And we eat cake (and beer) — perched atop the new furniture crush, the c table — while planning our honeymoon to faraway lands. Basil plant, courtesy of Mama Lee, peeks out from between the bookshelf and the bike. The convector hums quietly on and off, giving us the gift of in-the-background temperature control, and we sit in the glow of yellow bulbs we haven’t bothered to change from the last residents. The piles of things are shrinking; the space to breathe, growing.
One by one little thing, our [where the heart is] is getting settled into.
Last Tuesday night prolonged by driving from the DC small group, to Mark’s, then home to Annandale. Last Tuesday night going our separate ways after that little drive through southeast DC, bellies full of Stef-provided treats and hearts full of quiet conviction.
Scott is a man of encouragements. He spent the better part of the closing of our meeting tonight just telling us how much we’ve meant to him, Stef, the group, and how impressed he is with our faithfulness. Stef prayed specificities and generalities over us — for the wedding and for the coming together of two families and for the fitting of the ring over that dang still-swollen finger.
Scott reminded us that they’d seen us through so many stages of relationship life! That they’ve known us as boyfriend-girlfriend, as engagees, and now (soon) as a married couple. WHAT A SPECIAL THING! It felt all the more surreal for me to think about this, because I’ve never had a lot of friends see me through a lot of different life stages. All those moves kept my friendships in neat little truncated blocks in the timeline — childhood-in-Korea friends, elementary school friends, high school friends, etc.
Another thing to note about these last few days of pre-wedding life is that these days are sweet and full of well-wishing people in your life coming out of the woodwork. People who, for sure, care about you on a normal day, too, but they take special care to check in. “How you doing? Anything feeling too crazy??” “Are you putting on enough lip balm?” “How’s that chin pimple??” “Here’s a poem that made me think of you guys; it’s about endings (but also beginnings)” —
On Closing the Apartment of my Grandparents of Blessed Memory
by Robyn Sarah
And then I stood for the last time in that room.
The key was in my hand. I held my ground,
and listened to the quiet that was like a sound,
and saw how the long sun of winter afternoon
fell slantwise on the floorboards, making bloom
the grain in the blond wood. (All that they owned
was once contained here.) At the window moaned
a splinter of wind. I would be going soon.
Last Monday as single people, people! This means that, henceforth, we will be waking each other up on those struggly Monday mornings instead of what we’ve been doing for the past 26 years — just solo struggling.
I packed up 95% of my things out of the basement — slowly but surely, just my style. This move is a lil different from other ones because there isn’t really a home ready and waiting for me. Some boxes will continue to live in storage at JoQuy’s, some boxes are living in storage at the condo, and yet several others are moving over to Mark’s apartment in DC while we live that DC life for a month, awaiting the beauty that lies beneath the surface of our condo, post renovations.
It’s a little bit complicated, but I’m grateful for the fact that we don’t have very many things. Our lives are easy to pack, easy to move, easy to store. The allure of lightness makes me want to buy all our furniture from IKEA so that it’ll be take-apartable whenever we wanted. And I’m not unaware of how lucky we are to have Joe and Quyen who are letting us store some things in their basement, to have Mark’s apartment as a backup home, to have this month’s buffer while we figure out this next giant adulting project that is condo renovations. Seriously. So, so grateful.
Wedding prep in the midst of moving/renovations prep means that sometimes, friends come by your home while you’re packing your evening hours away to drop off things they’re letting you borrow for the wedding, and that you come out to the parking lot and chat with them at their car door while the summer evening wanes around us.
Yena came to drop off the polaroid camera we’ll be using for our guestbook, and we caught up carside about her life, next steps, the wedding preparations, our move — you know, just nbd, normal-life things. I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to hang out forreal forreal to celebrate her last few days in nova, but again, gratitude reigns as I think about what a special friend I have in this girl — girl willing to drive all the way over to MY house to drop off HER special camera that she’s letting me borrow for OUR wedding.
Pulse check on Feelings About Wedding today: I am actually/seriously/finally really excited about the wedding. Craftsy little details are taken care of, borrowed things are borrowed, the piles of wedding things are organized and ready to go. Now all that’s left to do is to trust all the people I’ve delegated pieces to — here ya go, here ya go, here ya go. Please take good care of these chunks. *Insert dancing hamster here cause I’m really just excited to go enjoy the festivities.*
Mark wouldn’t say the same, though — he’s busy contacting contractors and setting up appointments for estimates. Once again…GRATEFUL! He called me on his way home, confessing that he’d been stressed about getting me a gift for our wedding day — to which I said, foggetaboutitt. Let’s just write each other nice letters.
that’s what I usually do when I’m chillin like a villin late at night.
s: no cheeps. just me and my la croix.
m: ooh la croix is also nice. yesterday, I crushed a third of a bag of WHEAT THINS while despairing late at night.
s: WHEAT THINS
the worst sort of snack for despair
why were you despairing??
m: YES cause you can just crush them forever but they are so SUBSTANTIAL.
s: my fridge is nothing but la croix… literally four boxes
dude. that is no fun.
you should at least have some chezz.
s: anyways. back to despair.
m: I was emailing a long catch-up email and despairing because I was having feelings of purposelessness again. remember when I was talking to you last year about how I feel so pointless and maybe I need more stimulation from my work? and I was all interested in law school?
do you feel strongly enough to act on those feelings?
m: but I’m learning, though, that sometimes feelings are just feelings. not necessarily something to dwell or act on, even. not in a depressing way at all, btw. I was re-thinking it all today at work and was like
hey. I’m not actually dissatisfied, though! I really enjoy my work and job and co-workers. sometimes random feels just creep up and trip me up!!
and these past few months, PMS HAS BEEN SO REAL.
s: dang perhaps the wedding stress slowly creeping in
m: like for a few days right before my period starts, I just get SUPER depressive and cry like a dumb baby!!! and then feel much better once I start my period.
it’s the WEIRDEST thing cause I have never been noticeably pms-y before!!
worst part: I am on track to start my period THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
and for the past few months, the app has been ON POINT.
so if I’m despairing right before the wedding, gently remind me that it might be pms and that I’ll be okay.
s: indeed I shall
so many feelings!! I don’t know what that’s like!!
m: it’s exhausting!!
s: it sounds like it.
but it is what it is.
and you are right, sometimes feelings are just feelings and you just need to ride them out
m: yeah. I am just not learning that. 26 years in and just now figuring out my feelings haha
s: sounds like you’ve been having some pretty serious feels though
I caught up on your blog today at work LOL
m: haha it was you!! hehe it’s always satisfying to match up the spikes in views with the peeps.
and yeah indeed. I really wonder why I’m going through all these feelings.
a lot of it isn’t even stuff in my own life. sometimes I’m just sad for things other people are going through.
it’s amazing you can feel so strongly about things that aren’t even happening to you
m: yeah I cannot explain it at all. just like you prolly can’t explain the mechanics of the relative lack of feelings, right?
it’s prolly a mix of heart stuff, head stuff, and then just crazy hormones
but the world is FULL of sadness sometimes! SO MUCH suffering and GRIEF. it’s incredible.
s: it really is.
but then I always feel kind of shallow about the sadness because I usually move on and forget about it super quickly
until I remember it again
and forget again.
m: ooh. but dontcha know, forgetting is my specialty.
sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more drastic to combat the forgetfulness
but I think actually, that my subconscious self is already taking care of it.
tis why I blog and take pics.
s: you live yo life, mads.
perhaps you can compensate by being extra present in the present.
that IS my compensation. that IS what I’m supposed to be doing (and used to be good at!!)
thanks for reminding me, Sarah
s: that’s what friends are forrrr
I’m excited for burgers tomorrow
I’m sorry for such a delayed response… But this is what happens when I get a really good, meaty email to respond to — overwhelmed!! But in the best way! Thanks for sharing with me everything that’s been going on with you (haha though I bet it’s still not everything… I’m sure your life is crazy full of even more things). The OBGYN world sounds crazy and intense indeed, just like you said. And it’s good that you’re figuring out your preferences and aptitudes in a concrete way. AND it’s CRAZY COOL that you’re getting to experience something so special, and enjoy it even if it’s just abstractly 😉
Mark and I are househunting as I type! We were just looking for apartments to rent, at first, but Chris (who has a realtor’s license, hah) told us that we could probably afford to buy a condo or something. So we started looking! And just made an OFFER on a place in Arlington. LIFE IS CRAZY. I feel like we’ve just unlocked pandora’s box of craziness — with the wedding coming up in exactly a MONTH, and trying to buy a condo, and planning a two-week honeymoon… Though that will come later, around late September, THANK GOODNESS.
But aside from the above, life really is so normal and humdrum! Sometimes I miss school because I miss the state of always striving and learning. But these days, I feel like I’m just striving. The learning…still happens, from life in general, but it’s less structured and it’s harder to remember the kernels. Life is fuzzier and fuzzier the older I get. I feel less and less wise and less and less sure of myself as I learn more about the world. I think — fuzzily — this has to do with lacking a sense of purpose in life. I think I’m feeling unmoored and unfocused because I’m not sure devoted to anything that requires all of my effort and attention (like I was in school).
Work is fine, it’s enjoyable and I’m definitely grateful to have my job, but…it’s not all-consuming. But then…is it unrealistic to want that from a job? I’m not sure. I want something to fully devote myself to… I feel like the answer to this is probably God-related, and it makes me wonder how lost and unmoored some non-Christians must feel sometimes. Cause they must be out there, right? People made just like me but without the Christianity piece. Is any of this making any sense?
And Mark is my companion in everything. I’m lucky that he’s so solid and unwavering, counterbalacing my own wishy-washiness. But a lot of times, I feel like we’re just two babies embarking on this huge adventure of life and that we have no idea what’s in store. Mostly I am thinking of home (erm condo) ownership as I say this. I flip and flop between feeling like all these things we’re doing — wedding, moving, planning — are so normal and super humdrum and then feeling like the world is a crazy crazy place!! For letting us do such adult things.
Do I sound like a crazy person?! When I get into these thought spiral funks, I do feel that way sometimes. For blowing things out of proportion, mostly.
Hey is there anything I can pray for you about? I’d love to, if you have any requests.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to ramble and write out my thoughts and feelings! I hope my lack of response wasn’t saddening. I had your email marked as unread in my inbox and thought of you every day since you emailed me. 🙂
Signing off, on a rainy Thursday night in nova!
Solo traveling is good for the soul. A little uncomfortable, a little scary, but ultimately, good for the soul.
The displacement and discomfort are good for reminding you of what you value, what you enjoy, what you are like. Take away all the comforts of familiarity, and there you are, just you and some time and this new place, getting (re)acquainted with each other in the break from reality, mundanity.
This elongated weekend in San Francisco has had me strolling unfamiliar streets, in unabashed admiration of the copycat-European architecture, walking quickly when I feel like it, walking slowly when I feel like that. Breathing deeply.
I’ve memorized Google’s directions to ice cream places and famous landmarks — to be able to walk like a local, no smartphone glow lighting the way for me — taking my time to look into people’s faces and into stores where locals are bustling, to see what it’s all about.
I’ve been heartbroken by the people who sit in the pee-covered curbs finding privacy right there in the open, to sleep, to beg, to do drugs.
Miles and miles of city blocks in all their upsy-downsy glory, two grapefruits bought at a Hispanic grocery store, one ride with “the best Uber conversation” ever. Which he confirmed. We high-fived on it.
I am reminded of me at my best self. My smiles-at-strangers self. My broad-comfort-zone self. My pondering-while-walking self. My asks-strangers-interesting-questions self.
I’ve missed that self.
Thank you, San Fran, for reminding me of her. Of me.
The coming together of two individuals in marriage is just one — crucial, but — relatively small facet of two families coming together.
Even when you’re just the catalyst for a storm, you can get caught up in the middle and get quite hurt, tossed to and fro in the fray.
When you’re feeling that distance from your people — impermeable, imperceptible — press in bravely and they just might surprise you with their reaching-out in kind. And remind you that you’re among family indeed.
THINGS I’M LEARNING, STILL:
The impulse to pull away and be cold toward the one I love most when I am hurting comes from a darker place that I’ve been willing to imagine. As God brings us togetherer, so Satan works to separate. Don’t let him win. (“Choose each other. Always choose each other,” she said.)
It doesn’t do any good to tell yourself the victim’s narrative over and over — in fact, it will only make you cry more, probably in public. That song of self-pity is a tempting one to hum sadly to oneself (though loudly enough for people to hear), but it’s not healthy or productive. Or fair.
Speaking of fair: Past hurts, built-up issues, personal sensitivities are not fair. They blow up at inopportune moments and burn innocent victims. If you’ve been hissed at, the only thing you can do is propagation prevention. Make sure the hurt doesn’t go forth and make more victims.
PRAYERS I AM PRAYING:
God, teach us how to be closer to each other through difficulties and hurts. Use these times to teach us what it means to “have each other’s backs” and to “be on the same team.”
God, let my heart be more like yours — in undeserved offenses, let me see the hurting heart. In unfair circumstances, remind me of the grace that you lavish on me. In those dark and stormy corners of my heart that I like to sit in sometimes, back to the world, humming that song of self-pity, show me hope and teach me peace.
God, help us to continue to press into this community you have us in. Let us not miss out on the present for fear or shyness or laziness; let us be open, and give us opportunities to learn from that openness. Keep teaching me about community, God, it’s a fascinating gift you’ve given us on this side of heaven.
Thank you for surprise interventions and people who love us through treats. Thank you for places that are private enough to cry in, public enough to hold hands in. Thank you for being greater, more merciful, more gracious — more light and hope and everything good — than all of my grievances and fears.