the next few hours, they exchanged dozens of messages, filling each other in on the developments of the past two decades.

Back in the day, John was a freshman in high school, and Tiffany was a couple of years younger. He and his sister and parents, all from St. Petersburg, went on a camping trip to Squam Lake, N.H., which classic-movie buffs will recognize as the filming location for On Golden Pond. Tiffany was there as a guest of a friend's family.

The youngsters spent much of their time trying to dodge their boring elders, playing video games in the clubhouse, swimming in the pool, hanging out and talking. As their vacation drew to a close, Tiffany suggested that she and John write to each other.

"We were pen pals all the way through high school," she says. "I was a thousand miles away (in New Hampshire)." They corresponded nearly every week for four years.

John entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Tiffany had a friend whose brother was there, too, and the two girls went for a visit. She spent hours planning her outfit and trying to figure out how she was going to greet John.

"I don't know why, but I clammed right up," she says. "I spent a couple of hours walking with him that day. I don't think we said 20 or 30 words the whole time. I spent all this time and money on clothes and I totally blew it."

"I always considered she was out of my league," John recalls. "I was just plain nervous. I was sure Tiffany wasn't interested in me." He gave her a gym shirt, which she says she slept in for years. "I probably went back to my barracks thinking, 'I gave Tiffany a sweaty old shirt.' "

They wrote again a few times after that, but John left West Point after a boxing injury, and his family moved across the country from St. Petersburg to Washington state. Tiffany and her family relocated from Rye, N.H., to Greenland, N.H.

They lost track of each other. They went to college, earned degrees and married. Tiffany gave birth to twins, a son and a daughter. John traveled extensively, writing and taking photographs. Their marriages ended.

After their email exchange, she invited John to visit. Near the bottom of the staircase at Boston's Logan International Airport, she paced back and forth, uneasy and fretful.

Then, he was there, and he embraced her, "the hug you see in an airport in a movie," she says, "the hug you never ever think will happen to you. That was the day he kissed me for the first time. And that was that."

John, now 41, moved back to St. Petersburg, where he grew up. "It was time to reset," he says. Tiffany, 39, moved to town last year, packing the children, their dog and whatever else would fit into her Volkswagen Jetta.

Tiffany's stationery with ConceptBait events group describes her as "chief floral goddess, senior designer, executive producer and proud Mama extraordinaire." John is a project manager for FIS Global.

Their engagement was brief, about two months before they married on June 7 in the presence of two dozen family and friends at the Davis Islands Garden Club in Tampa.

"We had been working for 20 years to get to this point," Tiffany says. "I just didn't realize what the point was."

Comments
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Regretting staying too long in bad romance

Q: I recently broke up with someone after two years. Even though there were things that bothered me while we were together, I would convince myself I was overreacting, he didnít really mean it, etc.Now that itís over, I feel like a fool for not havin...
Published: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: After years of depression, a diagnosis

Q: Iím 33 and have dealt with depression on and off since my adolescence. I grew up in a household with every kind of abuse you can think of, but I didnít start seeking help until my early 20s via talk therapy, and cut ties entirely with my abusers. ...
Published: 06/17/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

St. Pete Pride: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco Montrese of RuPaul’s Drag Race...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy news confirms estrangement

Q: I just found out my son and his wife are going to be parents. Iím very excited and somewhat confused and a little hurt: Sheís seven months along. I donít know why the long wait to tell me. They live in another state, and I havenít seen them in abo...
Published: 06/15/18

Tell Me About It: Sister must face her poor choices in men

Q: Last night, I received my umpteenth call from my sobbing, devastated sister (mid-20s) over yet another semi-hookup-flirty-thing guy that didnít work out. He is moving away and she found out via an announcement at work, not from him.This is a years...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Things to do this weekend: Fatherís Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

Things to do this weekend: Fatherís Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

HolidayFatherís Day: Sunday brings us a day to honor the guy who cheered us on, called us down and blamed us for his bald spot. Itís Fatherís Day! A number of local attractions are offering free admission for dads if at least one ungrateful progeny t...
Published: 06/14/18

Tell Me About It: Group resists suggestion of sober vacation

Q: I have a friend I have known since high school who has recently been in recovery for drinking. He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well. A group of friends including my friend in recovery have been going on two campi...
Published: 06/14/18