Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bicycle Diaries.

I am a real cyclist now--meaning a real road cyclist, not just a pretty bike cyclist (though I do miss my pretty bike, currently in my grandma's garage). We rode 400+ miles over one to two weeks. Spencer and I started in Nice, France, road to Italy that day, and met up with his friends in Venice a few days after that with the help of a train or two. The farthest we rode was 70 miles in one day. Before that the most I had ever ridden in one day was 36 miles. Those miles were on the Oregon Coast, and also happened to be the precursor to Spencer asking me to marry him. He appreciated that I was willing to try. I appreciated that I succeeded, and that it was significantly more fun, and less scary, than I imagined. These new 70 miles in one day, however, were on one of the worst stretch of roads, with the hardest hills, in a very desolate and forsaken part of Croatia. At one point we road for four hours without seeing a village or villager. And we were out of water. And I was very thirsty. At that time, and at many more on the bike trip, Spencer would ride beside me and put biscuits (not very good cookies) in my mouth. I didn't even want them, but he insisted that I needed the constant energy to be able to keep going. He was probably right. Spencer's friend had tried to explain to me that the best way to be able to keep riding is to eat more food than you think you need, and drink more water than you think you need, and in that way you can get partially the amount that your bicycling body requires. Because of this, as well as the truth of this, I have never eaten more food in my life than I did on that bike trip. It was also the first time I understood what people mean when they say they need animal products to get enough protein. I have never felt that before by myself. Plant food diets usually do okay for me, but on days that I biked very far up hills, I craved meat. And cheese. And things I don't usually crave. Most food tasted really good, even though some of it was very terrible. Food that did not ever taste good: the disgusting oatmeal that we were constantly eating. (What made it disgusting? What I thought was a brilliant idea. I mixed in a whole bag of my 7 grain cereal that I eat at home, forgetting that it takes a long time to cook, and that the oatmeal only requires warm water, and that we wouldn't have the proper time or resources to cook it sufficiently to get the crunch out. It was bad, and only got better when we smothered it with nutella or added sesame seeds, to make it purposefully crunchy. Unfortunately, you can only eat nutella, sesame seed oatmeal for so long.)

Finally on the day of the 70 miles, we saw a villager, and one of our group tried to communicate, asking how far to the next town. Somehow we figured out a good estimate, and it gave me the motivation to keep peddling. Then we stayed in our first non-camping, non-side-of-the-road, place. There was a roof over our head, and walls all around us. It felt like heaven. I can honesty say I have never felt more proud of myself. There were actually a lot of those moments. And they were almost always instigated by awful hills, climbs, and mountains that I never thought would end. At one point (probably in the middle of a terrible hill) I remember asking Spencer why people chose to bike tour. And then immediately after I got to the top, I realized that that feeling was pretty great, and that was probably why. There is something to be said for getting somewhere with the power of your legs, your lungs, your heart. It is freeing really. I still wasn't sure these good feelings were worth the pain, but they were close. And I got better, stronger, even over the course of that relatively short bike tour. I was also almost always the first person to the top of the hills, which was sometimes the only thing that made it fun for me, and inspired me to keep riding, even when I hated, hated the hills, which I did often. For everyone else's credit, I had the lightest bike and the lightest load, because Spencer, wanting me to enjoy it (as well as do it) chose to carry almost all of our things, and my panniers were very, very small in comparison to his get up. We probably should have figured out a way to carry our load more evenly, and I should have figured out a way to be braver and more willing to do it, because Spence's configuration ended up breaking two bike hubs/tires/other things that I don't really understand. And also because of it, I would have to ride whichever bike was worse, so I would have been doing myself a favor to carry just a little more.

Highlights of the bike trip include the beautiful places we saw, and some of the delicious gelato/pizza/mostly gelato we ate. The French Riviera has incredible water. So clear and bright and turquoise. I had never seen anything like it. I liked Venice, Italy, and I loved, loved Slovenia. It is the fairest land God ever made I think. Maybe for me because it was reminiscent of my Oregon, and so covered in trees and green, plus had the prettiest, well cared for houses I have ever seen. Each one was immaculate. Most roofs were made of intricately shaped red bricks. Almost every window (of which there were plenty) were graced with bright flowers (also usually plenty, and red). I would like a home like that one day, but it may look silly in whatever non-Slovenia place we happen to reside in. Spencer also appreciated Croatia, and one particular part in Croatia where we got to ride through a national park. I didn't like that part very much, though I did like the park itself--especially because it, like the French Riviera, sported clear, pretty, turquoise water. Riding in the park was admittedly beautiful, but it was also alternatively dark and light, depending on the tree coverage, which made it hard to see, and the path was extremely narrow, and even more extremely down hill. I may also be the only person who dislikes downhills approximately equal to the amount that I dislike uphills, though I dislike them for different reasons. Uphill is of course hard. Down hill is scary! And too fast for my blood. I find myself squeezing on the breaks, so I don't get any added speed or momentum for my hard work up. It is absurd. (Lowlights of the trip include not feeling safe sometimes, and sleeping in some pretty questionable places in foreign lands. Also any time we rode in the dark was not a plus for my safety book, or that time we rode on a freeway outside of Venice to get to our campground.)

And for the all important question: Would I go on a bike tour again? (As well as the all important answer.) Yes. But some things would have to be different/more comfortable. And it would never, ever be when I was moving across the world, to a different country. Despite what Spencer says, it is not that great to roll into your new city at 1:30 in the morning, with nothing but biking clothes, and (in my case) one dress--not even dress shoes (Spencer happened to lose them somewhere in Croatia), to sleep in a hostel that has exactly two spots left, requiring you to not only sleep in a separate room from your spouse, but a separate building. Yeah, I would not do that again. And there would also have to be at least one other girl, which this one fortunately had. (Bless Melissa and her desire to be safe!)

Nice, France, and a too sunny nap. I may have woken up from the heat.

On our way to Italy. Notice Spencer's bike.

Milan, Italy, Spence, and the Duomo.

Venice, Italy, and the rest of the riders.

Trieste, Italy. We were about to get very lost.

The end of Italy/beginning of Slovenia!

Ljubljana, Slovenia. Dragon Bridge.

Croatia. National Park (N.P.).

N.P.

N.P.

Brac, Croatia.

Monday, January 30, 2012

An American in Europe.

Being in another country when I have heretofore only been in my own country is humbling. Being in eleven other countries in a very short time is very humbling. France, Italy, Monaco, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Czech Republic.

When I first got to Europe, and was bicycling my way from country to country, I felt embarrassed, and sad, and pompous every time I pronounced, "I'm sorry. I only speak English." This was never more true than when we found ourselves in a little village in Slovenia (one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen--it was their houses, rooftops, flowers) at a bike shop, and the cashier spoke perfect English. I had never heard of his village, and had barely heard of his country, and he knew the words that are my words, my country's words. We asked him how he knew it so well. They study it, in school. I studied Spanish in school when I was in high school. I don't speak Spanish the way that man spoke English. I barely speak Spanish. Maybe 100 words, with improper conjugation and sentence structures. I can however pronounce the alphabet accurately, except for that rolled r. It gets me every time. It was amazing for me to think of this difference, and again, I was humbled.

In each country we visited we tried to learn key phrases. The words that are the most helpful have proven to be "thank you," "pardon," and "excuse me," as well of course, as "hello." Those first three were particularly important when we were biking everywhere, because we were always getting in people's way. They frowned at us much less when we tried to be polite, and they had the opportunity to get out of our way when we had the knowledge to let them know we were there, in a language that they could understand. There are a few more important phrases, like "How much does this cost?" and, "Where is the toilet?" which reminds me that while I learned some German, by attending classes twice a week, I still never learned how to ask people how much things cost (or how they were, for that matter). Thankfully I could pretty much figure out prices, and numbers were one of the first things I did learn.

There were also some funny moments caused by language mishaps. My two favorite occurred in France. The first was in Nice, the day we arrived. I got to hear Spencer, who speaks some Spanish, say to someone, "Bonjour, amigo!" with all of the sincerity and earnestness imaginable. The second was in Paris, also spoken by Spencer. It was 2 in the morning, and we were trying to find a public transport way back to our rented studio. The man behind the desk asked us, in perfect English, "Where are you trying to go?" Spencer then asked him, in perfect Deutsch, "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" The exchange was repeated three times, before Spencer realized the man was speaking English, and that, "Parlez-vouz Anglais?" would have been the more appropriate question had he not been.

The whole five month experience taught me how someone can get by in a completely foreign land. In any foreign land, you learn enough to survive at the grocery store and on public transportation. You remember that you are smart, though those simple things suddenly take work for you, and courage. In a European foreign land, you learn to look for the WC sign when you need a toilet. You resign yourself to the fact that there are no drinking fountains anywhere. You try to remember to bring your water bottle. If you forget, you are thirsty. You see beautiful things everywhere, and you try to remember them. You associate primarily with people who speak your language, who are from your homeland (or in my case, one country North of my homeland). You are not completely happy about this, but it is necessary for the time being. You try new foods, new things, new etc., and even when you like them, you still want your peanut butter (or whatever is your equivalent-missing home thing). You are grateful for skype, gmail, and facebook. You never know what time it is, and always want the people you love to be awake.

If you are an American in Europe, you smile every time you see McDonalds or coca-cola products (which you do everywhere, in almost every country), not because you like either thing (because you don't, at all), but because they remind you of home. This fades after you go to McDonalds for the first time (to use the internet and restroom), and order a pistachio McFlurry that tastes like nothing. You are even more disappointed because McDonalds in Italy don't allow you to use their internet without having an Italian phone number, and a worker chides you for having your feet on the seat. You are grateful that some things are consistent in every country, including your own. The prime example you can think of, is that everywhere you have been, you see little girls skipping/dancing alongside their mothers in an effort to keep up. Mostly, you think of home, while living and loving somewhere new.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Car wreck(ed).

This might be a sad post, but it is necessary for me to write. I want to remember what happened, so I can be thankful for the miracle that I am still alive and Spencer is still alive. It happened the day after we were married. The very day. We saw my family that morning. We ate crepes. We opened gifts. We prayed because we were about to drive to our home in Los Angeles, from my parent’s home in Provo, Utah, and while it was a drive we were familiar with, my parents taught me to pray before going on long journeys. We got in our car. We drove past St. George. We were in Nevada, near Mesquite. Spencer was driving. It was my car. Our only car. Things were fine until they weren't: we had good snacks, good tunes, and a good book to read. The unraveling of the fine began with a large semi-truck appearing in the mirror. I saw it first, from the passenger side. It seemed dangerously close, and was dangerously getting closer. In sudden urgency I asked Spencer if he saw it too. He did, but there was little he could do. There was another semi in the right hand lane, so his initial effort to steer that way also had to be accounted for. He turned again toward the left, and that is when we were hit from behind, on the left rear side. The car spun, went off of the freeway, did an aerial in the sky, rolled down a hill, and landed upside down in a deep ravine. We were still intact, but barely.

Spencer was momentarily knocked out, making me momentarily believe that he was dead. One day after I married, I thought my husband was dead. I called Spencer's name. Some seconds passed before he came to. Anyone who has been in a similar situation knows that seconds in such instances feel like eternities, and eternities like seconds. And perhaps to thoroughly demonstrate that he was not dead, but alive, Spencer did what any alive person would do in his situation and climbed out a shattered window, before climbing back in. I think it was also to show me that he could breathe and that we could breathe, because for reasons I cannot explain, I was terrified that we would suffocate (and expressed such fears), despite the fact that every window was broken open, and therefore letting air in. For my part (and though very much alive) I was laying still in a pool of glass and blood. And would continue laying there for a long time, because when the EMT’s came, I told them that my neck hurt, because it did. And then they wouldn’t let me move after that. I regretted not telling them until after I got out of the car. One reason it took so long is that they were having trouble killing the battery, and understood the danger of the car starting on fire, so were themselves afraid to come in. I assure you that them telling me this did not make me any calmer. Eventually they did get me out, and onto a board.

Every act of movement tortured me. I have seen those boards before, but I didn't know how hard they were--I didn't know that they were hard. I thought that they would be soft and comfortable, comforting the injured. Instead, they are almost piercing in their firmness and inability to give. Being lifted up into the ambulance was a new kind of pain, and then having my head and neck secured against the board was another. Whatever they used was digging into the back of my head, and that became the pain I focused on. If I could have lifted my arms up (I couldn't, though they weren't strapped), I would have tried to rip that thing off of me. Spencer was in the ambulance, but not in the back with me. I couldn't see him for their rules. I kept calling his name, and pleading for him to hold my hand, hold anything. Do anything. He would call back to me, every time. He had dug my computer out of the wreckage, and opened it. I had been playing Ashley Mae's homemade video of our wedding, over and over, and now, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Spencer started playing it over and over too. Again, because he was apart from me, I couldn't see the screen, but listened to the words, and knew what was playing. That song, that video, was the single thing that could calm me and help me breathe simply again. In real ways it rescued me.

Once we got to the Emergency Room at the Mesa View Regional Hospital they examined me and x-rayed me. Everything felt long and painful. It was difficult for me to sit still for the x-rays, though it was equally difficult for me to move. They gave me medicine for the pain. Two pills of something. They made me throw up twice, when I stood up. (Maybe once for each pill?) And then soon after, they made it so I couldn't remember anything. One of the few things I do remember is a nurse saying that they needed to get me a top to wear, because my shirt was destroyed. I was confused, and didn't know what she was talking about. When I saw my shirt later, it was half covered in blood. There were so many holes where the glass was gouging my skin. That is what my back looked like. During this time Spencer had called his relatives. A cousin of his would be picking us up and taking us to his home in St. George. I don't remember the ride. I don't remember talking to my own parents on that ride, though Spencer assures me that I did. I don't remember the blessing I received. I don't remember the apparently constant question asked me at the hospital, concerning how much pain I was experiencing, on a scale from 1-10. Spencer told me about it sometime later, and that I always said 2. I thought it was strange and mildly funny that I would say that, on the night of the most physical pain I have ever experienced.

The next thing I would remember was not even waking up, but the part right after waking up. I was sitting on a stranger's stool at a counter. He was making me a smoothie. Spencer's dad and grandpa picked us up and drove us to LA. I slept most of the way. They flew back to Salt Lake, and we borrowed the truck for a week so we could do errands and finish moving-to-Europe preparations. It was very nice of them. All of those things, really. I would spend the next week recovering at my grandma's house, and Spencer would spend it driving into the city to try to expedite a new passport, and visa, and etcetera, since those things were lost in the wreckage. Spencer's parents and my parents would come to our much smaller reception in Claremont, to make sure that we were still alive. We were, despite sore necks, backs, and in my case knee. I was limping badly, which limp would remain through Milan and part of our bike trip, and sometimes now, when I walk up or down stairs (I am an old lady). It was so nice to see my parents. And my oldest brother. And my sister-in-law. And their very precious children. And my very precious grandma. And mine and Spencer's very precious friends.

We would make it to Europe a week or so later, despite the wreck, and despite the 6,000 canceled flights due to East Coast earthquakes/hurricanes. All it would take were some pretty terrible circumstances in Baltimore, Maryland (of which city I might be terrified, due to mine and my brother's love of The Wire), and some less terrible circumstances staying with Spencer's sister Kiersten in New Jersey before we could catch a flight to France. I would spend the next several weeks watching bruises appear and slowly disappear. They covered my legs, my hips, my torso. While bicycling Spencer would have to tell me if it was free to cross streets, because I could not turn my neck to check myself. I still have scars on both knees, and one on my right wrist, but am doing okay otherwise.

This is where we fell.
This is my broken car, frontside.

This is my broken car, backside.

This is my shirt.

This is some of my family, whom I love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On physical/mental illness and George Albert Smith.

George Albert Smith.
I recently read an article on George Albert Smith, the 8th president of the LDS church, that pointed me to a longer article on George Albert Smith, the 8th president of the LDS church. The longer article was written by Mary Jane Woodger, a woman that I know. She was my Teaching of the Living Prophets professor when I was a sophomore at BYU and is more conservative than me, and much more not-a-feminist than me, but is also devoted, sincere, and kind. All in all: I like her.

I was eager to read her article for a few reasons, the strongest being that mental illness is an issue that is near to me. I have seen close family members and friends struggle with this. I have seen myself struggle with this. When I read it (beginning on about page 120), I learned that George Albert Smith was bedridden for long periods of time, including year periods of time. There were also expansive periods when he (as an apostle) was not only incapable of performing his services in the church, but was incapable of attending church services altgoether. During such periods he would occasionally try to do his perceived duty, but any attempt would bring his illness on even stronger. This eager, willing man would be filled with anxiety and nervousness to the point of shaking and near collapse. He would then be taken home in shame and loneliness, where he would wait out the latest episode, or receive a Priesthood blessing to seemingly no avail. At one point, and at a doctor's order, he traveled to California from Utah in an effort to heal. He would stay there for a long time, and his family would visit on occasion. On one such visit, they all went for a swim in the grand Pacific Ocean. Later he went by himself, with disastrous consequences. He was not a strong swimmer. He was not strong--physically or mentally. Thus, it was probably not the best idea for him to venture out unattended. He almost drowned, but was spotted by someone on shore, and rescued. During his long bouts of depression he felt inadequate and troubled, like he was letting God and the church down, as well as his friends and family. Despite all of the things he tried, he was unable to bring himself out of his depression. It eventually did get better (and he eventually became the prophet), but he waded through the murkiness of an overly anxious life for many, many years.

These stories are absent from the manual that we will study every Sunday for this entire year. I wish that they were present. Can you imagine if they were? What if there was a lesson entirely devoted to this prophet's mental anguish? What could that do for those who similarly suffer? What self love might increase? What guilt and unnecessary anxiety would decrease? Would such individuals not see (even a small glimpse) of the truth that they are still loved by God and are still worthy of inspiration and direction? What could it do for those who live with and love those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses? What greater measure of compassion and understanding might be brought about?

I have been thinking extra hard about these things, because at this moment, one of my relatives is struggling with mental illness in very deep ways (even more than normal ways), while another relative, sharing the exact same relation, is struggling with physical illness in very deep ways. Both need help. Both are in pain, but it is a different kind of pain. And each is responded to differently. This disparity has caused me to reflect on both the parallels and inconsistencies between mental and physical illness. Mental illness is not as easy to understand. It is more quiet, more private. It is much easier for people to have compassion for those who are outwardly ill. In my church (the LDS church), it is common for individuals to bring meals to families after births, deaths, and illnesses. This has been true in the case of the second relative. I want to emphasize that I am happy that this is the case: I am happy that this relative is receiving external support from those who love her. But, I wonder: What about people who have conditions of the brain? Do they receive the support that they need? It is also a sickness, but one that we still don't know very much about. One that seems so different. The first relative is not receiving meals or visitors willing to help her clean her home. Maybe she doesn't need those things, but she may need something else, like a listening ear or simply love, that thing that all of us need and that none of us receives enough. She probably needs those closest to her not to give up on her, or be frustrated with her when she can't be as calm or as good at decision making as before. We do not become frustrated or angry with those who are afflicted by physical maladies. Why would we do so here? Is it any more her fault?

I asked the first relative why she thought there were these differences. She answered that the other is in danger of dying. While I admit that that is true, I also submit that depression is death. Depression makes life feel like death so that the person wants to die. When someone is depressed, it is hard to get help. It is hard to believe that help is possible. It is hard to have even that small hope. It is even harder to have the big hope, that sadness can give way to happiness. The only way that I can explain it is to recall my Oregon days. Boston, Massachusetts does not work, because there when it rains, it rains all day, pours all day. But Oregon (at least in Cottage Grove, Oregon), when it is raining it rains for a comparatively little while, before becoming sunny again: fully sunny. Even though I knew this, it was difficult when I was walking home from school in the gray, cold downpour to believe that it would ever be bright again. The sky looked as if it could never be sunny again with that bright clear blue that I loved. But it happened. Every time. And the reverse was also true: When it was sunny, it was hard to believe that it could ever be rainy. Depression feels like that: when you are happy, you are happy, but when you are sad, it seems like you will always be sad.

I have not been bedridden for years like George Albert Smith, but I have been for days, and have sometimes wanted to be for more than days: weeks, months, etc. The first time I realized I had depression I was 18. I was living away from home for the first time and I was more homesick than I ever thought possible. I cried every day. Multiple times a day. My mom pled with me to seek help, giving me lecture after lecture about how we don't judge people who are coughing for taking cough syrup. She tried to convince me that it was the same thing, even though it felt so different. She said it was the responsible thing, to get help. For that entire year, I refused, though I continued to struggle. I thought many things, none of which were true. The first of these untruths was that it was a matter of faith. "If I just had enough faith I would be healed!" The second untruth took the form of a feeling: I felt weak because I could not take care of the problem by myself when I wanted to so desperately. I didn't think God loved me anymore, and I didn't feel worth. Likely because of these first two things, I couldn't feel love and I couldn't love. I still remember my best friend hugging me for a long time, mourning with one who mourned, and me as the original mourner feeling nothing. She couldn't break her way in, and I could not accept her love. The one thing I could do was school. I could still go to class, I could still do my homework, I could still get my usual B+'s and A-'s, but that was all. Someone else close to me could not do school during her own time of great struggle, but could do work. 

The next most terrible time was in Boston, after the worst heartbreak I have ever experienced. When my heart broke, it felt as if the rest of me broke too, my mind as well as my body. I could not sleep without pills, and I didn't eat fruits or vegetables for two weeks. I was vegan at the time, so I am not even sure what I lived on. I can only assume that it was mostly candy. Three dear women took me into their apartment for days. They had me sleep on their couch. They gave me tea and nutritious meals. One serenaded me on the violin. Another friend flew me to her North Carolina city, and then called me every day for a long time afterward to make sure I was (reasonably) okay. It was only after their boosts of love and care that I was able to start making good choices by myself again. I started exercising daily. I picked up books after a long setting down. Scripture books and poetry books. I read every day for two hours. I returned to fruits and vegetables. I went on walks and listened to Noah and the Whale and Fanfarlo on repeat. I stopped listening to Bright Eyes and my usual sad music for awhile. I started going to a Jewish therapist. And with all of those things together, I stayed alive. One and a half years after that, I am doing much better, though I still have bad days, bad hours, and bad minutes. Occasionally dark thoughts still creep into my mind. I do my best to shut them out. I do my best to do the things that help me be happy, but I remember that when I am overly sad, it is not my fault. It does not demonstrate a lack of faith or a human failing. It only demonstrates a human being with a human brain and heart, who sometimes gets depressed as part of possessing that human brain and heart. I don't question God's love for me in the ways I did ten years ago. I don't wonder if my worthiness or ability to receive inspiration is dependent on my happiness.

I get frustrated with the impatience of people who don't understand depression, and who carelessly affirm, "You can just choose to be happy!" (I should probably try to increase my patience for them.) Choosing happiness has never been that simple for me, and is not that simple for others like me. There is no happiness switch. While I do not believe that depressed or anxious people can simply "choose to be happy," I do believe that there are things that they (we) can do to work to be happy. Even still, it is often not possible to engage in these tasks until first receiving the requisite love and support necessary, as my time in Boston so clearly taught me. With that said, please let us be a little kinder to those with physical and mental illnesses. Please let us remember George Albert Smith, that he a prophet, a man chosen by God, also suffered in these ways. I think we will see a growth of love and understanding capable of healing heart and mind wounds, and it assuredly will help us keep our covenants to strengthen feeble knees and lift up the hands which hang so sorrowfully down.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 23, 2012: In Memoriam.























Two more notes: My dad told me exactly why he felt so alone in the world. It hinges on this: he is suddenly the oldest generation--indeed, the oldest of the oldest generation. He felt the most joy and comfort not in being around me or my siblings (though I'm sure that helped), he felt the most joy and comfort in being around my siblings' kids, or "the new generation," as he called it. The second note was something said by my dad in his talk. He shared that someone once asked David O. McKay what dying was like. David O. McKay answered that it was simple, "Like walking into another room." It reminded me of something Neal A. Maxwell also said about death: It is not an exclamation point, but merely a comma. Faith and hope help so much during these times, it is amazing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hey, Mr. Guitar Man, play a song for me.

There are hard days, and then there are hard days that are also good days. Yesterday was one of those both days. And like my aunt Jenni said, it was a bittersweetness that was more sweet than bitter. It was wonderful to be with all of my family and extended family. It was wonderful to remember my granny, and to rejoice in the amazingness that was her life. It was wonderful to learn new things about her, including the fact that on her wedding day, she told her close friend that she was tempted to wear a sign on her back that said, "I made this dress myself!" When I heard that I was so happy, and so glad that on my wedding day she didn't have to tell people, because I announced it for her with a microphone right after after S and I shared our wedding vows. Many people really did sit with her and talk with her about it. It was probably heaven for her. The second story I loved that I had not heard before concerned her time as an elementary teacher. Everything she did, she did big. When her 5th graders finished a book, she would give them permission to stand on top of their desk and shout, "I finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!" (or whatever book they happened to finish). I would have loved that as a 5th grader. I think I would still love that now. (I finished Fear and Trembling! I finished Either/Or! I finished an almost 900 page biography on Kierkegaard! etc.)

It was amazing to reflect on the legacy that my granny left us. It was wonderful to be filled with immense gratitude that she was mine. But, the most wonderful thing of all happened after the funeral, when we gathered back at her house. It also happened to be the first time that I made it there. Thankfully it was not the sadness that I suspected it would be, likely because by then I had already done much harder things (like viewed my granny and even helped my aunts and mom dress her for her burial). The second of those parenthetical remarks is something I would never have suspected I would do. It came about after my dad suggested that I could help with it, and I was filled with one part fear but two parts unexplainable desire to accept his offer. Dressing her was strange at first, and made me stream tears, but was also a sweet experience--sweeter than I can express. But back to the most wonderful part. The most wonderful part was sitting around with my cousins, and aunts and uncles, and parents, and siblings singing all of the old songs we used to sing together with my grandparents, and that my immediate family used to sing on long road trips, before ipods and laptops and dvd players. It was extra nice because my uncle Davey is an extra nice guitar/fiddle/everything player (and by that I mean he is an incredibly, incredibly talented guitar/fiddle/everything player). He could play every song requested by heart. And do it well. And know the words. My cousin's husband joined him on the banjo, and other cousins took turns on the second guitar. My family members also have very beautiful voices, and while mine does not match theirs in talent, it hopefully makes up for it in sincerity and earnestness. We sang so many of my heart songs, my Hunt songs. So many of my granny's too, making it a very fitting tribute. And thanks to the magic of my dad's recorder and/or email, I am able to listen to these songs today, just one day later. It is heaven. It is home.

Joey posted a video! (His voice is the strongest here, as it is closest in proximity, but it will give you a small taste.)



Other of my favorite sung songs:
Let it Be
Brown Eyed Girl
I'll Fly Away
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Long Black Veil
Old Slew Foot
The Weight
MTA
You are my Sunshine
59th Street Bridge Song
Prisoner's Song
Man of Constant Sorrow
Lodi
Fulsome Prison Blues
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Mr. Tambourine Man
Bad Moon Rising
Beautiful Brown Eyes
Battle of New Orleans

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Interim.

I am sitting in an Arizona airport, before I board another plane that will take me to a Utah airport. I am a little afraid to get off of that plane. A little afraid to walk into my granny's house. A little afraid to not find her there. A lot afraid to feel her absence. (I think that that may be the moment when it all feels real.)

I am thankful for Edna St. Vincent Millay, a poetess who understood such moments and feelings perfectly.
You are not here. I know that you are gone,
And will not ever enter here again.
And yet it seems to me, if I should speak,
Your silent step must wake across the hall... 
There is your book, just as you laid it down,
Face to the table,--I cannot believe
That you are gone!--Just then it seemed to me
You must be here. I almost laughed to think
How like reality the dream had been;
Yet knew before I laughed, and so was still.
That book, outspread, just as you had laid it down!
Perhaps you thought, "I wonder what comes next,
And whether this or this will be the end";
So rose, and left it, thinking to return.

A Tribute.

(Wherein I try to remember all of the things that I can remember.)

Some of the memories are passed onto me as part of my family's collective memories. Other memories are my own. Both are intertwined with memories of my grandfather. It is hard for me to separate them somehow, beloved G & G Hunt.

I know that my granny and grandpa first met in Idaho, when they were each going to school. My grandpa first fell in love with my granny because of her legs. She was almost 6'0", and they were long and very beautiful. After watching her play tennis once, he told his friend the thing people of his generation tended to tell other people of his generation: that he was going to marry her, a girl he hardly knew. On their first walk home from somewhere they held hands in his coat pocket. Not too terribly long after, he did marry her. They eventually moved to Oregon where they would both be school teachers. She taught younger grades and he older ones. Their summers were spent back in Idaho, at Red Fish Lake, where they were the forest rangers. In many ways, my dad and his siblings grew up there. As a child myself I craved those particular stories and memories the most--my dad could never tell enough. Their family had a little motor boat, and during those summers my granny became adept not only at waterskiing but at waterskiing on one ski. Everyone reports that she was the best. She was also a great artist, painter, seamstress, and maker of raspberry jam. When we were younger she would paint a watercolor for our birthday cards. My favorite was when I was in the 4th grade. It featured a little girl that looked a little like me as a ballerina. My grandpa was a great gardener, and teacher, and coach--everything from baseball to basketball to track. He also inspired many others to go into teaching and coaching. When my dad went to one of his high school reunions, he couldn't count the number of his fellow students who came up to him and told him that they were teachers because of his dad. My 8th grade science teacher was one of these, even though we lived on the whole other side of the state. My granny and grandpa were both sports enthusiasts, and my grandpa was definitely the type who would bear his testimony about the Cougar's win on a fast Sunday, and occasionally miss out on church if they suffered a loss: It effected him so greatly.

Their house in Eastern Oregon was a child's dream home. It had a hot tub, a loft, a gigantic garden, a gigantic field, a shop, a riding lawn mower they would let you drive if you were very good, beautiful paintings, and all sorts of nicknacks and toys my adult self would think are tacky, but that my childhood self adored. It had a close proximity to a strange pool called Radium, that was filled with water from a natural hot springs and was previously closed, but still open to friends, including my gran and grandpa. The pool smelled terrible, and was in some parts green and slimy, but is the backdrop for some of my favorite childhood memories. One end also had several old bathtubs in the middle of the water. For reasons I still don't understand, the water inside the bathtubs was exponentially hotter than the water outside it. And that, that is where you would find my granny. As kids we would swim up to say hello, occasionally test the temperature in her pool, and swim quickly away. Their house was also near some great places to go sledding in winter time, and the great Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in any weather time. And then there was the basement. The basement alone would be enough to make their house fulfill a child's dream. The steps going down were steep and bordered with boxes upon boxes of soda. (There were even more boxes underneath each stair.) Then the bottom of the basement was filled with bags and bags of candy, as well as all of the other junk food you can imagine. We were allowed to have anything down there, and we were allowed to drink every soda but Fresca. That was for my granny alone. She didn't think little children could appreciate it sufficiently, which in turn of course made us want it more. My cousin Shane and I once made a dumb home film in which sneaking Fresca was the whole plot. We of course filled our granny in on the movie, and she played an important role, standing in the kitchen and shaking her fist at us as we ran by. Many other (better) home movies were filmed there, some with cousins and some with only siblings. Two of the finest were titled "Safeway Cereal," and "Pelvis and the Mafia."

It was almost just as nice when granny and grandpa visited us. They would show up in their Dophin motor home, that they used to visit almost every state, and bring candy with them, in the form of a "magic sack." I think it was just a brown paper bag, but it was magic to us. My grandpa would hold it out and we would have to close our eyes and stick our little fist in. Whatever we grabbed is what we grabbed. No trading. I suddenly realize that they were a little like walking Halloween. They brought Halloween to us (and every other holiday). Decorations have always been important to them, and no matter what the holiday is, they would go all out, with all of the crazy yard and house things possible. They also had one million different flags for their front flag pole, even celebrating such simple things as Spring. Their Christmas lights were up year round, and while I now know that it was probably because it was getting too hard to take down, when I was a child I just thought they were extra festive, which they were. For many years my granny made every grandchild homemade pajamas. There was usually a theme, and we would always model them for everyone. I remember being very small, and feeling so cool as it was my turn to walk down the stairs and turn and twirl to show off my new jammies. Before my time, there was a superhero year, and I think a sports year. Either way, one of those years, and one of those sets of pajamas (most likely the sports one) had numbers on it. H was 1 because he was the first grandchild. My cousin Jamie was 2, and down the line. It was also at Christmas that my grandpa would bring out all of his toys: his train set, his jumping dogs, and so forth. Again: child's dream. I know that my love for the 4th of July has something to do with my grandpa's love for it, and that on one particular 4th we were setting off fireworks not permitted in our new town. My granny was there, and when the police officer came, she charmed our collective way out of trouble, by explaining that she was a visitor and so forth. One more note on their motor home, we would be so anxious for them to arrive that the only way my mom could settle us down was to make a game out of guessing what time they'd get there. I don't think the winner won anything, aside from the satisfaction of being the closest. We were so excited for the Dolphin to pull up beside our house.

In the same city as the close fireworks call, but in a different house, we had a trampoline, and rose bushes. (Those two things become important.) Some of the younger kids were showing my grandpa all of the tricks and flips they could do on the trampoline, and he was filming them. My granny came out to show my grandpa a new shirt she had made, with crazy beads. (She was always very proud of her accomplishments and crafts.) A scream comes from the direction of the trampoline, and my little brother flies off, landing in the rosebush. I think a thorn went through his ear. (We might have called him Rosey for a long time afterward, and I at least might feel very sorry for that.) My grandpa was still filming, but was distracted by my granny, so you don't see my brother land, only disappear. It is a tad of a sad/funny/sad story, but is to demonstrate that my granny also loved to show the things that she did and created, and that she was always creating something. Her bedroom was full of paints and nicknacks and gaudy jewelry, and one of my cousins shared, and I agree, that it always felt so special to be invited into that prized space. Among the gaudy jewelry, there were dozens (maybe even hundreds) of gaudy watches. And then dozens (or hundreds) more gaudy clocks throughout the house. Some made bird sounds, others sang songs. My own house might have had a complete absence of clocks growing up (aside from the faithful microwave) to compensate for this abundance.

When I was 14 they moved to Utah, from our shared home state of Oregon. I'm not even really sure how it happened, but I ended up staying with them in Utah that first summer. It was wonderful. We would make food together, and garden together (in their now much smaller garden), and eat snow cones, and go swimming, or to movies and outdoor plays. Of the latter two, I remember watching the Truman Show together in a theater, and Singn' in the Rain performed outside. Other times I would ride my granny's stationary bike beside her as she sat in her chair and watched bad game shows. I will always be thankful for that summer, and the time I was able to spend with them alone. It is priceless.

As already mentioned, both of my paternal grandparents loved sports. What was not mentioned is that my granny was introduced to fantasy sports about five years ago. She would play on a team with my dad, brothers, uncles, and cousins, and sometimes she would win. She took it very seriously, and became adept at using the computer and internet, proving that some old dogs can learn new tricks. If she didn't know how to do something, she would ask my dad for help, and he would give her the knowledge necessary to beat him. She would also have multiple televisions going in her house at any given time, each playing a different game, so she could go between them and see how her players were doing. She never wanted to miss anything. This made it a fun place to visit, but never a very quiet one (even with a significantly reduced number of clocks), which was amusing to me, because I remember my oldest brother telling me that her house was where he escaped his first few years at BYU when he needed to rest.

Not very many years ago I was able to attend her ward/congregation with her on Mother's Day. She was giving a speech. She talked about her own mom and grandmother, but the only line I remember is about her. She said, "I'm happy being a happy mother," and she was. She loved her children and grandchildren, which made it so easy to love her back. The last thing I will mention, is that she always expected a hug and a kiss hello, and a hug and a kiss goodbye. From everyone. Boy or girl. And that kiss was expected to be on the lips. More often than not she got it.

Granny Jammies!
(I am the littlest girl on the right.)




Thursday, January 19, 2012

When someone great is gone.

You start crying when you're on the phone with your sister, because she tells you that your granny died that morning. The same granny whose wedding dress you wore, five months and one day before. You are happy that that day happened, because it was meaningful for both of you, but you can't keep from reflecting on the fact that she was present, and now she's not. You will forever know that your wedding date is the last day you saw your granny alive. You ask your sister how your dad is, because they were very close, and he is very tender. You find out that he said, "It sure makes a person feel alone in the world." You are reminded of a line from your favorite book, "All the times I have suddenly realized that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist." You realize that must be what your dad is feeling now, for the first time. You sorrow with him, even though you are 614 miles away. You sorrow again, because you were just there for 24 hours, and didn't use any of those hourly allotments to visit your granny, because you thought you would be going back soon. And now you are, but for a different reason than you suspected. And while you're sad, you have to be thankful that it is possible to go back at all, and that you aren't still 6,422 miles away, as you were less than a week ago.

You remember another phone call from another sister, regarding a different death. You were 18, and in DT with your friend from home. You were watching a movie. You still remember the title. It is Stepmom with Julia Roberts. The call comes in your friend's dorm phone, because you don't have a cell phone yet. You pick it up, and your sister is crying. You know it must be bad, because while you cry, this particular sister doesn't. You ask if it is about her then boyfriend. She says no. You understand that it must be even worse. You go down six flights of stairs and out the door, to where she picks you up. You get in. Your first question: "Did someone die?" Her answer: "Yes. Grandpa." Your hero. You feel part of you die too. It will take a long time for that part to come back, to thaw, but for the time being you drive to your granny's house in Orem. It takes about fifteen minutes, but feels much longer. On the way, you pass UVU back when it was still UVSC. The reader board tells you that your current favorite band is coming: Counting Crows. You feel almost as if it is one kind thing from God, on a seemingly unkind day. You kneel on the floor next to your granny, as she sits in her arm chair. You stay until 3 am. You cry together, and you and your sister listen as your granny tells what happened: a heart attack. The last time you saw him, he was sitting in his arm chair, the one that mirrors your granny's. You were watching BYU play Air Force in football. BYU is losing. Badly. You cheer and act silly anyway. Your grandpa falls asleep sitting down. He is tired. It keeps you from being able to say goodbye before you leave.

Before his funeral, you attend a viewing just for family. You don't want to walk up to the casket, but you do, because you want to see him one more time. You are standing there alone, but soon are joined by your two youngest cousins. One is four and one is five. They hold your hands. The four year old, a boy, tells you not to cry. He tells you that your grandpa is okay, that he's happy there. He tells you that he is with his parents and his siblings. He tells you that you were lucky, because you knew him more. And you know he's right. You are amazed at the faith of a child: the complete trust. At the funeral, you sing your grandpa's favorite primary song, with all of your brothers and sisters and cousins: "Teach Me To Walk In The Light." You try hard not to cry while you sing, but do so anyway.

You come back to the present, and wonder who will hold your hand when you walk to your granny's casket, or whose hand you will hold. You wonder about your own faith, and if it is as strong as a child's, to believe all of the things you say you believe. You think about LDS temples and sealings (which you have already been thinking quite a lot about), and you marvel at their claim, to unite families for eternity. You think of the way you taught about them when you were a missionary, pointing to traditional marriage that separates at death, and extolling that if God created a marriage, it could last. Things human beings make break (including cars, microwaves, and toasters), but things that God makes can keep. You think about the Priesthood, which claims to be God's power on the earth, and what it says about binding things not only on the earth, but in heaven. You think about Christ and Easter and how those things work together with temples and other church teachings. You think about something else your sister said today, that your granny was ready to go--that she wanted to go, so you remember beautiful things about her, and beautiful traditions she passed on: most notably granny pajamas and Christmas pillowcases and her artwork. You long for the resurrection, and you feel grateful.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Three reasons why I love Ashley Mae.

1. Her lovely paintings of LDS temples, including this lovely painting of the Salt Lake Temple, where S and I were married. She very recently started a new etsy site, solely for her temple paintings. If you purchase a painting from this shop, 40% of the sale goes directly to the LDS Temple Patron Fund, which helps people go to the temple for the first time, who cannot otherwise afford it because the temple is too far away. Amazing, right? At this moment she is also holding a give away on her blog. Among other things, the winner gets to choose the next temple she will paint.


2. Her lovely personalized paintings. She gave this to me as a gift.


3. This lovely video, taken surreptitiously with her iphone. It also felt like a gift. The very best gift. I may have watched it on repeat after she first sent it to me, and again after our very bad accident of which I will write more about later.



I am not joking when I say Ash Mae is my favorite artist. Of anyone. At any time. She is a master of words and color and water.

Here is her watercolor of her own lovely family, including her husband Carl, who I have known and liked since I was 19, and her sweet baby Remy, who I have known and liked since I was 27. Three cheers for Ash Mae!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Airplane, airplane, take me home.

I fly across the sea soon. Tomorrow soon. And I still have one million things I would like to write about my Europe time, since I have written very little. For now, I will say that I am happy that I came, and happy (for the most part) that I am going back. There were a few weeks where we thought we were going to stay for an extended period of time, and that possibility was enough to make me appreciate the many good things (even some better things) we have here. Still, America is where I'm from. It is what I have judged all of my European experiences against.

Just a few things I am excited about in returning:
Christmas in January.
Warm, California weather.
Peanut butter.
Almond butter.
Trader Joe's licorice.
Trader Joe's in general.
Whole Foods.
Cheap tofu.
Cheap anything.
Mexican food.
Black beans.
An avocado tree calling my name.
A lemon tree calling my name.
Cheap bananas.
Hot chocolate.
Target, and being able to take care of many needs at one store.
That my debit card will always work.
English. Glorious, English!
School.
Bookstores and libraries with books that I can read.
Having more than five shirts to my name.
Hot water heaters lasting more than 10 minutes.
Places staying open past 2:00. Or 5:00. Or 7:00.
US dollars/absence of conversions or fees.
Electrical outlets fitting my gear.
Free restrooms.
Drinking fountains.
Claremont.
Family.
Friends.

Just a few things I will miss:
Cheap mozzarella balls. 55 euro cents!
That gouda is the "cheap" cheese.
Better yogurt.
Cheap ritter sports.
Cheap lindt.
Nimm 2's. A fabulous and addictive candy.
Bike lanes.
Public transportation.
Not needing a car.
Markets everywhere.
Christmas markets everywhere during Winter.
The faucet's water is very cold or very hot.
Formage Blanc.
Pastries.
Street food.
Racclette.
D'arbo jam. It is the best non-homemade jam I have ever had.
Castles.
Architecture in general.
Copenhagen in general.
Our International Ward.
German lessons.
Jovero family.
Meservy family.
Katherine and Eric (who beat us back to North America).
Others.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Samuel.

Samuel, it's your birthday. God bless you this day. You gave me the gift of a little brother, and I'm proud of you today. Samuel, it's your birthday. Happy birthday, Samuel. Samuel, it's your birthday. Happy birthday, Samuel. I wish you love and good will. I wish you praise and joy. I wish you better than your heart desires and a lemon cake with soy. Samuel, it's your birthday. Happy birthday, Samuel. Samuel, it's your birthday. Happy birthday, Samuel. Yeah!

Chekhov and Pushkin are also proud of you.

As is whoever you were texting.

















































Just picture me singing to you, okay?
 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wedding Day, Pictured.

Jessica Peterson flew in from NYC to photograph us. I am so glad she did, and so sorry her flights were so terrible. These are a few of my favorite things (and by things, I mean pictures):



















































































You may also see a few more here, on Jessica's blog, or one million more on my facebook, if you are my facebook friend. And for wedding day details, please see Wedding Day, Written.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wedding Day, Written.

The person I wanted to do my hair was out of town, so I scheduled someone else from her salon instead. Unfortunately, that was not as good of an idea as it seemed. The woman didn't seem to know very much about hair, or bobby pins, or how to get them to stay in hair. Especially thick hair, which meant especially mine. She also didn't seem to understand my very simple instruction to do a low, side bun. For instance, her first attempt was a large, straight in the center of my head bun. I looked like a lopsided Princess Leia. And while I like Princess Leia and all, that wasn't quite the look I was going for on my wedding day. The hair appointment ran over. And I still had to get my makeup. And drive to Salt Lake City. There happened to be a wreck, or construction, or both. I should not have been surprised. This was Utah, after all. Needless to say, I was late. Needful to say, Spencer was more late. This was very frustrating at the time, because I had called him to let him know I would be coming late, and was counting on him to tell the temple workers I was on my way. Instead I was left to tell them that I hoped he was on his way. He didn't call. It was also frustrating, because exactly seven days before we had been late for my friend Hediyeh's sealing at the same space. The worker helping me find the correct room told me to make sure my fiance didn't get me to the temple late for my own wedding. Oops. Anyway, after waiting a little while longer, Spencer got there. We signed marriage papers. Our fathers witnessed us signing marriage papers. Our mothers (and my oldest sister) waited nearby. I went to the bridal room, and Spence to the men's room. (I actually have no idea what the men's room is like. Is it just a locker room?) The woman assigned to help me was the least kind person I have ever met inside a temple (i.e., maybe the only unkind person I have ever met inside a temple). She actually yelled at me. Twice. Once for getting a bobby pin out of my makeup bag. "You are not allowed to put on makeup on in this room!" was the first, to which I replied, "Actually, I was just getting a bobby pin, but thank you for telling me." I probably should have asked her why a bride couldn't put make up on in the bridal room. And why she had to scream. It was not called for. There was one other instance, in addition to her constant barking at me to follow her. I was so stressed out from the whole affair. When I finally saw S again, the stressed feelings hadn't subsided. We soon saw our sealer. He is someone we know, Spencer's former Stake President, and neighbor, and the former church architect (aka: a BIG reason spencer is in architecture school). He designed the Bountiful Temple and redid the Nauvoo. Seeing his kind face was sunshine. I was wearing my mother's dress inside the temple, because they ask that it be pure white, and my granny's dress is ivory. (By the end of the day, I had actually worn three dresses--a little girl's dress up dream.) The three of us walked into the room together. We were greeted by the smiling faces of my nearest and dearest friends and some (but unfortunately not all) of my family. The stressed feelings continued to melt. I remember little, if anything that was said during the ceremony. I just know that I said "Yes" to spencer and he said "Yes" to me.

Afterward we took pictures on the temple grounds. A lot of pictures. Then we drove to Provo with Spencer's parents, and ate lunch at my favorite pizzeria. They gave us one of every dessert for free, because we had just gotten married/were wearing wedding clothes. It was nice of them. And very delicious. I was nervous I would get pizza sauce on my dress. At 27, I am still not the world's tidiest eater. Thankfully, all was well. All was white. Next stop: my parent's house, and a kitchen full of nearly every woman I love in my life and about 400 cupcakes. It was a beautiful sight. Truly. There was also a lot of work with the flowers still happening. This also involved woman I love. (Spencer's sister Aunika, who masterfully arranged the bouquets, boutonnieres and large pieces, and my sister Cumorah who arranged the majority of the table pieces.) Most everything was set up outside. And then the wind started blowing. And howling. And threatening to knock things over. Then the rain came, in great gusts. I almost started crying. Spencer and I had to go drop something off for his sister. I tried to be brave. Spencer had more faith than me that things would be fine, and we wouldn't have to move the reception. Right before I left my dad told me that it would rain hard for 30 minutes, and then would be okay. He spoke so certainly. Only later did I learn that he spoke so certainly because he was checking minute to minute weather reports, and they told him that it would rain hard for 30 minutes and clear up. Everyone mad dashed to bring everything that could get damaged inside. Which was most things. (All of their hard work!--it had already been so beautiful.) We were inside on our dropping-off errand. It took almost exactly thirty minutes. We came back. As we approached the house, and the field (which was serving as the party site), the sun broke through the clouds. The wind was gone. The rain was gone. It felt like a miracle. Maybe it was a miracle. There were certainly enough prayers ascending to heaven. I couldn't stop smiling: I felt so grateful. I distinctly remember thinking, "I have never been so happy to see the sun." Everything was brought back out. Everything looked beautiful, for a second time. Guests arrived. We exchanged rings and handwritten vows. We didn't really know what we were doing, but hope that our sincerity made up for any clumsiness. That night we also awkwardly cut a cake, and hopefully less awkwardly danced a first dance, and a second one with our parents (me with my dad, spencer with his mom), and then a third and fourth and fifth with friends and little ones. Spencer's thoughtful cousin would bring us crepes. I would eat only two. There was so much hugging. So much loving. I would also change into my third and final dress (the only one that was my very own) before throwing my bouquet. My tiny niece would get it. There were sparklers. Spencer and I would bicycle off into the distance. The entire way. (I wanted to park nearby, bike to my car and ditch the bicycles, but S said if we were doing it, we were really doing it. Thankfully Meg's beloved husband, and my beloved friend, Jared, drove in front of us, with lights flashing. It is a scary and dark road otherwise. This way it felt safe. And so fun. I can honestly say it was the funnest (most fun?) bike ride of my life. The best part of that day was being surrounded by people I love, who love me too, and of course: Spencer. We had friends and family present from California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Massachusetts, New York, and D.C. I felt so honored. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Downdate.

Maybe Spencer (accidentally) gave away my copy of my favorite book written by a living author, signed by that living author. Maybe I couldn't see him when he told me, because the tears came so suddenly.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dress(ed): A Miracle.

(Back to belated blogging. Please forgive me.)

My oldest sister, Cumorah, gave me my very first wedding present. It came about after she asked me how my first dress-trying-on trip went, and I answered (rather modestly) that it went badly. The dresses in the shops were too trendy for me. Too flashy. I like simple. I like classic. Of the two I tried on that fit my frame, and were genuinely beautiful, neither felt like me at all. If I were spending that much money on something, I wanted it to to be something I loved and felt comfortable in, rather than something I settled for because it was the best of not-very-good options. My sister excitedly answered, "I have an idea. You should wear granny's dress!" My granny was married in the late 1940's, and her dress was lovely. And simple. And classic. I.e., everything I ever wanted. Unbeknownst to me, my sister had this dress. She unselfishly gave it to me and allowed me to alter it. It was one of the kindest things anyone has done for me. It made my wedding feel special, and it made my wedding dress mine.

As I learned more about the dress, I came to love it even more. For instance, my granny made it herself, when she was only 22 and about to be married to my grandpa. My hero. (When I was a child, they called me grandpa's little shadow. If he was pulling weeds, I was pulling weeds. If he was picking raspberries, I was picking raspberries. If he was watching BYU sports, I was watching BYU sports.) She made the satin "slip" (as she calls it) from a pattern she found, and the lace jacket from another. Unfortunately we no longer had the original jacket, but I was able to use a friend's seamstress to whip up another. My grandfather passed away when I was 18, and so while he was not able to be physically present at my wedding, I felt truly honored to be wearing the dress my granny wore on the day of their union. My granny is still with us, and seeing her for the first time while donning her dress is one of the happiest moments of my life. Her eyes lit up. My smile.