27 Jan 2011, 5:58pm
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a love story / engagement announcement

i could tell you that A and i met at our college graduation, and you would probably believe me. it makes a pretty great story. we were seated next to each other by virtue of our last names and interdisciplinary majors. we were the last two undergrads to graduate from reed college in may 2007. but we had met a time or two before, i’m sure, and anyway the only thing i remember talking to him about at graduation was the fact that i’d just broken up with my ex-boyfriend the night before. and at the time he was dating jess. jess and i have, um, several ex-boyfriends in common, dating back to our freshman year of college. and really, A’s and my meeting didn’t stick until we met again at a midnight picnic in march 2008. i went to the picnic to hang out with an ex-not-boyfriend (hah) of mine who was throwing it. A went to hang out with jess (they were broken up by then, but you know how it goes). somehow, we struck up a conversation while walking towards home with our bikes. and the rest, as they say, is history. or facebook friendship. one of the two.

he sent me a facebook message inviting me to come see his band play, “if you’re not doing anything.” the prospect of some fun dates or a fling appealed to me, so i managed to convince a couple of my friends to come with me to the show. i pronounced the name of his band wrong, and my friends left before the end of the show (it was a sunday night). i stuck around, and afterwards i tapped him on the shoulder and i asked if he wanted to maybe get dinner sometime, and he said sure, and i told him to call me. then i walked home alone, happy and calm.

a few days later A and i went out to dinner and then we fell in love. then a lot of stuff happened, the way it does in any relationship. on one level, our story is very ordinary. this stuff happens every day. challenges are overcome. love saves the day.

i got hit by a car and then, exactly four weeks later, A got hit by a car. it sucked. both of us were mean and self-centered for awhile. eventually we broke up. for some reason, we didn’t stop talking. he went to india as planned and i cancelled my plane ticket and went to hawaii instead. 7000 miles apart, we started to forgive each other. it was five months before we saw each other again, which was enough time for us to figure out some of where we went wrong and practice going right instead.

a year after A left for india, we moved in together. there were ups and downs, of course. the next summer, we rode our bikes to colorado together. it was totally awesome. but after that—who knew? A was moving to berkeley for grad school, and i wasn’t sure i was ready to move away from portland or, for that matter, move anywhere for a relationship. when A flew home to the west coast, we decided not to talk about our future for two months. we lasted six weeks (’til i was in berea, kentucky), and then i confessed to A that the further i got from portland the less strongly i felt about staying there forever and ever, and that i’d been doing a lot of fantasizing while riding endless miles in the midwest about growing old with him. he said, “ok, but we should wait to make any decisions until you’re here in berkeley.” then, over the next few weeks, he kind of flipped out. and i kind of flipped out. there was lots of flipping out. i spent a lot of time while i was visiting friends and family on the east coast thinking about the big decisions to be made. in manhattan, i listened to my mom’s friend talk about tough times with her husband and what marriage means to her. in woodstock, i listened to my aunt talk about her recent divorce after forty years of partnership. on vinalhaven, i watched my grandparents play gin rummy together. A and i remained somewhat aloof. by the time i was in chicago in november, i was telling my friends there that i thought we would probably break up. (i even had a plan b—i was gonna move to boulder!)

and then i got to berkeley.

oh yeah.

A met me at the bart station and we walked back to his apartment holding hands. the next day we went into san francisco and made our way to the beach at the end of the N muni line, arriving just as the sun set. we looked at each other and said, “so, i guess we should have that talk, huh?” and “we probably shouldn’t get engaged tonight. it would be a little embarrassing to tell all our friends, when we’ve been so wishy-washy to them for the past couple months.” we laughed a lot. (we also talked about a lot of important stuff. like you do.)

when i finally arrived back in portland for thanksgiving, it was clear i was just visiting. i slept in my parents’ basement. when my brother went out of town, i slept in his room and took care of kepler (his cat/my cat/mine and A’s cat/his cat, in that order), and once when i was up there hanging out with kep i decided to make a painting. then i started making this super-ultra-cheesy book thing. first it was just silly sketches of key moments in our relationship. (the first one was a drawing of kepler with both of our hands petting him—our second date. there’s a thought bubble above kep’s head that says “just make out already.”) i thought it might make a sweet christmas present. then i wrote some text for it. then i decided to ask A to marry me. then the project took on a life of its own. it was not done by christmas. it was not done by new year’s eve, when A came to portland to visit. it was not done by january 18th, when i got on the train to berkeley. eventually, i kinda had to tell A that i was planning a proposal, so he wouldn’t steal my thunder.

in the meantime, we talked about What Marriage Means to Us (public ceremony/ritual demonstrating to our community our commitment to one another, our decision to choose over and over again to love one another even when it’s difficult, partnership, support, adventure, et cetera) and worked our way through a book called ten conversations you must have before you get married. (yes, really.) (it was pretty fun, actually.)

i told my family and got their blessing, and i asked A’s mom for her blessing as well (she was really touched—i’m really glad i did this). my favorite part of A more or less knowing my plans was that i got to talk to him about how we both felt about all of the above. but i was still determined to surprise him at least a little. all he knew was that i was working on “a project” and that i couldn’t propose until it was finished. i hid the book i was making in the corner of his room underneath a scarf, and worked on it while he was at school.

ultimately, i made this book as much for me and for A. by the time i finished telling our story to myself in this way and got to the “will you marry me?” at the end, i knew i wanted to ask the question.

here it is (wrinkled cover and all):

i didn’t tell him when i finished it. i suggested we go into the city on wednesday when he got out of class. he asked if i wanted to make plans with any of our friends who live there—”nah, let’s just go by ourselves. maybe we could go to the beach?” i thought for sure my cover was blown, but in fact we were walking the last block to the sand before he turned to me and said, “oh! are you going to propose?” apparently he was joking—he still thought i wasn’t done with my project. but even if i hadn’t sheepishly said yes, i think my grin would have given me away. we walked up onto the dunes and i sat him down and gave him the book.

when he got to the last page i gave him this box:

which contained:

a silver guitar pick stamped with “i love you i love you i love you” (you know, from “michelle,” by the beatles? heh) and our initials. it was either that or a pipe cleaner ring!

then we watched the sun set and walked on the beach drinkin’ a bottle of fancy raspberry wine.

and went out to a fancy dinner. when we got home, A sang a super-ultra-cheesy (and wonderful) song that he wrote for me.

the beginning.

(p.s. YAAAYYY!!!)

24 Jan 2011, 1:27am
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20 Jan 2011, 1:24pm
4 comments

i live here now

where magnolias bloom in january!

and i get to hang out with this guy all the time.

18 Jan 2011, 4:25pm
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your passport has been kissed by the holy fool

goodbye portland,

hello future.

(let there be lots and lots of light.)

17 Jan 2011, 7:04pm
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mary oliver

i bought a copy of mary oliver’s new and selected poems, volume one in boulder and read it slowly all the way to virginia. now, before i pack it up again, here are two poems that i dogeared.

*

Going to Walden

It isn’t very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.
Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!

Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.

*

The Return

The deed took all my heart.
I did not think of you,
Not till the thing was done.
I put my sword away,
And then no more the cold
And perfect fury ran
Along my narrow bones,
And then no more the black
And dripping corridors
Held anywhere the shape
That I had come to slay.
Then, for the first time,
I saw in the cave’s belly
The dark and clotted webs,
The green and sucking pools,
The rank and crumbling walls,
The maze of passages.

And I thought then
Of the far earth,
Of the spring sun
And the slow wind,
And a young girl.
And I looked then
At the white thread.

Hunting the minotaur
I was no common man
And had no need of love.
I trailed the shining thread
Behind me, for a vow,
And did not think of you.
It lay there, like a sign,
Coiled on the bull’s great hoof
And back into the world.
Half blind with weariness
I touched the thread and wept.
O, it was frail as air.

And I turned then
With the white spool
Through the cold rocks,
Through the black rocks,
Through the long webs,
And the mist fell,
And the webs clung,
And the rocks trembled,
And the earth shook.

And the thread held.

*

leaving portland tomorrow, following love.

12 Jan 2011, 10:50pm
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11 Jan 2011, 10:35pm
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