Monday, February 23, 2015

The Path of Life (An Engagement Story!)

My stomach just flip-flopped when I looked at the ring again. It's still so surreal. And you can see why, based on how I was feeling 12 days ago. 

But it's a beautiful place that I was able to get myself to, BEFORE the ring, and the overwhelming happiness. I'm proud of that place, because I did it for ME. 

And it made what came on Saturday so much more beautiful. 

The day started around 9am when we woke up. K made me a delicious breakfast sandwich, I gave him his valentine, and we read the police blotter aloud to each other. (It's a family tradition.) 

We cleaned up cat puke, put on snow pants, and packed up the growlers for the long drive to Windsor VT, where we were headed to #thelongthaw party at Harpoon Brewery. 

K had originally told me we were going to do a nice dinner somewhere, and then changed his mind once he found the event. I told him an outdoor beer garden was more up my alley anyways. 

On the drive, we talked about how we wanted our friends to be happy, how beautiful the scenery was, and I yelled at him again about how he had used a door that said "please use other door" the night before at Price Chopper. I told him he needed to learn to follow the rules. 

We arrived, grabbed a few Long Thaws and I kicked K's ass in baggo. (Or "cornhole", depending on where you're from.) We played some slightly-larger-Jenga, won a Harpoon scarf, and stood by the bonfire for a few hours. 

Then, Karl noticed they did sleigh rides through the beautiful Path of Life Garden adjacent to the brewery. Neither one of us had any idea just how beautiful it was. 

We saddled up next to a bunch of sweet L&D nurses from Boston into the sleigh, and it drew us away from the brewery through this garden. 

The garden itself (http://greatriveroutfitters.com/garden-story) is 14 acres, and the man who built it has been working on it for 16 years. The horse-drawn sleigh pulled through the tunnel into the garden, and we huddled under blankets as we viewed the sculptures representing the various stages of life. 

A few minutes in, K turned to me and said, "we should go snowshoeing back through here when we get done." To which I replied: "that sounds like a lot of physical labor. I would rather drink beer by the bonfire." But he insisted, so once we were done with the sleigh ride, we compromised (I put on my snow boots instead of snow shoes) and we walked back into the garden the same way we had just come on the sleigh. 

He told me there was a distillery next door where we could get vodka after, and I said that was the carrot on the end of my stick, motivating me to walk through the snow.

I then insisted we take a selfie at the entrance to the tunnel, which would turn out to be the last photo we have on record of being boyfriend and girlfriend. 

As we entered the garden, K walked ahead of me, gripping my mitten as he steered me towards the first stage of life, "Birth". It was a huge hedge maze, a little overgrown since it was winter, and it led to the next stage, which is "Adventure". 

I stopped him at the entrance and said we were going to get lost in there. And since nobody else was around, I was frightened that we would be found in the spring, thirsty skeletons in the center of the maze. 

He turned around near the entrance, surrounded on all sides by hedges, pulled me into a hug, and held me close for a few seconds. Then, he said to me: "Honey, I feel like your strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are your weaknesses." Then he pulled back from me, looked me in the eyes and dropped to one knee. 

I held my mittens over my face and sobbed uncontrollably while he held out the ring. Then, I didn't know what else to do, so I dropped to my own knees and hugged him back for a solid two minutes. It was very Monica and Chandler. (Whose engagement, ironically enough, was what my sister and brother-in-law were watching at that very moment.) 

Finally, facing me with tears in his eyes, he said "well, is that a yes?" And of course I said... "YES!" He said, "okay, do you want to take off your Bear Paws so I can put this ring on?" 

Just as he placed the ring on my finger, we both stood up to embrace. And just like magic, the sky burst with a whitewash of big fat snowflakes that didn't stop until we got home that night. 

We called my sister immediately after and told only she and my brother-in-law. Then, we decided to save the rest of the phone calls for tomorrow. We walked over to the Silo, a distillery located next to the garden, and had our first gin/vodka tasting as fiance and fiancee. (I still can't figure out how to type those weird thingies on top of the 'e's.) 

After an insane journey through the last few years, many ups and downs, and lots of very difficult conversations between the two of us, I wouldn't take any of it back. It made us stronger, it taught us that we can stay together through hard times and support and love each other through it, and it has made me the most THANKFUL bride-to-be there ever, ever was. 

Friends and family reading this, I just want to thank you for staying by us and supporting us through the last years. We could not have done it without you, and we will continue to need your support through our engagement and marriage. After all, what good is your happiness if you can't share it with the people you love? 

PS: Browse this blog with caution, some of it is raunchy and curs-y. But it's all me, and I can't say sorry for that. Stay tuned for more enchanting stories of seating charts and cat vomit. 


Thirty-one

(I wrote this on February 10th, but waited to post it. It's an important lead up to how I'm feeling today.)


This is what thirty-one looks like. 

It's happy. It's incredibly grateful. It's being surrounded by family and friends that really, truly care about me. (And knowing when to say goodbye to the ones who don't.) It's having a best friend post VERY OLD pictures from college. And my little brother calling me on my way to work to wish me happy birthday. 

It's calm. And centered. And focused. It's knowing who I am, and who I want to be. Strong, brave, kind. Direct. Honest. Compassionate. Supportive. Protective. 

It's having the biggest smile on my face on my way to work this morning, and knowing it's not because there's a ring on my finger or a baby in my belly. (Though I'll be INCREDIBLY thankful when the time is right for both of these.) But this happiness is mine. I'm giving it to myself. 

I spent much of last year feeling down and trying to control things that are simply out of my hands. I became bitter, anxious, ungrateful. I wasn't able to be happy for my friends, and I wasn't able to appreciate what was in front of me. 

But thanks to the help of my boyfriend and my family, I pulled myself up. And decided that I was tired of waiting to be happy. 

Thirty-one feels like a new person. Like an enormous weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I'm living in the moment, happy for whatever life brings me. And most importantly, I'm happy for my friends again. And supremely thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Call Adnan

I've got an IV of Serial crack-cocaine connected to my arm just like the rest of the world. I can't get enough. Adnan, Jay, and Sarah are the only shining light in my hour-long commute home every day.

But a funny thing happened with the last few episodes. Half way through the podcasts, my car stopped playing and started dialing my PHONE.

Three times this happened, and thrice I swore and pounded the steering wheel with the rage of a withdrawling addict.

... WHO are you calling, Siri?

It wasn't until I realized that the voice recognition in my car thought Adnan was someone in my phone book, and was TRYING TO CALL HIM.

Not cool, car. I want to free Adnan as much as the next guy, but I don't particularly want a Global Tel-Link collect call.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Frowning Popes

I'm going to take a little break here from the pity party I've been throwing myself to regale you with a tale of an epic battle for women's rights. 

A few months ago, K joined a pool league at the local Knights of Columbus. Our neighbor is running it, and we thought it would be a fun Thursday night activity with cheap beer. The place looks like my childhood home's finished basement, carpeted poles and all. Also, there are lots of pictures of popes on the walls.

I am one of two women who show up to this sausage fest; the other is a wife of one of the other players. We give each other the quintessential vagina nod when we see each other. Hey, you have one, TOO! 

Last Thursday, K's team was short two players. They all take this league pretty seriously, so they were pissed that they were going to have to forfeit. Naturally, I raised my hand and offered to sub. 

Suddenly, the room started moving in slow motion as each man's eyes lit up with fear. They glanced at me in horror, then back to each other. Arms were crossed, feet shuffled. I slowly lowered my hand and glanced around the room. Did someone just walk in with a gun? 

One man spoke up: "oh, I don't know. This is a MEN'S league. We don't allow women to play."

Good thing I'd had a few beers and no fucks left to give. I put my hair up in a ponytail and turned to the guy to my right, a jolly guy who would be my first opponent. "Did you know we can even VOTE now, too?" He laughed nervously, then turned away. I could not believe what was transpiring. Was the alternative of forfeitting the game really a better option than letting a GIRL play? 

Finally, a progressive jokester and my new personal confidant, Jeff, spoke up with a courtesy laugh at my bold joke: "Listen to that! Can you hear the roof shaking?" We shared a giggle, and I turned to him with grateful eyes, thankful to have someone else recognize the ridiculousness of this situation. 

Grudgingly, I was allowed to play. The room stopped and stared as I got up from the bar to start my first game. Some people were curious, some were downright angry. The popes frowned in fury. 

In the end, I lost two games, but won the last--I have never been prouder. 

As an interesting afternote: the legitimacy of this game is still being debated by the elders. This is not a joke. They are in the process of determining whether or not to count my game... because I have a vagina. STUNNING. I bravely returned last night mostly out of curiousity. (Plus, the cheap beers.) It really is amazing who cares and who doesn't. And to be fair, there are a handful of the guys who totally back me and think it's funny, too. I like to think of them as the Frederick Douglasses to my Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

On the walk home, I turned to K. 
"Ow!" I said, rubbing my head. 
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I think I hurt my head when I jumped through that glass ceiling."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Game Genie

Apparently, people go to Walmart for two things: to punch each other over $30 TVs, and to heal relationships. My experience was, thankfully, the latter. 

We had just loaded the car with many bags of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner, which we host with both of our families each year. Happy to have made it out alive and with minimal injuries, we were driving home. I'm not even really sure how the conversation started, but we started talking about getting married/having babies, and K turned to me and said: I just have seen a change in you lately. You seem so sad and it seems like a bitterness has just settled inside of you. It's not like you to not be able to be happy for your friends. He said, I need you to know that I am ready for all of these things, marriage, babies, everything. But I'm afraid it's not going to fill the hole inside of you. I'm afraid you'll get all of those things and it won't be enough, because someone else will always have something more. He said, I want you to be happy with our life now, before we're engaged, and to be happy for our friends. Because that's what life is all about. In true nerd fashion, he likened our engagement to a video game. "It's like when you're trying to get to beat Mario 3 and you can't get past that damn warship. You try and try, so frustrated, and when you finally plug that Game Genie in and beat it, you just feel like... FINALLY. Not like... YAY!" 

I froze in my seat, unable to speak. Never in my life had someone besides my sister been able to so acutely recognize what was going on inside of me. I felt astonishment over everything else, that he was able to see what was happening to me. And everything he said was with love, not out of frustration or anger. It was with a kindness and an ability to view my heart and circumstances existentially, without bringing in his personal feelings. Which I can't imagine is an easy thing to do, when the two things I want most in this world directly involve him. 

I just looked at him, tears welling in my eyes. And for the first time I realized how my feelings have been affecting other people. It felt like someone had shined a light into my heart and exposed all of the awful feelings in there. But it was like a release occurred, and I was suddenly able to see the situation from the outside a little bit. 

We talked in depth for a few hours, and even though my face was puffy from crying, I felt hope for the first time in awhile. Not for getting married, or achieving any of these things that I've pinned my future happiness to, but for choosing the right partner who is able to see me, and help me out of this hole I've dug myself into. Which I'm sure will happen many more times for each other over the course of our lives together. And over this weekend, with both of our families in our house, I had several moments where I stopped talking and just felt a wave of overwhelming affection for everyone... and I started to feel like the old me again. I still have work to do, for sure. I see many yoga classes in my future. But I think this is a very good start. Maybe I just needed someone to recognize what I was going through, and validate it. Maybe it was just that I needed HIM to recognize and validate me. But whatever the case, I know more certainly than ever now, that I've chosen the right person for me. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exclamation Points and Smiley Faces

It's hard to put into words; sometimes it just creeps up on me. I realized it this week when I downloaded that TimeHop app. It's supposed to be fun! And show you all of the interesting things you did three years ago! But instead, it made me realize how many more exclamation points and smiley faces I used to use in my status updates, which started me thinking about how long I've really been feeling down for. Which is about three years, if I'm being honest.

I'm not going to call it depression. Because there are people who have experience this on a debilitating level and can't get out of bed in the morning. It's not that bad.

I'd call it more of a cloud that follows me around most days. Like that Skittles commercial, where that old lady gets random candy showers on an hourly basis. Only way less fun and delicious.

I'm not fully sure why I feel the way I do, but the reason I'm sharing it is in hopes that someone else has felt the same way. Maybe by verbalizing it, I can let it go a little bit.

I turned 30 in February, and it was honestly the worst birthday. Not the birthday celebration itself, just the sudden existentialist hurricane it threw me into. I'm not married or pregnant. I don't have a fun new important job with a VP title, and I'm not running any marathons. But it seems like everyone around me IS.

I quit Facebook for awhile; that seemed to help. I just couldn't take the status updates anymore. It was all brag brag brag, and nobody else seems to be dealing with any type of hardships. Just smiling faces and engagement rings and kissing brides and blossoming bellies.

This year, we had "bring your child to work day." I worked from home. It just made me so sad to be around them. I actually cried that morning, which was the first time I realized I felt so empty. I'm not always that sad around babies, but I am sometimes. It varies from day to day.

Don't get me wrong, I know babies aren't bandaids. And we don't even NEED a bandaid. My relationship with K is great, save for the turtle-like pace he's been keeping with putting a ring on my finger. We've talked about it openly a few times since the Montana trip, and I know we're heading there. We've even talked about how we're getting ready to have kids in the next few years. All good stuff. Tonight he's sewing my Halloween costume for our party this weekend. Our day-to-day is good.

So I don't mean to put this on him as if the reason for my melancholy is solely tied to his reluctance to engage. Also, I'd like to think of myself as the kind of person who takes charge of her own happiness and doesn't put it in someone else's hands. Anyone's hands, including that of my future children. It's up to me to make myself happy.

Not all days are bad. Some are exceptionally good. I just feel like I don't smile as bright as I used to these days. And I'd like to fix that. So I think I'll go back to yoga, and read more. And hope that by putting my feelings into words and sending them out into cyberspace, I'll be able to let it go a little bit.

The good news is turning forty should be a BREEZE.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Free Porn

There I was, hiding from my neighbor behind the oranges in the grocery store. That sonofabitch was right in front of the tofu, but I had to leave it behind for the sake of my pride. 

Be careful in a small town, they said. Don't piss off your neighbors, they said.

Rewind three weeks earlier to the town-wide yard sale, where K and I were unabashedly selling our belongings on the front lawn: purses, dishes, and X-Box games included. We decided to make a day of it and drank beer while we were doing it. 

Neighbors came and went, huffing at three dollars for unused aerobic stairs. After a few hours, we marked almost everything "FREE" and were resigned to leaving it at the curb. So we were more than thrilled when the minister, his wife, and their five children stopped by, exuberant over the video games. They wanted one each, and K generously offered for them to only pay for one and take the others. 

After all, it pays to be kind to your neighbors. 

Fifteen minutes later, we were swigging down the last of our beers and dragging the rest of the unsold items to the curb, when we saw the minister's wife coming across the lawn, game in hand. 

Immediately, I had a bad feeling. 

"We got a bonus disc!" She remarked amusedly. I couldn't read her expression. 

"Oh no." I exclaimed in disbelief. "Bad? Or good? What is it?" 

She proudly handed over a Hustler DVD that I had never seen before. My face blanched. Now, I am no prude--to each their own in the boudoir. But this disc was new to me. I was rendered speechless. I looked over at K, who looked as shocked as I felt. In the five years that we've been together, I've NEVER once seen him embarrassed. He is generally cool as a cucumber, calm in every situation, dryly sarcastic. But there was nothing funny about this situation.

"My son popped in the disc to play the game, and luckily we caught it in time!" She said, in good humor. "Kids these days, you never know what they know about! Did you know there's even a thing called PONY PORN?" 

Still speechless, I pushed my glass of beer behind the box of unsold books, in an effort to appear somewhat responsible. I shook my head silently. 

"Well I just had to come over and tell you guys--good thing it was US, and not somebody else!" She walked away, laughing, and we did our best to join in her amusement. When she was gone, we just looked at each other. I asked K where it had come from, and he said he had no idea. Which I believe, because if we had known we'd had it, we would have watched it. I mean... it was from the 80s! Fun for the whole family. But alas, K had snapped the disk in half in a show of defiance and pride. 

Which lead me to my current position in the produce aisle, in the ONE grocery store in town, hiding behind the navel oranges, gazing longingly for the tofu that would have to wait for another shopping trip. I'm sure he saw me, but I couldn't even bring myself to give a courtesy wave. 

I guess what they say is true... be careful what you do in a small town. There's no escape, everyone knows everyone and everyTHING. We've been working SO hard for the last four years to gain some street cred in a town where people have lived their entire lives. I guess we gained more than we anticipated. 

I may have to invest in a nose-and-glasses disguise.