The old flames never died out

JUST MARRIED

Liz Michalski and Kevin Smith

January 02, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Liz Michalski and Kevin Smith said their wedding vows recently, they might have had a sense of deja vu. After all, the ceremony marked the second time the couple were marrying one another.

But this time, Liz and Kevin say, their promise runs deeper. Though they never lost the love that began nearly a decade ago, the couple say, at 32, they're more mature and now more realistic about the commitment marriage requires.

Liz and Kevin met in 1987 when Kevin was on leave from the U.S. Army. Liz was living at home in Roland Park then. Kevin's sister was dating one of Liz's childhood friends. (Kevin spent his younger years living in the Cold Spring New Town area here as well as his father's home in New Jersey.)

Liz and Kevin didn't meet again until February 1990, when Kevin returned from a long stint overseas. In March, the couple began dating. That May, Liz's mother, Martha Horne, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Kevin did all he could to support Liz and her family in their grief.

In September 1990, Liz and Kevin got engaged. They were married in June 1991. Looking back now, the couple say they can see they were still reeling from the rapid changes in their lives just before they had decided to marry. Liz was devastated by her mother's death. And Kevin was trying to adapt to a nonmilitary world after being honorably discharged from the Army.

After they married, the couple worked together at a little cafe in Fells Point -- Liz as a cook and Kevin as a waiter. It wasn't as romantic as it sounds. "Things went really well until the reality of our lives and where we wanted to be set in, and we realized we weren't going in the same direction," says Liz.

In 1993, Liz and Kevin divorced. They stayed in touch afterward, speaking every few months or so and visiting one another occasionally. Liz remarried and had a son. Kevin continued to date. Liz's second marriage faltered, and she eventually divorced. Looking for a career, Liz enrolled in Baltimore International College and became a personal chef. Kevin, in the meantime, earned a bachelor of arts in history from Towson University. He now manages a retail electronics store in Towson.

In early 1998, Kevin and Liz renewed their friendship and began to see one another on a more regular basis. Kevin was there to support Liz and her family once more when Liz's beloved grandfather died that April.

But it took the couple until autumn of that year to figure out what Liz's grandparents had seen all along: Liz and Kevin were still in love. "We never fell out of love with each other," says Kevin, "and finally a light bulb went on over our heads, and we realized that's why those other relationships we had [with other people] didn't work."

Very cautiously, the couple began dating once more. "Neither one of us wanted to rush into anything," says Kevin. "We knew it [couldn't] be the same relationship it was before."

In October of last year, Liz and Kevin got engaged. On Dec. 18 they were, as they say, "undivorced" (really married again) in a private ceremony at the American Dime Museum on Maryland Avenue in Baltimore.

Holding hands among the bizarre relics of early 19th-century dime museums -- like the "Peruvian Amazon Mummy" (resting in a nearby display case) and the 20th-century "Machines of Medical Quackery" -- the couple spoke their own vows. Liz's son, Josh, 3 1/2, sang a song he had memorized just for the occasion. And when the Rev. Liz Tarr talked about two hearts, now joined by a third -- "That would be you, Joshy," she said in a stage whisper -- the small room filled with laughter.

The reception after the ceremony included Liz's father and Dime Museum co-owner Dick Horneand his wife, Dyana Neal of Roland Park, as well as Kevin's mother, Judith Pinter Smith of Homeland, and his father, Lee Smith of Princeton, N.J.

Well-wishers greeted the newlyweds in the downstairs exhibit area, devoted to the carnivals and sideshows of yesteryear.

And though the theme of the evening was lighthearted, everyone present seemed to know its true nature. "Did you make the knot real tight this time?" Liz's grandmother, Susanna Hooper of Manheim, Pa., asked the minister with a grin as she entered the reception. The octogenarian nodded her head in satisfaction when Tarr assured her, "Yes."

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