The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Mushy Post

I always intended for this blog to be more than just an online diary, a chronicle of every thought, crush and annoyance I had in my head. Therefore, some of you may have felt a little left in the dark on the progression of my relationship with Justin. I wanted to let it grow in its own time and blossom into something more beautiful than a premature blog post I wrote on our second date.

But with our recent engagement at hand, I figured it was time to release the mushy butterfly from its holding.

Most people, if you asked them when they KNEW someone was "the one," they may recount a story of sparks, fireworks and poetic lines that made their heart sing. While I once thought that this was the parting of the clouds moment for everyone, I soon realized that God had a different plan for me.

We were supposed to meet halfway one night in Tuckerman; I was coming from Searcy, he was coming from Jonesboro. In my normal fashion, I took a wrong turn. A wrong turn that began to lead me farther and farther away from my destination. My GPS began chirping at me to turn around and the flood of tears from my eyes made it more difficult to read the map. Our short span of time together began to wither away as I found myself in good 'ol Weiner, Arkansas.

I had avoided calling him for several minutes, but decided it could not wait any longer. "I-I-I'm lost," I managed to get out in between bursts of sobs. Any normal guy who hadn't been with a girl very long would RUN at this point. I even kind of knew it would happen as I continued my emotional debut.

"It's ok," he said soothingly. "Where are you?"

I felt like I was in a goofy sitcom as I exclaimed, "I'm in WEINER!" More tears.

He told me to pull over somewhere, stop my car and he would come and find me. For the first time all night, I did what I was told and parked my car at a small business. Several minutes later, I saw the best thing I had seen all night: a blue Mazda Tribute coming to rescue me.

I melted into his arms, crying some more and trying to explain myself. He began to comfort me-- you know-- the person who HADN'T been driving all around Arkansas trying to find another person.

And from that moment, he has rescued me every day since. I have decided to spare you of every event that boy has gotten me out of-- although you would probably find them quite entertaining.

Before him, I always thought I was one of those needy, unassured girls who needed constant affirmation from guys in order to function in a relationship. Those insecurities disappeared with him because he provided that stability without me even asking for it. He is proud to have me on his arm, and I have longed for that my whole life.

Even when I almost ruined his engagement plans, he reacted with the same calmness that he always does, saving his plan. I asked if I could go eat dinner with some friends on Monday and he said, "I only have about an hour tonight. Why don't you do something with them tomorrow when I'm gone all day?" There was no waiver, no anger in his voice. It made sense.

"Ok, I'll re-schedule. See you in a little bit!"

When I arrived at my apartment complex, his car was not in the parking lot so I assumed I had beaten him there. I walked in to find a dozen pink roses in a vase on my counter, a jewelry box and a note that said, "Open me!"

I stood there stunned. I looked at the box, but didn't do as the instructions said. "Um, Justin, Justin. Are you here?"

He stepped out from my room and had a smirk on his face. "You didn't open the box. That's all you had to do," he said, with that same expression he has when I get lost in Weiner.

So I shakily opened the box and saw what was inside: a gorgeous vintage-inspired, princess cut engagement ring. I think what commenced next was a combination of shrieking, jumping and some "Are you for real?"s. He asked the question in between my calisthenics, but later said that he had wanted to get down on one knee.

"Do it again! Do it again!"

So he got down on one knee, I calmed down momentarily and he asked me to marry him once more. Then to the good part: He got two Upper Crust pizzas out of the oven (my favorite restaurant to go to in Jonesboro) and we gobbled them down like we normally do. Fancy occasions are no reason to leave good pizza for another day.

It was simple, personal and just how I would have wanted it. I once told him if he did the scoreboard, ballgame thing, I would kill him. I guess he wanted to live.

It's funny how we think we know ourselves better than God does. Then he throws us a curveball (say, a younger guy who is friends with your brothers) and it just works. And there's no real explanation as to why it does, except that you feel like you've been completed.

I may not locate most of my destinations (see above story), but I am oh so very glad that I found him. I know that, with him, I will never be lost-- in faith, in love, or in the car.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Joneses

It's funny how dreams have a way of making your biggest concerns and insecurities seem absolutely irrelevant and childish. The other night, clear as day, a friend of mine from college appeared to me in a dream. Dressed in a powerful business suit with designer sunglasses, she began to make her way toward me-- with perfectly coiffed bangs that she gracefully tossed back and forth. She smiled and said, "Long time no see. I'm an important banker and living in the city. What do you do?"

I gulped loudly, but I couldn't stop her from entering the door that lead the way to my life. Much to my dismay, she saw children running around with the characters from Mario Kart and several unicorns chasing them. I tried to stop the whole scene, wave the unicorns away and get the children under control. I began to ramble about what I did, trying to make it sound prestigious. But, by the look on her face, I soon realized that the mask was off. She now knew that my education led me to a playground of madness and imaginary figures.

I woke up and suddenly realized that, as bizarre as that dream may seem, it was just as ridiculous as my recent behavior.

You see, the other day I had a mini-breakdown. I opened up Facebook, like I often do, but this time something was different. Everywhere I scrolled someone my age had bought a new big house, had a baby, was getting ready to have a baby, was planning a wedding or got the job of their dreams.

By the 30th status or so, I began to cry. Like give me a bowl of ice cream so I can stick my head in it cry. It was then that I began to see my keeping-up-with-the-Joneses was beginning to take its toll. That I have been apologizing for my life for years now, hoping that one day I will have something to back it up.

So here's the truth: I live in a very small apartment. Parts of it are cinderblock. Whereas before I may have said, "Don't judge it by the outside, it's a little shady," I now say-- judge it all you want. It may seem scary to you, but I have a redneck guy with a gun above me and a lady who looks like Madea across from me so I feel safe.

As far as my current employment, I don't "accumulate the financial reports for food services and assist the Principal in administrative tasks." I help check the kids into the cafeteria. I file papers and run errands. I mop slush off the floor after school. I barely make ends meet. I may joke about why I don't wear a hairnet, but then I go in the bathroom and cry.

I've had my car since high school. The steering wheel squeaks, my brakes squeak and my driver's seat looks like someone slashed it with a knife (no, it did not happen at my apartment complex!) But I love that thing. It has been ever faithful to me and seen me through many wrong turns, poor decisions and close calls with death.

This has been immensely therapeutic. Why? Because I'm tired of trying to keep up. I'm tired of being envious of things that I don't have. I'm tired of trying to impress people who wouldn't even be impressed with better answers. The problem is not theirs-- it's mine. I am responsible for my happiness and for where I find my joy. And it's obvious that houses, cars, and careers are not where it's at.

Truthfully, no one has been a harsher critic than I have been. I put thoughts of scrutiny and disappointment in your head that probably weren't even there. I felt like I was ranking in below my potential and have carefully avoided favorite professors and mentors, their expressions of disgust an illusion depicting my own face. Instead of being happy for you, I secretly coveted your blessings.

People who so routinely say, "Ya gotta start somewhere" to people dealing with this problem don't quite grasp the severity of the issue. Instead, at first, I would say: Quit apologizing for your life. Stop putting yourself and everything you own down before you even give other people the chance to. Don't wait for everything to line up before you start your life. It will pass you by before you do.

So here's me saying I'm NOT sorry. I don't want to be here forever-- actually, I want to be out say...tomorrow. But I can't. But I'm not going to hibernate until I have something that the world says is presentable. So, feel free to join me in my old Toyota, meet my new neighborhood and visit my place of work.

And I can breathe easily knowing I don't have to put on a show anymore, complete with unicorns and Mario Kart characters.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stuck in the Gray

I was informed today (as if I had not already noticed) that I am getting an increasing amount of gray at the front of my hair. Not only was I made aware of this quite loudly, but so was everyone within earshot. My initial, unuttered response was, "Well, two of these have your name on it, lady."

That's right. I am convinced that each gray hair we possess has someone's name on it. I went to a museum in college and every tree represented a person who protected people during the Holocaust. Each tree had a name attached to it. Likewise, and less sentimental, every gray hair that pops up was planted there by someone who inwardly makes you want to scream.

I have always been a patient person. I have always seen the humor in most every situation. As much as I strive to maintain this clean record of positivity, I am convicting myself of you-drive-me-bananas in the first degree. That's right. It's gotten so bad that the person doesn't really even have to do anything.

I want to know when the Ebenezer Scrooge fairy snuck in and replaced my previous model with the gray, cranky downgrade. It's like things that I didn't notice before are now proclaimed through a magnifying glass of scrutiny.

She says "like" too many times. He smacks when he eats. Could she really have any more hand gestures when she's telling a story?

Don't act like I am the only one who has been around the same people for any length of time and thought this. You know that one more question from your cubicle partner or micromanaging action of your boss has been enough to warrant some hair pigment loss.

All I can say is thank the Lord for hair dye (Because you're worth it) and thank the Lord for his patience and endurance with me:

"For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised." Hebrews 10:36.

Though every gray hair may or may not have been caused by a stressful person or situation in my life, I find comfort in the fact that God can count every hair on my head. He has shown patience for my faults, my repeated mistakes and the annoying idiosyncrasies that are wound into the thread that makes me unique.

Surely I can buy some Nice 'N Easy and do the same.