One Year

One seems such a small number.

One year began with a day. But what about what came before?

One day before the day that began the one year, two lives crossed with one meeting. A single meeting of two single people. That single meeting turned to one date just a few days later. Then another date. And another. As the number of dates increased, the singularity of the two single people became more ambiguous. They no longer considered themselves single.

Look at this cute couple!

This became even more evident to them after the one first kiss. There was the only first one, but there’s always a first second one, and a first third one, and so forth. A proper tally during this one year would add up to the first kiss for the ten-billionth time. The first kiss on the first anniversary morning of the wedding would be the first ten-billionth-and-first kiss.

Almost smoochies!

It’s a little bit mind-bending, this whole issue of two single people who no longer consider themselves single. One year ago today, they vowed they would not only be not single but would always be together. One unit. A single entity. They promised to love each other, to bring each other out of a single status as two people to be married into one. A single status.

In this past year, they have already experienced so much. There is a certain intensity of depth that comes from cleaving unto each other. There are even terms that derive from such cleaving. Moments in books, movies, or real life that somehow relate to the marriage cause more poignant, even clevimental tears. Moments that are more lighthearted and cause the two people to share a secret wink or smirk or cause them to laugh at the same thing are full of clevity.

Yay, us!

In this past year, this single couple have shared so many singular yet infinitely precious moments.

  • They have traveled parts of the United States and hiked various parts of Utah.
  • They have experimented cooking various meals and desserts.
  • They have decorated their apartment and added to their book collection.
  • They have met different family members.
  • They have attended concerts and other various cultural events.
  • They have gone to theme parks.
  • They have attended book clubs and readings.
  • They have played with babies and laughed at kids at church.
  • They have danced together. Like, a lot.
  • They have sung to each other.
  • They have spent time with friends in many ways and played weird card games with family.
  • They have watched a lot of television and many movies.
  • They have told each other how cute they are.
  • They have talked about their respective jobs with each other.
  • They have gotten accepted to grad school. Yes, both of them.
  • They have prayed together.
  • They have talked about their future.
  • They have expressed how much they love each other, which makes them even more excited to keep talking about their future.

They are happy that talking about their future is part of their future. The meta-commentary becomes part of the metaphysical that will eventually become part of their reality. A singular reality.

They stand one year ahead of when they were married for time and all eternity. Two souls, one year. One year will turn into two, then three, and so forth. Those years will come.

For now, together, they look back on this one year.

It seems so huge.

We can't help it.

Kissing Poll

It’s February, there’s the 14th. I’m still trying to decide if I’m one of those people who embrace the obnoxiousness of Valentine’s Day.

Sometimes I keep my eye open during prayers. I may bow my head for the first few seconds during a group supplication, but then I start looking at people and their earnest faces. They’re really intent on listening to the words of the prayer and I’m impressed and inspired by the collective faith of the group.

Now sometimes I open my eyes during kisses.

I’m not comparing prayer to kisses. I’m just saying there are two examples of when I open my eyes when my eyes are supposed to be closed.

As with prayers (still not comparing), I used to keep my eyes closed during kisses. I’m talking about the romantic ones you see on tv and the movies where the people close their eyes for entire seconds before lips meet. And then their eyes stay closed after the kiss is over. And then the people look into each other’s eyes and smile.

I thought that’s how kissing was supposed to be.

Sometimes it’s that way, but then I discovered that I could open my eyes. And that makes it a different experience. It seems that the instant my lids shut my other senses heighten. As if I’m actually blind, and I can hear/taste/smell/feel everything to an exponentially elevated degree. But how would I know that if I didn’t also try kissing with my eyes open?

Granted, it’s nice to close my eyes and let myself get lost in the moment, to enjoy this physical bond that represents deeper emotions and attachments. But there’s something about keeping my eyes open. I like being able to watch Reilly’s closed eyes.

(Sorry, Reilly. [We are generally very against public displays of affection but this blog post seems to contradict that principle. But really, you’ve only seen us kissing in pictures. And at our wedding. And a quick peck when he drops me off for work. {It’s only ever quick pecks when we’re outside our home.} That’s it. And we don’t kiss on BYU campus because we’re having too much fun laughing at the collective slobber-swapping that goes on over there.])

With my eyes open during a kiss, I like being able to see Reilly enjoy the moment, to focus on the kiss itself, to epitomize present-mindedness. There’s something very Zen about kissing. At least the kind of kissing that I’m talking about. It makes me smile. With the smiling, there’s the sensing of the smile. With the sensing of the smile, there’s the desire to maintain the smile. Which prolongs the kiss. Which I don’t object to.

So . . . I’ve achieved my blush quota for today. Now it’s poll time! Don’t worry, voting is anonymous.

Not a Concussion, but Maybe a Slight Butt Bruise

The past four days have knocked me squarely on my rear. Three flights, up and down, up and down. My things, my books. His things, his books.

His friends. My friends. Family. Lots of help.

My bike, his shelves. Bags of clothes, boxes of DVDs. Different copies of Catcher in the Rye, American Gods, The Shipping News, The Road. Same copies of Norton. That’s what you get when English majors fall in love with each other. Conversations about Harold Bloom and Stephen Greenblatt. Also about Mad Men, Buffy, and the Utah Jazz.

And also about how we’re going to play basketball against his brother and sister-in-law and win. Of course we’ll win.

His Spanish books. My French ones. Comparisons of the forthcoming lune de miel/luna de miel.

And maybe blushing a little.

Putting together three more six-foot shelves. Lining the walls in the guest room. We’ve called it the study. But there are also his guitars and amp and my clarinet.

Thank goodness for cheap particle board. Precedes first-anniversary paper, which becomes appropriate in a year and 32 days. My bike tool with several types of screwdrivers and miniature wrenches works with a former roommate’s hammer. The books now have a home. They didn’t like the floor. I didn’t like them on the floor.

Someday they’ll actually be organized.

I threw away four boxes of school papers that were not appropriate for a first anniversary. Much easier than I thought it would be.

My diploma cover waits for a BYU diploma. It waits to sit next to a diploma from the University of Utah.

The irony of his blue Snuggie and my red one.

We have his television. His Playstation. My Wii.

My spices. His boxes of cereal.

When we run out of food, at least we’ll have books. We can eat those, but most likely the mass-market paperbacks first.

People have been so generous with the registry. Thank you.

Newly developed photos of a recent bridal shoot. His black suit and purple tie. My white dress and purple bouquet.

My Reilly. His May.

His past stories, mine. Share now to make future ours.

More conversations, more time together. More love and acceptance than I have ever known.

Sitting upright, legs out like a doll’s, disoriented. Sore. I shake myself present. The moment comes into focus. These past four days, damn.

Our happiness. All ours.

Christmas Day, 2011, at Jacksonville Beach

I check my pockets.

I check them again.

I check the curb.

We had finished brushing the sand off our feet and rolling down our pants legs. The sun was setting, and the air was cooling considerably in the past hour. We are in Florida, and it is December. Christmas, in fact.

Familiar white noise of my childhood somehow keeps me calm. The shore froths and foams at low tide. The beach stretches for miles, and the horizon produces muted purples and blues with a backglow of pink. Flat clouds gather and blend into the greying blue above us. Seagulls congregate along the softened zig-zag margin where the rolling waves stop on the sand. We know those birds are wondering why we are there. They probably already know.

After we put our shoes back on, I tell Reilly that we have to walk on the beach again, because I don’t have the keys.

He checks his pockets, too. We spin in place and look at the asphalt and adjoining sidewalk; the keys could appear as quickly they disappeared.

We had walked a least a mile on the beach. The sand, the sea, the pelicans could have swallowed the keys. We need to retrace our steps.

We start on the land bridge connecting the asphalt and the great expanse of sand. I look up the coast to the pier where we started walking.  We begin our search together then decide it might be better to divide and conquer.

Just minutes ago we watched a parascender float through the air while a speedboat pulled him, and now our eyes focus on the sand, and I try to recall our exact path. I realize that I didn’t really pay attention to our steps, because we were lost in conversation, in each other. My heart pounding in my ears matches the volume of the ocean waves playing Yahtzee on the shore. White and static bounced and tumbled in different combinations. Did it ever roll all sixes? On a day like today, I would say yes.

On our walk down, we occasionally noticed the sun’s descent, the temperature’s decrease, and kids running around or writing in the sand. We had walked mostly on the packed sand, and the balls of my feet had nearly rubbed raw until we walked up toward the dunes where the sand was softer.

On the walk back, Reilly is 50 yards ahead. While we scan the sand, I sometimes look up the miles of coast. I notice certain landmarks that we passed the first time: sandcastles, holes and little plastic shovels, piles of seaweed, where people had written in the sand, a jellyfish.

The worst-case scenario crosses my mind. I am not worried that we wouldn’t get back to my parents’ house.  I don’t have anyone’s number memorized. If we could get into the car, then maybe I could get my cell phone and get a ride back to the Westside.  That would be easy enough.

But that is not the worst-case scenario.

The lost keys aren’t mine. They don’t belong to my family. I have them because I agreed to housesit and dogsit for my friend Jenny while she went on a Christmas trip with family. And she let us use her car. So I imagine having to explain how I lost the keys and why the dog is dead. I imagine poor little Henry the wiener dog lying stiff and unconscious by the front window of Jenny’s home waiting for Jenny’s car to pull up. But it wouldn’t be me in the car, because Jenny would have killed me for losing her keys. I would be dead. My ragdoll body would wash onto the shore days later while kids played catch with the keys we were looking for. And Reilly would have to explain awkwardly to my mom what happened.

This situation would be a much smaller deal if the keys were mine.

I have a feeling we wouldn’t find them on the beach, but at the same time, I want to get to the first part of our walk, where we rolled up our pants and let the water wash over our feet. I know that if the keys happened to drop into the water, there would be no chance of retrieving them. Not exactly a reassuring thought, but it is what I want to do.

We see a man scanning the beach with his metal detector. I ask him if he came across a set of keys. He says that he hasn’t. He asks if we lost them along the beach. I say that we did. He suggests we retrace our steps, to follow our path exactly the way we walked. That’s something we had never considered.  We know he is trying to be helpful, but we are just frustrated, and Henry is waiting for us. My brother is waiting for us. When he finishes talking, we thank him for his advice and part ways. The coast looks as long as ever.

We finally come to the spot by the pier where we stood in the ocean. Of course we don’t see any keys, and I hope that a seagull would drop them into my hands. The seagulls mock us instead. They would never lose their friends’ keys.

Then we start up toward the parking lot. We check by the sidewalk where we originally took off our shoes.  We reach the car and check the keyholes of the doors after we tried opening the doors.  We talk about making another sweep of the beach, and I sigh at the cooling breeze and darkening sky.

Reilly walks up to the pier’s entrance, to a small parks and rec office where people can buy fishing permits and supplies. I check the sand again where we first took off our shoes.  I keep wondering about Henry and having new keys made for the car and Jenny’s house and I kept telling myself how irresponsible I am and that I should have secured the keys instead of putting them in my back pocket.

Reilly comes down from the pier. I look at him, and he smiles and holds up a set of keys that I immediately recognize by the leather Harding University keychain. He says that someone found them and turned them in. We walk quickly to the car, and it feels so good to be able to unlock the door, text my brother to tell him we are on our way to dinner, and look forward to Henry’s tail wagging when we returned to Jenny’s house. It feels good to live.

Just before we put back on our shoes and started our search, we stood on the sand and watched the ocean. Our conversation had gotten quiet and after a few moments, Reilly said he had never been happier in his life and I began crying and he said that he really enjoyed spending the past few months with me and he wanted to spend his life with me, and he asked me for the chance to make me as happy as I’ve made him. He said, “I would love for you to have this” as he pulled out of his pocket a little black velvet box. I said that I would love to give him that chance, and I kept crying as he took the ring from the box and put it on my finger. I wiped the tears from my eyes.  We hugged tight and gently kissed. With his arm around me, we continued to stare at the ocean.

We put on our seat belts. I turn the key in the ignition. I check the side and rear view mirrors. I check the time, the headlights against the dusk. I check my phone after sending a mass text to all my friends. I check myself in the eyes of the man sitting next to me.

As we pull out of the parking lot, I check my hand.

I am engaged.

Dear Blog

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m doing a lot of things I didn’t think I’d do. That first line, for instance. Why do people say that? But I’m not breaking up with you, blog, though I don’t know if an explanation for my neglect is what you’re looking for. It’s been an interesting semester, and I wonder if I had the same discipline in years past maintaining this blog during this semester, . . .  I don’t know. Something had to give. A lot of things did.

Other people have come into my life, blog. When I make friends, that doesn’t seem to distract me from blogging, but this instance — this individual —  seems to be an exception. And that’s because I spend a lot of time with this person, time I could have been spending on blogging.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love to blog, blog. But there’s more out in the world to love. But you probably mean that I can always blog about the things I love, and I can understand your point.

Consider what I’ve blogged about: Everyday, mundane, natural. My complaints, depression; idiot boys, crazy and wonderful friends and school things.

I’m beginning to understand, blog.

I should be keeping better track of this time of my life.

One semester left, and it’s going to be crazy.

I took the GRE on November 22, and my math and verbal raw scores were very close. Either I’m equally deficient or equally genius in those categories.

About 20 pages of stuff are due this week. I don’t really feel like writing for any of my classes.  It is the last week of class, and as I type this, I’m finally feeling some anxiety about finishing the semester well. Strongly. Without failing.

Classes this semester were terrific and fun. I learned so much, and I wish I cared enough about grades to let the work reflect just how much I enjoyed classes. When I went. Which was most of the time. I’d rather just sit and absorb, but for some reason someone decided that writing papers as an English major would be a good evaluation of academic progress. Which: fine.

I could continue writing about my classes and friends, or I could try being one of those annoying blogs that goes on and on about a boyfriend. What a great guy he is. I could document about all the PDA we avoid, except when he walks me to my door at night, and then it’s really short, accompanied by a whispered but confident expression of deep and mutual emotion.

If I kept it up the whole semester, it would have started out as a weekly report of weekly incidents, but then it would have progressed to a weekly or daily recounting of daily events. Hours spent together, every. Single. Day. Conversation about family and books and movies and music. And life. Initial nervousness turning into pure comfortability leading to talks about a future together and togethering together.

It’s really none of the world’s business, this guy. All the world needs to know is that he’s incredible and caring and thoughtful, and he lets me be goofy, and I let him make me happy. But that’s obvious even outside of the context of our dating. It’s not like I need a rooftop tour to shout about it or announce that he’s coming to Florida to meet my family at Christmastime.

It’s serious, blog. You deserved to know.

And I am trying to tell you.

I like love songs

I am not in love, but I know a lot of people who are.

Damn the springtime.

Lover seems to carry a different meaning today than it used to. I had a professor who couldn’t help giggling whenever he heard or said the word. I giggle when I think about this professor giggling. He’s a funny guy.

The word today has extramarital overtones, as if the one you’re married to cannot possibly love you the way a lover can.

This song seems to portray a lover as, plainly, someone who loves.

Yet, it doesn’t downplay how complicated relationships are. You can feel the aching and longing in the words that fuse so well with the music. The song gives me a little insight about being in love; about being a lover and having one.

It’s a simple and beautiful duet, by two artists who know how to sing this type of song perfectly: Rachael Yamagata and Ray LaMontagne.

Oh lover, hold on
’till I come back again
For these arms are growin’ tired,
And my tales are wearing thin

If you’re patient I will surprise,
When you wake up I’ll have come

All the anger will settle down
And we’ll go do all the things we should have done

Yes I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
I’ll be here if you will only come back home

Oh lover, I’m lost
Because the road I’ve chosen beckons me away

Oh lover, don’t you roam
Now I’m fighting words I never thought I’d say

But I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
I’ll forgive you oh
If you just come back home

Oh lover, I’m old
You’ll be out there and be thinking just of me

And I will find you down the road
And we’ll return back home to where we’re meant to be

’cause I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
We’ll be back soon as we make history.

Bonnie Tyler Could Sing It

Right now (7:33 EDT) on NASA TV I’m watching the tail end of the total solar eclipse. People in Greenland, China and Mongolia have the best view, but NASA does a fine job of streaming it to my trusty laptop. Thank you, NASA. I missed the complete coverage of the sun by about 20 minutes. Still, to see the sun, blood-orange, as the moon crescents it is pretty dang cool.

My heart can’t take it, these huge events of nature.

Forever’s gonna start tonight.