Roo and Nate's Wedding Blog

Holy crap, we're getting hitched. How did this even happen?

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

The Engagement (POV #2)

Well, I’m not Roo. This is quickly apparently in real life, but the Internet is less revelatory, so I figured it best to be up front about this. No, I’m the Other Half, Nate by name.

Roo makes more time to write than I do, and it certainly shows in both output and quality. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t contribute now and again to this chronicle of our coming together, and so here we are today. It’s oddly appropriate that I should finally get an actual post up on this blog, and the topic is how things all began. So, here I am to provide a second point of view on the ‘official’ start of this whole marriage thing. There isn’t likely to be a third, unless some random seagull gets a WordPress account.

The first thing Roo isn’t telling you is how long I carried that ring around with me. I knew I was proposing to her a LONG time before the thing actually happened. I did some searching, both online and in person, for a ring that spoke to me and of her. Dissatisfied after months, I threw up my hands, declared ‘fuckit’, and sought out a jeweler to MAKE me what I had in my head.

Long story short, I did (and I highly recommend Shepherd Manufacturing Jewelers to anyone with similar inclinations). That was in mid November.

I trust you to do the math, but for those who would rather go shopping, that means I carried that ring around for almost three and a half months, looking for a proper way to propose. November and December are freakishly busy months for Roo and I (as anyone who does Dickens Fair can relate to), and so those were basically out. I came very close to popping the question in early January when we went to Disneyland, but a niggling doubt told me it was cliche… and also we were engaged in discussions about the crass commercialization of Disney at the time, and it seemed an ill-fated link to forge.

So by mid-January I was fed up. I decided that providence would not be kind, and to bloody well make it happen however I needed to. So as Roo described, I began a campaign to get she and I on a beach together. It only took a month and a half, which is about half of our usual planning horizon. I consider that a win.

February 27th came around, and by some miracle it was bright and sunny and a freeish day for us. After sushi (and yes, I did uncharacteristically panic for an instant or two), we were driving, aimlessly debating what beach to go to. I was originally thinking Pacifica. But as we passed a sign noting the turnoff for Highway 92 West, Roo remarked that she’d never been to Half Moon Bay. I took this as an indicator from Somewhere, made the turnoff, and declared on the spot that we were having an Adventure, to which Roo bemusedly agreed. Little did our heroine know.

In discussions once we got to HMB, I cheerfully steered us toward the beach, which was instantly rewarding in all kinds of ways; bright sun, beautiful ocean, hilarious warning signs, mysterious structures, and yes, a stick stuck in the sand to mark the bathrooms. Check Roo’s post for the details. I’ll fill in where her mind disintegrated under an onslaught of bliss and has robbed her of precious memory.

I did indeed ask what the stick marked as a lead-in (I’ll note my heart was in my throat, so it probably came out silly-sounding) and received the aforementioned glib rejoinder. At that point, I did start talking further, and I DO remember what I said, because I agonized over it for one of those quantum-length moments in time. You know, the ones where everything distends and you have an instant eternity to mull over how you’re not actually good at talking despite what everyone says, and what an ass you’re about to make of yourself? Yeah, I thought you knew what I was talking about.

Point being, eventually I got around to talking. And I may paraphrase slightly, but in the end what I said was something like this:

“Who knows, maybe the world conspires to mark important moments in life. It’s funny, I remember once you said something about fate, and how you didn’t believe in it, but in the same discussion you mentioned the idea of soulmates; people who are just going to fit together from the beginning. Which is totally us. And… you know, maybe that is fate, or maybe we just got absurdly lucky, finding each other. But either way, I want to keep you. For the rest of our lives, if you’ll do me the honor.”

I took a knee right around ‘either way’. And I feel I need to detail that moment a little.

You see, Roo is an extremely intelligent woman, and I love it about her. Erudite and generally collected, she’s aware of her surroundings and always processing. And in that moment, her brain just exploded. I literally watched fuses blow.

She put both hands to her mouth and started saying ‘Oh my god,’ and that was about all she said for fifteen or twenty repetitions. Then she started mixing in ‘Yes,’ with the ‘Oh my god’s. I got the ring onto her finger between the happy tears and the gibbering, and she came to her senses and was actually able to manage something other than those four words after maybe three or four minutes.

I’ve seen my fiancee lose her composure in anger or frustration a few times. But that’s the only time I’ve ever seen her lose it from happiness.

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The Engagement

It’s here, the long awaited story of Nate’s and my engagement.

Since early January, Nate had been trying to convince me to go out to the coast with him, but something always interfered. It was ugly outside, one or the other of us was sick, it was cold, I didn’t feel like walking, we had plans with friends… always something.

On February 27, the stars aligned, the weather was beautiful, and over sushi brunch (what? Raw fish for breakfast isn’t your bag?), as I was gazing out at the beautiful day through the window shades, and contemplating the incredibly fabulous bathroom the sushi joint had (with a fucking bidet), I said to Nate, “Hey, we should totally go find some ocean!”

A brief aside: Nate grew up in Fort Bragg, California and while I’m a native of Sacramento, some of my best childhood memories are of fishing with my mom and grandfather off the California north coast. I’ve loved the ocean since the first day I saw it and Nate’s love may surpass mine, but it’s hard to tell. We both think of the Pacific as being “our” ocean and some of our first dates together involved finding a patch of beach and walking beside the ocean, in it, around it, through it… really, all the good prepositions. We love the ocean beyond all hope or reason.

Back to the story: Something akin to panic passed across Nate’s face, but it quickly subsided and he agreed quickly. Ten minutes later, we were on our way to Half Moon Bay.

Despite living in the bay area for ten years, I’d never been to Half Moon Bay. Nate suggested some various beaches, but I left the decision of where we should go in his hands. The sun was shining, there was a brisk breeze, and all was right with the world.

Upon arriving at State Beach, I immediately noticed some strange, white, bulbous structures on the headlands to the north. I asked Nate as he was scrounging around in the back seat of his 93 Civic, “What do you suppose those are?”

If you squint really hard, you can see the strange bulbous buildings in the background above my head.

He looked at them and shrugged, found his leather coat (Won’t you be too warm in that?I asked) and we made our way down to the beach.

The beach had some fabulously hysterical warning signs, of which I told Nate he should take pictures. I couldn’t because I was using my phone to figure out what in god’s name those structures on the headlands were.

I think my favorite part is the guy caught in the endless death cycle.

Nate eventually dragged me down to the beach and I figured that the structures could wait. I shoved my phone back in my pocket while Nate and I tromped down the beach, barefoot and happy.  We really couldn’t have asked for a better day for a stroll by the sea, and we were happy to take advantage of it. Eventually, though, Nate started slowing. I figured that if he was going to slow down, this would be a great time to renew my search for the Mysterious Headland Structures (MHSs). Out came my phone.

Nate paused by a stick that some enterprising soul had stuck upright in the sand. He asked, “What do you suppose this stick marks?”

A stick! What could this mark?

I looked around.  “Uh… there are some bathrooms. Maybe it marks that.” I pointed to them, the only notable thing aside from my MHSs, before returning my attention back to my phone. Tap, tap, click, tap.

I thought it was very nice of them to mark the bathrooms with a helpful stick.

Nate started talking and I admit I wasn’t listening while I poked at my phone. Eventually, words started filtering through. “…and it’s important to mark these special moments in our lives…”

I turned and found Nate on one knee in the sand next to the stick, fishing in his pocket for a box.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod…

Eventually, I realized that Nate probably wanted an answer or something, but when I opened my mouth, I couldn’t seem to make any sense and just repeated what was going through my head. “Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod…”

Theoretically, I said “yes” in there somewhere. I definitely wound up with a ring on my finger, which is a pretty good indication that I assented. Memories are a little hazy on that point, although Nate assures me that I actually said “yes” about a dozen times. I tend to believe him.

Every engagement story needs a shot like this one.

I still don’t know what those structures are.

Thanksgiving

In my entire life, my family holidays have always been filled with people I’m not related to.  Thanksgiving always had my mom and dad… and my step-dad, sometimes my grandmother, sometimes my grandfather and his partner (who was always a second grandmother to me), my step-father’s engineering professor from way back in the day, his wife (who was my Auntie Mame growing up), a variety of aunts and uncles that have no blood relation, but always turned up at every major holiday that my mother hosted.

As such, family always had a little bit of a weird flavor for me.  Family isn’t comprised of the nuclear ideal of mom, dad, and 2.3 kids.  Family has always been a weird, quirky array of people I’m not related to (except the ones that I am) but fill all of those important familial archetypes.  It’s no wonder, then, that I acquire people who become part of my larger family. Despite being an only child, my mother only having one blood-relation sister, and my not knowing my father’s people at all, I have sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews aplenty.

I went to Sacramento to spend Thanksgiving with these people, my family.  I brought my fiance and one of my sisters with me.  My family had met the fiance the prior Thanksgiving, but not the sister, and in the way of my family, they welcomed both with open arms, as if they had always been part of the greater family, but just hadn’t met them yet.

On Thanksgiving and every day, that is the thing I am most thankful for: my weird, quirky family full of people I’m not related to (except the ones that I am) and their complete willingness to open the door for one more or two more or a dozen more people to become part of our family.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness…

A highly confusing thing to me about the modern Love Industry (and the historical interpretations of the same, if we’re being honest here) is the pervasive opinion that each person has One True Love and further that when you find your One True Love, they will be the piece of your soul that’s missing and only by being together will you be whole.

This is actually mildly horrifying and I don’t entirely understand why anyone would find this state desirable.  Isn’t it better to be a whole person on your own, independent, happy of your own volition, and wishing to share that state with someone else?  Is it fair to make your happiness someone else’s problem?  Are you unwilling to take responsibility for your own life? What happens if/when something happens to you or your partner?

Occasionally, though, I’ll find evidence that not everyone thinks this way.  Since this getting married business started, I’ve been collecting quotes and images that work with my interpretation of what marriage is and should be: a partnership between two whole people.  We don’t have to be entirely independent and we don’t have to always stand on our own, but the choice to do so or not should be just that: a choice.

One of the most notable and probably one of the quotes that has stuck with me for over a decade is from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:

On Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, “And what of Marriage, master?”
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been very independent (my mother tells a story that when I was a baby, she would know that I was awake in the mornings not because I would cry, but because I would be entertaining myself with my busy-box –  one of those contraptions that you put in cribs with bells and rattling things that move and make noise – and she could hear the ringing and clicking from the other room as I played with it) and a bit of an introvert besides, but I am fond of my own company. I like being by myself, I enjoy reading when no one else is around, and when given a choice between a loud party or an evening in, by myself, there’s a solid 75% chance that I’ll choose the evening in.  I don’t require another person to be content in my life.

However, I love being with Nate and I love seeing him and doing stuff with him, and when he travels for business (which is quite a lot), I miss him, but mostly because I occasionally find myself wanting to turn to him to tell him something that I’ve thought of or show him something I’ve found, or see what he will do when I tell him something ridiculous.

Randall Munroe of XKCD, of course, managed to sum it up brilliantly.

Everything

Nate is not the whole of my life and I don’t want to be the whole of his.  I want us to have separate interests, to be separate people.  I don’t want to always know how his mind works because part of my interest in him is that we are different, separate, and utterly fascinating apart.  And I want to spend the rest of my life figuring him out.

Romanticism

Not a lot of people know this about me, but I’m secretly a hopeless romantic.

This romanticism is carefully hidden away and packaged under layers of pragmatism.  I like things and people to be direct and am often confused by people who don’t just say what they mean.  I am infuriated by media romances (TV, film, novels) in which the principles can’t seem to get their shit together enough to just say, “Hey, I like you. Do you like me?” and instead spend their time hopelessly mooning over someone who doesn’t know they exist.  What’s wrong with them that they can’t just march up to the object of their affection and say something?

There is this notion (driven by those media romances) that romance happens without verbal communication.  They will look up from their respective books in a coffee shop, their eyes will meet, they will realize that they are both reading the same edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, and then they’ll drop their half-caf-soy-lattes (hers with a shot of almond syrup) in the rush to fling themselves into one another’s arms.

This is ridiculous.

And yet, I still love romance novels and romantic comedies (the romantic tragedies usually involve someone doing something stupid for “love” when what they mean is “gross obsession”) when I can find the ones that aren’t utterly insipid.  The trappings of romance are ridiculous.  Love never is.*

Most of all, though, I love stories of romance between real people.

My family doesn’t have a lot of these stories (or if they do, no one ever tells me about them).  It’s one of the reasons I’m writing this blog: to tell the story of a romance, one which is silly (because Nate and I are nothing if not a bit silly), sweet, funny, and more than anything, full of love and laughter** both in copious quantities.

Every time I encounter one, it gives me hope for the future, for humanity, and such a spectacular fuzzy feeling inside. This one has been making the rounds of the internet, and I’ve bookmarked it and read it over and over again because it’s both funny and sweet, and it’s worth sharing.  Without further ado, I share The Second Date Story.

And if you have a romantic story (or several) to share, do so with abandon.  Love is always worth celebrating.

*Except sometimes when it is, and then it’s hysterical.
**
My favorite Irish toast is, “Here’s to me and here’s to you, and here’s to love and laughter; I’ll be true as long as you, and not a moment after.”

Dissemination and Fielding Questions

Since Nate and I set a date, I’ve been trying to disseminate the information of the date to our friends and family. In the modern age, this is absurdly easy (and shows me that save the date cards are just a waste of paper).  I’ve also told my boss, who is excited and immediately told me to give her an invitation so she can see it, but will decline and send a nice gift since, as she puts it, having your boss at your wedding will always make it weird. (This is probably untrue in this particular case, but I appreciate the sentiment.)

I’ve also told my mom who is disseminating it to the rest of my family.  My family is not large, so fully half of the “family” is comprised of people I’m not related to, but were there for most of my childhood. So far, everyone has been supportive, friendly, and is busy marking their calendars.

However, when Nate and I first announced our engagement (back in March) we were immediately bombarded with questions about our wedding. I hadn’t given it a great deal  of thought aside from a few details (no white dress, for example), but suddenly a number of friends and acquaintances had strong opinions. Some common questions were:

Will it be a themed wedding? (Nate and I both work Dickens and Renaissance Fair(e)s, and themed weddings are common among those groups.) Will I have to wear a costume? Are you going to make your own dress? Are you going to try to lose weight before the wedding? Will there be dancing? Will you get married in a church? Where will it be? How big? Who is officiating? Who will be in your wedding party? What are your colors?

Ultimately, with the exception of the weight question, these are all reasonable and worth thinking about, but it alarms me how quickly something that I thought of as being rather private is fodder for conversation among people I don’t know well.

At the top of the blog there is a FAQ page which we’ve started and it addresses the major questions, as well as a few with tongue-in-cheek answers.  Nate and I are probably incapable of doing anything without our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks (hurr… ahem), so any answer in which we tell you to sod off should probably be treated as humorous. You may have no sense of humor at all, in which case you should probably stop reading this blog right now.  Like, seriously. This will not go well for you.

In an effort to field those questions, I’ve made a tag for FAQ, and if I feel the questions are particularly important or the answers are useful, I’ll add them to the FAQ page.  In the meantime, answers to questions:

Will it be a themed wedding? 

Not as such, but the image we like and want to convey is a 1950s cocktail party.  Ladies in cocktail dresses, gentlemen in suits.  There will be no sit-down dinner, but instead we will have an hors d’oeuvres and cocktail reception so we can get directly to the dancing as soon as possible.

Will I have to wear a costume?

Not at all.  It’s a cocktail event, so cocktail attire is suggested. (That’s cocktail dresses for ladies, suits for gents… or the other way around if that’s your bag. We don’t judge.)  It’s also outdoors and there’s a rather extensive lawn in the courtyard, so spike heels may not be your best choice.  That being said, we would love it if you joined us in our 50s inspired image.  Ladies, think fitted bodices with poofy skirts. Gentlemen, think fedoras. If you look in the mirror on your way out the door and think that you’d fit into a mid-century Chicago gangster flick, then you will have succeeded admirably.

Are you going to make your own dress?

I wasn’t originally, but the pattern that I’ve found and like for my dress is so absurdly simple that I will be.  I am, however, making three test-runs of the dress in various fun fabrics. You know, for science.

Are you going to try to lose weight before the wedding?

No.  I’m comfortable with the way I look and how I move.  I don’t see any reason to make myself any crazier by trying to diet before the wedding.  If I happen to lose weight between now and then because I’m exercising more, great. Otherwise, this isn’t a priority. Also, why on earth would you ask me that?

Will there be dancing?

Hell, yes.  Prepare for a lot of swing and waltz music, and for god’s sake, in addition to your Awesome(tm) shoes, wear comfortable ones for dancing.

Will you get married in a church?

Only if we want to risk lightning strikes.  Nate’s sort of spiritual on a good day, and I’m an atheistic-nihilist with secular-humanist tendencies.  God’s an okay dude, but we’re not religious and our wedding is a secular union between people , not a religious one between people and God.

Where will it be?

Novato, CA at the Inn Marin.

How big?

We’re looking at a more intimate affair with close friends and family. We understand that means that we will not be able to invite everyone that we would like to, but for space and budget concerns, we’re trying to keep things manageable.

Who is officiating?

The Fabulous Leslie Light.

Who will be in your wedding party?

Already ahead of you.

What are your colors?

I never realized how much people desperately want to know the answer to this and in fact, how crazy-invested they are in the answer.  So, Nate and I are looking at peacock colors. My dress is peacock blue. My bridal party is basically every other color under the sun and none of them match (but we’re all wearing the same dress, which we’re making, because we’re crazy). We’re incorporating more gold and peacock feathers into something approximating a decorating scheme, but hell. Give us some time. We’re getting into our busiest season!

Carrot Cake

Or: The Hookup

Or: Why Life Isn’t and Shouldn’t Be Like a Romantic Comedy

Nate’s and my official courtship started over carrot cake, as has almost every major milestone of our relationship.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one for mincing words or circumlocution and our relationship is, at least in part, a product of my desire for extremely clear communication.  I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. There’s a tendency to assume that men are very clear communicators and women are not, but in our relationship, much like our wedding and hopefully, our marriage, we’re tossing out all the things that don’t make a great deal of sense. And not talking about the shit that is going on is one of those things.

So when Nate and I had been meeting for a swing dance class and coffee and carrot cake afterward (or more often, working our way through Au Coquelet‘s jabillions of italian soda syrup flavors) for awhile; after we had disentangled ourselves from our prior relationships; after we had been going over to each other’s homes and just as often crashing (platonically) in each other’s beds for months; and just before we went on a trip to Chicago together, Nate and I were sitting in the coffee shop, sharing a piece of carrot cake, and laughing about some of the hijinks we planned to get up to in Chicago.

To something I had said, Nate replied, “Well, it’s not as if we’re dating yet.”

If this were a romance novel (with which I have unfortunate and embarrassing love affairs) or a romantic comedy film, one of two things would have happened:

Option 1:  We would have stared across the table at each other, forgetting that last little piece of carrot cake that prior to this moment we had been carefully taking little pieces of, until it was just a tiny speck of frosting, trying desperately not to be the one who ate the last bite. Our eyes would have met and we’d lean across and kiss each other, knowing, without words, that this was the moment that everything would change!

Option 2: I would have changed the subject and pretended that nothing happened. Later, over a pint of ice cream, I’d have carefully and cautiously dissected every word of the conversation and quoted High Fidelity at myself while I determined what Nate had meant when he said, “yet”.  I probably would have called my Best Friend ™, who would have given me terrible dating advice while simultaneously proven that she was more of a whore than I could ever hope to be. (Unless she was the ugly best friend, in which case she would have given me slightly better advice, but would have been jealous of me. Later she’d try to undermine my relationship, but the power of love would have persevered and I’d have forgiven her perfidy because I’m a better person.)

Fortunately, this is not a romance novel nor a romantic comedy. Instead, I placed my hands down on either side of the plate, leaned forward, and said, “So, I can’t help but notice that we’re moving in this direction.  Are you interested in pursuing this? Because I am.”

Given that you’re reading this on our wedding blog, you may take it as given that it all worked out from there.

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