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On saying yes (part II).

2010: We got married on a special hill outside a special town.

Year 0: Moscow, Idaho

2011: We ate the remnants of our year-old wedding cake in broad daylight at midnight on a mountain…then stood beside our brother and new sister-in-law as they began their life together.

Year 1 (2011): Hatcher Pass, Alaska

2012: We’re celebrating two years of adventure (and many to come) on the coast of southern California. Tonight we dined at a restaurant where Nick’s grandfather courted his grandmother in 1946. Tomorrow, we will road trip north to witness the marriage of two of our dearest friends.

20120626-235156.jpg Year 2 (2012): The Marine Room in La Jolla, California[/caption]

To me, there is no better way to celebrate the decision we made on June 26, 2010, than to:

  • travel somewhere beautiful,
  • laugh, cry, dance, and delight at a wedding that celebrates two people we love,
  • have an adventure

So….someone better go ahead and book their wedding for the last week in June in 2013 so that we can carry on this tradition!

And in the meantime,

Happy 2nd anniversary to the one who has my yes.

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

On giving thanks – 11.27

On November 27, 2011, I am thankful for my love story.

In November of 2004, I flew to Idaho to meet up with a boy for Thanksgiving with his family. For me, the whole trip was a great build-up towards goodbye. Despite the fun we had trouncing through the woods in camo and sneaking romantic moments by the fire, we were doomed to a future of long-distance romance, and that just wasn’t my thing.

In a last ditch attempt to win me over, he took me on a hike up the mountain to a cabin overlooking our hometown. I can’t remember what he said when we got there, but I remember how I felt – that was the day I fell in love.

2004. (don't we look like babies?!) Moments after this was taken, I told him we should just be friends.

When we kissed goodbye in the airport, I cried. I boarded the plane to the sounds of a sappy country love song blasting through my ear buds. I thought that was it for us.

Now its 2011. This week, I flew to Idaho to meet up with a boy for Thanksgiving with his family. For me, the whole trip has been a great build-up towards yet another goodbye. Despite the fun we had trouncing through the woods in camo and sneaking romantic moments by the fire, we are doomed to a future of long-distance romance, and it still isn’t my thing.

But the thing is, a couple of years ago, in a last ditch attempt to win me over for good, he took me on a hike up the mountain to a cabin overlooking our hometown. I can’t remember what he said, but I remember how I felt – that was the day we got engaged.

2008. Moments after this was taken, I told him I'd be his wife.

So when I kissed my husband goodbye at the airport this morning, I cried. I boarded the plane to the sounds of the same sappy country love song blasting through my ear buds. I know this is it for us.

And I’m thankful.

—–

(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On the spaces.

When I got married last year, I received a lot of advice.

Advice like…

“Make sure he learns how to say yes dear.”

and

“Compromise is the name of the game”

and

“The key to a long, successful marriage is separate bathrooms” (that one came from Nick’s grandmother, whose long, successful marriage is 63 years strong.)

Some advice was tongue-in-cheek, some played off gender stereotypes, and most had something to do with sharing, compromise, and sacrifice. Some advice came from folks with lots of experience in marriage (as in, they spent many years married to the same person), others with lots of experiences in marriages (as in, they’d personally been a part of various marriages to different people), others with lots of experience marrying (as in, ordained priests or pastors who had “married” many others, but had never been married themselves), and still others with no marital experience whatsoever.

But the advice that struck me the most came from a little book given to me by a dear friend and mentor who threw my bridal shower. The book is The Prophet by the Lebanese poet/philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I had long admired Gibran’s work, and my own well-worn copy of this book had already earned a semi-permanent space on my nightstand. However, the chapter she bookmarked in the fresh wedding gift copy was one I had largely skipped over in my many readings of his poems. As I opened gifts, she read to me from his thoughts on marriage:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

I don’t think I had realized how much marriage scared me until the sense of peace I felt when she read me those words. As someone who is fiercely independent (admittedly to a fault) the idea that I now had to share everything with another person was overwhelming. The idea that marriage involves “two becoming one” was terrifying. As much as I trusted the person I was to join my life with, and as much as I looked forward to all that I was to gain…there was a hidden part of me that desperately feared what I would lose.

In that moment, the peace that washed over me was an assurance that I had permission to still be “me” – indeed, I was being implored to guard my “me”-ness whilst learning to blend my life harmoniously with another’s: “even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.” For me, this imagery of being two separate strings making music together was powerful and liberating. Suddenly, the weight of what was about to happen shifted – it started to feel more exciting than intimidating. It feels silly to say this now, because of course I did not really think that my husband-to-be (or anyone else for that matter) expected me to become someone else when I got married. My trepidation was born of self-imposed expectations and a bit of an identity crisis as I prepared to become a wife. I am so grateful to have had someone placed in my path to tell me the words that I needed to hear (even though they’d been waiting on my nightstand, largely ignored, for years) so that I could enter what turned out to be the best day of my life with the right outlook.

So why am I writing this now? Well, I recently returned home to my empty house after my husband of one year had moved out to begin medical school in a city 800 miles from here. The first week was shockingly easy, and the second week was shockingly hard. The moment of transition from easy to hard happened the other night as I sat reading in my big empty bed by myself. I was enjoying myself – I love to read and my husband loves to talk, which means I haven’t been able to indulge my bookworm tendencies much in the last year. But suddenly, the silence became oppresive, and I was struck by the uncomfortable feeling that a part of me was missing.

I sat there for a moment, looking around trying to figure out what to do with my sudden awareness of the silence in my room. My eyes fell on my bookshelf, and without thinking, I picked up The Prophet and flipped to the page on marriage. Let there be spaces in your togetherness. Those “spaces” that were so comforting to me a year ago felt too big now. I couldn’t help but resent them in that moment of unexpected loneliness. But as I read the poem several times and reflected, I was surprised to find that this time, I took something very different away from what it said.

A year ago, I felt like Gibran was telling me to guard my “me”-ness, but now, I realized that as a wife, I have the equal responsibility of guarding my husband’s “him”-ness. This too, feels silly to say, because of course I did not actually think that marriage meant I got to be myself while my husband catered to my every whim and desire (he might tell you otherwise, but don’t listen to him, it’s not true!) But reading it again was a reminder that I need to treasure his passions as much as I do my own. I’ve known Nick since he was 13, and the only thing as constant as his goofiness has been his desire to study medicine. It is essential to who he is, and it is my privilege to support that (even if it has to be from 800 miles away) lest our marriage become that “bond of love” that scared me so much a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily make it easy, but my struggles are not misgivings, and I am beyond confident that what we are doing right now is the “right” thing for us both.

Everybody has been asking me how we’re doing with all this.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness.

I think my answer from now on will be that it is the hardest and the best thing that we have done (together) yet.

At the White Coat ceremony.

On saying yes.

365 days ago, I awoke.

By some magic, my head didn’t pound from too much revelry the night before.

Reveling the night before with my sophomore year roommates.

And all that rang in my ears were the words of e. e. cummings, which captured how I felt upon awaking to my green fields and my blue cloudless sky and my impending marriage:

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

It was a day for saying yes.

Yes to the brilliant sun shooting diamonds through a white dress.

My Spanish wedding gown by Aire Barcelona.

Yes to helping hands.

The wedding was home grown. This is a mere snippet of the hands that helped.

Yes to old, new, borrowed, and blue.

Old well-loved and worn Montana boots that once belonged to my godmother. New handmade feather hairpiece. Borrowed diamond ring that for years graced my grandmother's hand. Blue heirloom handkerchief from great-grandma Farmer.

Yes to making it against all odds.

Sharing a moment with my sweet grandmother Giggi before the ceremony.

Yes to bearing rings, dropping petals, and riding wagons.

Nick's cousins tag-teamed ring bearing and flower petal dropping - only saying "yes" after some bribery to stay in the wagon all the way down the aisle.

Yes to waiting all day to behold.

Waiting as she comes.

Yes to the longest walk of my life.

Walking down the aisle to Jonathan Cain's Bridal March, played by my big brother.

Yes to the “do you take” and the “do you promise” and the “will you love”?

I do.

Yes to “you may now kiss.”

One of these kisses was sloppier than the others.

Yes to piling in.

The getaway vehicle - a 1960's Chevy grain truck, complete with balloons and elk calls.

Yes to standing on a log pile in 3-inch heels.

Some handsome groomsmen and nimble bridesmaids.

Yes to the women who make me giggle, make me able, make me hope, make me me.

The one in my head. The one up the street. The one 3 years later. The one down the hall. The one in my comfort zone. The one singing in the backseat.

Yes to the men who make him laugh, make him fish, make him wild, make him strong.

The pilots, the professor, the doctors, the fishermen, the world travelers, the brothers.

Yes to doubling the family all in one day.

The Garretts. The Farmers. My families.

Yes to glamor shots on a Chevy pick’em-up truck.

Rawr.

Yes to a month of rain that painted the Palouse a brilliant green.

The Garrett home on Moscow Mountain - all set up for the wedding.

Yes to hand-hewn details.

The product of blood, sweat, and tears.

Yes to following the sign to the left.

Both directions lead to the same place. But you can guess which arrow most people followed.

Yes to a grand entrance on a grand staircase to a grand scene.

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Garrett.

Yes to honoring our day of choosing love.

Passing out champagne, well wishes, and "hear hear's."

Yes to honoring 62 years of choosing love.

Nick's Grandma Dyne and Papa Don - a marriage to aspire to.

Yes to the first dance, and yes to looking on with misty eyes.

God blessed the broken road.

Yes to vanilla cake with huckleberry filling (which, by the way, tasted just as good 363 days later.)

A fat kid's dream. Being fed cake while everyone else looks on.

Yes to boys being boys and knocking over tables (and each other!) to catch elastic and lace.

The best man caught it.

Yes to a lucky game of horseshoes.

Horseshoe pit crafted by my father-in-law.

Yes to take me home, yes to country roads, and yes to mountain mamas.

No family gathering is complete without a rousing rendition of John Denver "country roads" with the West Virginia side of the family.

Yes to gallons of sangria and local brews and bottles – contributing to continued revelry.

Homemade sangria.

Yes to busting some moves, making it rain, doing the worm, dancing a jig, breaking it down, and falling in to a choreographed Bollywood scene.

Nobody had fun. Nobody at all.

Yes to twilight and not wanting it to end.

The glow of the tents as the sun went down.

365 days ago, I awoke and I said yes.

Today we’re waking up a world away and saying yes to something else.

Yes to Honduras – to adventure, to dirty fingernails, to rusty Spanish, to mosquito bites, to the frustrations and joys of professional challenges and travel.

Yes to Alaska – world class trout streams, to grizzly bears on the rocks, to “fish on!” and tangled lines and fingers calloused from days of fly casting.

Today we awake on the far ends of the North American continent – he to the north and I to the south. We awake, again, saying yes.

Yes to supporting each other’s passions and encouraging adventure.

and

Yes to coming home again.

Happy anniversary to the one who has my yes.


On endurance.

This past weekend, Nick and I ran the 2011 National Marathon in Washington, DC. My Dad completed the half marathon (his first), Nick’s parents and cousin competed in the team relay, and my Mom, Nick’s uncle, great-aunt, and various college friends came out to cheer us on. Besides the family reunion, delicious meals, and reunions with family and friends, this was a big weekend for Nick and I that taught us a lot about endurance, ourselves, and our marriage.

Mile 26 of 26.2

For me, running has always been a solitary thing. I run when I’m stressed – it helps me relax. I run when I’m happy – it compounds the positive energy. I run when I’m frustrated – it helps me think. I set my own pace based on what I need at that moment, and although the athlete in me likes to push my limits, running for me has always been more about taking care of myself than competing.

My whole approach to running was thrown off when my husband of less than a year suggested we run a marathon together.

Mile 24 through Central Park, NYC Marathon 2009

I ran the NYC Marathon in November 2009, after a couple of years of discouraging health problems. I trained and raced alone, and learned a lot about myself in the process. The long training runs were lonely, but not in a bad way – I was able to dig deep and overcome my fears (and the pain!) on my own, which made me feel strong and empowered as an individual. The race itself is one of the best experiences of my life – I was healthy and injury-free on race day and finished much stronger than I expected, negative splitting (meaning the last 13 miles were faster than the first) with my fastest mile at mile 24. I finished the last 3 miles through Central Park with a goofy grin on my face and am not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears crossing the finish line.

Given my solitary approach to running, I was a bit apprehensive when Nick and I began training for National Marathon. There were days when I felt great and wanted push the pace on a long run, but I had to hold back as he built his confidence in long distance running. Worse than that were the days when I was tired, worn out, or weak, and I felt him holding back on my behalf – to struggle through a difficult run alone is one thing, but for another person to see my weakness and be affected by it was really tough for me. More often than not, we bickered through our runs, and at those painful, crucial points at the end of 16, 18, and 20 mile runs, instead of gritting our teeth and pushing through, we took out our frustrations on each other with biting and sometimes childish remarks.

But last Saturday, we ran and completed the marathon. The gun went off at 7am and we ran in 30-degree temperatures as we watched the sun rise over the US Capitol building. We received extra boosts throughout the race as we passed family along the race route. He had to stop  so that I could use the porta-potty at mile 6 (and mile 10…and mile 15…and mile 22. I obviously had no problem with hydration!) I had to stop so that he could stretch out a nasty cramp that set in on the final hill at mile 23.

Crossing the finish line...together.

But I realized at mile 26.2 that none of that mattered. When I woke up with a sore throat and feeling sick, I had someone to tell me it would be okay (and it was.) I didn’t get to set my own pace, but I had someone to talk to through boring parts of the course. When he hit the wall and started cramping at the end, I talked him through the last few miles, which distracted me from my own aching muscles. Our families and friends were cheering at mile 26, relieved to see us still on our feet and together. We crossed the finish line hand in hand, and while I didn’t get the same feeling of elation and self-pride that I did in my first marathon, I experienced something even better…I was unbelievably proud of him for pushing through a lot of pain and finishing strong, and proud of us for doing it together.

We ran the marathon on our 9-month anniversary of marriage. We have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but in that 4+ hours, I figured something out that is a hard lesson for someone as independent as I am. There was something more powerful about US being strong than ME being strong. Shared strength is more powerful, and more rewarding, than solitary strength. We made each other better on Saturday…and I guess that was the point of getting married in the first place. Hopefully we’ll live out our marriage that way for years to come.