Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guided by a beating heart....

I have lost people I loved throughout my life….people who have died of old age, people who have died after long illnesses and some people who have died much, much too young. But I’ve never been present when someone I loved has died. And I’ve certainly never been present when someone I loved dearly was dying of cancer.

I’ve heard stories from people who have. I’ve read written pieces from loved ones left behind. I don’t know what it’s like, but I can imagine. I imagine that once the person is gone, really gone, it feels like a cord has been suddenly severed. When someone has a deep connection to another person and that connection is suddenly cut off, it has to be intensely painful, like a part of them is forever missing.

My friend lost someone she loves to cancer last week—someone very young. And she was there when it happened. This is not the kind of woman who approaches her life in a practical way (a quality I truly admire). This is someone free-spirited enough to take off to Nicaragua for a week when life gets too quit jobs with asshole bosses on a whim and buy a one way ticket to Tokyo… and to live in Australia and Tasmania for a bit, you know, just because. I don't know how such a free spirit will even begin to process her grief.

I didn’t know her love well enough to say that I’ll be able to miss him, but I’ll miss his presence in my friend’s life terribly. I’ll miss the love they had. There never was and never will be a love like theirs. It was unique, strange, beautiful, unconventional and amazing. Over the years I watched her fall into it, run from it, embrace it, learn from it, run from it again and finally accept it. I’m glad the love existed in the first place, but knowing that their story has reached its end kills me. That’s the part of young death that is so sad—not knowing what might have been.

A few days after it happened, I heard my baby’s heart beating for the first time. One minute I was kicked back on the stirrup-laden table, chatting comfortably with my doc, and the next minute I was unexpectedly bawling my eyes out. I spend every day wondering how things are going down there in my uterus, and to hear confirmation that I have indeed managed to keep that little heart beating was reassuring, to say the least. It was so powerful and so strong. I spent the rest of the day on an emotional high, wanting to hug everyone I saw as if I had just taken six hits of Ecstasy (which would admittedly not be good parenting).

Hearing that heartbeat so soon after that other heart stopped beating got me thinking a lot about life and death and what I believe. And I realize there’s so much I don’t know, and so much that’s possible. I absolutely don’t believe life begins at conception, and I absolutely don’t believe that it ends with the physical death. Plenty of people can and do argue those beliefs with me until they’re blue in the face, but those are two things I believe to my core.

I don’t know when it begins, when it ends or what happens when our hearts stop beating. I’m growing comfortable with the not knowing. Because I think what matters is what we do with the time we’re given. The man my friend loved lived more in his 28 years than many people will in 80. He touched so many lives, and he’ll never be forgotten. The little human growing inside of me has already changed Mr. W and me in a few short months in ways that are so profound, we’ll never be the same no matter what happens from this moment on.

I know people who are just coasting through life, trying to leave as little wake as possible until they die. And in some ways I think that’s more tragic than dying young. Dying isn’t the worst part of life—giving up while you’re still here is. It doesn’t matter what you want to do while you’re here, whether you want to have a prestigious career or work part-time at a grocery store to pay your bills while you pursue your non-paying passion or travel the world or drink a beer in every state or read every book that has ever been written. What matters is that you know you are worth pursuing the life you want, no matter what anyone tells you.

I hope the tiny heart that is beating inside me grows big and strong and continues to beat for the next 120 years. But my job will be to teach my little one that whatever he or she chooses to pursue during that time spent between the first heartbeat and the last, that he/she is worth it.

You’re worth it, too.

Enjoy your next adventure, Jordan. RIP.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oh #$@%, I'm Pregnant...A Tragically Comic Tale

I always imagined that when the time was right to have a baby with Mr. W, we would know.

We would have a long discussion and come to an agreement with knowing, excited smiles. We would save money responsibly, maybe take a nice tropical vacation and enjoy some mojitos and sushi and endless pots of coffee. And then, I would detox...I’d cut back on refined sugars and carbs, fueling my body with organic produce and lean proteins. I’d cut way back on drinking, and I’d get into the best shape of my life, developing my core and preparing for the process ahead.

I imagined the trying part itself would be fun….after all those years of strict birth control use, how could it not be? I imagined several months of carefree fun, testing every month until, at last, we received a positive sign….a positive sign we were ready for, because of our fat savings account and perfect health insurance plan and detoxed bodies. Of course.

Instead, I found out I was pregnant after one of the worst months of my adult life. I had fallen into winter depression with a double dose of stress. I hadn’t been exercising and was at the highest weight I’d been since The Chubby High School Years. My “core” was a mushy joke. I had spent Christmas eating things that go against everything I believe in—pesticide-laden produce, cookies made with God knows what, boxed, processed garbage, GMO’s, possibly even *shudder* factory farmed meat. I was ready to kill Mr. W because he’d been grumpy the entire time, ruining my holiday. It was the exact opposite of the beginning I wanted to give my child.

Even when I realized I was “late”, I didn’t think I was pregnant, even though Mr. W and I did have one minor “oops” in late December (our first EVER...a cautionary tale). I had zero symptoms other than the obvious. I’d always thought I’d be one of those women who just intuitively knew. My mother swears she knew the moment she was pregnant with me, and I’ve had many friends say the same thing. You just know, they say. Well, I was not one of those women.

Even if you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve got a 20% chance of conceiving during the whopping five days you’re fertile. Those odds drop slightly after you turn 30 and drop even further if you only “try” once. With these facts, the odds that our one minor snafu had resulted in a pregnancy were less than 5%. I liked those odds.

But as I became later and later, I started to get a sinking feeling that perhaps we had beaten the odds. Mr. W remained confident that we were “fine,” but I bought the tests anyway. And before I took them, I prayed to every God I believed in and some that I didn’t that I wasn’t pregnant. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to be a mother...I did, and had for awhile. It was because I wanted to give my baby a better start.

And then I took the test, and it didn’t even wait the three full minutes before it threw PREGNANT in my face. Shaking, I threw the test on the counter, fell into my walk-in closet and sobbed loudly into my clothes while poor Mr. W stood outside. When he finally asked if I was all right, I grabbed the test, walked out the door, showed it to him and sobbed into his chest. I was wailing so loudly that it took me a minute to realize that he was sobbing, too.

“I’m sorry,” I said to him, as if it was all my eggs’ fault, and not his determined-ass sperm that had somehow beaten the odds that were stacked against it.

“Don’t be sorry,” he said, wiping my tears, holding me tightly and promptly redeeming himself for every time I wanted to stab him over the last month. “Never be sorry. This is good. We’re in this together, I promise. I’m just scared. I’m so scared,” he said as if he was the one who was now facing childbirth. We fell onto the bed and cried together until we passed out...mostly from shock and terror, but a little bit from joy, too.

It doesn’t take us long to adjust to big life changes. It never has. The next day, when I came home with two more tests and they confirmed what the other two had said, we laughed. Mr. W picked me up in his arms, kissed me and called me his hot mama. I went online and read up on what I could and couldn’t eat and drink and adjusted my diet accordingly. I read Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven and What to Expect. I set up monthly transfers to our savings account and started telling my friends “no” when I couldn’t afford to go out with them, even when I really wanted to.

Mr. W adjusted his attitude immediately, too. Instead of dwelling on the “we’re not ready” negatives, he has been a constant source of support and has been nothing but understanding and amazing since that fateful day. I knew he would be, but I’m amazed at how much he’s changed for the better already. And I look back over the years at all the douche bags I fell for and all the less than awesome fathers that, in theory, this kid could have had, and I thank God that it was Mr. W I ended up with and also that I didn’t stab him when I wanted to.

And I forgave myself for the somewhat shitty start I have given my child, and I’ve since forgiven myself for the less than stellar first trimester we’ve had together. Yes, it would have been better if I was in better shape, eating healthier and drinking less wine when I conceived. But the thing is, I’ve got six more months of pregnancy to feed him or her a healthy diet and 18 years to instill healthy habits in him or her.

And even though I wasn’t at my best, I wasn’t in the worst shape or eating McDonald’s every day (or fucking EVER) either. All I can do is move forward as best I can, take care of myself, nurture my body and my mind, and be there fully and completely for this little human we are making. I really do feel different already, and I’m embracing every moment and every shift.

The thing about life and God and the Universe or science or whatever the hell you want to believe in is, it will give you what you want. Really. Sometimes it just happens in ways you never expected.

And even though it was the opposite of how I imagined it would be, Mr. W and I now have the best “how we conceived” story in the history of all time. It’s not going on a public blog, of course, but once I can safely have copious amounts of wine again and you ask me, I’ll probably tell you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tough Choices and Freedom

It’s a story that would break even the most bitter heart.

On December 28th, a 32-year-old Canadian woman passed out while her husband was out getting Tylenol for her terrible headache. When he returned and found her unconscious, her husband called 911. The ambulance arrived, and the woman was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined that she’d suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. She was declared brain dead...and she was 22 weeks pregnant.

Her husband was then faced with a nightmare of a decision: he could let his wife and unborn son both go, or he could try and keep his wife’s body alive for 7 more weeks until he could potentially deliver a healthy baby. He made a very brave choice: he decided to try and save his son. Apparently, he was successful, and baby Iver was born alive and healthy.

The man was flooded with emotional and financial support, with $189,613 being raised through a You Caring profile. Oh, here’s another fun fact: because the man lives in Canada, not these United States, he will be given 35 weeks off from work and will receive 55% of his salary.

He’ll certainly have a long road ahead of him. The poor man is devastated that his son will never meet his mother, and that he’s lost his wife. 35 weeks seems like a long time to us, in a country where three months of unpaid time off for the mother (and zero time for the father) is considered a luxury. But thanks to Canada’s healthcare system, paternity leave laws and a caring crowd of people, he and Iver will be all right in the end. And it was his choice. His choice.

I cringe as I compare that to the case of poor Marlise Munoz, the woman in Texas who had a stroke at 14 weeks pregnant and was also declared brain dead. Her poor husband agonized over what to do, but in the end, he talked it over with his wife’s family and they all decided it was best if Marlise was taken off life support. It was what she would have wanted, which, honestly, is the most important factor. But in addition, there were factors: like the fact that the fetus was being deprived of oxygen and could have been born with severe health issues, if it survived at all.

Then there is the fact that 14 weeks is not very far along—barely past the first trimester. That is a long, long time to keep a dead woman hooked up to a bunch of machines in hopes of a miracle. Oh, and let’s not forget that the US of A is far behind most other countries when it comes to healthcare, especially maternity care. Who knows how much Marlise’s husband would have racked up in medical bills, not to mention unpaid time off from work? Is it fair to force that upon a man and have him start his life as a parent with half a million dollars of debt and a possibly stillborn baby?

Well, apparently the Good Ol’ Boy, “small government is best” state of Texas thought it was. The state intervened and forced the family to keep that poor woman on life support so the fetus would have a chance of survival. The government decided that this man and this woman’s parents could not respect the mother’s wishes or do what was best for all parties involved, including the unborn child. They took the rights away, making it clear that everything IS bigger in Texas, including hypocrisy. The family got their wish in the end, but not without a lot of fighting and some severe judgment from the anti-choice crowd.

My biggest problem with the anti-choice crowd is not that they have the opinion that life begins at conception. I strongly disagree with that statement, but it’s their right to believe that. For themselves. My biggest problem with the anti-choice crowd is that they get so hung up on the rights of the unborn that they will destroy the rights of the living—and many lives along the way—because they lose sight of the bigger picture. They get so narrowly focused on one aspect of a difficult decision that they forget that every single circumstance is different and it is simply not their place to intervene.

I’m generalizing here, and I know there are plenty of exceptions—but for the most part, these are the same people who have no problem frying a criminal to death in an electric chair. They’re the same people who have no problem eating a burger from a cow that has been shot up with hormones, forced to share a tiny space with hundreds of its comrades and is tortured to death inhumanely for their consumption. They’d just as soon keep poor Marlise a human incubator for six months, racking up a metric ton of debt for Dad to be saddled with, and then hand him a stillborn or special needs baby because “that’s God’s will.”

I don’t see anything godly in that. I don’t see anything spiritual or holy. I see a selfish need to control for selfish reasons, hidden under the guise of an unselfish moral “mission.” Again, I know not all anti-choice people are that way. But the fact is, there are enough of them running our government that things like this still happen in America in 2014. No matter where you stand politically, that’s sick and it’s wrong.

And if you disagree, perhaps you should think long and hard about those two situations. If the Canadian man wouldn’t have been able to take that time off work knowing he’d have some income and a job when he returned to it, would he have been able to make that same choice? Had we as a country forced him to make that choice—and taken away the paid paternity leave, since in this country that’s a joke—how fair would it have been to set him and his son up for a life of poverty, unemployment and stress?

How “free” does our free country seem now?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Finally think I found what I'm chasing after...

“Well, shit,” I said out loud as I tumbled to the ground and sprawled across the sidewalk, trying to land as gracefully as possible.

The time between that millisecond when you know you’re about to fall and when you actually fall can seem like hours. Your mind processes a million thoughts. At least, mine did.

Shit, it’s almost rush hour and there are a million cars passing by.


I can’t break a bone! I just gave up my chance at health insurance for the near future.

Oh God, is this how it’s going to go? Am I going to quit my job and fall flat on my face?

It was, indeed, how the day went. I was in the middle of one of my last work days at the office in Bellevue. I’d already broken the news that I was venturing out on my own the week before, when Boss Lady had called me into the office to offer me a full-time position (on the condition that I, you know, “improve my focus”... the focus I was already giving them!) and I’d broken the news that I’d be venturing out on my own. I’d just left another meeting with her where she explained that they would not be taking me up on my offer to do run their social media accounts part-time. They needed someone to be there full-time, she’d explained, who could do it all (and be under their watch).

I understood, and I wasn’t upset at all, but I was nervous. The acceptance of my proposal would have given me much more security and more of a financial cushion. Now I was truly taking a leap of faith, a leap with only two clients. The income would be enough to pay my share of the bills, but I would have to hustle for more work, and soon. And with that on my mind, I left the building to walk to the bank to get some cash for my upcoming trip to Eastern Washington.

And on that walk I lost my footing (while wearing sneakers!), in broad daylight, in front of half of Bellevue, and I fell hard onto the pavement.

No bones broke, and miraculously, none of my clothes ripped. But I had a few bloody scrapes I’d need to explain to my co-workers. I stood up, dusted myself off, turned around and took a giant bow to the oncoming traffic, as if I’d just completed a performance. Somewhere in the sea of traffic, a horn honked.

“You go girrrrl!” someone yelled.

A nice woman who’d witnessed the whole thing from the bank parking lot rolled down her window as she passed by. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“I am, just embarrassed!” I said.

And I was. There was that brief moment where I’d thought maybe it had been a sign, that maybe I should go running back inside and beg for the job on my hands and knees, promising to only focus on their company and never freelance again. But I couldn’t. Even though I was a bloody mess and a little shaky, my decision felt right.

Six months later, I can honestly say that it was right. And that’s a pretty confident statement, considering I didn’t do one damn thing the experts recommend doing before you quit your job and start your own business. I did not have a year’s salary saved up (HA!). I did not have a vast array of professional contacts or even a ton of clients. But I had enough.

And since that day, somehow, I have always had enough. And better yet, if there ever comes a day where I don’t have enough, I’m confident that I could find another full-time job. The economy is good here in the Emerald City, and honestly, I don’t care what I’d have to do to scrape by so that I could write at night. Job titles have never meant much to me. Passion, on the other hand, is everything.

Time management has been an issue. It’s impossible not to be distracted by the internet when you’re tweeting from a ton of accounts every day and SO many links have to be clicked on. It’s tough to tell your friends who want to chat all day that you can’t, because you’re no longer watching the clock and filling the hours with distractions until it’s time to go home. And I had no idea how much time to budget for anything, at first. The first week was a little bit what I’d imagine having a new baby is like…. long hours, pajamas all day, stress, fear, forgetting to bathe on occasion, and a couple of all nighters.

Eventually, though, the dust settled. It’s still settling. I have worked almost constantly since I quit the party invitation company. I have worked evenings, I have worked weekends, and I was scheduling Facebook posts on Christmas Eve. But I have not ever regretted my decision. Not once. Besides, every minute I DON'T spend working I spend doing what I want to do... like traveling without having to ask for time off.

I love what I do. I love that I work with amazing small business owners who care about what they do. It makes me care about what I do. I love that if I absolutely don’t want to work with someone...I don’t. And I love that, to a degree, I control what I earn and I control my motherfucking destiny. 2013 was the most empowering year of my life, and it’s carrying over into every other aspect of it.

And while I recognize that a small part of it was luck and being in the right place at the right time… if I can do it, anyone can do it. We can have what we want in life, if we’re brave enough to go for it. Things have a way of falling into place… and, as I’ve come to understand only very, VERY recently….things happens when they are meant to happen.

P.S. I still have a scar from that fall, which I have named “Battlescar Galactica.”

Also... I fell in love with this song during my transition, and I feel positive and happy every time I hear it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

So, tell me what you're waiting for?

When you’re hired by a company in Seattle (and, I’m guessing, many other cities), one of two things happens: you’re hired as a full-time employee right away, or you’re give a “trial contract.” The contract is to see if your joining the team will be a mutually beneficial thing. Typically they’re for 3 or 6 months, and you’re usually on a 1099 basis.

When I left my last job in April, I was offered a 3 month contract… which, the female half of the couple who owned the company assured me, was guaranteed to lead to full-time work unless something major happened (I set fire to the building or they lost every customer, for example). I felt confident enough to take the risk, because I was ready… I’d learned all I could from my current job, I’d given them all I had to give, and I was beyond over it. So I quit the job, I went to Vegas and drank vodka until every annoyance was but a distant memory, and I returned ready to begin a new journey.

And I liked it! The couple who owned the company was nice, the office was much smaller than my building of 400 fake-happy, worked-to-the-bone employees before it, and there were no absurd, annoying, almost daily time-wasting meetings. I got to write about parties all day, I got to work from home once a week, and I got trained in something I’d been putting off learning about for years: SEO keyword implementation. A month into the job, I was put in charge of all social media accounts. Basically, it was a good move.

Of course, working for that company wasn’t part of my long-term goal. I wanted nothing more than to permanently return to the land of self-employment, a land that meant working from anywhere I chose and setting my own hours. Of course, it was also a terrifying land of no guaranteed income, no health insurance and no set paydays. After the scary transition from our lives in Idaho to our lives in Seattle, I rode the coattails of stability with pride.

From the day I started that job, I found myself making excuses for putting off my “real” goal. This company pays me more than the old one…. I mean, I can work from home once a week, that’s something… plus, when I’m hired full-time I’ll have health insurance. And paid vacation. So maybe I’ll just stay on with them until we have a baby or something. And for awhile after...for security.

Then, for a scary minute, it looked like the decision might be made for me. Two months into my new job, during a regular “check in” meeting with the owners, I was told there was some concern about my “focus.” Anyone who manages social media accounts knows that a great deal of focus is actually required...but there’s also a great deal of necessary multitasking. To the untrained eye, walking by and seeing your employee with 15 windows open on her computer screen probably looks like she’s messing around rather than creating content for three Twitter accounts, four Facebook accounts and a shitload of Google Plus pages.

I panicked. I worried I’d get fired for doing my job, something that seemed impossible. I couldn’t bear the thought of returning to my previous company with its long hours and low pay. So I reached out to every possible freelance contact I had. And I’m so glad I did, because as it turns out, I had everything I needed right in front of me and I’d never even realized it. Apparently my contacts did have writing work for me, and they had plenty of it. The work hadn’t presented itself to me because I hadn’t asked for it. It was as simple as that.

I was still terrified to leave the day job. Wasn’t stability and comfort what I’d been longing for all those sleepless nights I spent wondering how in the hell I was going to pay this bill or that bill? How stupid was I to leap right back off the cliff?

The gentle nudges from the universe got less gentle. The freelance jobs kept coming. The day job went into full-fledged micromanagement mode, something I’ve never been great with. The passive aggressive comments flew. The drive to Bellevue got longer by the day, with traffic jam after traffic jam leaving me sitting on the I-90 bridge enjoying the rare summer sunshine only through my car’s sunroof instead of on my building’s rooftop I pay good money to enjoy.

And then I went to Paradiso, cleared my mind for a mere moment and realized what I’d known deep down all along: I don’t want to be someone’s employee. I do want the self-employed life, even with its ups and downs. I don’t want paid vacation days...I want MY vacation days, whenever I want to take them. And all my fears about the money and work drying up were just fears I was carrying over from my previous life in Idaho. And that life has been dead for years.

So on the eve of my three month anniversary with the company, when I should have been preparing to sign my life over to full-time employment status, I was drafting a proposal. The proposal was simultaneously turning down their offer and making an offer of my own, to keep doing their social media part-time on an Independent Contractor basis. It was an offer I’d hope would help financially pad my leap, but I didn’t need it to survive. My decision was already made: I was going back on the freelance market. Like a boss.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

So I put my faith in something unknown....

“There was definitely an enormous shift for Aquarius this year,” said the beautiful blond woman staring at my birth chart. “Your hard work has finally been paying off. Saturn the cosmic taskmaster has moved right in, inspiring you to take action.”

I sipped my craft cocktail and watched the candlelight flicker inside the Mason jar at our table, nodding my head and listening intently. No, I hadn’t met up with a woman off the Psychic Hotline, nor was I there to socialize and talk about the planets over booze. I was at the rustic pub for business purposes—the internet-famous woman sitting across from me was my latest freelance client. And in order for me to get the proper training I’d need to write for her, she needed to fill me in on my birth chart. And also tell me what a birth chart was.

The astrological chart is a map based on your exact date, time and place of birth. It’s a freeze-frame of the planetary positions during the moment you were born. And when it’s interpreted for you by someone who has dedicated her life to studying the planets, it’s fascinating.

“This shift probably began for you around June 28 of this year,” she was saying. I laughed quietly to myself as the goosebumps spread over my arms, thinking about everything that had led to me sitting across from this internet-famous woman. I wasn’t surprised. I had no idea how to interpret a birth chart or what was going on with the stars, but I could have told her that. In fact, I could pinpoint the moment in happened.

I’d been sitting on a grassy hill overlooking the main stage at the Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater. I was sitting on a blanket with Mr. W, listening to the music and staring out at the incredible natural beauty in the distance. Our friend G was next to us, chatting up fellow festival attendees. We were all loving life and having fun.

It was the first time in way too long that I’d allowed myself to slow down, relax, breathe and take it all in… and in fact, it’s one of the first times I remember being fully present in a moment. Ever. Pathetic, but true. I stared at the hillside and focused my eyes until I could see every rock. I looked at the river way below us until I could see the water moving. I leaned back and stared at the sky and the gorgeous gray clouds with bursts of sunlight peeking through.

Time is so precious, I thought. I’m tired of wasting it working for someone else’s dream when I just want to work for MY dreams.


There it was… one of the thoughts I’d been staying busy, entertained, drunk or otherwise occupied to avoid letting slip through. But I was none of those things that day, and it had flown right out of my subconscious.

The clouds parted, allowing more sunlight to illuminate everyone on the hillside. As the DJ onstage began mixing a popular jam, people started to stand up and dance. Then we all sang in unison:

So I put my faith in something unknown
I’m living on such sweet nothing
But I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold
I’m living on such sweet nothing…..

Though I’m a writer and therefore my task is to put experiences into words, I’ve been completely unable to come up with the words to describe how I felt at that moment. I don’t think I ever will. All I can say is that something in me shifted, and I knew what I had to do.

It isn’t easy for me to let it go
‘Cause I’ve swallowed every single word
And every whisper, every sigh
Eats away at this heart of mine…
And there is a hollow in me now….

So I put my faith in something unknown…
I’m living on such sweet nothing...

I used to feel uncomfortable writing about things like this because of the implications and assumptions. I’m very personal about my beliefs, and I like to keep them to myself. We’re judged either way, no matter what we believe, and I don’t feel comfortable getting into debates with people outside my inner circle (just not what I choose to spend my energy on). But in addition to all the other things 2013 has brought, it has also been the year that I just plain stopped giving a shit. And that feels better than I ever could have dreamed.

I still want to publish my book (and thanks to the amazing world of self-publishing, awesome local communities like this one and my marketing knowledge I totally can). But if I want anyone to read it, I’m going to have to break down those protective privacy walls and get really real. Real is raw, and that’s what people expect. That means talking about deeply personal things, like the terrifying fight we had in Nashville, and even that naughty thing we did in the bathroom of our Hard Rock Hotel suite in Chicago while John Lennon and Yoko Ono stared at us from a portrait (hint: it’s not what you’re thinking).

I didn’t need the internet-famous woman to tell me that I’d experienced a shift (though the reassurance was rad). I felt it. And for the first time in a long time, I actually acted on the Universe’s gentle nudge.

With less than a month to go before my contract at work was up, I had no choice but to get started right away. And by the time I strolled away from that grassy hill at Paradiso in my sequined booty shorts, I was forming a plan.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cheers to Love

When you’re in college, anything is justification for having a party. So when an old friend decided to visit my college town from Seattle, I promptly decided to have a get-together. He was coming mainly to meet someone he’d known for years through internet blogging sites and mutual friends, and he was bringing a few people with him. So, clearly, this was the perfect justification for cramming way too many people in my itty bitty apartment.

That was how I met A and C… they arrived with the little group that included my old friend and his new lady friend (who turned out to be the woman of his dreams...aww). I thought A and C were the coolest, most outrageous people I’d ever met. They promptly talked to me about energy, Burning Man and other esoteric things, all while reading my aura. Of course, I now live on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and conversations like this are called “Every Thursday Night.” But a decade ago, it blew my young mind.

A and C had only started dating about two weeks before, which happened to be the very day that Mr. W had proposed to me. It seemed like they’d known each other for a lifetime. A even read us a poem he’d written for C after their first kiss.

“She’s my soulmate,” A whispered to me during the party.

“I believe you,” I whispered back.

The years passed. Mr. W and I got married. My old friend and his lady friend got married. A and C moved in together, got engaged, and stayed that way for nearly a decade. We continued to see them now and then, especially after we moved to Seattle, and they seemed perfectly happy and content with their relationship status. While I never paid much attention to the state of their union, I’m sure their family and close friends wondered if the wedding would ever happen.

Last month, A and C did get married. We promptly RSVP’d yes to their invitation, not only because we like A and C but because the wedding sounded awesome. It was taking place at this gorgeous location and this bomb ass place was catering. There was also the fact that, much like Mr. W and me, A and C have spent the last decade befriending all kinds of wonderful and diverse characters. I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like.

The common reactions I heard when I told people of the impending wedding were “Finally!” and “Why bother, at this point?” I understand those reactions. I’ve heard plenty of comments about my uterus remaining empty over the years and can only imagine what will happen should it ever not be empty. People love to comment on such matters. And, really, it’s a valid point. Ten years is a long time to wait.

The wedding was awesome and fun and beautiful. Before the ceremony, a woman walked around and cleared everyone’s energy with sage, including the bridal party. And while that may seem odd to those who don’t subscribe to the theories of sage’s properties, I thought it was fantastic. I’ve sat through several full-length Catholic wedding ceremonies and an array of other religious affairs. If you can’t display your religious and spiritual beliefs proudly on your own wedding day, when can you?

Then the bride appeared with her father and my eyes, already watery from sage, filled with real tears. I am not close enough friends with C to envision her perfect wedding dress, but what I saw was definitely it.

The ceremony, and the reception that followed, were a fabulous blend of traditional and modern touches. The poem A had written for C ten years before was read during the wedding, a beautiful touch. The food was excellent, the speeches were heartfelt, and thanks to A’s DJing skills and his collection of musically knowledgeable friends, the music was perfection.

Even though Mr. W and I are not super close to these two, we both knew their wedding was completely and totally “them.” And not just “them,” but the versions of themselves they’ve spent the last decade creating. That’s more than I can say for my own wedding. While it was a beautiful day, I have zero regrets and I will always be thankful for the hard work and money that went into it, our wedding was barely “us” then. It certainly wouldn’t be “us” now. Again, no regrets, and I wouldn’t have it any other way as I did not want to wait one second longer before I became Mrs. W.

On the way home, Mr. W and I talked about our wedding and how it’s all a beautiful blur now. We talked about what we’d do differently if we were getting married now instead of then. And we decided that maybe A and C are doing it right.

When you’ve been together ten years, there’s not a lot of newness left in your relationship. Sure, people change, and they will always surprise you. But you’ve heard their childhood stories, you know their habits, good and bad, you know how they take their coffee, and you know every curve of their body and every sound they make when they sleep. On the surface, it may seem silly to get married after already building a life together.

And still, what better way to be certain you want to make the commitment? A and C survived their twenties together, a time of growth and change that is often drastic. They survived the growing pains, the changes in taste and personality and all that goes with them. At a time when some couples who have been together equally as long are divorced or miserable, they were more ready than ever to walk down the aisle.

Mr. W and I got the chance to talk to C briefly at her reception. Though we didn’t make any comments about how long it took them to reach the altar, we did talk about how long it had been since the night we met in college.

C looked over at A, who was talking to some other friends, smiled, and looked back at us.

“I know it’s been a long time,” she said. “But I am more in love with him now than I’ve ever been.”

“I believe you,” I said.

Cheers to love… at any time in life, for any two people brave enough to take a chance on it.

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