love

Super Bowl Sunday is for Lovers & a Spoken Word Poem

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most romantic days of the year to me. What’s so romantic about giant sweaty men pummeling each other for a few fleeting moments of glory, you might ask?  Absolutely nothing. My tender feelings towards Super Bowl Sunday have nothing to do with the event itself, but are rooted in the fact that Jonathan and I first started dating on Super Bowl Sunday 9 years ago. (A story I wrote about here).

In honor of our date-a-versary I wanted to share this spoken word poem I wrote a few years back. I’m posting the text here so you can follow along, but I’d recommend listening. Since it’s written as a spoken word poem I don’t give special attention to the line breaks and the way it displays on the page. Also I use the word Love in at least 3 different ways which is probably a huge technical mistake, but I think it matters less if you’re listening to it. (Maybe?) In any case, it’s a little something different. (PS- Photo of us in the recording was taken in Korea by the amazing Laura Rhoades).

Sometimes Love is 19 years old on a swing set at midnight,
Two swings tangled around each other,
Expressing something their bodies can’t.
It’s warm and the night is quiet and
Love runs his finger up the back of her arm
Like it’s something sacred
And he is the first person in the world to discover it.

Sometimes Love waits at the end of an aisle,
Looking strange in his tuxedo and his too-shiny shoes,
Eyes full of Love as she tumbles towards him,
Fighting to pace herself
To keep herself from sprinting to Love,
The space between them feeling unbearably large.

Sometimes Love comes home from work and covers Love’s face with kisses,
making up for each moment spent apart.
Sometimes Love pulls love into his lap,
folding her into himself like a handkerchief he’d like to fit into his pocket
where he can keep her – every bit of her—close to his heart.

Sometimes Love makes Love laugh so hard she cries,
Lying on their backs on the living room rug –
the rug Love swore they had to have because “It ties the whole room together”
—laughter tears dripping down the funnel of her ear,
collecting like sea water inside of a conch shell.

Sometimes, Love cries and doesn’t know why,
So Love lays quietly beside her and holds her until she falls asleep.

Sometimes love is romantic, surprise flowers and slow-dancing in the kitchen.
But…
Sometimes Love forgets about Valentine’s Day.

Sometimes Love is lonely… because Love can’t seem to understand her.
Sometimes Love is Spock, when what Love needs is Captain Kirk.
Sometimes love feels broken, fractured, splintered,
Like a glass bottle shattered on the kitchen tile,
shards of green glass oozing red wine like blood.

Sometimes Love feels like they are two pieces that don’t even belong to the same puzzle.
And sometimes…Love DOES go to sleep angry,
Because Love knows that everything will look brighter in the sun.
Because sometimes it’s better to go to sleep when you’re too tired to be kind
than to go on trying to pull the right words from a heart that’s running low on grace.
Sometimes Love knows that, against all the advice,
it’s better to stop than to force resolution to fit into your timetable.

Sometimes Love has to choose to love again and again and again.
I choose you.
I CHOOSE you.
I choose YOU.

Because sometimes Love really fucks up.
Over and over and over again.
Sometimes Love wonders, “Will Love give up on me?
Will he throw up his hands and say he has had enough?”

But the answer is always, “No.”
No no no no no no no, never.

Sometimes Love doesn’t have to say, “I forgive you,”
because Love is too busy living, “I forgive you.”

Sometimes Love says the true thing instead of the easy thing.
Even when it hurts Love
Because Love sees the magic in Love even when she’s lost sight of it in herself.
And Love will never give up on Love being his best self.

Sometimes Love means you don’t have to be the loudest or the smartest or the best.
Because Love says you are heard, you seen, you are known.
You have nothing to prove.
Sometimes Love doesn’t have to bring anything to the table.

Sometimes Love doesn’t look the way it used to.
Skin sags in places where it used to stretch and
Stretches in places where it used to sag.
Sometimes Love is different shape than Love expected.

Sometimes Love doesn’t feel beautiful.
But Love sees her beautiful anyway.
Sometimes Love doesn’t feel strong.
But Love sees him strong anyway.

Sometimes Love leads.
Sometimes Love follows.
And sometimes Love means no one is in front or behind.
Sometimes Love means two people standing side by side,
Hearts beating together, feet stepping together,
Testing the next step, looking for a way.
Together.

Sometimes Love isn’t strong enough to stand.
Sometimes Love feels like she is sinking with no hope of rescue.
And then, Love says, “When you cannot walk, I will carry you.
When you cannot see a way, I will hold a light for you.
When you want to give up, don’t despair, Love. I will fight for you.”

Sometimes Love fights in the darkness, in the hidden places
And sometimes Love fights in the light.
And sometimes Love fights in the gray spaces, quiet and overlooked.

Sometimes Love goes to the grocery store twice in one night
because Love realizes she forget to put tomatoes on the list.
And sometimes Love does yet another load of laundry,
because she knows that every folded sock and towel make up a liturgy of love.
And every dish that Love washes whispers, “I love you.”
And every plate that Love dries says, “I am here. I will always be here.”

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*Sorry if the cursing offends you. I don’t use that language often, but when I do, it’s on purpose. You can read my thoughts about that here.

 

 

On Getting Married Too Young

When you fall in love at 19, people talk. People think that you’re naïve. That you’re too young to understand love and commitment. And if you choose to marry young then you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

So we waited. We waited until we were 22. And still, people talked. They said, “When you marry young you still have so much growing to do. You’ll change. He’ll change. You might become totally different people.”

After five years of marriage I can say that they were right.

We are different people and Lord knows I’ve changed. Sometimes I feel guilty that this woman who shares your bed now is not the girl you married. It feels like false advertising. As though I promised you one thing and delivered another.

But then, you’re not the boy I married either. And I love you more because of it.

See, love is not one fixed shape. It’s elastic. It stretches like a balloon or a gum bubble or the belly of a woman around the body of her child. Its parameters are set by the beloved.

Maybe marriage starts with “I love who you are now, today, in this moment,” but it is also, “I will love who you become.”

Marriage means our roots are intertwined. No matter which direction you grow, you can only go so far from me. We are hopelessly tangled. And this is a miracle. This is why we say that marriage is holy. Because it requires an act of God.

I will change and you will change and we may grow in different ways that are impossible for us to imagine. But love will grow as we do. Sometimes it will grow easily and naturally. Sometimes it will require work, like a master gardener prunes and weeds and coaxes a sapling. It might be hard, but hard and bad are not the same thing, Love.

After more than eight years of loving I can see that every change in you is a gift to me. I get to discover a new part of you, and the more I know you, the more I love you. It makes me wonder if the people who grow bored with their relationships are simply the people who stop changing.

Yesterday you asked me for something simple and easy to give and I snapped. I sighed. I exaggerated. I may have even stomped my feet. But after a few minutes I came back. I was embarrassed. I apologized.

And you wrapped your arms around me and lifted my feet from the ground, which always makes me feel small even on a fat day. Then you put one hand behind my head and planted the other on the small of my back and pressed me into your body. We swayed back and forth in our little kitchen without any music and I fell in love for the thousandth time.

Note: The photographer for this picture can now be found at http://www.grainandcompass.com

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 24: Anniversaries and Love Motels

On Saturday my husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. I’ve been waiting for years to feel like a grown up. I kept thinking I would feel like one when I moved away from home, when I graduated from college, when I got married, when I got my first “real” job, when I moved across the world. But I have to confess that I’m often amazed that other people seem to think of me as an adult. Cause I just don’t see it most of the time. 🙂 I thought that perhaps a five-year wedding anniversary would be the kind of milestone that made me feel grown up. And I admit that this made me feel a little old. But then I ate nachos for dinner. So not really all that grown up.

Speaking of not grown up...these guys were just chilling on their stilts.

Speaking of not grown up…these guys were just chilling on their stilts.

For our anniversary, we spent the night in Busan, our favorite city in Korea. We stayed in a love motel near Haeundae Beach, one of Busan’s most popular areas. “Love motels” are a very common form of accommodation in Korea. As the name suggests, they are motels specifically marketed as places for couples to tryst. In Korea, most people marry in their late twenties to early thirties and people live with their parents until they get married, which means there aren’t a lot of options for couples to spend time together. Additionally, Korean families often sleep together in the same room, so even a married couple with a few young children might utilize a love motel for some alone time. Actually I’ve heard that a few years ago, there was some sort of law that required businesses to close mid-afternoon one day per week so that people would be encouraged to make more babies. There is something of a population crisis in Korea where the average family has only have one child, two maximum, which means they aren’t replacing themselves and the population is in decline. So the government invented a way to encouraged people to spend more “quality time” with their spouses. As far as I know, this is no longer in effect.

Some motels are themed and have interesting decor and others are essentially just like small mid-range hotels that happen to provide you with condoms. It may sound sketchy, but the love motels are often cleaner and nicer than hostels and are much more affordable than fancy hotels. The one we stayed at this time wasn’t themed, but it did have mirrors all over the place, including the ceiling. It also had a lovely bathtub which was easily my favorite part of the room since we don’t have a tub or even a proper shower in our apartment. (Like many Korean apartments, we simply have a “wet room” where our shower head is attached to the sink and you just stand in the middle of the bathroom to shower with no curtains or anything).

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It was pretty overcast the entire time we were in Busan, so while we spent a bit of time walking along the beach, the views weren’t the best we’ve seen. We did have a nice dinner in a restaurant near the beach that’s known for it’s Western menu where we had BBQ chicken sliders and a giant plate of nachos. Nothing gourmet, but certainly some comfort food.

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We tried so hard to selfie, but we weren't very good at it...

We tried so hard to selfie, but we weren’t very good at it…

This guy right here = most wonderful man in the world.

This guy right here = most wonderful man in the world. Also, so handsome!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been married for five years, but when we reflect on all that we’ve done and seen and the ways that we’ve changed and grown we have been amazed. I am beyond blessed to be married to such a kind, patient man who makes me laugh every day. We are as crazy about each other as we were when we were 19 and I never want to take that for granted. I’ve written a bit about my thoughts on marriage and why I think ours works so beautifully well, but I am still overwhelmed by the gift that it is and I’m pretty much fine with owning the fact that I have the most wonderful husband in the world. I am so humbled that he chose me and that he chooses me still, every single day.

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If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure about the MERS scare in Korea you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Love and Regret: A Letter to My Sisters

I don’t know how it felt to grow up with me as a sister. I only know how it felt to be yours. When you were born, I didn’t know anything about being a big sister, so I imitated Mom, hoisting you onto my hips at nine years old, like real live baby dolls.

I was in first grade when Anni was born and I asked to take her in for show and tell. Somehow Mom agreed to bring her to the school. We walked around the room with you and I pointed out to everyone that pulsing soft spot on your fuzzy little head where I could see your heartbeats if I watched carefully and Marcus Sapp asked if he could pet you.

From the moment I met you I wanted two things – to take care of you and to show you off. I was still a child and we fought like children, but what I wanted most was to make you laugh and for you to never be hurt.

I often hear people say they have no real regrets because even their mistakes taught them something. I have real regrets. I regret that I wasn’t home to see you grow. I left home when you were 13 and 11 and I never really came back. I regret that I didn’t drive you to school on your first day of high school, or go shopping for your prom dress, or help you practice for your driving test, or weigh the pros and cons of different colleges with you, or the million moments that I missed in between.

Maybe I had to go. Maybe I couldn’t have become who I needed to become if I had stayed. But I should have tried harder to be with you, to be a part of it all. I’m sorry. I will always be sorry.

Now you are women – strong, beautiful, caring women. Women who are brave enough to do hard things, who make a way where none exists, who see the world the way it could be and chase after that vision relentlessly. You are women I want as my friends, but I’m not sure I know how to move forward.

For years we defined ourselves and our place within our family in contrast to one another. Maggi was the athletic and passionate one, Anni was the artistic and shy one, I was the brainy goody-two-shoes, afraid to rock the boat. We each played a particular role, and we came to know each other in those roles, but now we have outgrown them.

We are those people, and yet we aren’t those people and sometimes it feels like it’s all too much. It’s too much for me to change and you to change too. Because here is a truth I never expected to find–I don’t quite know who I am without you.

You are my history, you are woven through the threads of my life in ways even I don’t  understand. But you are also my future. Because no matter where we’ve gone and what we’ve done, no matter how many moments we’ve missed, one thing has stayed the same. My truest, deepest, down-in-my-belly feelings towards you are the same. I want to take care of you and to show you off. I want you to be safe and I want you to laugh often and I want the whole world to see how amazing you are.

So I will keep trying. I will hold you fiercely inside of my heart and I will try to find ways to show you that I am proud of you, that I am dazzled by you, that I love you. But also that I want to know you, just as you are, right now, even from across the world.

Super Bowl Sunday: A Love Story

Do you remember the day that you and I became “us”? It was Super Bowl Sunday, 2007. You were in Indiana watching the Super Bowl at your best friend’s house, a tradition I wasn’t yet a part of. I was in Chicago with my parents who had spontaneously flown up after I’d called to tell them I wanted to date you.

I remember hanging up with my mom and thinking, “How can I possibly explain to this nice 19-year-old guy that my parents are flying all the way to Chicago because he wants to date me?” It was intense. I didn’t know how to tell you they were coming. I was certain it would freak you out and scare you away forever.

But you didn’t miss a beat. While I stammered apologies all over the place for how dramatic this was becoming, you smiled and said it was fine, that you weren’t changing your mind. (Though I do remember you asking, “They know I didn’t propose or anything, right? I just want to date you”).

I think I knew you’d be my one and only right then – because of the way you took some serious crazy in stride.

Super Bowl Sunday holds special significance for a lot of people – there are traditions, parties, special foods, and friends that come together for this event. For some it’s about the game itself and for others it’s about the social ritual – the shared experience, the sense of togetherness. As far as the football goes, I could take it or leave it. (Ok, to be honest, I could just leave it). But Super Bowl Sunday is heavy with memories for me.

On February 3, 2007 I said goodbye to my parents and as they drove away I called you in Indiana to say, “So…do you still want to date me? Because you totally can.” You told me later that when you hung up the phone and told our friends we were officially dating the whole room cheered.

We spent the next three Super Bowls in Indiana, surrounded by college friends who packed the Henderson’s living room to the max so that we had to have the game projected onto a sheet hung up across one wall so we could all see it.

The first year we were married we spent the Super Bowl at a party at a pastor we hardly knew’s house in Naperville with strangers who would become our friends.

We spent two Super Bowls in North Carolina – the one in Raleigh when we’d had a huge fight just before the game, and the one in Charlotte where we crashed a party for friends of our friends.

These past two years we’ve been in Korea and the Super Bowl hasn’t been a Sunday night event shared with friends, but something you had to stream on your computer Monday morning around your class schedule–something I was only aware of because of the date and the memory of that Super Bowl Sunday that changed the course of my life.

Eight Super Bowls later and you are still my favorite. You are still my one and only. Never once have I wished for a life apart from you. Never once have I wanted out.

People say that marriage is hard work. That love is a choice we make even when we don’t feel like it. I agree with those ideas. Marriage does take effort and commitment. Love is more than a feeling. But, Baby, you make loving you SO EASY.

Sometimes I look at you and wonder how? How did we grow a love so big and beautiful between two broken, imperfect people? And how did I get someone like you to love me in the first place? And the answer seems clear – we didn’t. I didn’t. We are living a miracle. Every good and precious bit of our marriage is a grace.

You and me, we’re nothing special. We’re just a Southern girl and a Plain-Toast Midwest boy. But somehow, we ended up with a miracle. On Super Bowl Sundays I like to remember those two 19-year-olds, giddy with infatuation, with no idea that this thing between them would grow into a love big enough to rattle the stars.

Image credits: Wedding picture by Taylor Rae Photography, “Twenty-Four” anniversary picture by Grain & Compass.

Of Shoes and Ships and Ceilingwax…and of Second Anniversary Trips Potentially Involving Jack Sparrow

 Hellooooo world! I’m alive! It’s been a really, really, really, really, really long time (as some of you very loyal blog-readers have pointed out.) I kept thinking I’d eventually have a large chunk of time to write a nice catching-up post so that I could then start posting more regularly. But nope. Never found that large chunk of time. In fact, I’m not so sure it even exists. So, instead of a lovely well-thought-out catching up blog, here’s the basic run-down:

Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Go to church. Friends visit us, we visit friends. Easter in Ohio with the inlaws. Dilemma: Go to school? Don’t go to school? Stress, confusion, crying ensues. Decide to do a compromise and plan to start online classes through Fuller in the fall. New dilemma ensues: Stay in this job or get a new job? Still working on this one. Hoping for the new job option to work out soon. Next dilemma ensues: move when our lease is up or stay in the same apartment? Decided it was the best decision finance-wise to stay. Take up hot yoga. Sweat more than I ever have ever. Dye hair strawberry blonde-ish. Start reading Game of Thrones. Bake a lot. Talk. Laugh. Travel to Dominican Republic. Celebrate 2nd wedding anniversary. Take anniversary pictures with friends/photographers Asharae and Tim (will let you know when these pics are available.)  Mom and Anni drive up from Louisiana to visit. It is awesome. That’s pretty much it. Got it?

 So, backing up to one of the most interesting parts of that little rundown – our 2nd anniversary trip to the Dominican Republic. We got the most amazing deal through cheapcaribbean.com that was $12/night per person to stay at this all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata. That meant that for the entire 6-night trip we paid $144. Which included unlimited food and drinks. Then we just had to pay air-fare (which was the hefty part, but still not so bad considering we flew right from Raleigh) and then extra for any additional excursions or items we wanted to buy.  Neither of us had ever been to the Dominican Republic, so we were both excited to see a new place and get a new stamp in the old passport.  That makes 13 countries for me. Getting gradually closer to my goal of 196. (Ok, but seriously, at LEAST 50.) I was particularly excited about this trip because, being in the Caribbean,  I figured I would for sure meet a pirate as excellent as Jack Sparrow.

Incidentally, I was wrong. I did not in fact meet or even see anyone as remotely excellent as Jack Sparrow, despite being in the prime location for it.

As you can imagine, the Dominican Republic is beautiful! The town we stayed in (Puerto Plata) is on the north side of the island, the opposite side from Punta Cana, which is the more popular vacation destination. Punta Cana is known for its incredible beaches. The beach at our resort was also nice, but the sand was not as sparkling white and the water not as bright aquamarine as it is other places in the Caribbean. What is unique about the DR is that there are mountains basically right up til you get to the ocean. It looks a lot like I imagine Hawaii does (from the pictures I’ve seen of it.) Very lush and tropical.

Our resort had a great beach with these amazing canopy beds you could lay around on and read and nap and have nice people bring you fruity beverages and snacks. It was perfect for people like us (well, like Jonathan) who burn as soon as the sunlight hits their skin. (I actually burned too the first day, but that was only because I waited to long to put on my sunscreen.)

One day we took a cable car ride up to the top of the tallest mountain in the area. The mountain was called Isabel de Torres (not Mount Isabel, just Isabel de Torres.) I hated dangling from that heavy cable car thousands of feet in the air, but I loved the view.

Up on top of the mountain is this Jesus statue that is reminiscent of the giant one in Brazil. Our tour guide (Manny) was very experienced at photographing this historic icon appropriately.

Once we came back down the mountain in the scary cable car they took us on a tour of the city. It looks pretty much like all of the South American cities I’ve visited in the style of the architecture and the way random museums and factories are crammed in right next to houses and convenience stores. We went to a rum factory, but the machines weren’t running so there wasn’t much to see. Then we went to a jewelry “factory” which was actually just  three people polishing stones in this little dugout. We also went to a cigar shop and watched a cigar maker roll up some cigars. And later we went to a fort that had been important in the DR’s war for independence. I did not get much out of the audio tour, but the fort had a beautiful view of the port.

Another day we ventured off the resort to go to Ocean World. Ocean World is like a dinky version of Sea World. It is small and has only a few attractions, like a dolphin show, a sea lion show, and a shark show. No Shamu. What they do have to offer is this exhibit called the Tiger Grotto. They randomly have two tigers (one is white, but he was sleeping the whole time) who live in this habitat with a pool in it. The pool has glass walls in parts and on the other side is a nice pool for people.  So you can swim up to the glass and the tiger will swim back and forth on his side and you can feel like you are swimming with the tiger even though you are separated by a glass wall and are totally safe. It was the coolest thing ever. The tiger was soooo beautiful. I wanted to bring it home with me. If Princess Jasmine gets to have Rajah, why can’t I have a tiger? Just another way Disney has ruined me for real life.

See! No fair!

Another highlight of our trip was learning that we apparently love Indian food. At least the Indian food they served us at the resort restaurant, Moomtaz. We got reservations there because it was the only place available on the night of anniversary and we thought, “We can try it and if we don’t like it we’ll just go to the buffet later. “ I only wish it had not been our last night. It was the most delicious food ever. A total surprise since neither of us thought we liked Indian food. Now we are determined to find an Indian place here in Raleigh that’s up to par.

The only negative part of our trip was some travel delay on our way down that actually ended up cutting out a day of our trip, but we are working on getting some reimbursement for that.

It was so good to have time to relax and rest, to enjoy each other’s company in an un-rushed way. We were able to reflect on how far we have come together in the last two years and how excited we are about where we hope to go together in the future. In the last year we moved across the country, started new jobs, made new friends, visited old ones, learned to run 13.1 miles, worked, and played, shared excitement and laughter and frustration and disappointment.  There are a lot of days when we feel frustrated that we don’t see the bigger picture of what we’re supposed to do in life – what careers we should pursue or where we should live or if we should be in school or if God really has a plan for us that doesn’t involve us wandering around aimlessly. And I especially panic that I’ll never do anything that matters, even to me. But at the end of the day, we are so, so thankful to have each other. And to know that even when we don’t know anything else, we are together and we are always for each other. And that makes us deeply joyful, even when we have to return from the beautiful tropical paradise and go back to spending 40 hrs a week staring at a computer screen.

Hope you enjoyed the travel spiel. Expect more from me soon!  🙂