Thursday, August 30, 2012

on loving orange

I love my bathroom. It's so fun and bright and cheerful, which everything at least one room in your house should be.

And it's orange.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would have an orange bathroom, I would have wrinkled my nose in disgust. When asked, I named orange as my least favorite color.

But you see, it's Chris' favorite color. We actually had a whole conversation (which he doesn't remember now!) about how I don't like orange, that it's hard to wear and actually look okay, and there are so many shades of orange that are just gross, and coordinating it with other things in your house is just impossible.

Falling in love does funny things to you, though. When Chris and I were talking about Hypothetically Getting Married, I privately decided that since he was so fond of orange, I would hypothetically be a kind, sweet (hypothetical) fiancee and have that as one of our hypothetical wedding colors. Hypothetically.

Then, as if started looking an awful lot like when, I kinda started liking orange. A bright, fun tangerine suits my personality, I think -- and if it's Chris' favorite color, well then, by all means.

The wedding was in fact orange (and teal.) And when we started really buckling down on registering for gifts, I got frustrated with designing the color scheme of our bathroom and turned it over to Chris. "Will you please just pick out a shower curtain for me? It's making me crazy trying to get something that isn't super-girly, so that you actually like it too."

Minutes later, he spoke with a thoughtful tone. "Now, I know you don't like orange, so there's probably no chance you'd be okay with this..." He turned the laptop around so I could see

Stylized floral? In bright colors? YES PLEASE. I loved it. Now we've designed our whole bathroom around that shower curtain -- tangerine and lime and a happy cherry red, towels and bins and toothbrush holders. It might be my favorite room in the whole apartment, to tell you the truth.

It's a lesson in picking your battles and asking for help, I guess. I'll be doing that more in the future, I think, because for us, it just turns out so beautifully.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the smell of home

The first time I did Chris' laundry, we were engaged and I was helping him pack for the move to Indiana. I'd assisted with carrying boxes and sorting books and I like to think I'd done it with reasonably good cheer. But as I moved Chris' load of whites from the washer to the dryer, all of my thoughts were in petulant italics.

That's a boy's underwear, and I'm supposed to be okay with that, and soon that's supposed to be totally normal, and I just don't know how to handle this...

Yeah. I was kind of a big baby about it for a few minutes, despite the nonchalant exterior I maintained. I shoved them in the dryer, feeling overwhelmed by all the things I needed to figure out, and get done, and learn to love.

Now, fast forward a month. The wedding is over. The boxes are unpacked. The apartment is still, and I am here, writing.

When dryer honks at me mechanically, I unwind my crossed legs, feeling a little like a carefully folded grasshopper. I glance with affection at our newly-assembled bookshelves as I set aside the computer. With the collection of fiction and scripture, foreign language and mementos, chemistry and criticism, they're a lovely symbol of our newly-combined lives.

When I open the dryer, the smell of warm cotton (and an ever-unexpected sense of wellbeing) spills over me. Clean laundry has always been the smell of home for me, and now that's more true than ever. Chris' unique scent mingles with T-shirts and fabric softener, and in that moment, my heart changes. I would have folded the laundry either way, but now I do it with a deep contentment that I wouldn't have had before.

I'm working on truly serving -- giving not just of my hands, but of my heart. That kind of sincerity is a challenge for me. It's moments like this, however, when I'm suddenly confronted with how deeply in love with Chris I really am, that I have more hope. Hope that today is a new day, that this is a new love.

That I love my new life.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Marriage is being roommates with your best friend. Or maybe being roommates with your business partner. Or sleeping with your business partner. Or is it more like sleeping with your best friend?

Basically, with all the wisdom of 15 days, I think I can safely say--

Marriage is complicated.

But that's okay. At church yesterday, Chris and I were telling someone about the funny, rather intense life we just started. Her forehead wrinkled with sympathetic bewilderment, and she exclaimed, "At least you have each other!"

Which is certainly true, but when Chris and I talked about that conversation later, we realized, not being married would actually make things much more simple! I'd be in Utah, working and dating and just kinda moseying on with life. Chris would be at school, sharing an apartment with 4 single guys who didn't care what time he got home.

Without each other though, we'd be a lot less happy. Yes, marriage is complicated -- here I am, figuring out homemaking and scheduling and ambitions and sex. But I'm also on the biggest adventure of my life, with my husband, who is everything I could have wanted and more than I could have asked for.


How about "blessed."

Friday, August 24, 2012


Chris is my rock.

I love his honesty. He doesn't give the poetic or flattering answer, just the real one.

He said something about me being his sunshine the other day. I raised an eyebrow. "Do you mean it when you say things like that?"

He was silent, so I snuggled a little closer to him on the couch, and waited for the answer.

"Well. Yeah, I guess you're a lot like sunshine. But it's not like I was saying that because I mean it every single second of the day, either."

"So you sort of mean it, but at the moment, you just said it to be cute?"


It was my turn to be silent. After a moment, he smirked sheepishly. "What, was that not the right answer?"

I told him no, that he answered exactly right, and I was taking a moment to appreciate that. I love that he'll tell me things, even if he's realizes it's not what I want to hear.

I struggle with that myself -- I want my responses to be evocative, or uplifting, or at least funny. But Chris keeps me grounded by his example of simple, straightforward communication. While he does love when my word-nerd characteristics come up ("I hope our kids have your way with words,") he teaches me to communicate things as they are, to state how I really feel, to stay in touch with reality.

Which is not, because this reality we've got here is pretty great.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

mission control

Chris officially asked me to marry him 5 weeks and 3 days before the wedding. This made for a very busy engagement. I felt like I had two full time jobs -- one at a call center, and one at my computer. I answered e-mails, researched my tastes, called in favors, and (sadly!) ignored my poor fiance far, far too much. But my to-do list was lengthy, as was his, so we did our best to push through.

In the midst of all that chaos, we found it essential to clearly compare notes, and often. This helped us better empathize with each other's stress level, remind each other of important tasks, ask for help from the other when we needed it, and seek out each other's opinions on the numerous decisions we were trying to make.

I think we did a beautiful job of that, retrospectively. We learned it's okay to explain our emotional states, to need (and give) patience and forgiveness and a long hug. We clarified over and over again, "it's not you, it's the stress." It's not you. It's the stress. It could never be you. It's just the stress.

Now that we're married and facing a different kind of stress, we're enacting an idea we came up with, one that we call "mission control." It's a prominent wall in our home, filled with picture-frames-turned-whiteboards. Here we can post our calendar, to-do lists, goals, and so on. It's an easy reference for what's going on with our lives, and ideally, a great tool to help us communicate about how our home is run. It's actually my wedding present to Chris, so I'm glad it's finally up.

Beyond the tangible uses, though, I hope it will be a daily reminder of the lessons we learned during our engagement. Chris and I are an incredible team when we are paying attention to each other's needs, separating how we feel about our tasks from how we feel about our relationship, and communicating our concerns genuinely, even if we're a little ashamed of how much we're worrying.

That last one pertains especially to me. In so many things, Chris is the eye to my storm. He balances my bubbly, writer heart with his laid-back engineer mind. Chris counters my chaos with his solidarity, calms my frenetic energy with his level head. I hope "mission control" is a symbol of that beautiful balance, too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

About Us

I married my sweetheart on in the summer of 2012. It was a bright, warm August day in North Carolina, and it was beautiful.

The next day we...drove. All day, to our new home in Indiana.

The day after that, my husband started work on his PhD.

It's a lot to wrap our heads around, but, this is our story. Figuring out about what "wedded bliss" really means. Discovering life in a Midwestern college town. Surviving graduate school, one tiring day at a time.

Yes, in the span of 48 hours, everything about our lives changed. However, our faith (and sense of humor!) keeps us going, and reminds us of that one essential thing:

All these changes, even all at once, were the perfect recipe for happy.