Happy Wicker-Versary

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Today is our 9 year anniversary! NINE YEARS.

If we were a child, we’d be in 4th grade! (I think?)

If we were a wedding anniversary, we’d be wicker! (WUT?)

In dog years, we’d be geriatric.

DID SOMEONE SAY DOG?

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Oh, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.

We are a small family, us three, but we sure do love each other. Ten years ago I didn’t have any of that in my life and now here we are today. What a difference a decade can make. (A DECADE? YEESH! Time flies when you’re having fun.)

Tonight we’re definitely celebrating with some shrimp fajitas, most likely cracking open a bottle of champs, and probably gearing up for some dog snuggling and Netflix watching.

Monday, you will not hold us back! :)

I started this blog a month after our first anniversary, and have pretty regularly checked in about our relationship on this day each year since. If you want to see it in chronological order you can start here:
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
No Eight, but remember that is sort of my Lost Year (I even wrote those exact words 4 days before our anniversary!)

It was fun for me to go on that trip down memory lane.

Some of those blog posts are awful (Oh, archives!) some are sappy and some are just downright REAL TALK. It’s not a stylized version of romance, it is my own in the moment reflections of what this relationship has meant to me. Reading them all reminded me of a quote I heard at a wedding we were at recently:

“Romance is nice, but true love is something else altogether.”

Yes, some of those posts are romantic. But more importantly every single one of them captures a portrait of true love during that exact moment in time. It is definitely something else, I’ll tell ya. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
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Our Engagement Weekend in Wine Country (Saturday)

(If you missed Our Engagement Story or Our Engagement Weekend (Friday) check those posts out first)

On Saturday we continued our unofficial Food and Wine Tour of Sonoma County. Priorities of food and booze…hmmm. This is how we roll when we travel, what can I say?
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Since we knew we were going to be drinking wine for most of the day we made sure that we planned some serious fueling. :) We did an early + light breakfast at the Sunflower Caffe on the square, and while I was dying to try the lamb burger that we had seen them make when the restaurant was featured on Diner, Drive Ins and Dives (CHEEZY TOURIST ALERT! I AM NOT ASHAMED!) something about lamb burgers in the morning just wasn’t screaming my name. I opted for a giant cup of coffee, some pastry, and okay already — you busted me, some sangria.

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The whole time we were eating I just keep thinking — THIS IS MY FIANCE. FIAAAAAAAAAAAAANCEEEEEEEEEEEE. That is a weird word. But I was still happy to be saying it.
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Let’s call him my Beyonce instead, okay? Okay

Afterward we headed down the street to Train Town where I’m quite sure we were the only adults without children. It’s a place we both frequented growing up so we like to stop there occasionally when we are in town. It’s nostalgic and they have a short train ride that takes you on an “over the river and through the woods” route to a petting zoo. You guys, I feel like this is starting to make me sound like a total weirdo, but it’s really cute and we always get a kick out of going there.
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I promise we’re not here to steal your children. We’re just reliving our own childhood!

We hopped on a train, went over bridges and through tunnels and listened to kids screaming with glee.And then obviously I took a selfie with a goat when we got to the petting zoo, as you would. The llamas were not interested in being internet famous, so I guess we’ll have to try again with them next time.
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We bought a few souvenirs in the gift shop
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and then it was almost time for lunch! (More eating? But of course!)

We had lunch at the Sonoma Mission Inn and they may make the best fish tacos ever. I need a good fish taco recipe because when I make them at home they are always lackluster. Do you have one? Then you must share, please!

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So breakfast and fish tacos definitely had us prepared to wine taste and so we headed over to Napa and hit up a few wineries before heading over to our only actual tasting “appointment” of the day at Robert Mondavi. The grounds there are spectacular and my crappy iPhone photos just can’t do it justice, but I was just overwhelmed with how big and beautiful it is.
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We tried to take a few pictures and it didn’t matter from what angle, there was no way you can tell what a sprawl it is.
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We had an appointment in their Reserve Tasting Room that one of Garrett’s coworkers had hooked us up with and they gave us some crazy generous pours and pointed us out to the patio to enjoy our experience. What a lovely afternoon that was, I tell ya. That is the way to taste!
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Yep, there’s my Beyonce again. Isn’t he cute when he’s all relaxed without a care in the world?

We bought a few bottles (a special one to have on the anniversary of our engagement – heck, maybe with our Potatoes Colcannon haha – and then one to have on our first wedding anniversary.) What can I say, we are some sentimental saps.

We had a bit of time to kill before dinner and we just happened to be very close to the area where Garrett ran his leg of The Relay the year before. We decided to dork out in the parking lot where we had waited as a team and recreate one of the pictures from this post as a joke.

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I don’t know — it was funny to us at the time. It was probably the wine. :)

For dinner that night we decided to try a recommendation from our friend Megan and hit up Bounty Hunter Wine Bar + Smokin’ BBQ. The food was delightful and so were the wine + spirit pairings. We started off with the charcuterie tray and then split a BBQ Platter that was INSANE.
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If you are in Napa and happen to be with someone who would is impressed by meat, you NEED to take them there! STAT!

After that enormous slab-o-meat dinner we were sure we wouldn’t eat again for weeks.

Um…or until Sunday. :)

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Our Engagement Weekend in Wine Country (Friday)

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Thanks for all of your sweet comments on our engagement story yesterday. As I mentioned, our wine-country weekend hanging out with my cousins had just been a ruse to get me packed and ready so Garrett could treat me to what was probably one of our most memorable vacations yet. We were sad to say goodbye to Domaine Carneros, but so happy to have made a memory to celebrate there time and time again. Our next stop was getting into town to settle down into our weekend digs.

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Unbeknownst to me, Garrett had rented us a little cottage near downtown Sonoma where we’d be staying all weekend. It was at the end of a private road and we had our own little vineyard decorating the driveway. Isn’t that just the cutest? I was ready to pack my bags and move in for good!
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We had about an hour to relax, unpack, freshen up, have a glass of wine and then it was off to our dinner reservations at The Rutherford Grill in Napa. When Garrett initially mentioned that we had dinner reservations I was a little bit nervous. While we are both food enthusiasts, we aren’t big fancy-fine diners, you know what I mean? And the whole food and wine scene in Napa can be a little snooty in certain places, so I was a tiny bit apprehensive. But honestly, The Rutherford Grill was the perfect spot for us.
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It wasn’t AT ALL snooty, the food was on point and as you can imagine the wine list has some really great selections. Our waitress was so cute, and totally tolerated the two of us who were still in giggly OMG WE’RE ENGAGED mode. Garrett got prime rib, I ended up ordering the Hawaiian Ribeye and we both opted for Colcannon Potatoes. Have you ever had that kind of mashed potato? HOLY MOSES, they are the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. I think we may have to eat them every year on the anniversary of our engagement! (You think I’m kidding, but man they were THAT GOOD!)

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Hi, you’re having the Old 96er for dinner. :)

After dinner we headed back into Sonoma and went for a walk downtown in the historic town plaza. I’ve written about Sonoma pretty extensively on this blog — it’s a place I hold close to my heart. I have so many memories here with both of my parents after my grandma moved to wine country, so it felt really special that Garrett and I were enjoying such an exciting time in our relationship in that city. In some ways it felt like my grandma and my dad got to be privy to the whole thing. As we walked around the square I just couldn’t get over how perfect everything was. Of course right as I was looking off into the sunset thinking about what a romantic evening we were having a bunch of kids drove by in a Hyundai blasting the explicit version of “Rack City” so, you know — back to reality. :)

Right off the square there is a painting called the Valley of the Moon mural. My grandma would always take me over to it when I’d visit her growing up. Full disclosure: it’s right by an ice cream parlor, so you know — of course she loved art, but it was also her way of always saying “Yay, culture — now let’s go eat some ice cream!” :) Summers with grandma were the best, you know?

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Anyway, one of the fun memories I have as a kid was that hidden inside this mural of people, places and things related to the “Valley of the Moon” (as Sonoma is known), was a “Where’s Waldo” style couple — a bride and groom, listed under their wedding date — somewhere in the mural. As a kid it was always fun to race to see how quickly you could find it, and even though we’ve done it many times, of course that night Garrett and I had to take a minute and scope out the happy couple. (It’s in the bottom right hand region if you are ever in the area and want to find it.)

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Then, of course we had to head over and have some ice cream, duh. :)

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If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you already know that Garrett took great pleasure in ordering two scoops of bubble gum ice cream. (Gross!)

Afterward we grabbed a glarifee as a nightcap over at Swisshotel and then headed back to our cottage. I mean let’s be real — we literally couldn’t eat another bite! haha

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Garrett had a full day planned on Saturday and so we wanted to make sure we geared up for it.

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Our Engagement Story

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Eight and a half years (to the day) after our first kiss, Garrett got down on one knee and asked me to marry him on the fabulous patio at Domaine Carneros. The wine country setting and beautiful weather could not have been more perfect, and somewhere in between hugging him tighter than I probably ever have and smearing mascara all over the collar of his freshly laundered shirt (nice, Holly) I said yes.

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I’m going to tell you all of minutia: how he asked, how he managed to shock the hell out of me, how we spent our engagement weekend, you know – all the good stuff – but there are just so many things I want to capture that I am not sure where to start. I think we’re going to have to do multiple posts here. I guess maybe the best place to start is at the beginning.
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Garrett + I have been together FOREVER (it seems like) and I know the fact that we have not tied the proverbial knot yet has really befuddled a lot of people. I’d say I knew about a year into our relationship that this was it, but we’ve just kind of meandered our way to this point. All I can say is that it has just made sense for us. We knew we’d get married eventually, it was just a matter of figuring out when the time was right for us. I can’t say I’ve been patient every single moment of the process, but in the end I’m so happy things are unfolding as they are.

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One of the things about being together for so long is that while I knew we would get engaged one day, I didn’t feel like it would ever be a *surprise* you know? I mean, WE LIVE TOGETHER, I know Garrett’s habits.  And the truth is, I am the planner in our relationship. If he were to all of a sudden plan a special weekend or a random “romantic date” that deviated from the normal stuff we do, I’d totally be on to him. But he was determined that he could make it a surprise and in the end, he totally did! Here’s how he did it.

About a week prior to the day, my cousin Jim (who lives out in Sonoma with his wife Gina) sent me a text inviting us out for the weekend. It was impromptu, but he mentioned having a Friday off and that it would be fun to spend the weekend cooking, bike riding to wineries and just hanging out. We’ve done this in the past so it didn’t seem out of left field and so I followed up with Garrett. He hemmed and hawed a bit and said he didn’t think he could get that Friday off of work (sneaky little sucker!) and then finally was like “What the heck, let’s go!” So we made plans to head out the following weekend. I checked with my mom to see if she was available to watch Buster (shocker, she was: SHE WAS IN ON IT TOO!) and so we dropped off our little pooch and got on the road, of course snapping a little pre-engagement family selfie.

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Garrett nonchalantly suggested stopping at “that neat looking champagne place we always pass on our way out to wine country.” I thought it sounded like a good idea but then I googled and the champagne tasting was like Stupid Expensive. We were just starting our weekend, so I was like “Meh, let’s just skip it.” HA! Of course Garrett had to get me there since that was where everything was set up, but it took a little convincing. Thank god for Sarah, who I happened to conveniently be texting that morning. She talked me down from being a total miser and said we should split a bottle and get a fancy cheese tray. Garrett is clearly forever in her debt. :)
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If you’ve never seen Domaine Carneros then you might not know why we always want to stop there on our way into wine country. It looks like a castle and it’s nestled up on a little hill right off the Carneros Highway. Just about every time Garrett and I head into Napa or Sonoma we pass it and say “Someday we’ll stop there when we have more time.” I imagine now, we will make the time to stop there, but this was our first time and even though I had no idea what was in store, it felt a little magical.
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We were seated on the patio far away from the crowds (ahem, totally planned, and yet it didn’t seem weird to me — clearly, I’m not the most observant person. LOL) and quickly ordered a flight of champagne and a cheese tray. Oh, the cheese tray. I will remember that cheese try for life, you’ll see why in a minute.
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We were just having the best time because it was Friday, we were supposed to be at work, the weather was beautiful, and we were about to embark on a much needed weekend of fun and relaxation. Both of us had been really bogged down by work things, and we realized we had been on that Life Hamster Wheel that sometimes feels like it just happens out of nowhere. As we were clinking glasses and enjoying a few small bites we began talking about how moving forward we needed to be better at focusing on all the gifts we’ve got in our life instead of getting bogged down by those little daily things that take up so much brain space but don’t really mean anything in the long run.
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As you can imagine, Garrett was sort of priming the pump because he had a much bigger question to ask. I was just off in my own little world though, thinking about how happy I am — in my life, in my relationship, in my job, just in general — and I think I got so excited to make some brilliant point about gratitude that I excitedly kicked the table and knocked over all 3 of our champagne glasses, shattering them everywhere onto our cheese tray.

Folks, YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE ME ANYWHERE. :)

Garrett immediately stood up and looked absolutely panic-stricken which struck me as kind of funny because, uh…this is not the first time I’ve made an embarrassing mess by knocking things over. Serious bull in a china shop, here. I had spilled champagne on my dress, there was glass everywhere and when I stood up he grabbed me with both hands by the shoulders and said “You just sit here, I’ll go get a napkin.” But his face, oh you guys, his face. Luckily I sat back down and began to kind of sun myself in hopes that the champagne would dry and didn’t think another thing of it. Garrett was so panicked though because he had been just about ready to pop the question, and so my cousin’s wife Gina (who had graciously volunteered to help Garrett out by playing Day-Of Photographer) was standing behind me getting ready to start snapping and he was completely freaked out that I would turn around and see her and then the surprise would be blown!
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What can I say, people — I’m a wild card and I keep Garrett on his toes. :)

In the meantime, as Garrett was inside “finding a napkin” (really he was regrouping with Gina) our server had come back out to our table and had brought with him a bottle of their fancy champagne and two glasses. He clearly hadn’t got the memo that Garrett didn’t ask yet, but he could tell by the shattered glass and champagne everywhere that maybe he had encountered a bit of a hiccup. His face was sort of panicky too — and he just kind of stammered “Oh, I’m going to leave this celebratory bottle here and maybe go find you someone who can clean up.”

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And you guys, I still didn’t have A CLUE. In hindsight, both Garrett + I are so grateful that I had my head in the clouds all morning and was just in full on flexible relaxation mode because otherwise there were just so many times I could have caught on. Eventually the mess got cleaned up, and we got back to what we had been talking about before — how grateful we were for each other, for our lives, and the support we have in each other and then all of a sudden all I remember is Garrett getting down on one knee and whipping out a ring.

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He has since told me exactly what he said, but you guys I TOTALLY BLACKED OUT. Like I was so completely shocked that I can’t even remember what he said, how he asked, or anything that happened before I realized I was doing the full on Oprah Ugly Cry with happiness. In the middle of all of that he turned me around and said “Hey look, it’s Gina behind the camera” and I was so surprised to see that she had been in on things from the start!

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There was lots of hugging and squealing excitement and then Garrett and Gina dropped the bomb that — oh yeah, my cousin Jim wasn’t even in town that weekend. Jim was at a bachelor party in New Orleans and all of his excited texts that morning about “how much he was looking forward to seeing us” and “when were we leaving?” etc was just to help keep me off the trail and to help Garrett keep things a surprise. I was truly shocked that so many people had been in on things, yet I hadn’t even had the slightest inkling things were going to go down the way they did.

After all that celebrating we realized that we had a bit of an audience.

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Strangers were applauding and taking our picture and raising their own glasses, and it was just such a surreal little moment. Garrett let me know that he had planned a romantic weekend for us, that we had a cottage to check into, and restaurant reservations waiting on us, and that we had the whole weekend to just relax and enjoy the moment, which is exactly what we did. I’ll tell you about all of that in another post, but in the end I really can’t believe that he pulled it off. It was a shock and a surprise of the best kind, and being the over-documenter that I am, it was so special that he had Gina there to capture the moment. I just think it will be so fun to look back on down the line or when we have kids. It’s been fun even in the past couple of months to just relive that crazy feeling of surprise.

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I feel so grateful that Garrett is going to be MY HUSBAND. :)

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Affirmative

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So our weekend in wine country ended up infinitely more magical than expected.

I have so much to say but for now, in case you missed it on Instagram and Twitter: HOLY GUACAMOLE WE ARE ENGAGED!

It feels exactly as I thought it would, yet completely different all at once.

Today may be the best Monday ever. :)

More to come.

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August And Everything After

In August of 1996 I moved down to a small college town on the Central Coast of California in what was sure to be The Next Great Chapter in the tale of my epic life. Clearly I was full of that specific kind of arrogance that one only has right as their college years begin and I had waited so long on this precipice of independence that when I was finally able, I took a running swan dive off a cliff into the sparkling abyss below.

Unfortunately college, for me, was very shallow water the first time around.

While I loved the town I was in, at 17 I was just not ready to be on my own and responsible in the ways that were demanded. Looking back the demands were so few, but at the time they felt like the weight of the world, and after only a couple of years I knew it was time to go back home. I needed to regroup. I needed a new goal. I certainly needed a new boyfriend and frankly, I needed a new life. Be careful what you wish for.

In hindsight, this was also the first time in my semi-adult life that I absolutely led with my gut. Somewhere in my mind I just KNEW that packing up and leaving was the right decision, and as I’ve gotten older I have remembered this particular moment when I’ve needed to trust myself. But at the time, when you added up the facts it was a disastrous choice — Cal Poly was an amazing education and I was just throwing in the towel. San Luis Obispo was a safe and small town (uh…for the most part) with so many amenities that I was trading in. But at the time I didn’t care what the facts said, my heart said “Go back home. Now.” And as August of 1998 unfolded, I realized why.

A year later, in August of course, I found myself heading south again. I would spend a few years in Los Angeles losing myself and finding myself (over and over and over — it kept me quite busy actually) and after a while I knew it was time to head back home again. Home looked a little different this time — it was a new city, Sacramento — and my mom was living there alone without my dad. But I was ready to finish college, it was a slower pace of life than LA and I needed the change. This time I wasn’t so bold to think I needed a new life — I was still scarred from the result of that wish the last time — but I was open. Open to whatever and whoever was coming next.

I enrolled at Sac State and rented a bedroom in a (what would end up being a CRAZY) 5 bedroom house that would ultimately be occupied by 4 other female students. I didn’t know a soul in town and I wasn’t quite ready to live alone. This seemed like a somewhat less scary option and I packed up my car and started my new life on August 13 of 2002. It was over 100 degrees that day, and if you have ever packed and unpacked your life on a day that hot, I tip my hat to you. It was a rude awakening and I will not lie, there were many times that day I thought that The Universe must be telling me that I had made the absolute wrong decision. I was coming from an apartment 11 blocks from the beach. From a job where I was successful. From a town where I had made friends close enough to call family. And now I was here. In the fiery furnace of hell, living out of boxes and not knowing a soul.

Shortly after I unpacked — sweaty, alone in the house, and super disheveled — Sarah walked in. I’m sure she thought I was a hot mess. She and her brother were carrying her mattress up the stairs and somehow or another it got away from them, went sliding down the stairs, and crashed through the glass partition in our front door. It was just the perfect icing on such a craptactular moving day that the only thing anyone could do was laugh hysterically.

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After that day, Sarah and I spent the next 6 years as roommates. We both finished college, had many fun days and long crazy nights, and after graduating we even both moved on to our Real World Jobs with the same company (that 8 years later we both still work for!) I used to always joke that no one lives with a person that long unless they are married, and most people seem to agree, but something about our friendship has just defied the odds, you know?

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A few years ago, Sarah moved back home. What is coincidental is that Sarah’s “home” is the Central Coast, so she has an intimate knowledge of this gem of our state that I had to leave all of those years ago to come back to my home. We didn’t know each other then, of course, but the geographic overlap of our coming of age created a common bond. Garrett + I love to visit her whenever we have the chance, not only because it is a beautiful place and always sort of nostalgic, but because there are only handful of people in life for which you can go months and months without communicating, but then pick right back up where we left off — and Sarah is one of those people for both of us. Years of shared history does that in the best way.

All of this is on my mind because this weekend we are heading down to San Luis Obispo to celebrate Sarah and her awesome fiance’s wedding. On Saturday night they will be married, and I was thinking about it all last night the only way to describe how I am feeling about the whole situation is joyous. I am not a super mushy wedding person, but something about the way this wedding has weaved together so many threads of my life just feels a little special. I can’t wait to be in this town, with my love, watching these two have this particular moment. It feels like a little wink from The Universe. But more importantly, it feels like another wonderful reminder that everything is unfolding just as it should.

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“My father is the standard by which all subsequent men in my life have been judged.” – Kathryn McCarthy Graham

During the summer of 1998 my dad gave me a small book of quotes and poems called The Love Between Fathers and Daughters. He signed the inside of it, I put it on my nightstand and beyond that, I’m not sure I gave it much extra thought. I was 19, I had a lot going on at the time — my friends and boys were very important — but even at the time I did think it was a sweet gesture.

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In August of 1998 he passed away and it became the last note he ever wrote to me that I kept. It goes without saying I pay a lot more attention to it now. I see how our handwriting is similar and it reminds me that he was always thinking of me. His only child, I was always at the center of his universe, and there was a comfort that I carried with me daily because of that relationship we had that I didn’t even realize was there until it was gone.

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It’s been 15 years since he’s been gone and today he would have turned 59. There is part of me that mourns his loss a bit every year on this date, and this year will certainly be no different. But also today I find myself thinking more about how grateful I am for the bar that he set in my life. He was a spectacular athlete who made a successful career in the NFL when everyone told him it was impossible. He was a family man who never let a day go by without telling the women in his life that he loved him. He had the kind of smile and infectious laugh that you could hear from all the way down the street and he was willing to share it with anyone would listen. He was a loyal friend and the type of guy you could count on no matter what because he believe at the very core of his being that one should always do what they say they will do.
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Also: He was my dad.

And while I didn’t realize it at the time, the book that he gave me about the love between fathers and daughters did capture something incredible. Some of us experience that love for many years, and others of us get shortchanged. But if you are lucky enough to still have it in your life, hold that close to your heart today, because I will tell you what, it is something that I have yet to find anywhere over these last 15 years. It’s irreplaceable. And while there is a part of me that feels sad about it, I know that who he was lives on inside of me every single day of my life. And for that, I really do feel grateful. Some days I am so grateful that it hurts.

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Relationship Real Talk

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I mentioned recently that Garrett and I just celebrated our 7 year anniversary. When friends and co-workers asked how we were going to celebrate, I jokingly responded “By staying together, obviously.” Gifts are not either our “love languages” (HA!) so it was no surprise that we didn’t run out and shower each other with material things, but I have honestly begun to realize that this year, more than any year, staying together really was the big gift.

That sounds a bit dramatic when I reread it, and I don’t mean to mislead you like we are on the precipice of a dramatic breakup, because we are not. I REPEAT, NOT BREAKING UP AT ALL. But what I will say is that during the seven years of highs and lows this has been the hardest year of our relationship. Like in all capital letters. And it is for a multitude of reasons, none of which need to be detailed here mostly because they will be tedious and boring to just about everyone who isn’t me or Garrett, but it has been a working year. And I feel like people don’t really talk very often about those working years — but they are the most important aren’t they?

I am firmly in the camp that we’re doing okay if we are able to say “Yes, things are hard but we are working on them.” And I am even more firmly in the camp of — HEY LET’S TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GET HARD. But then again, I like to talk about lots of things, so that’s probably not a surprise.

My mom always likes to remind me of that Buddhist Proverb that says “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” And I feel like I have come across a number of things lately that have given me great food for thought and perspective about my life and my relationship. In an effort to do a little more talking about the hard stuff and not just post glossy photos about stuff when it is easy and awesome, I thought I’d share a few things I found useful lately:

  • I particularly enjoyed this post of Jennie’s about questions and answers. As someone who likes to always feel capable (that was my nice way of calling myself a Control Freak) I don’t do well with long periods of time full of lingering questions. But I am starting to realize that it can be helpful sometimes to just sit with them.
  • Also, when I read Liz’s AWESOME POST yesterday (seriously, go read it immediately, I can wait) about the singular task of juggling your careers and relationships I found myself letting out an enormous sigh of relief. I often let my work life get sorely out of balance (not only with my day job, but all of my other crazy endeavors.) And I found it really comforting and simple to read about this one approach. Of course at first I was like “WHO THE HELL DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?” But I honestly think that the whole post is just full of really smart thinking.
  • And lastly, I know I have already regaled you with fascinating quotes from Rules of Civility, but there is just one more that I have to get off of my chest because it really spoke to me. And to this time in my life, really:

If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.

 

I MEAN HOW TRUE IS THAT? I just loved that quote.

The highs and the lows are worth it.
The question years and the answer years are worth it.
Figuring out how to prioritize your family life is worth it.
But man, they don’t call it commitment for nothing, right?

I would love to hear your relationship philosophies and strategies. How do you balance that in your own life, or even if just in abstract? I love to read gems of wisdom that I can tuck in my back pocket for when I am ready to listen and who knows, maybe it will be just what someone else needs to hear as well. :)

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The Moment Is Now

Despite my best intentions, the week prior to every vacation Garrett and I end up fighting about something ridiculous and mundane. I’m usually wound tightly, he can see the cogs in my head start to spin, and at this point I think his strategy is mostly just to avoid conflict at all costs. But sometimes I’m the jerk who goes looking for it. I think it’s my coping mechanism when the stress builds up.

We are heading out to Colorado on Wednesday so if everything goes according to plan that means we should probably be speaking in terse sentences right about 9pm tonight. Set your watches. :) But the thing is, I don’t want to fight with Garrett. I’m so excited that we are getting to spend 5 days in a beautiful place together. We’re going to a state that has been on our List of Places to Visit Together since we first started dating. We have had conversations where we completely map out our fantasy life living in Boulder over glasses of wine, and now WE GET TO GO THERE ON SUNDAY! I want to make sure I enjoy all of the beautiful and fun and even the scary bits of this whole trip (Hi, public speaking nerves. Haven’t seen you in a while!)

I find it hard not to live in the future. I’m constantly thinking and preparing and planning, and most of the time I tell myself it is because it helps me be more in the moment. But then I came across the quote above and I realize that maybe I spend a little too much time in the future and need to start focusing a little more on what I’ve got right here in front of me. Less Anxiousness // More Gratefulness. I’m adopting this as my motto for the next week it seems.

So.

What this looks like in real life is: I’m vowing not to snap at Garrett about getting the suitcases out of the attic. I promise not to pace around the house staring at him asking “Are you almost ready?” 30 minutes before we leave the house. I swear that I’m going to roll with the punches in Colorado and not have FOMO if I’m not attached to my vacation spreadsheet (even though I will completely admit to maybe doing a liiiiiiiiiiiittle pre-planning.) I want just enjoy what everything this trip has to offer and I’m setting my intention right here. Now let’s all cross our fingers that I can do it!

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Goodbyes and Hellos

This is a very grainy picture of the house where I grew up in Fremont, California.

We drove by it Saturday night and despite the terrible lighting and the fact that we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, I insisted on stopping to take a picture of it. This is the sidewalk where I used to play hopscotch. The street where I learned to ride a bike. That window on the right is where our two golden retrievers used to sit and stand guard, waiting for someone to come home with their noses sticking to the window. This neighborhood is where I made my first friends, walked to school and indulged my teenaged entrepreneurial tendencies by starting a little babysitting ring. It was a good house, and I lived there from the time I was shorter than our kitchen table until the end of high school.

My parents sold that house when I was 17. I went away to college and never really got to come back “home,” although they stayed living in the same town. A couple of years later my dad passed away, and though I spent a year living back in this city where I grew up, I eventually moved on to Los Angeles and then to Sacramento (where I live now) because my mom and grandparents had made their way up there. This year I will have spent as many years away from Fremont as I did living there.

I moved to Sacramento to go to college and it was somewhat arbitrary. I didn’t imagine staying long and I never imagined calling it home. But then of course I met a boy. And slowly but surely friends and family starting moving up towards our direction. I’d run into high school friends at my job, and see the parents of people I graduated with at the grocery store. More family moved closer, good friends moved away from my hometown to other cities and states, and little by little there were less people to go back and visit in Fremont.

My Aunt and Uncle, however, continued to remain there in their home of more than 20 years. In my mind, that house is filled with just as many memories as my own. It is where my cousins and I would have sleepovers, where we would run around in the backyard. As I child I remember it was the fun house with cable television and the Good Cereal. (Sorry, Mom. Grape Nuts was not that exciting as a kid. :)) And when they sold it about a month ago to move up to a little town about 20 minutes from Garrett’s and my house I was ridiculously excited! More family nearby — YES! But also, there was a part of my that was just a tiny bit sad.

No more family in Fremont.

Saturday afternoon my mom and Garrett and I ventured back to Fremont for a big friends and family BBQ and one last hurrah at my aunt and uncle’s house. It is so exciting that they are starting a new chapter, retiring, moving closer to us, and building their dream house. But it also tugged on the heart strings just a bit that this chapter of my hometown was being closed for good. I grew up there. Many of my cousins grew up there. All of our parents grew up there. It’s where my dad made a name for himself, and where he died. There are memories around every corner, and now there will be no trace of us.

As with any goodbye, there is a little sadness. But when one chapter ends, another starts and that is exactly what we were celebrating on Saturday. There were family, friends and neighbors in spades all clinking their glasses to good things and good lives. Garrett and I did not resist the siren song of red wine as we thought we might, but after 32 days of clean eating and no drinking, it was a lovely day and occasion in which to imbibe!

All of us will miss that house and that town for sure, but we will carry the good memories with us as we all start our own families.

The Fremont chapter is over, but the book of our family is long and ever evolving.

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