Lucky Number 7

I told my friends that if he and I would just have one conversation, I knew that the magic would happen. We orbited around each other for 6 months, bumping into each other at parties or somewhere on campus–I was a baby, 18, it was my freshman year, he was my first serious college crush.

We finally did have a conversation and once it got going, it lasted until sunrise. Drew’s beloved grandmother had just passed away and he had returned from her memorial service only days before. We sat in his tiny little dorm room and he showed me pictures from his sister’s wedding the previous fall because he wanted me to see a picture of his Grandmother Jean. He had a classically gross college couch, it was white with blue stripes, but I distinctly remember thinking that the casual dirtiness of a 20-year-old boy’s room was a threshold into the next stage of my child-adult life. We talked for hours about our families and told funny stories and hashed out what we believed about life and death. It was a conversation that only young love can tolerate, but the big words and thoughts, the big ideas, the instant intimacy of wanting to absorb as much as possible about another person is the apoxy of love. The sun was coming to get us, there was a kiss, and then the footprint for our future started to take shape.

***

“Maybe we’re making a mistake.”
“You think? But what do we do? The wedding’s in 2 months, we can’t just call it off. ”
“We can. We should if it’s the right thing to do. We don’t have to do this yet. We can still get married, but do you think we should wait?”
“There’s 150 invitation in the back of this truck right now. They say May 21st. They say that we want this.”
“We do want this.”
“What would tell our parents?”
“That we talked about it and realized that we’re too young. That marriage doesn’t make any sense. That we haven’t done enough. That we need more time.”
“And then what? Do we break up?”
“We could? Could we? Can you imagine marrying anyone else? Are we afraid of marriage or each other?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to marry anyone else though. I want to marry you. I don’t even know what that means, but I know that it has to be you–we’re freaking out because we don’t know what we’re doing, but even if I don’t know what marriage is, I know You. Do you want to call it off?”
“I don’t think we can–I don’t think I could do this with anyone else.”
“So we’re doing it?”
“We’re doing it. I love you. I want to marry you.”
“Me too. We’re being ridiculous. We know that this is right.”
“Should we still go inside and rent a movie?”
“Sure. Do you think the invitations will be ok in the back of the truck?”

***

When we pulled up to the Grand Canyon, it was weeks before my 19th birthday. Drew looked at me and said, “no matter what happens, you will always be the person that I saw the Grand Canyon with for the first time.”

My mind flashed to him pulling up to the canyon in 20 years while a wife and two kids got out of the car. They would be looking at one of the world’s natural wonders and Drew would be staring into that space and thinking about that girl, Amelia Uffelman, the girl he saw the Grand Canyon with when he was 20 years old. He would be thinking about an ’88 Toyota Camry and the surprising number of rainbows that we saw as we made our way across the country, and eating out of tin cans, and digging a moat around a tent to survive a storm. No matter what happened, I would always be in this memory.

I shivered and thought, what if it’s me that he shares all of this with in 20 years? What if I’m the one that gets out of the car?

***

I didn’t do any kind of big romantic surprise to tell Drew that I thought there was a baby taking root in my stomach. We’re too familiar for secrets, and even if I had tried he would have known right away. Instead, I was surrounded by sticks with faint pink lines, but I needed proof. I am a woman who exists in a world of words, not shapes. I needed a word.

“Hey! So…on your way home, will you pick up a pregnancy test for me?”
“Yeah?”
“Mmm Hmm. But it needs to be digital. It needs to be the kind that will say pregnant or not pregnant. It needs to actually tell me, ok?”
“Ok, digital, got it. Hey babe? Are you telling me that you’re pregnant?”
“Maybe. I think so. Maybe?”
“I’ll be right there.”

***

We broke up for a little while. He had graduated college and we couldn’t see each other through the dim light of being young and getting older. He moved to Colorado, I went to India, we needed to step away so that the tiny dots could turn back into a picture. We dated other people but instead of calling friends after those dates, we called each other. Drew checked out CD after CD from the library and made me mixed tapes or sent me whole albums. He wrote long letters on index cards telling me about snow capped mountains and frying sausages next to a lift house. Soon he started writing about love, about ideas that he had, about our future. Soon I was writing back and we were making plans and starting to tell each other ‘I love you’ when we hung up. Soon he was getting in a little red truck and driving over a mountain pass and across the country to come back. Soon I was jumping off of a couch to run into the driveway and literally fling myself into his arms. We refer to this as “that time we tried to break up”.

***

“My stomach isn’t feeling right.”
“Ok…so you just said that four minutes ago.”
“I did?”
“Yeah, and you said it four minutes before that.”
“I did? You’ve been watching the clock?”
“Of course–isn’t that my job?”
“Drew, do you think I’m having contractions?”
“Well, let’s keep watching, but I think so.”
“Oh my God, are we going to meet our son today?”
“We just might.”

***

We got married on a Saturday in May. It was 3 months before my 23rd birthday, four months before his 25th. I am astonished by how young that sounds, how young we were.

We wrote our vows to make promises about a future that seems to always be upon us and always still ahead. Drew stared at my forehead because he was afraid that if he looked in my eyes he would cry too much to speak. I kept pressing my lips together because I was nervous about wearing lipstick. The birds and the bees were literally all around us, humming and chirping with the inherent knowledge that life goes on, reminding us with their confident song that there are constants in the world no matter how much we press forward or slip back.

It’s been seven years since that day. We are still standing by our promises, although we’ve had to think on our feet and revise  this or that as we’ve gone along. We created a child together and fell in love in a new way that humbles us and forces us to keep our roots growing together. We work hard at this. We laugh a lot. We get to say, seven years ago, I married my best friend. We talk a lot about being young and getting old. Sometimes we yell. We forgive and figure it out and do a lot of really normal married stuff. We’re growing up together.

I love you, Drew.

Hannah & Gray

I went to Vermont weekend before last for my friends Hannah and Gray’s wedding.  As it turned out it was considerably cheaper to fly into Boston (about 3.5 hours from VT) and then drive over the river and through the woods to the wedding.  As it further turned out, it was also going to be cheaper for one of my best friends and college roommates, Charlotte, to fly from her home in Milwaukee to Boston and as fate would have it, we arrived about the same time and kicked off a fantastic little road trip through the Northeastern countryside.

Driving out of Boston

We screamed out the windows and did some ugly enthusiastic strapped-in-a-seatbelt-car-dancing and we hunted down a diner for some roadside fare, took a lot of pictures of barns, and just couldn’t stop saying, “gaaaahhhhhhhh, it’s all so scenic!” about every 15 minutes.  Our 3.5 hour drive took almost 5 hours and my cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much when we finally made it.  It’s just all so scenic up there, you know?

There really are a lot of gorgeous barns and views in good ol Vermont

When we arrived we were greeted by these beauties:

And we hugged so hard and my cheeks started hurting some more.

The wedding was being held at Hannah’s lovely family farm near Middlebury and if you ever have ANY reason to visit that part of the world, please do it.  The farm house that Hannah grew up in was built in the 1850s and as I understand it, apart from the addition of a screened-in porch, it’s pretty much in its original form.  Although I would say that the countryside is quite similar to my southern Appalachian upbringing, the mountains up there are a bit newer (relatively speaking) and a little steeper, and the homes are mostly in considerably more livable condition than the ones of the same age that dot the backroads I grew up driving around on.  The quaint charm factor is off the charts.  Everything just seems to be well tended and cared for as if there was a statement sent out to the good people of Vermont to maintain and guard the collective aesthetic dearly, and they all seem to take that charge seriously.

Hannah's parent's house.

On Saturday we woke up to help arrange flowers for the wedding and lend a hand where we could and then we sought out the river for a quick dip.

That water was c-o-l-d and refreshing and really really cold.  It was very cold water.  The water was the kind of cold that gives you a short-lived but highly effective involuntary cussing reaction.  But let’s just say that you find yourself experiencing a little discomfort because the night before you had a cocktail or two and you think that the discomfort that you’re feeling is actually kind of awful.  All I can say is, get thee to a freezing cold river under a bright blue sky and just watch as all turns right in the world.  We were back in action seconds after that dip.

Winborne braved the swim hole first like a seasoned river champ

The wedding was in the back yard behind the house and between the beautiful Vermont mountains, the charming bagpipe player, the look of emotional gratitude on Hannah’s face as she rounded the corner to walk down the aisle, and the gigantic smiles of so many faces that I love,  it was one of the best ceremonies that I’ve ever been to.  Hannah’s sweet reaction to getting married had us all bawling in about 3 seconds, but then we were laughing just as quickly because she and Gray were just right there, sharing their commitment with us and it was comfortable and love-affirming.

Following the ceremony we…ate, danced, and were merry for about 12 hours.  I could elaborate, but that pretty well sums it up.  We beat the sun coming up, but only just, and our heads hit the pillow with the words, I don’t want it to end, lingering in the air above us.

I love my friends from Warren Wilson College.  I don’t think there’s another group of people that is any better at finding the real kind of fun that’s out there to be had in this life.  Whenever we go to a WWC wedding there’s no pressure, no fuss, no drama, and definitely no stuffiness.  We laugh hard and dance hard and find ourselves slipping into serious conversation only to be doubled over laughing a few minutes later.  We don’t get to see each other nearly enough, but when we do, it’s always as though no time has passed (though the wave of children that we’re all starting to pop up with begs to differ) and without fail, I always walk away feeling so thankful to have all of these wild and crazy and sincere souls in my life.

The whole Asheville Crew:

Annnnnnnd the ladies:

Thank you to Hannah and Gray, and to your families, for bringing us all together, and for having the kind of love that makes people want to get all excited and dance till dawn.  We love you guys so much.

Savannah: Wedding Bells

The main purpose of our delightful trip to Georgia was to attend Will and Sarah’s wedding, and what a gorgeous affair it was!  While the rest of the east coast was being pelted with hail and tornados, we were standing on a marsh in Savannah watching the sun set over the water as two best friends said I Do with nothing more than a stiff (ok, crazy unbelievably strong) breeze blowing our hair up and giving us all that kind of wild wonderful feeling that always comes on a strong wind.  Wind can be so suggestive, and this one was particularly evocative, making me think that not only were these two coming together for a life-long commitment, but they were actually being forcefully blown together.  That clever wind.

Sarah is such a stunning bride and she had a gigantic smile with tears in her eyes and look that was something like, “bring it”, which I loved.

And I equally love how relaxed and confident Will looks…

Afterward we all chased them around for hugs and kisses and pictures:

And after that we headed into the tent for dinner and dancing, but not before we got to watch the sun turn the world golden over the marsh:

The reception was so much fun, they hired a great blue grass band (my apologies for not remembering the band’s name) and the food was excellent.  Will and Sarah were so relaxed and happy that it really just set the tone for the night, and before you knew it, shoes were getting kicked off and skirts were swirling, and we were dancing the night away.  Like really dancing hard, sweaty hair and rolled up pant cuffs and all. So. Fun.

You know you’re at a fun wedding when the bride and groom are the first ones to kick off their shoes…I just love this picture:

The dance party:

And here we are with our dear friends and traveling companions, Jedd and Megan (pre-dance party, that is):

The wedding was such a beautiful event, and I think that more than the thoughtful details and decorations, more than the food or the dance floor, or even the amazing view over the marsh, the thing that made this wedding so memorable was how relaxed the bride and groom were and how much Will and Sarah seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Everyone was smiling and laughing all night which is really a reflection of the two people that brought us all together, and I think that will always be the biggest detail that will stand out in my mind about this fabulous Savannah wedding.

Congratulations you crazy kids and thank you so much for such a wonderful time!!

Savannah So Far.

It’s official, we’re smitten.  I have a ton of pictures, so I think I’ll let them do most of the heavy lifting, but suffice to say, this is a wonderful little town.  I have been here a number of times throughout my life, but it would seem that all those times were about getting to the beach or finding stores or (I shudder) St Patrick’s day, and so this is the first time that I have been here with my head turned up with my eyes on the trees and the architecture and the boat masts and the gorgeous filtered light.  The city, despite it’s rich (in all senses of the word) heritage is unapologetically untouched.  The cobbled streets are hard to walk on, the building exteriors are a mash of brick and concrete and shedding layers of time, and the pervasive attitude is a sort of work with what has always worked mentality.  It’s so shabby that it’s elegant.  We love the rough edges, the contrast of colors and smell that being on the water provides and the feeling that anything goes so long as your exercising a bit of grace in your efforts.

Yesterday we walked around town:

And then gathered a crowd and drove out to Tybee Island to track down a bike ride on the beach and some seafood.

These two have been besties since elementary school:

And then it was on to a little dive on the marsh called Top Sail for some Korean influenced seafood.

Our new friend, Bruno the Mastiff:


(he brought us a milkbone to share, he’s a thoughtful man.)

Today we’re seeking out raw oysters, a disco nap, and then a gorgeous wedding.  Looks like another good one ahead of us.  So far?  So far so good.

Yes, lets.

Seems simple enough:

(found here)

Drew and I are tumbling down to Georgia tomorrow (Savannah to be exact) for a wedding, and this little sentiment seems like the perfect send off for both our first vacation sans baby, and for our friends that are kicking off their rest of their lives as married rockstars.  Maybe I will be blogging about our trip while we’re there and maybe I won’t…it depends on how rigorous our schedule of sleeping in, champagne toasts, and marveling at Savannah’s beauty is.  We’ll see.

Let’s be happy.  Amen.

Asa and Erin’s Wedding

a_eWe traveled to NC this past weekend for our friends Erin and Asa’s wedding.  It was a really beautiful wedding out at Deerfields which is about 30 minutes outside of Asheville, and it was of course really great to connect with old friends and celebrate!  We drove down Thursday evening, and Drew dropped me off at my aunt and uncle’s farm in Madison County where I was treated to a delicious meal and good company, and Drew drove on to meet all of the guys for the bachelor party.  On Friday we headed over to Deerfields for the rehearsal luncheon and then some set up for the big day on Saturday.  I helped with decorations and the boys did some of the heavy lifting.

flowers

drew_ladder

The ceremony took place in a beautiful outdoor chapel on the mountain above Deerfields, and we had a good time adding to some of the natural beauty of the setting.  We had to get pretty creative draping the fabric on the structure, but after asking ourselves, what would MacGyver do? we located a tennis shoe, some fishing line and a staple gun (I kid you not) and the problem was solved.  After that we closed shop for the evening and got ready for the big event on Saturday!

chapelFollowing the ceremony on Saturday afternoon, we were treated to a delicious dinner, toasts, and a night of dancing with some of our favorite people.  When the ceremony was over, Drew and I both agreed that we love that our friends all have such beautiful weddings.  Each one is unique and every time we are struck by the couple’s creativity and the love of our college community.

e_a_arriveThe couple arriving at the reception to a wonderland of bubbles

e_a firstErin and Asa’s first dance

D_L_ATogether again!  Drew, and dear friends Adam and Lana catching up…

and dancing the night away
DLA_2

We were also happily able to squeeze in quick visits with my stepmother Ruth and a Father’s Day breakfast with my dad and sister before hitting the road and heading back to VA…it was a great wedding weekend indeed!