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A week from today we will officially be living in our new home. I’m excited about it, for sure, but the next seven days are going to be ridiculous. Our current house is sort-of packed. We’re making good progress, but it’s certainly not done. And we need to be — soon — since Saturday and Sunday will be spent not here packing boxes, but celebrating my cousin’s wedding in NYC. When we return, we will have exactly two days to finish, load up the truck and be ready for 9 a.m. Wednesday, when we turn over the keys to the new owner.

I’m having mixed emotions over the whole thing. I never put too much time or energy into decorating or making it “my own”, because I knew we were rapidly outgrowing the space and wouldn’t be here too long. This house was Michael’s before it was ours, so while it is mine too, I never felt a strong attachment to it as a space. In that regard, I am ready to leave. Our new home has much more space and some really lovely touches, and I’m excited to live there and begin making new memories. And for the first time, I’m really excited to decorate. (Thank you, Pinterest, for aiding in that addiction.)

But, I love this place because it is our home — the place where we came back to after getting married, where our first baby came home from the hospital to. Since having Owen, my emotional attachment to the house has certainly gotten stronger. It’s where he took his first bath, spoke his first word, had his first birthday party, took his first step. It’s where we became parents. There are a lot of firsts here.

I will miss this house for the memories it provided, for the love it embraced, for the family it sheltered. But I’m ready for our next chapter.

Pass me a box, it’s time to go.

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This past weekend the weather was lovely and we were all itching to get out of the house. We live close to where we went to college, so we loaded up the car and headed down to spend some time on the quad. We didn’t realize until we arrived that it was freshmen move-in day.

Immediately I was hit with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia. As I sat on a blanket with my little family, I realized that exactly 10 years ago that weekend, I was  one of those freshmen, wandering the quad with a map and an air of confidence masking what was really nerves and fear.

I started to blow bubbles for Owen and thought about how quickly time goes by. A group of girls in very little shorts and very strappy tank tops walked by us in a giggly mass and I realized that, whoa. That’s me — a decade ago. I wanted to stop those girls and say hey, breathe it in. Remember it. Slow down. (And also? Don’t drink punch out of a bucket on the floor at your first ever frat party tonight. Just a heads up from me to you.) Before you know it, it will be you sitting here, looking at the former you, and reminiscing.

No, I wouldn’t change it. Not any of it. I wouldn’t go back. How could I, when it’s all so good?

We had Kodiak with us too, and he tends to draw a lot of attention. A couple wandered over to us asking to pet him, and we got to taking. They cooed over Owen and told us they just dropped their son off at his dorm for the first time. It goes so quickly, they said. I mentioned how it feels like just yesterday that Michael and I were walking across this quad together hand-in-hand on our way to classes, and now here we are with our child. We met here 10 years ago, I told them.

We met here too, they said. Thirty-three years ago and counting. It really does come full circle, they told us.

The nostalgia isn’t sad, it’s comforting. To know that some things will never change, even when everything else does. There will always be a girl on the quad blowing bubbles, spinning around, hair on her shoulders, skirt twirling in the breeze. (That girl lives on every campus after all, does she not?) Only this weekend, I blew the bubbles instead.

One day it will be us dropping our son off on his first day of college. Maybe even on this very campus. And then one day, it will be his turn to let his little birdie fly from the nest.

I hope that giggly group of girls have memories like this one day. I hope they come back to that very quad and remember.

I hope they didn’t drink the punch.

In fourth grade I proudly wore my favorite outfit to school. It was a red and white striped boatneck top with a matching skirt and attached black bike shorts. I thought it was the most awesome fashion invention since puff paint and snap bracelets.

I put effort into dressing up that day. I brushed my hair. I picked out my matching scrunch socks. My Keds were white as snow.

My enjoyment over that outfit lasted approximately two hours, before a boy in my class — Aaron — asked me why my legs looked shiny. My legs looked shiny? I didn’t know. I didn’t make them look shiny on purpose.

But the mere fact that my legs looked shiny gave Aaron enough ammunition to completely mortify my 9-year old self.

He told everyone I shaved my legs.

Shaved my legs!! Can you imagine? Why would I ever do such a thing, I argued. I don’t shave my legs! Shaving is weird! I didn’t! I swear!

It didn’t matter what I said. By the end of the day the whole class thought I was shaving my legs, and it was enough for me to put that outfit, my wonderful red and white striped boatneck and matching skirt with attached bike shorts outfit in the back of my closet, never to see the light of day again. Because, ugh, SHAVING. How WEIRD.

(To be fair, 9-year old me also thought regular hair and tooth brushing were optional.)

This morning, Facebook “suggested” I become friends with Aaron. I’m thinking of taking a picture of my three (ok, four) days unshaven leg (umm…it’s cold out? And…I’m wearing a lot of pants?) and sending it to him with my friend request.

“Remember me? The LEG SHAVER? How do you like me now?!”

When I was about 12 or 13, my mom and sister and I traveled to Florida to visit my aunt and cousins. I was so excited to spend a week in the sun, lounging by the pool and practicing being the cool pre-teen that I thought I was. I was awkward — all long limbs and skinny body and bad hair cut. My cousin, although she was the same age, seemed more mature. Blonde hair and the beginnings of real boobs and she wore sports jerseys with knee high socks which, don’t ask me why, I thought looked so cool.

Part of us were still little girls — we pretended to be dolphins in the pool and read Babysitters Club books. And part of us wanted to be grown up, trying on black eyeliner, and stuffing her knee socks in our bras.

I was just beginning to pick apart things about myself and spending time with my pretty cousin only amplified those feelings. She seemed to have it all and next to her outgoing personality and pretty face, I felt paled in comparison.

On one of our last days there, we ran into a boy about our age at the pool. I thought he was cute, but not knowing how to talk to him, I let my cousin lead the way. She tossed her hair and touched his shoulder and I looked at her in wonder and thought, “how does she do that?”. Despite her efforts, he actually paid more attention to me and directed his question my way when he asked if we wanted to ride on his Jetski the next day.

We agreed, and spent the rest of the day excitedly talking about how cute he was and how fun the ride would be. The next morning we headed to the pool to get some sun, and by the end of the day we were giddy. I picked out my best swimsuit and cutest shorts and took out my totally unnecessary green CoverGirl compact to powder my face.

I looked in the mirror and wanted to cry. Staring back at me in the mirror was a face completely covered in freckles. Exacerbated by the last few hours in the sun, every surface from my eyebrows to my upper lip was sprinkled with what I thought to be the ugliest thing ever. My cousin walked into the bathroom, all tan and freckle-free and I panicked.

I don’t feel well,” I told her. “I don’t think I can go.”

She tried to change my mind for awhile, telling me how fun it would be, but I insisted. No, I couldn’t go.

But she did. I watched from the window as she bounded up to the boy in the parking lot and moved behind the curtain when I saw him look up at the window disappointingly. I watched her hop on the back of the Jetski, wrap her arms around that boy and drive off.

Almost 15 years later, I still regret my decision that day. I regret allowing myself to feel so inadequate next to my cousin. My cousin, whose life utlimately took a bad turn later in life. I regret allowing myself to be overshadowed because I was scared and most of all, I regret hating something about myself that makes me so unique.

It took a long time, but I eventually learned to love my freckles. To marvel at how quickly they appear on my arms or how cute the sprinkling across my nose can be. I love when my husband kisses his favorite freckle, the one right below my left eyebrow and take solace in the fact that they will always give me a youthful appeal.

It’s hard to accept who I am all the time. To love my arms or my ears or my inability to make quick and witty comebacks on cue.

But I accept my freckles. I more than accept them.

I love them.

As I was getting ready for work this morning I picked up a gray trapeze sweater with big buttons that I bought last winter. It’s kind of an unusual shape, but it’s very comfy and looks cute with a long-sleeved tee and jeans.

I held it in my hands for a moment, then placed in back down. No, not today, I thought.

Why? Well ok, here it is. Last time I wore the sweater a coworker made fun of me. He asked me where my matching legwarmers and scrunchi was. I ignored him the first time and wore it again, only to be asked where the rest of my clown posse was (big buttons — clown-like?).

The comments rushed me back to the fourth grade. I showed up to school in my current favorite outfit: black spandex bike shorts with a white and red striped skirt attached to them, plus the matching white and red striped boat-neck top to go along with it. Oddly enough I cannot remember the shoes, but that is not important.

I came into the classroom feeling cute and confident, until Aaron Lastnameescapesme came up to me, pointed at my legs and said, “Your legs are shiny. Why are they shiny? Do you shave your legs???”

Now I have no idea why my legs looked shiny and to a fourth-grader, the idea of shaving my legs was horrific and embarrassing. He kept teasing me and I turned on my heel to walk away from him before he could make me cry.

I never wore the outfit again.

This morning I cursed Aaron Lastnameescapesme for ever making me doubt myself because of something a guy says. Especially regarding fashion, because let’s be honest, neither Aaron nor my coworker will be gracing the cover of GQ any time soon.

I didn’t wear the sweater today, but I will wear it again. Soon.

And guess what, Aaron. My legs ARE shaved. So there.

Exactly one year ago today — on September 24th — Michael took me to one of our favorite spots and asked me to be his wife.

I still think about that day, often before I fall asleep to calm my mind. It is the purest joy I have ever felt. I loved him more in that moment than I ever thought possible.

I love him even more today.

Exactly one month from today — on October 24th — I will become his wife. 

For the past year this end result has felt so abstract. I was of course always aware of the end result, the ultimate goal, but it often felt like I was planning something that would happen one day.

One day is upon us.

I’m taking today to reflect on how lucky I am to have been in a relationship for almost seven years with someone who makes every single day better. I’m taking today to thank him — my Michael — for being my friend, my partner, my rock — and for asking me to continue our lives together hand and hand.

We are getting married in one month.

I cannot wait.

I was going through my saved emails and decided it was finally time to save all the old photos my mom had sent me. Since it’s Friday and Friday should be Fun Day, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Growing up my mom had an amazing garden. I wasn’t always allowed in it (little feet stomp on delicate plants), but I have such fond memories of standing outside it asking for “more peas, please” and eating fresh veggies. I think I have carrots in this picture. (Also: NATURAL HAIR COLOR SHOCK!)

The plants were so tall and I was wee!

A whitey white girl must always be properly sunscreened. Also, I’m pretty sure I still make this face. I also kind of wish I still had a red bathing suit with such cute ruffles!

I have many more, but my sister may freak out if I post her baby shots on the internet. I’ll see if I can wear her down.

Happy weekend!

There’s so many things that can define a generation. World events, music, clothing…and TV. What person born in the early 1980s can’t sing (or at least hum) the theme song to Fraggle Rock? There’s lots of TV moments that I think define my age bracket. I mean, I remember…

– Punky Brewster calling 911 when the child she was babysitting drank something under the sink.

– Buddy Bands, Friends Forever and Jessie Spano getting hooked on caffeine pills. (I’m so excited! I’m so…scared!)

– Donna posing awkwardly in a while lacy getup, ready to lose her virginity to David.

– how much I wanted to freeze time just by putting my fingers together like Evie on Out of This World.

– Are You Afraid of the Dark? I didn’t want to admit it but sometimes, yeah!

– wishing I could go down the Pie Slide. Mark Summers made it seem so cool.

– DJ showing up for her first day of school dressed in the same outfit as her teacher. Also, when she stopped eating and fell to her knees after working out on the bike. Stephanie tattled.

– Corey and Topanga’s torrid love affair.

– How freaky looking the Temple Guards were.

– Wanting to be Tiffani Smith and play the bass guitar. (Kinda groovy!)

 – thinking how cool it would be to have Charles as a babysitter.

– pretending I was Claudia Kishi while my friend Dani was Stacey McGill (minus the diabetes.)

What do you remember?

Happy weekend!

She moved to my town in 5th grade and took her seat next to me in the classroom. I was in awe of her curly golden hair, such a contrast to my wispy reddish locks. We became friends immediately and spent the next seven years making memories.

She was there for the perils of high school. For first boyfriends and later first loves. (Ironically, they were best friends too.) She pushed me through 5 a.m. crew practices, laughed at inside jokes, smiled through endless prom pictures and mouthed “I love you” as I walked across the stage at graduation.

When we were good, we were great. But when we fought, it got ugly. Beneath the bond, there was often tension, jealousy and competition. Comments about a hair style could cut as deep as one about a boyfriend. But in the end, the good out weighed the bad.

We left for college together — attending the same school for only one semester. She was unhappy there and while I built relationships and joined activities, she chose to leave.

It ended badly. She took her anger over school out on me because I was there. I was too young and stubborn to understand she didn’t know what else to do.

We didn’t talk for years until a few summers ago when one of us, I can’t remember who, sent the first email. Hi, I miss you.

Over time we started to rebuild what was lost. She came to visit, then so did I. Monthly emails continued to be exchanged until today.

Today she asked if she was invited to my wedding. And I didn’t have an answer for her. Because although there was an image of a friendship renewed, I wasn’t actually sure if it had been.

Today feelings were hurt, then examined. Today I realized I’ve been carrying the hurt from seven years ago, a hurt that should have been resolved. A lot can happen over seven years. Although I’m no longer the 18-year old girl that felt abandoned by her friend, that girl still lives in me.

But today the first brick was laid in a path back to a real friendship — a new friendship.

Piece by piece.

Brick by brick.

Back to good.

I prayed that he would propose on our fifth anniversary. I thought about it all day, alternating between “this could be it!” and “no, too predictable.” It stayed in the front of my mind through dinner (after dessert?), on the drive home (under the moonlight?) and straight until bed time (hidden under the pillow?)

He didn’t propose. If I knew what I know now, I would have understood. But at the time, I was sad.

***

The rest of the year I was obsessed with getting a proposal. I tried not to talk about it,  but would hear myself asking when day after day. I cried all the time. Mostly to myself but often in front of him too. I hated my behavior, but I couldn’t stop. People all around me were getting engaged and after five years and no ring in sight, I was starting to question if he really wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

He said he did. He told me to be patient.

***

In the summer he bought a brand new expensive vehicle. I figured that was the answer to my question.

***

I set a time frame in my head. New Years Day 2008. If it hadn’t happened by then we would have to have a very serious talk. I dreaded even the thought of that talk. The possibility of not being with him for the rest of my life made me sick.

***

Michael is a thinker and a planner. He researches products for months before he buys them. He takes the time to go over every angle before making a big decision. If I could have only known what was going through his head.

***

On a beautiful day in September he answered the question my heart had been asking. The proposal is a memory I play in my mind over and over, like a favorite movie that never gets old. Somewhere between tears and laughter, he asked me to be his wife.

There was no hesitation in my answer.

Yes.

***

For weeks we floated in a bubble of happiness. Even with my wedding planning meltdowns he stood tall, supporting me when my strength gave way.

***

When offered a new job he sat with me for hours weighing the options. He told me he would support whatever decision I made. He helped me make the right choice.

When that job took me across the country he was sad.

“Don’t you ever leave me again,” he said into my hair as we hugged at the airport. I smiled at the realization that he needs me as much as I need him.

***

“Happy birthday to my beautiful fiancée,” the card read. “The only year I can call you that!”

***

“Guess what today is?”

“Ummm….” he said, being cheeky.

“Exactly seven months until I marry you!”

“Oh jeez,” he laughed, faining bemusement, before scooping me up and holding me tight.