Ferritale

Honeymoon 2017: Part Two – Philadelphia

Thursday: November 9, 2017

If a heart attack were ever to visit me during my 20s, this would have been that day.

I woke up in our Washington D.C. Airbnb somewhere around 8am (6am Arizona time). Alex was exhausted and feeling a little under the weather after walking seven miles around in the cold the day before, so I let him sleep in while I packed up, tidied up our Airbnb, and took the Metro to the airport to pick up our rental car that I had reserved several weeks before. It was at Reagan National Airport, which meant an easy ride on the Metro, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip that cold morning.

Call me crazy, but there is something so peaceful and liberating about navigating a huge city by myself. I absolutely love it. I love getting lost in the crowds of people (so long as I’m not claustrophobically close), the landscapes, the sweep of constant movement and noise. Working with horses has trained me to be constantly aware of my surroundings so I’ve come to rely on my own intuition to keep myself safe.

And so I got myself to the airport, found the right rental parking lot, figured out the correct office, and picked ourselves out a nice little Toyota Yaris for the journey up to New York City. Once I’d signed my life away and got out of that airport, I was every driving instructor’s dream as I zipped through our nation’s capitol a few miles under the speed limit, driving through 47 construction zones, a hundred merging lanes, eighteen roadblocks, and enough pedestrians to overtake a small country.

I parked outside our Airbnb (parallel parked – yas!) then we packed up the last of our luggage, left the keys in the mailbox, and headed out of D.C. I was so sad to leave, but really looking forward to the drive (oh, if I’d only known then…). We’d routed a course up to New York City that would take us through Philadelphia so we could see Independence Hall.

As we drove up to Baltimore, I actually remember thinking that it wasn’t going to be so bad. The trees were beautiful shades of reds and yellows and oranges, we were comfortable and warm in the car, our spirits were high, and we happily listened to songs we’d danced to at the wedding.

Here’s the thing, though. The east coast likes to lull you into a false sense of security.

We drove through Baltimore and I got a small taste of the brutality of East coast drivers while trying to turn into a shopping center where we’d found a Panara. (God forbid you wait for a gap in between cars to make a left turn.) We ate lunch, then decided we didn’t want to be icicles in NYC and ran into a nearby Walmart for some warm clothes and gloves.

Then, we began the drive up to Philadelphia. The freeways were starting to get more complicated with lots of exits on both sides, not just the righthand side, and I was noticing more traffic and screeching stops and swerves and honks. But, Alex navigated us to the exit that would take us to Independence Hall, and I forgot about bad drivers as we approached the iconic structure.

I’d convinced Alex to make a pit stop in Philadelphia, and I was absolutely ecstatic to be there. I’m a history fanatic and have always been drawn to the American Revolution, and, you know, Independence Hall kinda played a big part in it.

Excited, we parked a few minutes before 3pm and walked into the visitor center. As we entered, we read on the signs that tours to the Hall were free, but they required tickets which could be picked up at the front desk. So, we got up to the front desk around 3:10 and asked for tickets for the next tour.

“The last tour of the day starts at 3:20,” the attendee said, “and the last tickets are already gone.” Then, before we could register what she’d said, she studied us for a beat and asked, “How fast can you walk?”

Alex and I looked at each other. “Uh, pretty fast, I guess.”

The attendee reached into a drawer and pulled out two passes. “These guys didn’t pick up their reserved tickets. They’re the last two. If you hurry, you can get to Independence Hall [a block and a half away] by the time the last tour starts.”

It’d been meant to be! Thrilled, we thanked her then busted a move out of the visitor center into the cold and power walked to our destination. Into sight came what we’d come so far to see: Independence Hall!

I remember thinking it was a bit smaller than what I’d expected. But – so, so cool.

We got in line with a small crowd of older folks and people our age with small children and only waited a moment or two before we were ushered inside an adjacent room.

I got the biggest kick out of our tour guide, who took history fanatic to the next level as he sat us all down prior to setting foot into the Hall and quizzed us on our knowledge of the Articles of Confederation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Before we left he made mention of the several hundred-year-old wood of which the building was constructed and urged us not to put drinks on surfaces or lean on structures.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

You can see as many pictures as you’d like of different structures that embody so much of history, and it is simply not the same as standing on the same ground, taking in the same surroundings.

After about hour, we peeked into a building across the street that held the cracked, original Liberty Bell.

Then, because we were short on time, we grabbed some last shots of Independence Hall and booked it out of Philadelphia. As we continued on our journey north, it occurred to us we hadn’t gotten Paddington Bear in a shot with the Hall! Next time.

It was cloudy and gray and all kinds of traffic closed in as the trees melted away and made way for industrial grossness. As the clouds above started to darken slightly – indicating that the sun was setting – we crossed onto the Jersey Turnpike.

Stupidly, around that time I insisted we listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’ for the line “Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike”. If you haven’t heard the song, it’s a slow, soothing, calm tune that is probably more appropriate for a quiet and relaxing drive in the countryside.

No, instead I should have been listening to some thing like this. It was on the New Jersey Turnpike where all hell broke loose.

I can’t even remember specifics. The traffic was just complete madness.

For an hour I slammed on breaks, swerved, hit brakes again, honked, and fielded completely batshit crazy people driving like it was the apocalypse and zombies were after them on mopeds. Because it was my name on the rental lease, Alex couldn’t drive. So he mapped out our route and yelled out directions – though these frequently turned into warnings as he saw cars and trucks flying towards us from the right while I’d be focused on the pandemonium going on to the left.

We crossed into New York (I think?) and while traffic slowed a bit, it was just as bad.

Finally, finally, we were ten minutes out from the airport, where we were to drop off the rental car.

Cars flew around us in all directions. Turns, twists, lane changes, necessary exits materializing four lanes across from us with ¼ mile to go, lanes that ended suddenly… navigating the insanity while battling New York traffic is something I won’t soon forget. There were no laws, just chaos. Everyone turning and swerving and honking and screeching and weaving all at once. I was scared shitless. And I am an Arizona driver and I handle 1,000 animals for a living.

At one point Alex and I were both yelling, him directions, me questions (“Do I turn here!?” “No, next one!” “Which next one?!? There’s like five exits!” “Hold on I’ll ch—watch out!!” Cue me screaming as the person in front of me slammed on their breaks.)

One time I tried to merge over into a lane since mine vanished into thin air and the guy somewhat behind me in the lane over saw my blinker and sped up to close the gap so I couldn’t get in. Pissed, I swerved at the last second so he had to break to let me in or else crash into my car. I honked, he honked, I honked again, he honked back, and I honked more until Alex told me to stop.

Then, finally, we got to the stretch of highway along which lay the car rentals. All 2 billion of them, all with different directions and signs and exits nanoseconds apart.

I lost it.

“I can’t do this!” I shrieked as I narrowly missed a swerving car to our right and braked to avoid hitting a second.

“Yes you can! Turn here!”

“Where??”

“That one! Go, go, GO!!”

We were both yelling as we flew into the correct parking lot, triumphant, me determined to get the hell out of the car as fast as I could. We screeched to a halt and I nearly cried with relief.

The attendant came out to greet us.

“Hi, there, welcome to Thrifty,” he said, chipper. “Let’s see how many miles you…. Oh – didn’t you fill up the tank?”

I banged my head on the steering wheel.

Finally, we got out of the car, got our things, paid plus an extra fee for not filling up the tank (worth it), and got on the SkyTrain towards the subway station that would get us closest to our Airbnb. I honestly felt dazed. That entire SkyTrain ride – and the following subway trip – was a blur as my racing heart finally begin to calm down.

We finally got to the Airbnb, dropped all our stuff, and went back out for some food. Our Airbnb host had recommended a restaurant, but when we got there it was small, loud, and dark, and my anxiety spiked just standing waiting for a table. I asked Alex if we could get food to go and he was all for it.

So, our first night in New York was spent at our spacious kitchen table in our Airbnb, stuffing ourselves with food and being thankful for the warmth, for not being hungry, and for the fact that we’d survived a 225 mile trip on some of the most dangerous roads in the country.

“Next trip,” I told Alex as we fell asleep that night, “we’re laying on a beach, and doing nothing.” And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

Next up: our final three days in New York City!

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Ferritale · Uncategorized

Honeymoon 2017: Part One – Washington, D.C.

At some point during this trip, I thought vaguely about taking my laptop out to blog about each day of our honeymoon. I’d done that every day in London, after all.

Then I laughed and thought, “Nah.”

I decided to live out each moment of our honeymoon instead of worrying about writing each day. Besides, as you’ll read here soon, we were super busy the whole week! Not quite as busy as we were the week or two leading up to the wedding, but running around making memories nonetheless.

Before I forget, stay tuned for a series of vignettes that I am dubbing the Ferritale Wedding Stories. I’ll be using our official wedding photos to highlight moments and details from both the day of the wedding and the planning process – special moments that I always want to remember.

In the meantime, please enjoy a very long recap and lots of pictures from the Ferritale honeymoon! First up is part one: Washington D.C.! [Read about Philadelphia and and New York City next!]

Monday: November 6, 2017

I don’t like to sugarcoat things. The trip started off badly. The excitement, nerves, anticipation, stress, and exhaustion from the wedding and all the days leading up to it were still in retreat – in my head, anyway – and so my first several hours were spent in anxiety. I felt awful: sick to my stomach over having to fly, guilty over feeling sick, tired, and – of course – just excited to finally be married, all of which is a mess to feel at once.

My new husband could not have been more amazing. As we walked through the airport to our gate, me fighting through an anxiety attack, he took my hand and asked me questions. I’d told him long ago that when my anxiety peaks, one of the things that gets me through it is to ground myself by seeking out all five senses. “What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Taste? Smell?” Pause. “What are you most excited about seeing in D.C.?”

Seriously though. I married the right guy.

Once we were finally on the plane and in the air, I felt better. I always get scared to fly and then once the plane takes off, I realize that everything is going to be fine. Naturally, we had to take a selfie with Paddington Bear, who accompanies me on all my trips.

By the time we landed in Chicago, I was feeling better and actually looking forward to the week. I also like airports – for some weird reason – and it was fun wandering around hand in hand. We got some food then walked to our gate while we waited for our next flight. And as we ate, we talked about our wedding, laughing together and reliving every single moment and just giggling over how we were actually finally married. We ended up doing this a lot over the next week!

When it was time to get on the plane and we entered the jetway, the icy Chicago air hit us and we realized our jackets were in the carry-ons we’d checked at the gate in Arizona. Oops. We were freezing, and I was actually glad to get on the plane!

We landed in D.C. two hours later. As we waited for our bags in Reagan National Airport, I guess we were a little too heavy on the PDA because at one point, a lady came up to us and – beaming – said, “I just have to say, you guys are the sweetest couple I have ever seen.”

“We’re on our honeymoon,” we said, and she beamed and congratulated us. So kind and unexpected! Honestly, we were in a daze and weren’t aware of anybody around us.

We got our bags, got on the D.C. Metro, and one rickety ride and two blocks of walking later we found our Airbnb. It was an entire, remastered first floor (which on the East coast are often partly underground, as was the case with ours) complete with a private entrance and patio, a kitchen, living room, bedroom, closets, a washer and dyer, bathroom… everything! I wish I had thought to take pictures, because our host was an amazing decorator.

On the Metro

Ever on the quest for food, we grabbed some groceries from Safeway down the street so we’d have food for breakfast the next few mornings, then my husband introduced me to the beauty of Uber Eats. It was cold and we were exhausted, so pigging out at the table on hot food was literally the best thing of the entire day. Well, that and sleep that came later!

Tuesday: November 7, 2017

The next day, the 7th, we bundled up and braved some seriously cold wind and rain to go see the National Mall. After navigating the entire city of London by myself for eight days, the map of D.C. was almost too easy to follow. One glance and we knew exactly where to go. And so, wearing all our sweaters and coats, we set out on our short 1.3 mile journey from our Airbnb to the Mall, stopping into CVS first to get an umbrella, then rejoining the D.C. pedestrian traffic on the streets of one of the busiest cities in the U.S.


And let me just pause here briefly to tell you that East coast traffic is seriously insane (more on that later). At one point as we were crossing a street, some guy in a Jeep nearly hit us and slammed on his breaks literally two feet from me. Instead of being apologetic, he started yelling, which only triggered my temper and I shouted out some beautifully placed swear words before he drove away. Ah, well. Karma’s a bitch.

It was drizzling as we walked . Alex insisted on holding the umbrella so I could keep my fingers warm in my sweatshirt. Chivalry exists, people.

We passed the White House, which – given its current occupant – wasn’t all that exciting to see.

Eventually, we made it to the Mall, which is one of my favorite places in the world.

I’d only seen it in the summertime before, so experiencing it in the cloudy, cold was certainly different, but beautiful nonetheless. Seeing it all with my husband was even better, even if we were huddling together to keep warm.



My favorite spot in D.C. is standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with the reflecting pool and Washington Monument laid out in front of us.

And naturally we had seek refuge in the Lincoln Memorial as well, partly because it was cold, and mostly because it’s perhaps the most incredible monument in the area.

Naturally, Paddington Bear had his moments.

Next we visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is always otherworldly but even more so on that day.

It was raining, gray skies overhead. Because of the weather, it was eerily quiet. The only sound as we stood there in the memorial was the sound of volunteers reading name after name after name of each soldier who had fallen during the Vietnam War. Without knowing it, we’d visited the memorial during the 35th annual reading of the names.

I’ll never forget that experience. We were silent in the memorial out of respect, but when we were far enough away we talked about the significance of seeing your reflection in the names of those who were killed in the war. If you’ve never been to that particular memorial, I can’t stress enough how meaningful it is if you make the journey in your lifetime.

Our next stop was a visit to a unique-to-D.C., once-in-a-lifetime authentic experience – a Starbucks. We got some hot drinks and as we shivered in the shop, Alex said point-blank he was not walking a mile back in the rain, to which I heartily agreed. So, we Uber-ed it back to the Airbib where we got into our warm pajamas, made dinner out of leftovers and another Uber-eats delivery, snuggled up on the couch, and watched Mad Max on T.V. It was so cozy, eating hot food in the warm Airbnb while the rain came down outside!

Wednesday: November 8, 2017

On Wednesday the 8th, we had plans to go to the Smithsonian – well, turns out there are a bunch of them! We decided to go to the Museum of Natural History, and I am so glad we did. It’s truly an amazing experience.

We bundled up again and headed out to discover it wasn’t nearly as cold as the day before and there was no rain. Win! And better yet, on the way to the museum, we came across something I’d been dying to see – Ford’s Theatre!

For those of you who don’t know its significance, it was at this theatre John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in 1865. I’m always amazed when I see these sort of staples of history with my own eyes and stand on the same ground upon which those in the history books stood with my own two feet. Alex and I gazed at the theatre for a few moments and talked about what it must have been like, to be standing right where we were one dark night over 150 years ago, and to hear the gunshot that eventually took the life of the president.

Eventually, we moved on and made it to the Museum of Natural History.

Paddington Bear naturally tagged along.

The museum is so cool. There’s the human origins exhibit, the Ocean Hall, rooms and rooms dedicated to mammals, an exhibit on dinosaurs, and the Hope Diamond among other things.

I didn’t take too many picture – I was too interested in what I was seeing! I did take a few of the narwhal exhibit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89tIZA2B23A

and the dinosaur display:

and I loved the famous elephant on the first floor (plus its exhibit on the second)!

We quickly went in to see the Hope Diamond, which was stunning!

And before we left, we saw something totally cool (to us, anyway) – a piece of the meteorite that fell to Arizona which carried my favorite stone – moissanite!

Some background: when we were looking at engagement rings, I knew I wanted a clear stone but wasn’t crazy about a diamond since – unless they are ethically sourced – you never know if you’ve purchased a blood diamond. Alex found a stone called moissanite which I fell head over heels in love with. It was discovered in 1863 in a crater in Arizona (of all places!) which was caused by a meteorite that landed something like 50,000 years ago. Because moissanite came from the meteorite, the stone is literal stardust. And it’s stunningly beautiful. I should have held up my engagement ring to this rock – its original source – for a picture!

Our plan was to go to National Archives next but upon getting to the building, we saw a line that went literally around the block, full of what looked like an entire middle school on a field trip. It was easily an hour wait into the building, maybe two. So, we cut our losses and decided to pass and headed back down to the Mall instead.

We walked to the Mall on the same path I’d walked over four years ago, on my study abroad trip to D.C.

The same crosswalk I’d used countless times at the end of my school days to get to the Mall

I’d been to Washington D.C. twice prior to this trip. And walking hand in hand with my husband, thinking back to both of those times, I just felt amazed at how fast and crazy life can be. The first visit in 2008, I was a high school student. The second in 2013, I was in college. And this time, in 2017, I came back as a married woman. Who would have guessed??

We walked just south of the Mall to explore the Martin Luther King Memorial then, shivering, decided to opt out of the long walk around to the Jefferson Memorial. We waved to it, and I told Alex about the time I’d been in it at nighttime. Someday, we’ll go back to D.C. in warmer months, because going to the memorials at nighttime is an experience that is truly out of this world.

We did hit up one of the most underrated but definitely one of my favorite memorials in D.C.: the District of Columbia War Memorial.

To end the night, we’d made reservations at Founding Farmers, which our friend Google highly recommended. Plus, we figured we’d be grown ups and actually go to a restaurant at some point during our honeymoon and not just do Uber Eats each night!

As night fell around us (it gets dark early on the East coast in the fall!), we walked to the restaurant and ended up getting there something like 30 minutes early just to warm up. We both got chicken pot pies, because we’re 12, and also because seriously they’re amazing.

Shameless ring shot during dinner

After dinner, we tried to catch an Uber home, but some event was taking place downtown and we got stuck in traffic for 15 minutes before we called it and got out to walk the rest of the mile home. We were so glad to be back in the warmth!

It was at this point during our trip we started to seriously laugh at ourselves for choosing a honeymoon that involved a lot of walking and cold weather. But what can I say – we like to keep things interesting. And besides, cold weather means more excuses to hold hands and snuggle as we’re walking around! 😉

Next up – Part Two: Philadelphia and Independence Hall!

 

Ferritale · Uncategorized

The Final Countdown

Single digits.

After nearly fifteen months of wedding planning… we’re down to single digits before the big day.

Screaming The Muppets GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

http://gph.is/2rXB951

We’re nine days away from The Wedding (note the capitals), and – while simultaneously answering emails, confirming vendors, sending out final deposits, preparing our honeymoon, finalizing signs, going over the final seating chart, sending off notes to our photographer and D.J., finishing my vows, cleaning our apartment, helping my mom with favors, and trying to breathe –  I’m sitting over here trying to figure out where the hell the time went.

Seven years and seven months of knowing each other.

Six years of dating.

One year, two months, and eight days of being engaged.

And now, before we know it, we’ll finally be entering the biggest transition of our lives.

One of my favorite shots from our engagement pictures – taken ten months ago!

It’s a good thing we didn’t know the true magnitude of wedding planning going into this, because if we had, we might have just eloped. Between the actual venue plus catering, the cake, my dress, the wedding party’s dresses and tuxes, hair and makeup, flowers, decorations, save the dates and invitations, photographer, D.J., videographer, honeymoon planning, and a million other details that fall into the cracks, managing this celebration has truly been a wild ride.

Actual footage of wedding planning:

I never thought I would be one to go the whole nine on something like this. The most important part of any wedding is – after all – that one small part where the couple says, “I do.”

But honestly? Seeing the rising excitement from all our family and friends who will be there to celebrate with us – many of whom are flying from all over the country – and knowing that we’ll never have another chance to gather every single person we love so much together on the same day… I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

Our wedding will be a party that celebrates not just us, but everyone who gives our lives meaning. And for that, I simply cannot wait.

And dammit, I’mma have everything look pretty too.

After all, we only get to do this once.

Now, admittedly, I’d like to see some of the stress go away. Lots of the stress.

What has truly been incredible, though, has been my transition from What is happening to Oh, that is why I feel so scared to Dude, I’m so ready for this.

After getting engaged, my anxiety returned with a vengeance and it took me months to fight through it. I’m still fighting through it, to some degree, but I understand more clearly why it is completely normal for brides-to-be to feel a sense of loss, growing panic, fear, or depression about their wedding day in addition to the joy and excitement and happiness:

It’s because marriage is a transition in life that has been de-ritualized in Western society.

Everything is about the dress and cake and flowers and centerpieces while very little prep is done for the couple as they prepare for such a sacred bond. Moving forward, the old person has to fall away to make way for the new. It’s a scary, thrilling, uncertain, and beautiful process.

But as my mom has always told me for as long as I can remember, “Sometimes we have to let go of the good to make way for the great.”

Cinderella GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cinderella: my favorite princess and my first hero.

After we get back from our honeymoon, I’ll probably write out some of the stories this planning process has brought. Memories and special moments that I will cherish forever: The story of my ‘miracle’ dress. The sudden change in management at our venue and how lots of mishaps sorted out my priorities. How finding our invitations gave me a message from above. How my vows came to be after months of struggling to write them. How my wedding shoes came to me out of nowhere.

I think what has truly been my favorite part in all of this is spending so much time with my mom.

Every Thursday for months now, we’ve met at her house to talk about everything wedding. We’ve talked on the phone almost every day. And over the months, she has not only helped me with corresponding with vendors and keeping track of our weekly to-do list and doing about a billion things all at once (shower planning, out-of-town bag making, favor making, keeping in touch with my dressmaker and our designer, etc. etc. etc.), she’s kept me sane and focused on the only thing that truly matters throughout all this: my upcoming marriage.

Over the weeks and months, we’ve laughed and cried together and she’s shared so many words of wisdom and motherly advice that I never knew I needed to hear, passed onto me with so much love. Looking back at it all, part of me doesn’t want this process to end, just so I can keep going to her house every week to listen to what she has to say. I think I’ll always have questions for her and always need answers.

Honestly, the love that has been poured into this event by my family (and Alex’s!) and dearest friends in the world absolutely blows me away.

It’s the final countdown to a day that will change our lives and gather our loved ones together, and a year ago, just the thought of the wedding made my stomach tie itself into a knot. Today, the thought of it brings a smile to my face.

Nine more days.

Single digits now.

And then we have the rest of our lives.

 

[This song though.]

Ferritale

Nothing I’ve Ever Known

I must have written and rewritten this blogpost a hundred times.

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The truth is, words defy this one.

I’ve tried to find them for close to a month.

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What words could describe this whirlwind of emotion? Do I even want to find them? Are there some things in life that should remain a blur of bliss and nerves and excitement and astonishment and incredulity and happiness? Things that don’t need a play-by-play for the whole world to read?

I’m not sure.

So to stall for time, I’ll tell a story.

When I was ten years old, I saw the Dreamworks movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and it’s been my favorite movie ever since.

The premise of the movie is that a wild mustang gets captured, dragged away from his homeland, and forced to go through ordeal after ordeal as people try to tame him. Ultimately, his spirit can’t be broken and he is able to return triumphantly to his home. The mustang – Spirit – has a story that resembled my own for several years shortly after I saw the movie, but that’s a story for another day.

My two tattoos are inspired by the movie, and one of them – the horse on my ankle – is the silhouette of Spirit that’s on all the posters and soundtrack cover.

The point is, the movie has had a great deal of personal meaning to me for as long as I can remember.

And, as is the case for every person whose favorite movie means something profound, I’ve always been attached to the movie’s music. I’ve listened to the entire soundtrack obsessively for over a decade, but there’s a theme in the movie that I truly love.

The romantic one.

And on the soundtrack there’s a song that didn’t make it into the movie called Nothing I’ve Ever Known, a love song, that is set to that theme.

And to a girl who never liked the cheesy, corny, vomit-inducing love songs, this one was never quite as bad. And it just seemed to make sense.

Love is confusing. Love requires choices and sacrifices. And love, of all things, is like nothing you’ve ever known before it is felt. And then, you know it.

Does that make sense?

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When I met that guy in the pictures, we knew it. We both did. The very moment we met.

And in the back of my head, for as long as we’ve been together (well okay, if we’re being totally honest, for as long as I’ve known him) everything about that song seemed to clarify things. Describe us. Make me understand.

Funny how music does that. Funny how music you hear and love as a child turns into something you hear and love even more as an adult.

But let’s skip ahead, and I’ll keep trying to find words.

In May, when we were coming up on six years of dating and two of living together, Alex told me he wanted to take me engagement ring shopping. Then, some time after we went in June, he casually made the suggestion of doing something special to celebrate our dating anniversary in August. When I suggested an overnight trip to Sedona, he uncharacteristically jumped on the opportunity and booked a hotel within a day or two.

I smiled.

You don’t date someone for six years and live with them for two without completely – utterly – knowing them.

I smiled every time he brought up our trip. I smiled when he asked if I wanted to do pictures at some point during the day, just because. I smiled when he bought a tripod and an attachment for his phone to use as a camera.

I frowned when he picked up his guitar the morning of the 18th to take with us and mentioned wanting to play it some time we were up Sedona.

“Where are you going to play it, though?” I asked. “Places in Sedona…they’re kinda sacred. You’re supposed to be quiet when you’re visiting them.”

He still insisted on bringing it, just because. He’d brought it to Sedona before, he argued.

“Seriously though, you can’t play it too much without being a total tourist,” I insisted.

He waved me off. He’d bring it, just in case there was an opportunity, and he missed playing the guitar, and it’d be fun.

So I shrugged as he packed it into the car.

As we drove and eventually arrived in Sedona, the weather just couldn’t make up its mind. It went between cloudy and sunny and made for some beautiful pictures.
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We got lunch at the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill before driving to the Red Rock Recreation Area to just relax for a bit, although if I’m being honest neither of us were relaxed.

Alex tried to show me how to skip rocks in the creek, and I failed miserably. So we watched the dragonflies chase each other along the creek edge.

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We saw dragonflies literally everywhere that day. Not just one or two scattered here and there, mind you… swarms of them.

Dragonflies, my mom always tells me, represent transformation.

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We went to the Unity of Sedona next, where we walked around in the labyrinth and took in the beautiful scenery. Then we headed over to the Creative Life Center.

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After checking into the hotel and grabbing a snack at Starbucks, we finally headed to my favorite spot in Sedona, the Airport Vortex.

Vortexes in Sedona are sites of sacred energy that dwells beneath the surface of the Earth. The trees and plants that grow in these sites are twisted and there really is an incredible, transformative energy that can be felt if you sit still enough.

The clouds were totally overhead as we climbed up the cliff. Alex brought his guitar, and I tried to talk him out of it the whole time, insisting it was too special a place to risk disturbing anybody.

As it turns out, we weren’t the ones who should have been worried about disturbing people.

When we got to the top of the cliff, a group of tourists were chattering loudly, taking picture after picture (eventually they waved me over and handed me four cameras) and another couple was there with a drone which they flew around the red cliffs, loudly.

Alex set up the tripod so he could, “do a cool timelapse of the clouds.”

And then the wind started up.

We huddled together on the rocks, giggling to ourselves over the loudness of the people around us, eventually taking down the tripod since the wind was so great we risked it falling off the cliff.

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After fifteen or twenty minutes, the wind started getting worse (although it chased the loud tourists and drone users away) and I suggested taking off so we could go get food. Alex nodded.

“Well, the thing is,” he said, “I know I didn’t get you a card for our anniversary, but–”

“And that’s literally all we said we’d do this year, you dick.”

“I know I didn’t do that, but–” he kept saying, “but, I had a performance in mind instead.”

I blinked. He smiled as he took out his guitar.

And he began to play this. My theme.

Our theme.

My tears came then.

So did the rain.

The wind blew around us, making my hair fly everywhere, as the clouds, finally making up their mind, started to grow darker and splatter raindrops all over the cliff, us, and the guitar. We giggled even more as Alex gallantly kept playing, me wiping my tears away the best I could. I found out later that he’d spent two months teaching himself the melody, which made sense once he told me. After all, before we started dating, he’d taught himself my favorite song and played that for me on his guitar, too.

Then the song was over and I was crying almost as much as it was raining but I was laughing too, because the rain to me has always been such a special, life-changing sign and the wind has always blown fiercely around me when the universe was paving a new path and sending me down it.

And sure enough, after saying words that I will keep tucked into the corners of my heart forever, the man I locked eyes with at eighteen and fell for head over heels got down on one knee, pulled a box from his pocket, and said those words.

Will you marry me?”

And as we were pelted with rain on top of the Sedona airport vortex, as the storm billowed all around us, as everything that had led us to that moment made perfect, perfect sense… I said yes.

~

Right now I feel just like a leaf on a breeze
Who knows where it’s blowin’
Who knows where it’s goin’
I find myself somewhere I – I never thought I’d be
Going round in circles
Thinking about you and me
How do I expalin it when I don’t know what to say
What do I do now – so much has changed

Nothing I have ever known has made me feel this way
Nothing I have ever seen has made me want to stay
but here I am ready for you
I’m turnin’, I’m fallin’ – I hear my home callin’
Hey, I’ve never felt somethin’s so strong… oh no
It’s like nothing I’ve ever known

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Sophomore year, January 2012

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Freshman year, August 2010

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Ferritale

Things my boyfriend has done since downloading Pokemon Go

  • walked around our apartment complex at one in the morning
  • driven to trail heads to sit in his car while hunting Pokemon
  • asked me to download the app
  • mourned the fact that our old apartment complex apparently had more Pokestops in it (whatever the hell those are) than our current one does
  • left to get food then returned four hours later
  • walked around popular shopping malls for hours at a time
  • made a Facebook group dedicated to hunting Pokemon at Norterra
  • asked me to download the app
  • ordered a bike so he could ride his bike to hunt more Pokemon
  • asked me on dates specifically to places with Pokestops
  • got really excited over the prospect of walking around in LA (where he’ll be for a week starting tomorrow for work)
  • asked me to download the app
  • referred to our cats as Meowth and Persian
  • willingly volunteered to take the trash down so he could hunt for Pokemon then came back up two minutes later – with the trash still in hand – because the servers were down
  • hinted that he was aware of a Pokemon Go singles group meeting at the end of July
  • said the phrase “weak sauce” non ironically
  • shouted, “There’s Pinsir outside!” and ran out the door
  • asked me to download the app
  • currently driving me absolutely freaking insane
Ferritale

Five Years

Warning: Corniness, cheesiness, and lots of pictures ahead

Today marks five years since my boyfriend and I started dating, and I’m trying to figure out how it has been that long.

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Freshman year, January 2011

It doesn’t feel like five years. Sometimes, it feels like five minutes. At other times, it feels like there wasn’t ever a formal beginning to our dating years, and that they just began before we were even born. That we just always were together.

But reflecting back to five years ago, there was a formal beginning to our dating years. And I laugh and smile and shake my head a little to think about how it all started. How different we were back them, and yet how similar we are now.

This could get long, so I’ll give you the TLDR version of this post now: It’s been five amazing years! Happy anniversary to my best friend!

Freshman year, August 2010
Freshman year, August 2010

Alex and I technically first met at the beginning of March 2010 through Facebook. Both of us had been accepted into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and had been added to the freshman’s official page. He messaged me on Facebook, saying he wanted to get to know students at the Cronkite School. We instantly started talking, mainly about the contrast between Arizona and Washington state, where he lived. He asked what day I was going to orientation, to which I admitted I hadn’t signed up for a day yet. He suggested I attend the one he was flying out to, and, wanting to at least know at least one person when I went for orientation, I agreed and signed up.

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Freshman year, August 2010

And so, officially, the two of us met on March 26th, 2010 at the Cronkite School’s orientation. It wasn’t until a year or two after we started dating he told me how he’d been scared to come up and talk to me on that day.

We were in the First Amendment Forum on the second floor of the Cronkite School during one of our breaks when we recognized each other from our Facebook pictures and introduced ourselves face-to-face, finally.

People have asked us if it was love at first sight. I don’t know if that’s an accurate description for it. I think meeting for the first time is best described as simple eye-contact and a wordless understanding, even if we didn’t fully realize it at the time:

“Oh, there you are. Where have you been?”

2.5 year photoshoot, February 2013
Junior year, February 2013

During orientation, the parents and the students were separated from one another but were reunited at lunchtime. Alex, our new friend Casey, and I got a table and waited for our moms, taking turns to get plates. They all eventually came and found us when Alex was up by the food. And without knowing that Alex and I had already been in contact, without knowing that we had spent the morning together with Casey goofing around during orientation, my mom saw him from across the room and – with that weird and freakishly right intuition of hers – somehow thought in that moment, That is who my daughter is going to end up with.

Imagine her surprise when that same guy came back to the table, sat down next to me, and I introduced him to her as my friend Alex. When she and I were driving away at the end of the day and she told me we’d be dating soon, I told her she was crazy.

As usual, however, she ended up being right.

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Junior year, February 2013

After we parted ways that day, Alex and I proceeded to message over Facebook quite frequently as we approached and eventually surpassed graduation. During our light-hearted yet brutally honest conversations, I was struck by how different he was from any other guy that had ever taken the time to talk to me. He didn’t try to impress me or brag about past achievements. He wasn’t constantly talking about himself. He was interested in what I had to say. He had a gentle demeanor that I found very calming. He was intelligent – to this day he is probably one of the most intelligent people I have ever met.

Somehow over the course of the several months we were apart, our numbers were exchanged and we switched from Facebook messaging to texting. I remember that he allowed me to give his number to him on my own free will; never once did he ask for it. He was so casual in giving me his that it just felt like the natural thing to do, to switch to texting. Somehow, he knew I was incredibly cautious.

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Freshman year, January 2011

I worked full time at a cancer clinic that summer and I was miserable. I got through my nine-hour days by texting him whenever I had free time. I loved hearing from him. I loved hearing what he had to say about political issues and about life in general. I wanted to hear from him so much that I started rationing my texts so that I wouldn’t look like a ditzy girl desperate to talk to any guy who noticed her. I checked my phone so much that summer, just wanting to hear back from this guy I had met once yet somehow knew so well. Someone who – while knowing next to nothing about me – understood me perfectly.

Finally we got to ASU. We’d counted down to the day together and laughed when our dorm rooms turned out to be literally right across the hall from each other’s. I was in 228 and he was in 227.

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Junior year, February 2013

We were psyched to be at school. During the few days we had to ourselves before classes started (and between our duties of helping people move in as per our Sparky’s Welcome Team gig for which we had both signed up) we hung out in my room or in his. We talked. We built a fort under my bed (it was ridiculously high up). We went down to eat in our dining hall together. We dragged out Apples to Apples and held court in the lounge area with a bunch of other freshman. We visited new classmates’ rooms together to introduce ourselves.

Wherever I went those first few days, Alex was with me. It was one of the nicest feelings in the world, knowing I could look over my shoulder and see someone there who was looking after me. In a new place where so many freshman guys were happily scoping out the competition and eagerly approaching any girl that was on her own, there was one, solid person I somehow had no trouble trusting. I felt safe with him. And for me to feel safe around guys at that time was no easy feat.

Junior year, February 2013
Junior year, February 2013

Most of those days before school officially started, we had to listen to a few aspiring musicians fellow dorm dwellers living around us who were dragging out their guitars and playing really loudly for the whole floor to hear. We laughed about this, thinking it was rather douchey to seek attention that way. At one point when we were hanging out in my room, Alex jokingly brought his own guitar over to mess around with chords. I was scrolling on Facebook and he sat on my bed, quietly playing snippets of songs here and there.

And then, out of nowhere, he starting singing and playing my favorite song.

I’m pretty sure I stopped what I was doing and choked up right then and there. Over the summer at some point, we’d discussed favorites, favorite songs among them. Somehow, he’d remembered that my favorite song was and is and will forever be “Conviction of the Heart” by Kenny Loggins. And he was playing it for me. Not for an audience of freshman, not to make him seem cool to anyone else on the floor. For me.

 

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Freshman year, January 2011

Our classes started on August 19th, a Thursday. The day before, on August 18th, we had to go to a mandatory freshman orientation gathering in the stadium and then we had the option to go hike A Mountain and whitewash the giant A. Alex (wisely) opted out of hiking and painting, since it was roughly 110 degrees out. I (stupidly) climbed it with two people who would come to be two of my very dear friends – Alex’s roommate Dylan and another girl named Jane. I nearly passed out at the very top due to the heat and my low blood sugar, and they had to drive me down the mountain. I made it back to our dorms downtown and rested in my room. Alex came to check on me, and we watched stupid YouTube videos in my dorm room for a while, intending to spend our night that way.

Sophomore year, January 2012
Sophomore year, January 2012

Then somehow during the evening as we sat in my room laughing over cat videos, we found out through somebody running and yelling down the hall that all freshman were required to go to a comedy show. So the two of us walked over to the building together, grumbling and complaining. We sat in the back of the room by ourselves, irritated that our night hadn’t gone as planned. The comedy show, as it turned out, was the best thing we had ever been required to go to. We laughed hysterically throughout the entire thing and were sad to leave when it was over.

While we were slowly walking back to our dorm, we were talking happily about the show when, suddenly and yet very cautiously, Alex reached out and took my hand in his. It was an instinct of mine, back then, to get away from anybody who got close to me. So at once I yanked my hand away from his and jumped back. I was another foot or so away from him before I could even think about what I was doing. At once, of course, he knew to back off.

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Junior year, February 2013

We walked in dead silence back to the dorms, got in the elevator together without a word. When we got out on our floor, I turned to him and said, “I think we need a fort meeting,” referring to our awesome fort we had constructed a few days before. So we turned and walked toward our rooms, eventually going into mine. The second I closed the door, before I even turned to him, I was saying the words, “It’s not you.”

Alex sat on the floor, so I did, too. I told him no. I told him that wasn’t ready. I told him I was scared. That I had been through too much and I didn’t want to involve him with it. That I was so incredibly, emotionally, spiritually messed up to consider dragging anyone else into my mess.

“And I’m sorry, because I really like you, but I can’t,” I ended, not looking at him. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know what you’ve been through,” was his gentle response, “but…I want to be there. With you.”

I broke down then. I told him so much that night. Everything. Things I hadn’t even told my therapist. Looking back on that night today, I am stunned how I simply threw caution to the winds, how I blindly, instinctively trusted him.

And he just listened. He took my hand in his and I willed myself not to yank it away. He just held it and listened and I was crying by the time I was done. I told him I was sorry. I told him to run. I told him to find another girl, because I was mentally screwed up and deserved nobody, least of all an incredible guy like him.

He lifted my chin very gently with his hand so he could look into my eyes. And he said the words that, though I didn’t know it then, he would say often throughout the next few weeks and the next few months as we learned to trust each other completely, words that would melt me each time, words I eventually repeated back to him and words we still say to each other now during rough times:

He said, “I’m not going anywhere.”

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Freshman year, November 2010

That night began with me yanking my hand away from his as we walked back to campus. It ended with us kissing while sitting on the floor of my dorm room.

And the five years since have been the greatest of my life.

The first three years we were both in school – and for the fourth year when Alex worked full time and I was finishing up college – honestly blend together in a way. There are so many wonderful memories from those years: Visiting Long Beach in Washington, the day we saw Gypsy and the few days after when I brought her home, walking around campus together hand in hand, making food in his apartment in downtown Phoenix and hanging out with our huge group of friends in the dorms freshman year, and eating junk food at my mom’s house and play-fighting over radio stations in the car, and – eventually – graduation. Those years weren’t without trial, but they were truly fun and carefree, in a way.

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May 2013
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May 2014

This fifth year was when we were thrown – maybe even more like dragged – into the scary grown up world.

In October, we moved in together into a 800 square foot, one-bedroom apartment which was a huge adjustment as we are both introverts and need our own space a lot of the time. We set up a joint account and figured out budgets and grocery shopping and meal planning and a system for cleaning and laundry and the electric bill and the Internet bill and our car insurance bills and our health insurance bills. We dealt with the stress of working full-time and still having to make dinner and clean and feed the kitty and maybe go on dates every now and then.

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August 2014

Our conversations changed drastically this year. Sometimes I catch the things we say to each other and wonder how in the hell we arrived at adulthood: “Good, you’re home – can you take out the garbage?” and, “Crap, our electric bill was too high this month,” and, “What are we doing for dinner?” and, “Can we just go out? I don’t want to make anything,” and, “Can we afford to buy a new coffee table?” and, “Look, I got us a new vacuum from Fry’s,” and,  “Wait, our friends are getting married??” and, “Wait, our friends are having kids???” and, “Can’t we go back to playing underneath that fort?” and, “Can we just not adult anymore today? Or ever?”

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Christmas 2014

Lest you all think our five years have been all sunshine and rainbows, this fifth year has brought some of the ugliest arguments and interventions and fights I never imagined were possible. Life has a way of ravaging relationships sometimes.

But these five years – particularly this last one – have shown me that among other things, love is knowing that come what may, the two of you are in it together. Love is taking the hard times along with the good ones.

Love is forgiving mistakes and holding each other to high standards and lovingly calling the other person out when they need to be brought back to Earth.

Love is knowing you are supported 100% of the time. Love is having someone rooting for you always.

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August 2015

Love is communicating with a single glance. Love is being honest every second of every day.

Love is making it a point to kiss each other goodbye every single morning (even if the other person is still asleep) and kiss each other good night (even if the two of you don’t ever go to bed at the same time).

Love is doing the dishes and filling the Britta filter and making dinner and folding laundry and cleaning the kitty litter box and giving unexpected flowers and writing handwritten notes and trying to understand the importance of football.

Love is many, many more things about which I could write forever. But today of all days, I remember this: Love is remembering how it all began.

Alex, happy anniversary, baby.

I didn’t realize I was looking for you until I found you.

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Junior year, February 2013