Archive | April, 2011

Ordinarily Extraordinary

26 Apr

A little less than 2 days ago I went for a walk with Evan and we sat under a tree that will forever be called “our tree” and he asked me to marry him and I said “yeah!”

It was the normalcy of the whole situation that made it so wonderful.  I am not saying it is particularly “normal” or an everyday occurrence to get engaged to the best man you have ever met.  But it was normal that we went on a walk.  It was normal that we sat under a tree.  It was even normal that when I leaned my head on his shoulder I could hear his heart beating really fast because he says that happens to him every time he sees me–that and he gets butterflies.  (I know…best man ever)  I am not sure that is ENTIRELY true, but that is what he says!

When we stopped talking about random stuff like possible environmental effects of chlorinating the stream so that it wasn’t so green, and how weird/cool we think protozoans are, we just sat for a while.  And then he told me that he loves me.  That I make him happy just by being there.  That he loves nothing more than making sure I am as happy as possible.  That my smile is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.  It was better than any romantic climax in a movie.  Better than any engagement speech I have heard about.  But the best part is, it was normal.  He didn’t say anything he hadn’t said before.  There were no new declarations.  He is always that romantic.  Everyday life with Evan is better than any romantic climax in a movie.

And then he balanced a little precariously between the tree and the little stream, got on one knee and asked.  And in his hand was the most perfect, most simple, most beautiful ring I could even imagine.  He picked it, and thank heaven because the truth is he has vastly better taste than I do.  I love its simplicity.  I love it.  I love that he picked it out.

This morning I went over to his house as early as prudence allowed.  We made oatmeal and pistachio pudding (which I just realized we forgot to eat…still in his fridge!).  We folded his last load of t-shirts and jeans while watching Phineas and Ferb.  And then we walked over to the MOA parking lot, loaded his stuff into the bottom of a charter bus, talked for a little bit, and then said goodbye just like we would if we were seeing each other the next day.  He said “I love you, Annette. I’ll see you later” and kissed my forehead.  Then he got on the bus, the door closed, and it drove away.

And now I have 8 days here in Provo to work and wrap things up in preparation for my trip to Africa.  He comes back 2 days after I leave.  Our best estimates are that we will see each other again on or around August 5.  That is 81 days.  Almost 4 months.

Yes, it is hard.  I miss him already.  Much to the dismay of Evan and my eye-makeup, I have been bursting into tears with no warning for the past couple days, and the walk back to my temporary apartment in the snow (why cruel world, WHY!) after seeing him off this morning was…lonely.

But, the most beautiful thing about the ring on my finger and the new title of fiance is that is really is just “see you later.”  Later in this case is 81 days further away than I care for, but it will be ok.  Soon enough, and after we both have had lots of summer adventures, we will return to life as usual.  Things will be normal and ordinary again.  Extraordinary.

The spot

This is the day we decided we loved each other.

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Nighttime

5 Apr

Dear brain,

Some days, I really wish we could consolidate our differences. Yes, I apologize for the ringer I put you through during the quarter – I really have to push you to make it through the papers, the stupid group projects, and staying awake through calculus. Yes, I apologize for the mind altering, anti-psychotics that I pump through you everyday. You really just have to realize that it’s for our own good; you will thank me in a few years when we both look back and realize how lucky we are to still be relatively intact. I’m hopeful like that.

But really, you could do me a favor too, and once in awhile, let me go to sleep at a time I find appropriate. Like, half an hour ago. We do have to somehow stay conscious at work tomorrow morning, I hope you realize. And tomorrow is Tuesday – we have genetics AND orchestra to get through, so come tomorrow at 7:30, when it’s my body lugging the bass a half mile to rehearsal, I hope you’re satisfied with the mental exhaustion. That’s karma, fool.

Luckily, I have come up with a couple of handy strategies to combat your restlessness. When I am lying in my room, accompanied only by thoughts and the creaking of a 98-year-old house, I like to pretend I live another life. One far away from all kinds of mental pain, regret, and frustrating fixations with what could have been. Here’s a list, per usual. What can I say, brain? We tend to be creatures of habit.

  1. I like to pretend that, instead of living on the second floor of a house in the middle of stupid Clifton/Over-the-Rhine, I close my eyes and imagine that I live on the twenty third floor of a massive apartment building, in the middle of a bustling city. And that I am lucky I am so high up, because I don’t really hear the traffic sounds, except for the occasional emergency vehicle siren. I do this because I am not the largest fan of Cincinnati – my inability to change the overwhelming poverty, and the obvious effects of gentrification (thanks 3CDC, you heartless idiots) really affect me and my mental health. I like to think I am in Atlanta, where I can at least count on it being warm.
  2. Speaking of big cities, I also spend my sleepless hours planning where I might want to live in the next 5 or 10 years. You know, after undergraduate school is over and I am well on my way to furthering my education at vet school/zoo college (that is a REAL THING! I flipped when I discovered this). I want to be somewhere nice and warm, where winter will never make me avoid going outside. I will be less likely to sit inside, home, alone, for hours, scarring myself with dark, depressed thoughts, until the notion of ever seeing sunshine again is a negligible, far-removed possibility. So far, the list includes, but is not limited to, Atlanta (obviously!), College Station, TX (Texas A&M has an amazing vet school. And hello, Texas! Such a lack of winter!),  Gainesville, FL, and San Diego, CA. All hot places. All involving animals. Also, DC makes the list, made tolerable by the Smithsonians, the National Zoo, and the amount of national history – the connections between the past and how the future will unfold is uplifting enough to make the Doldrums of winter a million times less terrible.
  3. I narrow down the list of bands I need to see before I die. Included: The Smashing Pumpkins, The National, Kid Cudi, The Black Keys, Jack White in some kind of propensity, Florence and the Machine…these groups and more. I just like reflecting on their individual songs and the fact that they bring me joy.
  4. I crack my window just enough to hear the street sounds over the creepy creaking of the house. W. Clifton is a pretty busy street – it connects UC with Vine, which leads directly downtown, so we get our fair share of interesting traffic (i.e., the Great Taxi Pileup of 2011). I like imaging where different people are headed, based on their car sounds. For instance, I always graciously assume the super speeding cars at 3am are just guys taking their wives in labor to the hospital. What other reason could/should there possibly be? (car chase, late for the drug deal, taking gun shot victim to the hospital) I just try to hope for the best case scenario.
  5. I count as far as I can go without losing patience in Spanish.

Alright. I’m glad that you are finally hearing me out, brain. We both seem to be getting sleepy. I think it is time to call it a day, clean up shop, and throw in the towel. Time to listen to some Sea Wolf, and just drift off to the vivid dreams you always seem to supply.

Goodnight,

Elisabeth