Here’s a little (or not) backgrounder on me, Kelly B. I arrived in this world as Kelly Whitley on an early Wednesday morning in 1968 in Norfolk, VA. Rumor always had it that the doctor who delivered me also created the first test tube baby. I, however, was made the traditional way by two young high school sweethearts: Dad was 21 and Mom was just 19 when they got married! She was just 21 when she had me.
We lived in Virginia Beach for about six years as my father first tiptoed into the travel business with a job at “The Dome,” which housed the Va. Beach Chamber of Commerce but looked to me like half of a big steel soccer ball. It was a government job, and my fleeting memories of this include him driving me to school in the company car but I had to crouch down on the floor so he wouldn’t be seen using it for such frivolous personal business!
Next we moved to Camp Hill, PA, when he took a job with the Pennsylvania State Tourism Dept. and we were overjoyed to discover nearby Hershey, a wonderful place where you can smell the chocolate just driving down Main Street. The Bicentennial was celebrated (and crafted by Dad) while we lived there but it wasn’t long before he was moving up the tourism ladder to one of the industry’s most coveted jobs… we were headed south to the Sunshine State.
Three years in Tallahassee was a fun time, as everything seemed like a vacation. We went to Disney for many tourism events and as a third grader, being at Disney World after hours and getting to ride the Grand Prix like a jillion times was about as close as you get to heaven. A career in a government job was not meant to be for my father, however, and in 1978 he took a job as head of a tour operator trade association based in Scarsdale, NY. So we moved again, with a year’s stop at my grandmother’s house on the Main Line outside Philly (while Dad commuted and tried to find a house for us). The summer before sixth grade, we moved to Eastchester, NY, and I started my fifth elementary school in the fall. Our next move didn’t happen for five years, an eternity in my short life of so many moves and so many first days being “the new kid.”
Dad stayed at the same job, but by this time USTOA had relocated into Manhattan, and my parents decided they wanted a bit more of the country life, so off to Connecticut we went. Two years finishing up high school, and I was off to the state of my birth to go to college at the University of Richmond. While I was away at school, my mother opened an interior decorating shop in our Rockwell-esque downtown. My Cancer adoration of home and hearth was definitely nurtured by my mother’s talent in making a house a comfortable and beautiful home, and I still adore making my family’s home as warm and inviting as possible by design and DIY projects, which never seem to end.
I met my sweetheart in college and we were married two years after I graduated. Hubby’s a golf pro and my father was an avid golfer, who I think gave him the blessing to marry me before my husband even asked!
My career in the travel industry began when my husband and I moved to Tampa, FL, and I haven’t left it in the 20 years since, moving from office jobs to an at-home creative services freelance business. A daughter in 1997 and a son in 2000 rounded our family out perfectly, and a cat then dog were just icing on the proverbial cake.
The picture perfect life started unraveling at the seams when both my husband and I lost our fathers when we were 41.
Now I’m in my mid-40s, the kids are in high school and middle school and I’m embarking on the next phase of my career (and life) with my departure from the travel media company I have worked for since it was a start-up 10 years ago. One door is closing but I can feel the breeze of windows opening everywhere… new and different opportunities to satisfy my creative yearnings are close, and I feel the journey will begin with this blog!