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We’re All Mad Here: On ‘Un-weddings’ and Forging a New Wedding Culture

 “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

A very merry un-wedding. That is what I am going to call it from now on.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, and I suspect my lovely fiancé has always done the same. Or maybe we are just contrarians living in our own wonderland — which is also very likely the case. In any event, our un-wedding is going to be…different.

But, as I am beginning the initial planning stages of what our un-wedding might be like, I have really started to wonder:

What’s the price that we are  paying for weddings in this age of conspicuous consumption?

And I don’t mean the monetary price.

Weddings have become commodities. And who can blame us for wanting to take a drink of the white silk taffeta wedding Kool-aid? Celebrity gossips rags inundate us with the latest wedding news. Celebrities sell their wedding pictures for hundreds of thousands of dollars because there is a market for them. Kim Kardashian’s infamous televised wedding garnered record viewers. Can’t just blame Kim K., folks — we were the ones setting our DVRs. We buy the gossip mags. Heck, celebrity gossip even appears in the New York Times. Let’s face it, we like this stuff.

Likewise, wedding websites allow us to endlessly consume wedding details to our heart’s content – satiating our appetite for a glimpse into an “ideal” affair, a fairytale ending. While those pictures are pretty, I think that by over-saturating culture with a curated wedding world, we lose sight of what makes marital unions truly special in the first place.

Let’s think about the impact of media imaging in another way. Did you know that there are over 100 published studies on the impact of ‘thin’ perfected body images on girls and women? (There are a number on the impact on men, too.)  According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, evidence has found that exposure to thin-ideal images taken directly from fashion magazines produced significant increases in self-reported depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction relative to women exposed to images of average-weight women from magazines. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many studies like that.

Undeniably, media’s (this includes internet) saturation of what is “ideal” – be it a Victoria’s Secret model, or Mario Lopez shirtless on the cover of People, or a wedding featured on StyleMePretty – has a significant detrimental impact on cultural consciousness.

So, here on WelcometoAdulthood, I am going to provide a counter-discourse about weddings. I’m not sure how I am going to do it yet, but I am setting out to do something big. Something big and something that makes people feel great and empowered, not that makes people feel less-than. Here on WelcometoAdulthood we shall forge a new reality. This is a reality which is wholly constituted by us, not by the media and by those who profit from the wedding industry, and this new reality will forever impact the cultural conception of what a wedding is: a union of mutual love and commitment between any two adults (note the very deliberate use of the world adult here, rather than ‘man and woman’), an acknowledgement from the community that it will support the couple on their life path, and a legal contract between these two committed adults. And all the unique joy that follows.  The joy that follows is the best part! Union+joy first, aesthetics second (or maybe somewhere like 7th or 8th.)

Impossible, you say?

Well, in Alice’s words, “Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

[photo by Jill_M_Casey via Flickr.]

Our Engagement Year: On Sapphires, the Vow of the Wedding Website Boycott, and the Next Chapter of Adulthood

“Like you’re trying to fight gravity
on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this” – Ani Difranco

Hello my dear Adulthooders! I knew I was a hopeless romantic for a reason. Believing in Epic Love made my heart open and ready to find it. Low and behold, Epic Love wooosshhhheedd right in like a perfect warm breeze and swept me off my feet at the time in my life when I was most ready to embrace it in all its wonderful epic glory. Then my dear Epic Love proposed! And I squealed and said, ‘Of course!’

So now I have a lovely fiancée and a lovely sapphire engagement ring that was handmade by my dear friend Maura Green.  And I have learned a lot of lessons in the past few days of being engaged:

1) If you are going to have a sapphire engagement ring, you should be ready to have the following conversation with many confused, but mostly kind, friends and acquaintances:

What is that?

A sapphire.

But that isn’t really an engagement ring.

Yes, it really is an engagement ring.

(blankly) Oh. Did you want that?

Well, I wanted a wonderful partner and the ring is really just a little bauble compared to the prize that is my fiancée. But yes, I wanted a sapphire too and I love it. Princess Diana had one, as did Helen of Troy.

Oh, ok. Cool.

 

2) I am taking a vow, right here, in front of all of my dearest blog buddies, to never look at another wedding website (or wedding print magazine, for that matter) ever again.

You heard me right. No more wedding websites. This is just a choice I am making. There is nothing wrong with those websites, and more power to those who enjoy them and find inspiration from them. However, they are not for me. I am going to try to have the most authentically ‘Mara and David’ wedding I can have, and that means that I am not going to feel bad or less-than or not as cool or not as hip because I don’t have calligraphy on my [*] recycled-paper-from-vintage paper plate-Save the Dates, or because I can’t hire a really expensive photographer, or because I don’t have the money to buy chair covers.

[*] Not that I have a problem with anything recycled!

Along those same lines, my good friend Luke Williams once told me early on in my blogging career that my blog had more to offer than focusing too much on weddings. Since receiving that creative feedback, Welcome to Adulthood has been able to grow roots in a monumental way. Here, we explore issues affecting adulthood in so many parts of our life. And marriage and weddings and coupling is just ONE of those parts of our full life — not the whole part. To that end, I will continue to blog about all the varied and complicated and fun parts of adulthood, and maybe once in a while I will blog about lessons we are learning in [*]Our Engagement Year.

[*] Did I mention my fiancée is also a writer? I think I have convinced him to start a new side-blog called Our Engagement Year (inspired by Harvey Pekar’s Our Cancer Year.) He seemed excited about this new project! Stay tuned!

Anyway, needless to say that I am over the moon! Also, for some reason I feel more like an adult now than ever before. Maybe it is because when someone asks you to marry them it is possibly the most important question of your life, and when you answer that question in the affirmative the path of your life is forever changed — for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live….

I know our life together will be mostly for the better, mostly in health, and hopefully with a very long and happy life. And that feels amazing.

Welcome to Adulthood.

 


What I Don’t Learn From My Parents…I Learn from William and Kate

My friend, a single twentysomething, has a theory. “People date people who ‘feel like home.’”

Her theory is that whatever your home life was growing up, that you tend to date people (albeit subconsciously) that reenact that vibe of ‘home.’

Her parents, for example, had a problem with addictions (alcohol and gambling, more specifically). When dating, my friend is on heightened alert to avoid men who may have any kind of an addictive personality, but (as it always tends to go) it seems that those are the guys she likes the most – despite her better judgment.

I’m not here to explore the validity of her argument. But, generally speaking, it does seem to make sense that subconsciously we mimic the patterns of our role models.  Undoubtedly, for most of us, our parents (or step-parents, as often the case may be) were our role models for relationships.

I don’t have very many friends whose parents are still married. With the divorce rate so high (over 50% — meaning, you might as well flip a coin as to whether your marriage will last), and if we accept the argument that ‘we seek relationships that feel like home’ –

Does that then mean we are doomed to repeat our parents mistakes?

It seems so….

This brings me to my next point.

Why care about the royal wedding?

I made it a rule to hide every Facebook post that talked about the royal wedding. I boycotted my usual gossip websites. I didn’t flip through even one US Weekly in the grocery checkout line if there was even a mention of Kate or William. I couldn’t believe that so much money was being spent on this wedding when there is so much need in the world. And the fact that I was barraged with royal wedding details at every turn made me really irritated.

I get it. They are royal and getting married. But seriously, I don’t care to watch or hear anything about this lavishly curated production.

But on the morning of the royal wedding, my friend was visiting from Arizona. While I was making coffee and getting ready for work, she flipped on the replay of the wedding. It the part where Kate walked up to the alter and William whispered to her “you look beautiful.”

And then I realized it. The royal wedding, while lavishly curated, gave the world an opportunity to believe in love again. In my generation, our parental role models are divorced. We date people who are often reminiscent of certain patterns of behavior we witnessed in the home. And, frankly, it is really hard to believe in love.

It is hard to believe that getting married and having a family will ultimately prove to be a happy path of life-long love. But in that moment, when the world watched two young people (who inevitably will face extraordinary challenges throughout their marriage) pledge their lives and love to each other, William and Kate became our new role models.

And I became a little less jaded.

And I think it’s a good thing that we can a have renewed resolve (even if it is for one brief televised wedding moment) to believe that with hard work and compromise (and hopefully a lot of growth, fun, and laughter), we too can live happily ever after.

Thoughts??

*Photo by MikeBaird via Flickr.

50 First Dates: Epic Love

I have surpassed the “50 dates” marker [*], but I haven’t felt very compelled to blog about any of these dates, for various reasons. But what is worth noting is that I have learned something really significant during my months of singledom. That is: dating is pretty easy. What is hard is finding someone you like. And even if you do find someone you like, it doesn’t mean they are the right person for you or that it’s the right time to know them. Such is the conundrum of the single life.

Maybe I am too much of a hopeful romantic (I don’t like the term “hopeless” as it takes on too much of a passive damsel-in-distress connotation), but now that I’m wise enough to know who I am and what I want (and what I don’t want!), I am realizing that my standards are pretty high. And despite my optimism toward romanticism, these days my heart feels extremely defensive and skittish, so dating casually is ideal for me right now.

I read once about a girl in New York City named Jessica Delfino who posted an ad on Craigslist for a suitor. She listed all of the qualities she wanted in this person, all of the attributes she wanted them to have: everything from education status, to height and eye color, to interests and hobbies, to favorite movies, to sense of humor, to income requirements. She then invited men to “apply” to date her. She promised to respond to every applicant, but she would only meet men who matched every single one of her requirements. Sure enough, one man matched every detail, she agreed to meet him at a coffee shop in Midtown, and they were married one year later. Go figure.

Maybe this girl had the right idea. Perhaps I’m really going about this whole dating thing the wrong way by dating lots of people casually for the sake of good food and (sometimes) good company. Maybe I should take a lesson from Jessica Delfino and set strict guidelines for my suitors and then only date ones who meet the standards. […]

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Cheap Chic: Being Beautiful on a Budget

This entry will begin my series of entries in a topic of adulthood that we all know too well: BUDGETING.

In the midst of the shiny covers of bridal store magazines, with beautiful air-brushed brides in $8,000 Vera Wang wedding dresses, we must strive to find something real. For most of us, spending lavishly on a wedding isn’t an option, and thus, we must make due to make our day beautiful and special on a budget.

Granted, I am not married, so I haven’t had to tackle these kinds of issues yet. But certainly, as an adult, budgeting becomes really important. I budget carefully every month, so that my bills can get paid, my rent can get paid, my lights can stay on, my school can get paid, and maybe I might have a little money left over for a date with my boyfriend, or a trip once in a while to visit my one of my friends who live far away.

I understand the constraints of having to make hard decisions on what to spend money on, but I can’t imagine what it must be like after paying your bills (the bills that make it possible to continue to live) to have to then make decisions on planning a thrify wedding. You want it beautiful like the magazines, but you don’t have funds, is there any way to still get what you want?

I think the way it would go for me would be: eat or buy a few extra flowers for the wedding? I would be tempted to pick the latter because I love flowers. (I could live on Raman Noodles, if need be…)

Well, I now know it is possible to eat AND have pretty flowers. My friends Adam and Kim recently got married. They had a small wedding in La Jolla, California, at a park overlooking the Pacific. And guess what? They had tons of flowers. And guess what else? The flowers cost less than $200! And guess what else? They got most of them at Costco!

You don’t believe me? Check it out!

Kim and her two friends (one of which was yours truly) and her mom put these flower arrangements together the night before the wedding. They were easy and fun! Let me show you how the process went.

Kim and I ventured to the wholesale flower shop in San Diego. They have buckets and buckets of flowers! We picked some that we liked, and got some tools: styrophome green blocks that absorb water, some wire, and some green tape to wrap the stems. That’s it! The rest of the flowers she got from four spring bouquets at Costco.

So, this is all to say that budgeting can fuel creativity, and can actually be pretty bonding! We had a lot of fun putting those bouquets and arrangements together. Sometimes it can be a challenge in deciding whether to buy something we want or to buy something we need. And sometimes, we settle for buying something we need, and find out that we actually got more out of it than we expected.

Because, as I see it, that is what a wedding is all about anyway, whether you spend $500 for your wedding or $5 million dollars: it is about two people sharing their love with the friends and family and community who have loved and supported them along the way. It’s not the amount you spend, but the amount of love that you give and receive to your partner, your friends, and family.

Paying a professional florist to do your wedding flowers, $972. Buying your own flowers wholesale and at Costco, $200. Having wine and spaghetti and good music and friends together while arranging said wholesale and Costco flowers, PRICELESS.

More to come on our budgeting series. I will point you to some of the best blogs out there for spotting deals(@SuperSavingSara, that is you!) that WILL save you money at your favorite store. AND we will also tackle some tougher issues like what do when your friends expect you to spend money you don’t have, difficult decisions to make when unemployed, and more! Stay tuned…

What’s In a Name?

***

I can’t get used to my friend Nicole’s new married name. I have known the girl for over 20 years as Oldewurtel. (Pronounce it however you like, you still probably won’t pronounce it right.) Now, suddenly, with a few words from a priest, the Social Security Administration, and the State of Arizona, she is a Carpenter.

As a person who has lived with a very strange last name her whole life also, I feel really more jealous that she doesn’t have to struggle anymore with helping people understand. This is how the conversation usually goes for me:


ME: My last name is Stringfield.

THEM: Oh, yes. Springfield.

ME: No, STringfield. With a “T.”

THEM: Oh, we don’t have a Strongfield on the list.

ME: No. STRING, Like string cheese. FIELD, like a field of grass.

THEM: (sounding even more confused than ever and speaking hesitantly) Is that right? Stringfield?

ME: Yep. String and field, put together. Compound word.

THEM: Is it F-I-E-L-D or F-E-I-L-D?

ME: (silently)How do you think you spell “field”? (aloud) F-I-E-L-D.

THEM: Okay, you are on the list!

Nicole was always the friend who understood the struggles of having a difficult name. I could always count on someone understanding the annoyance. Now, she goes to the bank or a restaurant and says “Carpenter.” That’s it. Carpenter.

I don’t have the heart to change her name yet. My phone still rings Nicole Oldewurtel when she calls. I don’t think I have accepted that adulthood comes with many changes — friends get married, and change their names. I need to reconcile myself with the fact that it is not identity theft.

I asked Nicole today how she felt about her new name. “I love it. I like the name and I like that it represents our family — and so in that way it does really feel like my name. Oh, and it is easier.”

I remember as a younger girl, I would practice my new signature over and over (as many younger girls do). I would write and rewrite the last name of the boy I liked in different styles. I would try to perfect it because, in my fantasy, the boy I liked and I would end up getting married and I would have to sign all my letters with the new last name.

Then, I ask, why do I feel so startled by Nicole’s lucky new name?

Nicole’s answer today made me realize that changing your name is not identity theft. That both her and I, the quirky girls with the strange names, would be just as unique whether our names be Carpenter or anything else.

And I had to just practice thinking about it this way. So, I literally did practice — just like the younger-girl-Mara would have. Just to see what it would feel like when signing a new name was less fantasy and more probability. And my boyfriend’s last name is Jones, and writing it as my signature suuurreee is easier — and so much shorter at 5 letters!
I guess it wouldn’t be half bad to change my name after all.

Cheers to friends who change their names and help you grow, my little Fickle Nickle.

Until then, this is Mara Stringfield, signing off.

P.S. Dearest BF, though I know you don’t read my blog, just in case on this rare occasion you do, please don’t be wierded out with the fact that I may or may not have been practicing writing your surname (and may or may not have published my practice on my blog). Trust me, girls do this. I think at all ages, girls do this. It just means I have a crush on you. 🙂

Meghan and Reid: Now This is a Party.

This is one happy bride!

***

I’m sorry to everyone who has been waiting for my wedding post on Meghan and Reid’s wedding. With all the wedding blog sites out there, I didn’t realize that people were actually interested in my wedding entries on this little-blog-that-could. But, it sure is humbling and nice to get emails from everyone, even if those emails are saying “More wedding! Don’t tease us!” So, thank you so much for giving me a swift kick in the butt, and I know these pictures and this couple’s crazy fun wedding weekend details will not disappoint!

What I love about this wedding is the real love story behind it– with all of the improbabilities that people only see in movies– that is climaxed in union with what looks to be the best party ever! While I love weddings, and I enjoy looking at pretty pictures (who doesn’t love pretty pictures?), what I am interested here at WelcometoAdulthood is the ritual and the reason behind all the pretty dresses and the pretty flowers. I want to hear about the laughter and the tears, not the day-of-wedding planner or the wedding favors given to the guests.

I don’t want to be another “wedding blog.” Nor am I here to impress cyberspace with my super-hipster wedding recaps.

I am here to have a candid discussion about something that is so awesomely inevitable to all of us (even those of us who want to live in Neverland forever…): adulthood. In all of its glory.

I recently attended the wedding of my dear friend, Janelle. She said something in her vows that really resonated with me, and really embodied the vibe I want for wedding entries in my blog. She said to her partner something like this: I promise to love you. And while it may be easy enough to say here, because I am wearing this dress and everything is so beautiful and our family and friends are here, I really want this moment, and all its beauty, to be a reminder. In our darkest hours, when the beauty has faded, I want to remember this moment and my promise to love you, always.

With adulthood comes enormous responsibility – the responsibility to own our lives, to make choices, to form life-long partnerships. Certainly then, getting married cannot be overlooked in the series of small yet incredibly significant moments that make us Adult. So, I will continue to chronicle weddings as a chapter in our collective history. But, I will not dwell on the details: the fancy cupcakes, the pashminas that were passed out at the wedding, the expensive venue, the coordinated flowers. Really, as Janelle’s vows remind us, those things are not important. We have enough pressure to “keep up with the wedding Jones’” already from the plush bridal magazines and websites. Those are the places that you should go to for the aesthetic, for the checklists, for the duties of each of your wedding party, for referrals to fantastic and expensive bakeries.

Here, we will be grounded. And while things will still look pretty, we will be focusing on the ritual, the fun, the love, and what made that wedding really important/memorable/awesome/hysterical and special to the bride, groom, and their guests.

With that, I give you: Meghan and Reid

Meghan and Reid met on spring break in Lake Havasu, California. They instantly connected, but Reid was from Montana and Meghan lived in San Francisco. Their spring break romance ended as quickly as it came, and the two parted ways to go back to reality. This was an improbable romance, at best.

Meghan and Reid kept in touch throughout the spring, and in the summer Meghan did something bold. She moved to Montana. Well, initially she went for just a visit, but ended up staying almost a year in Montana. Some things are just too good to give up on…

After 11 months of living together in Montana, Meghan and Reid both moved back to Meghan’s hometown in California. Reid proposed to Meghan on Valentine’s Day, 2008 with Meghan’s great-great grandmother’s engagement ring.

Here Meghan recounts why the wedding was so special and so F.U.N. (Trust me, you will want your wedding to be this fun, too. This girl’s got the right idea!) :

Many of Reid’s family and friends (being from Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana) had never been to California. So, we wanted to make the wedding really special, not only for us, but for them as well. Our wedding was kind of like a week-long celebration. Most all our out-of- town friends and family came into town the weekend before the wedding, and the festivities started early.

Sunday I had a lingerie-themed bridal shower while all the guys went golfing. Later, we all met at my Dad’s house for a barbeque and drunken dance party. The next night, we hung out, visited and then had another barbeque and another drunken dance party at our house!

On Tuesday, we took everyone to Napa for wine tasting, which was a first for many of our visitors. On Wednesday, thirty (that’s right 30) of us went to a Giants baseball game, which was immediately followed by the bachelor party and the bachelorette party. They were separate, but we all met up at the end of the night because the boys and the girls were staying at the same hotel (which, I’m pretty sure we will never be allowed back to again!)

Thursday was a much needed recovery day, and Friday was the rehearsal dinner, which was so wonderful! One of our really good friends from Montana, Josh Dierman, played guitar and sang us the song, “Wrapped Up In You” by Garth Brooks. It was beautiful and touching… I cried!

THE WEDDING:
We both always pictured having an outdoor ceremony, and we wanted an indoor/outdoor reception. We found our perfect spot: the ceremony was held at the San Francisco Theological Seminary on the Geneva Terrace, located in San Anselmo. It had beautiful views of Mount Tamalpais.

Reid made the arch for the ceremony, and we draped fabric over it and hung flowers from it. We wanted our ceremony to be very personal, so we added our personal touches wherever we could. We asked our friend, Vince (my long-time college friend) to officiate the ceremony, and he did a fantastic job! The ceremony was so moving that it even made Reid’s Montana buddies tear up. 🙂

We wanted to provide our guests with a different sort of scenery for the reception, so the reception was held at the intimate Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito. It is located right on the water with beautiful views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The reception was mostly inside, but facing the water were all open sliding glass doors led onto a deck with solid glass railings so that the view was completely unobstructed. The bar was also set up outside on the deck.

In order to save some money, I (with the help of Mom H., Aunt Renee, and Cousin
Rachel) did the flower arrangements for the reception.

Our first dance was to Big & Rich’s “Lost in This Moment.” There was a ton of dancing to 80’s music, country music, and even a little Britney.

Usually, I don’t really like dancing because I am not the best dancer and am too self-conscious, but I don’t know what happened… I rocked the dance floor! I pretty much danced the whole night… sometimes even by myself, in front of everyone. I think it might have been the wedding dress! (My dress was a Reem Acra A-line gown. I picked it out at the first store I went to and it fit perfectly after some alterations. It was soooooooo comfortable I really didn’t ever want to take it off!)

The reception officially ended at around 11p.m., but it didn’t end there for most of us. We headed out with all of our friends, still in our wedding clothes, to San Francisco and went to our favorite old college dive bar, Abbey Tavern. It was a great time! People were cheering for us and buying us shots! After we closed the bar down, Reid and I spent our wedding night at the Clift Hotel. It was really nice, except for the $11 dollar bottle of water that was in our room. But, after the night I had had, I was so thirsty I just had to buy it. And it was all worth it.

***

I love it! I love the fact that you had a whole week of wedding festivities to bond with visiting friends and family. Barbeques, wine tasting, a Giants game, and a wedding! Now that is a way to celebrate! And I love, love, love the visual picture of you in your “magical” wedding dress, rocking out alone on the dance floor!

It seems fitting that an improbable romance that turns into a long-lasting love affair should be marked with such pomp and circumstance. Somehow, the fates brought you and Reid together, and that calls for a party! I wish you a lifetime more of love and laughter. Thanks for sharing, Meghan!

And We’re Back: Good Friends and 24 Hour Taco

The great thing about adulthood is making great friends who inspire you (particularly in times of woe) to pull yourself up from your bootstraps and keep on livin’.

As is the case with my dear friend Morgan and this very blog. “Let’s resurrect your blog!” she wrote to me in an email yesterday. Attached to the email was this guest blog post, and a bunch of pictures. Now that is a friend.

So, this morning, for the first time in many days, I logged in to my blog and I felt happy. I did not feel too overwhelmed by my recent heaviness of adulthood, even though nothing had really changed — my grandma was still sick, my life was still stressful, my family’s grocery store had still gone under. But now, finally, I had someone who offered to carry a bit of a load that is very important to me (my blog!) And now, finally, I accepted the help.

A few words of introduction to Morgan’s fabulous post…

One thing that I love about Morgan’s entry is that it forces the reader to really work to contextualize place and time. Her descriptions of a local taco stand (we in Southern California know there is one on every corner, a favorite in every neighborhood) and the vast Texas landscape are incredibly rich.

Morgan’s fiance, Brant, is in the Navy and is currently deployed (as we will find out from her post). For Morgan, half a world away, the comfort of Brant’s company (and the memory of one of their happiest times) is recalled again and again with a visit to her local taco shop. There is a kind of quiet tone to this entry, and all the details count to expertly lay out a real feeling of love, happiness, longing, and comfort.

24 Hour Taco
By Morgan Leahy

At 5:58 am, my alarm clock radio whines on and I get an earful of traffic, and an update on the border waits at Calexico and San Ysidro. I wrestle with the sheets and get out of bed to another perfect morning in San Diego.

I spend the day at work, quietly typing at my computer and performing many and varied administrative tasks of great and small importance. At 11:00 I can’t contain a grin as my cell phone starts to vibrate. I carry it out to the parking lot where I talk privately for the fastest half hour of my day. I hear about Brant’s day in Kuwait, how hot it is, how well his dive went, what he had for dinner. Normal things make the distance between us feel less apparent. I hear about a funny practical joke involving a Red Sox fan and a Yankees license plate holder. I tell him how I had trouble sleeping, and I return to the office to finish my day.

After work, I have to feed a friend’s fish. It is as uneventful as you would think and I lock up her house and start to walk home just before dark. The sun sinks slowly into the Pacific behind me, and I walk up the hill towards home.

I cross three blocks and see Roberto’s 24 hour Taco Shop across the street, my favorite guilty pleasure since moving here a year ago. It’s too bad I won’t be able to tell Brant about this. When he left for his deployment four months ago, he made me promise that I would not, under any circumstance, tell him about any stop at Roberto’s. Before the road West, I hadn’t known the least thing about Mexican food. I guess it really started a little north of the Rio Grande.

“Thank you,” the man at the convenience store had said when we finished paying for our assorted snacks and walked out into the hot Texas sun on the third afternoon of our drive, in May of last year. We climbed into the car. Somehow he had convinced me to drive, and we sped off fast enough to get pulled over right away, but not fast enough to get a ticket. I cried. He took the wheel. And we tried again.

We drove out of a Texas afternoon, through a Texas evening, and into a Texas night. I said I could see for miles and I thought I was the first person to ever feel that way. We had the only car on the road, and gas stations, not to mention any traces of communities, spread further and further apart. We held hands in the car and stayed about as quiet as we had been the whole trip. We had no plans or expectations of where we would sleep that night, or how far we would drive.

“Gracias,” The cashier at Roberto’s said to me as I gave him a handful of coins, “Hot Sauce?”

“Si, roja por favor.”

“Tienes un novio?”

“Si. You ask me every time”

“Do you like him?”

“Yes. Still do.”

I grab the sweating plastic to-go bag with my heavy burrito inside and turn again towards home. It’s almost dark.

Somewhere in the West Texas desert, we had turned at an exit that had signs for food and gas when it started to feel like we were playing chicken with the gas gauge. Driving up to a stop sign at the first intersection, we looked around and saw nothing, only the hills covered with a darkness so soft I wanted to wrap it around me. Ahead, a gas station sat on a small hill. It was the only light for miles.

We pulled into the parking lot, filled the tank, and walked inside the convenience store. An older man stood behind the main cash register and a young girl stood behind another counter that had hot food for sale. It was late, maybe 3am, so there wasn’t much food left and I didn’t recognize anything in the case. This was perhaps the third time I had eaten Mexican food before then, so I pointed to what turned out to be a chili relleno and hoped I would like it.

Stretching out on the grass near the curb with our dinner, I laughed as I looked at Brant. We had been on the road for three days, and the scenery, the food, and the company filled me with excitement. I felt like we were just starting out, and we were.

I arrive at my gate just as the last bit of sun is dipping below the Ocean. I take a seat on the front porch and eat part of the burrito, still reminiscing about our cross county drive. Then I step inside to email Brant.

***

And, for all those who have been asking, I will still put up the entry from Meghan’s wedding, as I teased you with about a month ago.

In the mean time, please show our first Guest Blogger some love! What did you take from her entry? What was striking? Do you have a favorite food that transports you somewhere great? For me, it’s hot jamon y queso sandwiches (con huevos). When I studied abroad in Madrid (on a budget so we had to stick with cheap, simple food), my dear roommate would make us these sandwiches for dinner at least 3 times a week. At the time, in our little apartment off of the purple metro line, nothing ever tasted so good…

Thanks Morgan!

We can’t wait to hear more from you!

Coming Up Next: Meghan and Reid’s Northern California Wedding

Who would have thought that in 2007 Meghan would meet the love of her life on a wild spring break in Lake Havasu? THEN, who would have thought that said love of her life would live in Montana (while she lived in California)? Who would have thought that these two star-crossed lovers would end up spending the rest of their lives together?

I can’t wait to show you more pictures from their AMAZING wedding, coming up next. This is one real life fairy tale that you just can’t miss! Stay tuned.

Vows Under the Rotunda


Today I am so excited to feature some pictures on the blog for our first official wedding post!

Elizabeth and Shaik (who live in San Francisco’s NOPA area, those lucky ducks) couldn’t reconcile between having a small, intimate ceremony in the beautiful “Beaux-Arts”-style City Hall Building that they had always admired, or whether to have a large wedding with all the pomp and circumstance. After much thought, Elizabeth and Shaik realized, “Hey, why are we anguishing over this when we can do it all?”

Shaik wanted a traditional wedding in his hometown in Malaysia to celebrate with his 500 close family and friends (he actually has 500 family and friends — that is not an exaggeration!) Elizabeth wanted a classic and elegant wedding in California with her closest family and friends. Travel costs for all family and friends prohibited them from doing one big wedding, so they initially decided on two, big, separate weddings. Through all their planning of the two big weddings they realized something else they wanted: to share their vows of love and partnership in a quiet setting, in the city they adored, surrounded by only a handful of family and friends, Elizabeth wearing a little white dress and her favorite yellow peep-toe pumps, and Shaik wearing his sharpest Navy suit. Why compromise?

On July 3, 2009 they made their first dream come true. They were married in the rotunda of City Hall, under the fifth largest dome in the world.

In case you have never visited the building, here is a picture. It is really stunning!

Here is the couple walking to the City Hall (and there was no fog!)

And in front of the City Hall before the ceremony.

Here is the homemade bouquet that I made for Elizabeth. I wrapped the stems in Elizabeth’s favorite old yellow silky shirt. Though the shirt hasn’t fit for years, Elizabeth couldn’t part with it because she loved the pretty material so much. She knew she would use the material for something special — and did she ever! If you look closely, you might even see the buttons!

Here they are signing the marriage lisence.

The beautiful bride!

I love this sweet candid shot, stealing a glance before the big moment.

On the famous staircase.

And the dip!

So, I guess it is true that for your wedding you really can have your cake and eat it too! Elizabeth + Shaik + a simple, intimate ceremony + an elegant U.S. wedding + a traditional Malaysian destination wedding = total awesomeness. Thank you so much Elizabeth and Shaik for sharing your beautiful and sweet day with us. We can’t wait to see more pictures from your U.S. wedding and your Malaysian wedding!

How did you celebrate your special day? Send me your story and any pictures to be featured on the blog to mara@welcometoadulthood.com

(City Hall building picture credit to Nicholas Shanks.)

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