BY DEXTER MCCREE Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Frank Whalen and Melissa Wilson met at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and it was love at first sight. Now seven years later, the flame is still burning.
Whalen is from Maryland but grew up in our nation’s capital, and Wilson is from New York. They both moved to Florida approximately eight years ago. For her, the intrigue of the sun shining during the winter months was too much to pass up. He transferred with his job at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and their paths would cross six months later.
“I love Florida,” said Wilson, I love the laid back atmosphere. You can be who you are without reservation. You don’t have to wear the latest and greatest. The beach is awesome and you can enjoy it in the winter. Now I must say being a city girl from New York, I find it challenging to find people who operate in urgency. Maybe it’s the multi-tasking or maybe the people are just very patient. It’s just different.”
The couple’s uniqueness and similarities drew them to each other. Whalen is a store manager and Wilson is an assistant manager. He likes seafood; she’s a meat and potatoes kind of girl. His relaxing activity is video gaming, and she enjoys writing.
They both are self-proclaimed foodies, which are people keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking. So they spend time together making gourmet dishes, fun kind of meals and innovative discoveries with food.
“We enjoy exploring the wonderfulness of life,” said Wilson. “We like having fun with each other and making each other laugh. We may look different on the outside, but our heart is one on the inside.”
Being an interracial couple has its challenges and benefits according to Whalen. They have experienced going into a store together and placing items on the counter and the salesperson asking if they were paying separately. The two find humor in the situation.
On the other side of the coin, when Wilson made arrangements for the phone to be turned on their new apartment, the phone company insisted on charging her fees. When he made the arrangements, all the fees were waived. They both laugh again and used the favor to their advantage.
“We did not experience racism until coming to Florida,” said Whalen, while Wilson nodded her head in agreement. “Although, we were not together, we noticed that interracial couples were very common in the north.”
What they also noticed was that the people in the South were very friendly and the lure of the sandy beaches keeps them in Florida—it’s a tradeoff. Remember, the Sunshine State is still the Deep South.
With the intrigue of the sun shining during the winter months and the relaxed atmosphere, when it’s all said and done, the foodies choose each other. They will keep preparing tasty meals in the warm Florida sun and eating ice cream on the white sandy beaches. It’s how they stay connected.