Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play...

Anyone who has a minute should click on the Web site below, and read Jeremy's fantastic story about the relationship he has with his identical twin brother. It will truly bring a tear to your eye.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Common knowledge...

I'm getting married.

I can't think of a better opener than that. It is the ultimate beginning to this column -- which is my favorite way to communicate with friends, family and maybe even a few strangers who like to check in.

I kicked around ideas. I could say something about how I've waited my whole life for this day. How this announcement is one I've daydreamed about making since I first laid eyes on my fiance. How strangely wonderful it is to use the word "fiance" in reference to Jeremy.

But when it comes down to it, there are few things more exciting than saying those three words in a row: "I'm getting married."

I thought for years (nearly 2 1/2, actually) about how thrilling it would be to tell everyone that I am engaged. How ecstatic my friends and family would be to hear the news, and how shocked all those who always considered me to be stubbornly independent would be to hear me say those words.

But when I called people to tell them, things didn't go as they always had in my head. Sure, there was some shrieking, and certainly loads of cheers and congratulations. But the first comment most people made upon hearing my fabulous news was: "I knew it!"

At first I was bored by that response. OK, so everyone just knew what was coming, and it's no big surprise. Ho hum.

But then, I thought about what they knew, and it's what Jeremy and I have known all along. And that's exciting stuff.

They didn't know when it was coming, or how (sunset on the beach on March 21). But they knew to expect it, because they saw it brewing within us.

I knew when I met Jeremy that he was the one for me. He knew when he first held my hand that he didn't want to let go.

I knew every car trip was worth the effort, and every mile put on my brand new car was just one that brought me closer to him. He knew that I was worth leaving work early for almost every Friday.

He knew when to ask me the biggest question of our shared life. I knew that the answer was so obvious that I don't even remember saying it.

And now, everyone knows. But apparently, they've been in on it for awhile.

Realizing that, I can't think of a better response to my news than: "I knew it!" Because I saw what has been so obvious to us for so long was clear to the rest of the world, too. And it was absolutely, 100 percent right all along.

As I picked up the phone again and again to call people and share the wonderful news, I recognized that the phrase "I'm getting married" wasn't the one that sent flutters through my stomach. It just didn't capture the excitement I was feeling.

What makes me smile the most, I determined, is to say "I'm marrying Jeremy." Without his name in that pronouncement, the phrase doesn't mean that much at all.

Because what good is a wedding, an engagement or a lifetime commitment without the man of your dreams?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

At Least the Weather Was Nice...

I learned a lot about love last weekend, and it's a lesson I'll hold onto forever.

My friends -- we'll call them M & C -- got married, but not without many mishaps and obstacles along the way.

Gentlemen, in case you weren't aware, most girls spend their entire young lives fantasizing about their wedding day: Who will be there, what she'll wear, what songs they'll dance to. Such was especially the case in M's life, as it took her and C seven years to walk down the aisle.

Yet, a myriad of challenges unbelievably presented themselves on the "happiest day of their lives" that threatened to shake both M & C to the core.

Some were small problems -- a baked beans fiasco, a misplaced marriage license, a cheese ball that turned out too salty.

Others were much bigger -- missing bridesmaids, a missing deejay, missing guests.

And others, still, were caused more by people than events -- an inexperienced pastor, a bumbling wedding director, a pushy family member.

Here's how it all went down (in very rushed, limited detail):

The day began with a family fight, resulting in M locking the keys inside of her car. C had to come unlock the car while M hid inside, so they could avoid contact before the ceremony. The morning incidents resulted in both being behind schedule.

The baked beans fiasco occurred shortly thereafter, when a catering facility claimed to never have received the order. After an ugly confrontation, during which time M left her check card on the counter, M and a friend were left to jot back and forth between two food places multiple times to get the order right.

At this point, we've also managed to lose and locate the marriage license. The marriage would not have been legal without it.

Even more behind schedule, M narrowly avoided getting a speeding ticket as we hurried to the location of the wedding.

With T-minus one hour until the wedding, one bridesmaid was missing in action, and hadn't been heard from all day. Another was sent to another city to pick up a forgotten cheese platter. And the entire wedding party, including M herself, was downstairs -- not dressed -- putting centerpieces on the tables.

As guests began arriving, M's daughter, the flower girl, was pitching an unholy fit, and had to be removed from the wedding party. Missing bridesmaids finally arrived, and, with 10 minutes to go, it appeared the wedding would go on as scheduled.

Until we realized there was no music playing.

The deejay, who was supposed to have arrived at 2 p.m. for the 4 p.m. wedding, was nowhere to be found. And nobody realized it until it was almost show time.

After spending several minutes tracking down his phone number, the matron of honor reached him, and, following some harsh words and near death threats, the clod was said to be on his way.
Though 45 minutes behind schedule, the wedding began. The bride looked radiant; the groom, glowing.

Somewhere in between the botched song and the pastor's accidental missteps, the bride and groom recognized that the number of people that RSVPed to the wedding did not equal the number occupying the chairs.

After the couple was wed, a few other calamities presented themselves. The director removed the tin foil from on top of the food without lighting the burners below, causing the food to turn ice cold. Plus, in the middle of this madness, it became noticeable that the beautiful cake was beginning to lean uncomfortably to the left.

Rearranging the order of things aided the warming of the food, and the cake was cut and enjoyed by all. The evening was spent among close friends and family, and a good time was had by all.

Until the end.

Our unintelligent friend, the deejay, decided to ask M for his payment, prompting a furious response from all. After he refused to negociate with the matron of honor and the groom, the deejay got to deal with M, who screamed at him and offered him half of his payment or nothing at all (more than fair). The reception ended then and there.

As this was going on, the old couple who owned the wedding site was taking the decorations off of the getaway car, for some unknown reason.

M & C, along with their closest friends, were left to clean up the hall, before they escaped for what we all pray has been an amazing honeymoon.

If you've ever been in a wedding, or if the wedding was yours, this story probably made your skin crawl. It could have been enough to ruin the happiest day of their lives. It might have even been enough to cause tension between the bride and groom, or send both into depression and anxiety.

But it wasn't. Not even close.

Whether there were 2 people there or 200, M & C were married. They have the rest of their lives to find the "happiest day ever."

And they know it.

Throughout the day, anyone could have fallen apart. But not M & C. They were rocks -- not for themselves, or for friends and family -- but for each other.

They left their wedding smiling, with hopes of spending the rest of their lives feeling the exact same way they did at that moment. A day like that, they realized, could only make their bond stronger, and it would make for an interesting story to tell.

Someday. Many years from now.

When my time comes to walk down the aisle, I know I'll think of M & C. I'll think about the commitment they share and their unbelievable strength. I'll think of all they had to endure, and the fact that they have the rest of their lives to spend together, overcoming new challenges and succeeding.

And I'll think back to their wedding day and know, if mine goes anything like theirs did, the man I marry will need to be strong enough to carry me out of the looney bin.

Best of luck M & C, even though you've already proved you can survive without it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

** A quick update before getting to it: Nana made it through surgery, and, despite some difficulties early on, is recovering well. Way to go, Nana!

Sunshine gal...

When my clothes are sticking to me in the dead of winter, I hate Florida.

When my air-conditioning bill is just as high in January as it is in June, I hate Florida.

When the ocean is so warm, it feels like bath water, and ice cubes down my back fee refreshing, I hate Florida.

But when I spend the first weekend of March sunbathing by the pool and waterskiing and speedboating around a lake, beneath a cloudless sky, I remember why it is I came back here in the first place.

It's a trade-off -- Snow skis for water skis. Fortunately, falling face-first in water is a lot more pleasant than catching a mouthful of packed snow.

Sometimes during the winter, I get grouchy and nostalgic. I long for the days of turtleneck sweaters, hot chocolate and warm, sweet-smelling logs burning in the fireplace, all of which I came to know very well during my years in North Carolina.

But when my friends call me and complain about high heat bills, chipping ice from their windshields and dreary frozen rain, I remember just how good I've got it.

The truth is, you always want what you can't have. I want snow when it's sunny, whine for warmth when I'm chilly and yearn for palm trees or autumn leaves whenever I'm in the presence of the other.

I can't help it. I've tasted both, and now I reap the seasonal misery of desiring what is undesirable to everyone else.

I look at all the northern transplants around here, and, unlike other natural Floridians, I understand them. They bask in the 90-degree sun, while the rest of us pine for the slightest hint of winter. It's like they are still thawing out from years spent in Ohio, New York and Indiana.

I feel that.

Four-and-a-half years in the frosty Appalachian mountains, waiting for the bus while bearing inhumanly icy temperatures taught me a lot, as did my annual slip and fall on a patch of black ice (of course, right in the middle of a packed sidewalk).

But 3-and-a-half years away has taught me a lot too. Showing up for work with sweat marks all over my clothes is almost, if not just, as embarrassing as falling in front of your peers. Neither way works well for me.

So when you think of me lounging on a pool raft or cutting through waves behind a wicked-cool speed boat while you're bundling up in layers just to check the mail, you can hate me, if you must. But don't forget, I've been on your side of the weather front -- and I miss it, too.