Friday, March 27, 2015

More things they don't tell you about getting married

After ending a great week with a bout of stomach bugginess, my fella and I took it easy last weekend. We went to a talk on savoring the Sabbath, a part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, at his church, and then we met with the minister about the wedding service. We talked about what we're vowing and promising; Lord, give us grace and love and patience. It's a real feat to care for another body, another heart, another soul. May we have and keep the courage.

We went to a casual outside lunch; I got my first almost-sunburn of the year. The afternoon was filled with some schoolwork and low-key stuff around home. Then, to celebrate his birthday, he'd asked earlier in the week to have pizza. I had picked Lampo, the new place that is supposed to be fancy, delicious pizza from this swanky, lightening-fast oven. But it was packed, even at the late time we arrived, so we drove down to North Garden to Dr. Ho's Humble Pie. Plenty of time in the car to talk about birthdays and years on earth and other celebratory topics.

Being the fiancée of the year, naturally I somehow turned the conversation into uh, some topics probably not discussed in lighthearted birthday chats.Come to think of it, these aren't really topics you hear engaged couples gushing about when planning a wedding or life together: funeral arrangements, cremation/burial, organ donation, living will, advance directives, and life support. Right...best fiancée ever? What better way to say, "Happy birthday, sweetie pie! By the way, how do you want to live if something catastrophic happens or what kind of funeral do you want??" Yeah, I'm a real romantic.

However, it's best to talk about these things now, when we don't feel like we will have to face them for a long time. When we feel young(ish...) and invincible and hopeful for the future. It's good to talk about these things when we can be more objective than put it off and know if we don't talk about it now, we may force our favorite person to make hard decisions in an emotional time. This is how I've always felt, and after watching several friend and family lose spouses and children and people before they thought they would, I feel and see the need for these discussions even more. 

It's well-known and often said, that this is in health or sickness and until death parts us. But no one tells you when you're planning your life with someone that you need to spend some time planning for the unfortunate surprises of life and the end of it. While we hope for sixty plus years of healthy bliss, I want to care as much for him in these unfortunate times as I do in our living.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Confesssion: Soon-to-be-married Edition

So far, people have mostly heard me gush about this man I'm marrying. I try to tone it down, but well, this whole finding someone who is unbelievably wonderful and then there's the delight of spring, and my insides bubble with a little too much giggle and happy. But, I would be remiss if I wasn't completely honest with my 3 readers.

For someone who longed for a life partner, a person with whom to share a home and the fun and mundane, you might think I have been giddily looking forward to this joined life-living. I think that’s what we assume about all of the people as they march toward supposed wedded bliss. Admitting any different made me wonder whether I should have cause for concern…so I didn’t say anything.

I’m supposed to only admit to love and giddiness and happy sighs. I’m not supposed to have moments of wide anxious eyes or nervous feelings. I’m not supposed to be grieving Miss Independent (someone cue Ms. Kelly Clarkson).

But this someone who has longed and longs for a person, this person who now has a face and a name, to be in her life started feeling the pressure of change and the anxiety of this type of commitment. We joke about signing on for the next sixty years, and while I hope and pray we get that long together, there’s also the realization of what marriage means. In a book I recently read, there was a statement by Tyler Ward that really resonated, “I decided to officially invite someone who wasn't me...another human...to be in my personal space for the rest of my life."

Many think of marriage in terms of sharing dreams and a bed. I’m betting those who have been married any amount of time can tell us there’s a lot more than that. Of course, we are planning to share a home. Even with all the roommates I’ve had, which in part was to satiate my extroversion and also to prevent me from getting so set in my own ways…to force me to continue cultivating a spirit of cooperation and conflict resolution, I knew there would be a point they would move on. We shared our macrospace but not our microspaces. We split the fridge and pantry shelves to each have our own foods, except condiments, flour, sugar, etc. We went in one another’s rooms only if we needed/wanted to talk to each other, but there was still the emphasis that it was that person’s space and their things. We sometimes wash one another’s dishes or take out her trash, but there is still a lot of separation. The day it snowed and work was cancelled, I stayed in my bedroom all day and did not see her until almost 5 pm. Many evenings I retreat to my bedroom to do work and be alone. I have liked the women I have lived and currently live with. I just need my space. We essentially live separate lives and catch up at the end of the day or every few days.

Now I’m signing on to live differently. And I’m excited, but I also cling to life as I have known it. Admitting to this sweet man that I’m nervous to have someone around all the time was kind of big. If I wanted to be alone a full day while it snowed after having the whole evening before by myself and hardly seeing her the days preceding, how am I going to embrace togetherness and blended lives? We have talked about it and are very similar in this so how will it work for two people who want space?

I am going to Germany for work at the end of May and had talked with a couple of students about extending our visit a few days to take advantage of work paying for our flight to Europe in order to see Prague or some other cities. I secretly hoped it did not work out with them but found it hard to admit this to myself or anyone else. I had emailed my counterpart in Düsseldorf for ideas of places to visit and did a little research of my own. It turned out that it is not going to work out to travel with the students since they are staying a full extra week and going to some places I have already been. I had pretty much already decided to go my own way anyway. This will be around week 8 of my spring quarter, which is usually a very busy, hectic time. It will be about 4 weeks before we get married, and there will probably be those last busy duties I need to be engaging in. But I was feeling the pressure of the to-dos that aren’t even here, the need in figuring out where we’re living and packing and decluttering and moving, the quarter with ridiculously long syllabi, the change marriage brings. I was feeling my inner adventurer, who always has me lusting after some new place or experience, wondering whether she’d travel much in the future when they would need to pay for a home or the hope of a family. My inner adventurer still wants to see the world, still reacts to the long to-dos of life and pressure by wanting to escape to somewhere she’s never seen before. My inner adventurer was a little scared that she would never be alone again, and all she could think of was wanting just a few days to escape all the pressure and tasks of work, school, wedding planning, moving, etc and just be alone to think on the other side of the world.

Is that normal? I didn’t think so. I thought something was wrong with me. I felt like I should not admit this. But then I did. I told Sarah and that man of mine. Sarah totally understood and told me to enjoy this last big adventure before the wedding and that it makes complete sense to take advantage of already being in Europe. I told him, and do you know what he said? “Oh, okay! You should go! Make sure to come back but enjoy yourself!” (There was slightly more than that, but you get the gist.) So, after talking to people who make me feel sane and completely normal, I booked my flights and am making plans to see two countries with a few city stops. I will still need to read and write for school, but I cannot think of a better way to spend a few days alone than seeing the European countryside via train.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Crack open...

This was one of the StoryPeople stories several weeks ago. I had saved it and forgot to actually publish the post :)  I love it.