In preparation for our next meeting with the officiant (this Thursday), Al and I spent a bunch of time this weekend going over our pre-marital counseling questions. I'm glad we talked about all this stuff, but after all the weighty discussions, I need a whimsy injection. I need to laugh my butt off, and I especially need to laugh my butt off with Al. We've been too serious lately.
On a recreation-related note, hockey is going well, but even that is adding a level of difficulty to the planning process: this season we have only four 7:30 games, but we have five 9:00 games and six 10:30 games. The late ones are really hard on me now, because I never seem to catch up on my sleep for the rest of the week, and I can't get up early enough to bike to work. I think I've mentioned before that lack of sleep + lack of exercise = cranky Lori. Lately it's not so much that I'm cranky, it's that I feel lumpy and unproductive when I can't get enough sleep or enough exercise.
Finally, a bright side with no underlying shadow: mom told me yesterday that Anne and Peggy will be coming to the wedding. They bring whimsy wherever they go, so I imagine a few "Anne and Peggy are coming, Anne and Peggy are coming" affirmations in the mirror each morning will get me through the day with a smile.
Westin Reservations, can I help you?
Yes, hi, I'm getting married in October, and I already have a block of rooms set aside for guests at the Sheraton Palo Alto. Now I'd like to see about reserving a room for me and the groom for the wedding night at the Westin Palo next door.
When will you be traveling?
We're not traveling. It's our WEDDING NIGHT. We're getting married on October 6.
For how many nights?
Just the WEDDING NIGHT.
And how many people will be in the room?
Uh, since it's our WEDDING NIGHT, it'll be just the two of us.
Would you like a king or two double beds?
It being our WEDDING NIGHT and all, I was thinking one bed would be sufficient.
And are you traveling with any conventions or groups?
You mean outside of the wedding party?
OK, I guess that would be no. Do you need a suite?
Well, a honeymoon suite would be nice, yes.
Our standard suites are $439 per night.
OK, and the HONEYMOON SUITE?
Our regular room rate is $299 per night.
So are there no wedding night specials or honeymoon suites?
There are no romance packages available.
You're telling me!
This was an actual conversation with one of the Westin reservations agents I talked to (it might be slightly paraphrased—unlike them, I wasn't recording the conversation for quality assurance purposes). I talked to three different agents over the course of the day, mainly because I was trying to get one who would respond to the words "WEDDING NIGHT." None did.
I called around to a few other hotels, but I kind of had my heart set on the Westin. It's next door to the Sheraton, so we could visit with friends and family who are staying there after the wedding reception, and yet still have some privacy. Plus, I love their Heavenly Beds. And of course, it's convenient to home, only no cats waking us up at 7am.
After calling around and finding only one hotel that had a wedding night package ($399 and up), I hit upon an idea: Use Your Starpoints, Stupid! I joined Starwood Preferred Guest a couple years ago because I was traveling to a lot of conferences that used Starwood properties, and I continued staying at Starwood hotels because of my affection for the aforementioned Heavenly Bed and for Starwood's stylish W Hotels. There are also a lot of Starwood properties in Hawaii, one of my favorite destinations.
In the past three years or so, I've managed to amass 14620 Starpoints. Not a staggering amount, I grant you, but enough to earn a free night at the Westin Palo Alto. And, believe it or not, when I called the Starwood Preferred Guest Redemption Center number, I finally got the reservations agent I'd been wanting all along: one with some sense—and a sense of humor. He totally got the "wedding night" thing and agreed that we didn't need to spend extra points on the Westin Office room. He actually laughed when I said, "I don't think we'll be needing a fax/printer." When he said, "ok, I've got you booked for a standard room," and I said, "Wait! I want to make sure it's a King/Non-Smoking," he replied: "I wouldn't book you in a room with two double beds on your wedding night!", and he laughed again. When everything was set, I'd checked my remaining Starpoint balance, and I'd thanked him for his help, he said, "thank you for calling Starwood Preferred Guest, and congratulations on your wedding." Yep, he got it. I only wish I'd gotten his name, so I could send him a thank you note.
Heavenly Bed, here we come!
After spending a couple days feeling very down, I'm my normal half-serious/half-silly self again. Thanks to Kristin for listening to me moan about all my issues on Tuesday—it really helped. I think I was sort of putting this deadline on Big Issue Resolution: October 6, 2002. I'd expected to have my whole life to sort out all the big issues! And then I realized... I still do! Nobody says we have to agree on everything in less than two months. We just have to be aware of where the pitfalls lie, so we can work around them and be prepared to compromise.
So anyway, today much brighter than Tuesday was. Nuff said.
Last night Al and I went wedding band shopping. Bands are more expensive than I'd anticipated, and it's turning out to be very difficult to find something that looks right under my engagement ring (which is really more of an anniversary band; I'm not a solitaire person. a solitary person, yes, but a solitaire person, no.). Al found a couple that he liked, though, so at least finding one for him shouldn't be too difficult.
Yesterday around lunchtime Al and I went to the San Mateo County Clerk's office to get our marriage license. All it took was a picture id, our addresses, our full names and birth states, the full names and birth states/countries of our parents, an assurance that we weren't currently married, a solemn oath (with right hand raised) that everything we'd written was true, and $78 in cash.
We had to wait for 30 minutes while they typed up the certificate, so we went outside and sat in the shade of the arbor adjacent to the traffic court building. Al bought two hot dogs and a Coke from a cart on the corner (run by two very polite skatepunks), and we relaxed on a stone bench and enjoyed the breeze. All in all, an extremely pleasant way to spend a lunch hour.
And of course, we now have a piece of paper in our hands that entitles us to get married. We're not legally married yet—the officiant and a witness have to sign the certificate, and the ceremony must be performed—but we're *licensed to marry*. Makes me feel a little James Bond-ish just saying that.
I'm sitting in the San Jose airport right now, waiting for a flight to Chicago. When I get to Chicago, I'll wait another two hours for a flight to Boston. Oh, the sacrifices we make in order to earn Premier Executive status.
I'm on my way to Boston because that's where Sandra Wainwright, my best friend since we were 15 years old, lives. (Actually, she lives in Canton, but Boston Logan is the closest airport.) I was maid of honor at Sandy's wedding in 1992 (she divorced the guy, who ended up being a total schmuck, in 1994; I should have known things would go bad when Sandy accidentally said "awful wedded husband" while repeating the vows during the rehearsal).
Anyway, I didn't really know what was expected of a maid of honor back in 1992, since my only experience in the role was at my sister's wedding in 1989, when I was the only attendant. (Lisa was so on top of things that I didn't have to do anything at all except walk down the aisle with the best man.) Of the three bridesmaids at Sandy's wedding, I was the farthest away geographically, which would have made it difficult to perform maid of honor duties even had I known what they were. One of the other women ended up throwing Sandy a shower and doing most of the things that a maid of honor should probably have done. Looking back on it now, I wish I'd done a better job, or at least taken the role more seriously.
I think probably it was just that I didn't really have any interest in marriage at the time, so unlike women who were in serious relationships, I'd never read a bride's magazine or fantasized about what my wedding would be like. Thus, I had no idea about wedding etiquette or bridal party duties. Basically, I sucked as a maid of honor.
Ironically, the two women I've failed as maid of honor are now coming to my rescue: Sandy as my maid of honor, and Lisa as my right-hand woman. (Right-hand woman sounds so much more pleasant than bride slave, don't you think?) I think they're bringing their experience as brides to bear on my behalf. If I didn't already love them for a zillion other reasons, I'd think they were pretty special just for that.
So I'm finally back to the reason for my trip to Boston: first of all, to see Sandy, but secondly to help her find a dress. She's already made appointments at several bridal shops for tomorrow, and if we don't find anything that way, we'll visit Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdales on Sunday (if possible; I remember from when I lived in Massachusetts that many towns have "blue laws" that prevent stores from opening on Sundays, an apparent vestige of New England's puritan past). I know that the Bloomies at Stanford Shopping Center has a nice selection of formal dresses, so we should be able to find something bridesmaid-suitable (and possibly more wearable/re-wearable than a traditional bridesmaid's gown). Sandy's also got a seafood dinner planned somewhere—she knows that good seafood on every corner is the main thing I miss about Boston. :)
Meanwhile, Lisa said she was going to FedEx me some more ideas for bridesmaids dresses this week, and indeed, a package from her arrived on Wednesday. I opened the first catalog inside to find that she'd circled a shiny aquamarine knee-length dress with an enormous bow for a top (picture an X with the top two points at the shoulders, and the bottom two at the hips), and she'd written "This would look great on Sandy!" inside the circle. I called Al over and said, "do you think she's kidding?"
Al let out a burst of laughter so loud it almost blew my eardrum. I continued to look puzzled. I *hoped* she was kidding. I turned the page, and Al said, "these are awful." Lisa had circled a pink dress on the next page that looked vaguely like my 1986 prom dress, only it was made of shiny, irridescent material. There was a giant arrow over the head of the model. I scowled and looked uncertain. It was with relief that I read the note on the facing page that appeared above a model wearing a frilly dark lavender number. "Do you think the parasol is too much?"
"She's definitely kidding," I said to Al.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Oh yeah. Look—this says these dresses are from the Spring 1988 collection. These are catalogues from when Lisa got married!" I paged through the rest of the hideous dresses (including a black and white ball gown that my sister had labeled "Send in the clowns...Don't bother, they're here!"), and found a final note from Lisa in the back: "Aren't you glad the 80s are over?" Up to this point, I'd had fairly fond memories of the 80s, but I'm now starting to rethink that position. I hope no one looks at the attire of our bridal party 15 years from now and says, "good god, how did we ever think that that looked nice?"
Lisa called shortly after we'd looked through the catalogues, and we talked and laughed for about an hour. I'm so glad she's been helping me keep my sense of humor through all the planning. Both she and Sandy are so practical, down to earth, and above all, funny that I'm sure to make it to the wedding day with a smile on my face. I couldn't have asked for two people more made for the job of maid of honor!
As we were walking out the door this morning, Al said to me, "do you have everything?" (He was referring to my overnight bag, laptop bag, purse, and their contents, since he was about to take me to the airport.)
"Yes, I think so," I replied, "but you'll have to lock the door, because I don't know where my keys are."
"They're in your hand," he pointed out.
Duh. I have a habit of looking for things that are in my hand, and of dropping things because I forget I'm holding them. I don't think it's a lack of sensation, but rather a lack of sense. The obvious escapes me.
Thinking about this idiocy reminded me of a remark that Al made in the car last night: he said that he feels like the moment he got engaged, he put on a Stupid Hat. He never thought he'd be one of those guys who didn't know his kids' teachers' names, or which doctor they went to, or when the bills were due. But since becoming engaged, he feels like I'm on top of everything, and he doesn't know what's going on.
This is not something I hold against him; in fact, *I* feel like I might have taken charge a bit and left him out of the loop. Though it may seem that the elaborate color-coded calendar hanging in the kitchen would be a way to keep him abreast of all the important dates as well as the big picture, what it may have communicated is that I'm organized enough for both of us. And it's possible that he knows that I have secret backup plans for the things on his list that matter to me, just in case something goes wrong or he forgets an item.
I think both of us are hoping that unlike my chronic not-seeing-what's-in-my-hands thing—which pre-dated any wedding planning and is probably related to the fact that I carried a Kleenex around in my hand so often as a kid that it seemed like another finger—the Stupid Hat is a passing phenomenon that won't carry into our marriage. In fact, his not wanting to be an out-of-touch dad is one of the things that made me feel more comfortable about becoming a parent.
I guess the first step to removing the Stupid Hat is to recognize that it's on your head...and it seems Al is already better at knowing what's on his head than I am at knowing what's in my hands. Hats off!
Sandy and I have just had an incredibly productive day shopping. We're bone-weary and sleepy and have no interest in shopping for at least another 30 days, but we got a lot done.
At our first bridal shop appointment of the day, Sandy tried on five dresses, the fifth of which turned out to be a Jim Hjelm design that I had torn out of a magazine. It looked fabulous on her. It'll obviously need to be hemmed, since bridal and bridesmaids' gowns are cut to a length that's suitable for someone who's 5'9" to 6'0", and Sandy is 5'1/2". But the only other alteration needed is to take up the straps a bit. Other than that, she could have worn it out of the store and stopped traffic.
We put an order in for the dress, put down a deposit, and declared victory. On to the mall to find shoes, which she'd need for the fitting. We drove to the Natick Mall and started in Filene's. Since the dress is an irridescent lavender, we were advised not to try to dye shoes to match—they wouldn't. So I figured Sandy could just wear the same sandals I'll be wearing: a pair of taupe Bandolinos with about a 1.5-2" heel.
Filene's had no Bandolinos, so we went on to Macy's, which is where I'd bought mine. They had a few pairs, but no sandals, so we went on to Lord & Taylor with fingers crossed. They didn't have my sandals, but they had another pair that would work even better with Sandy's dress. They're a bit lighter, and with thinner straps. She also thought she'd wear them with other outfits, which is good.
We were then free to peruse the mall aimlessly, which neither of us is particularly interested in or good at. We made a valiant effort, though; I looked at wedding bands in a few stores (and found one that actually works, though the store didn't have my size), I bought oodles of SpongeBob paraphenalia and some thank-you notes at a card store, Sandy got a Raggedy Andy figurine at Noah's and some new sheets at Filene's, and I bought a couple bracelets.
By 5pm we were sick of shopping and hungry to boot, so we headed for the Dolphin restaurant in Natick Center for a yummy seafood meal. I always forget how great the scallops are here in Boston—so sweet. After dinner we headed back to Canton, and I took a walk down to the Walgreen's and back. Now, at 9:15pm, we're both ready for bed. G'night!
OK, technically I'm not in Chicago anymore—I'm probably somewhere over Iowa or Minnesota right now. I didn't sleep very well last night, partly because I knew I had to get up at 3:30am, and partly because Sandy's upstairs neighbor got lucky at least twice on a very creaky bed.
Anyway, I was fairly awake at 3:25am (when I actually got out of bed and headed for the shower), and wide awake at 4:15am when the cab picked me up for the ride to the airport. I even made it all the way through the August 5 issue of Newsweek on the first flight, and to the commentary on George Bush the Younger's mismanagement of the country in the August 5 issue of the Economist before I finally dozed off. Of course, by that time we were in our initial descent into Chicago, so I didn't get more than about 10 minutes of sleep. I'd love to sleep again now, but for some reason I can't. Oh well.
Sandy and I had a nice day yesterday walking around Quincy Market. We didn't go into Fanueil Hall because it's all food shops, and we'd just had a large breakfast (or, in my case, the Great Big Breakfast -meat +blueberry compote) at IHOP. We poked into various shops, I bought a lemonade to combat the 90 degree heat, and I also decided to splurge on a $6 SpongeBob balloon when the balloon vendor assured me I could take it on the airplane by inserting a straw into a hidden valve to deflate it.
After Quincy Market we ventured out to the surrounding city streets, where I found a Barnes & Noble and picked up a couple Korean books. I'd like to learn a bit of Korean so I can say a few words to the wedding guests who speak the language, and so that I can label all the food on the buffet in English and Korean. I think my favorite parts of the day, though, were the ride in and the ride back on the T. I love mass rail transit—especially looking out the windows.
Since this weekend was a bit of a splurge for me, between the airfare and the random wedding- and non-wedding-related purchases, I plan to be more frugal this week. I do want to start putting some money aside for a rainy day and/or to pursue some of the business ideas and lifestyle changes Al and I have been cooking up. I should use Sandy as my saving model: her salary as a teacher can't be spectacular, but she still manages to sock away a good portion of her income in savings. I bet I could, too.
I just lost an entire entry because I forgot I was working offline and tried to submit the post. When the "cannot find page" message came up, I automatically hit the Back button without thinking, and lost an hour or more's worth of witty observations about makeup. Maybe I'll try writing about my love/hate relationship with lipstick again later.
Meanwhile, as I fished around in the mail bin tonight looking for RSVPs, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd put U.S. postage on the reply envelopes that I'd sent to people we'd invited from Korea. Holy 80-cents-for-airmail, Batman!
I'd been so proud of myself that I'd remembered to put additional postage on the reply envelopes as well as the outer envelopes for those invitations. Miraculously, it never dawned on me that the folks there would need *Korean* postage to send back their replies. Good thing they're all calling Al's dad to RSVP, anyway.
I can't believe I forgot to mention that I did complete my first dress fitting on August 5, and that it went smoothly thanks to perfect shoes. And how did I find these perfect shoes? With the help of my friend Jean.
Jean had read some of my past wedding blog entries and said she could relate to the one about wishing I liked shopping or had shopping friends. She'd wished the same thing herself while preparing for her own wedding in June, and Grace Hom, style diva extraordinaire, came to her rescue. Jean, bless her heart, came to mine.
We went shopping in San Francisco's Union Square on Saturday, August 3, with finding a slip, a bracelet, and—most importantly—a pair of shoes as our goals. Jean turned out to be the perfect person to help me shoe-shop because she was also born with wide feet. She can understand the chagrin/embarrassment/frustration/anger that goes along with only being able to get two toes into a shoe instead of all five.
We started at DSW Shoes, where I picked up one pair of possibilities, and then headed to Macy's. I'd forgotten how much larger the Union Square Macy's is compared to most others. I was able to find the perfect cuff bracelet, a great little bag (which I set down somewhere and thus forgot to buy—though I found it in a different color at another Macy's the following Monday), a slip, and...drumroll, please...shoes that fit, don't hurt, are the right height, and are a neutral color that blends in with my feet. And the cherry: they were $59.95. Not a budget-buster. Woo-hoo!
I certainly couldn't have done all this without Jean, who kept me on my feet and my eyes on the target. If I'd been alone, I would have given up after an hour. On this trip, though, we even managed to spend a bit of time looking at towels in the Macy's linen department, and at bridesmaids dresses in the Jessica McClintock store. What a productive day!
When we'd had enough, I took Jean back to her new home in Glen Park (which she'd given me a tour of earlier in the day—it's lovely!), and I headed back to Mountain View in triumph. I tried on both sets of shoes for Al, and he promptly picked the Macy's pair as the clear winner (I'll return the DSW pair tomorrow, when I go up to the city for a training class). The shoes were indeed perfect, as the dress did not need hemming at the fitting the next day. The only alterations the seamstress needed to make involved moving the zipper to make the bodice and waist fit a bit better, and adding a button for the bustle.
Of course, at the time I went for the fitting, I hadn't planned on losing any weight before the wedding. However, seeing myself in the dressing room mirror wearing the scary strapless bra and slip seemed to be the spark I needed. I started eating better that very day, and I've lost 5 lbs. My goal is not to lose a ton of weight—I'd rather not have to get the dress altered again—but rather to feel comfortable in my body. That's already happening, and boy, does it feel great!
Last night I had a wedding nightmare, and I'm afraid it's a harbinger of the Great Wedding Freakout, which isn't scheduled to arrive until September. Anyway, the dream started in medias res; I was upstairs at a house getting ready for the wedding. I knew that we'd driven to the wedding location (a bed and breakfast? Mike & Judy's house?) that morning, and we'd packed everything we'd need. As I dashed by one of the windows, I could see the tops of the guests' heads outside in the courtyard. They were all seated. I had a flash of the suit Al was wearing, so I supposed he was out there, too.
I started looking around for my dress, and realized it wasn't there. "Oh fart!" I thought or said out loud, "I can't believe it! My worst fear, that we'd forget to pick up the dress from the dry cleaners, has just come true. Fart, fart, fart!"
I started rummaging around in my overnight bag for one of the outfits my sister had helped me pick out for the honeymoon. I found a pair of black slacks and a black top with silver stripes (it looked like a pair of socks that I own) and put those on. I put on some plain black socks, threw on a black linen blazer, slid on one black wedge-heel clog and was rummaging for the other under the bed when the phone rang.
I briefly considered not answering it, and in fact heard the machine pick up after two rings. Then I thought, "what if it's someone from the courtyard calling on her cellphone to say that it's time for me to make my entrance?" I dashed over to the phone, picked it up, and said "HELLO?"
"Hello, Lori," said my Grandmother Hylan from the other end. (She's not going to be at the wedding, so I knew she must be calling from home, not the courtyard.)
"Hi, grandma. I don't have time to talk right now."
"Lori, I was just wondering, did you enter a project in the Science Fair yesterday?"
"GRANDMA, I REALLY DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK! I NEED TO FINISH GETTING READY!" I practically shouted, and hung up the phone. Kind of rude, I know, but under the circumstances, it seemed not inappropriate.
As I rushed back around the bed to continue looking for my other shoe, I realized I also wasn't wearing any makeup. I was farther away from being done than I thought! Drat! Just then my sister came down the hall toward the bedroom, and she was holding a bunch of CDs spread out like a poker hand. "Is your processional music on the X CD, the Y CD, the Z CD, or..." (she rattled off actual titles of CDs that I own or have mixed myself, but I can't remember exactly which ones).
"No, no!" I said, very much like Lucy from A Charlie Brown Chrismas would have. "It's on the white Ceremony Music CD." I then looked at my sister, who was looking back at me seemingly without registering that anything was wrong. "Guess what we forgot to do?" I asked, and then answered myself: "The thing I was most afraid we *would* forget to do!"
Me: "Pick up the dress from the dry cleaners! Why else do you think I'm wearing black?! Is it time for me to make my entrance? Because I'm not ready yet."
I rushed past Lisa into another room, which had my mother's dresser and large mirror in it. (She's had this piece of furniture since I was little.) I stood in front of the mirror trying to put on my makeup as Lisa replied, "yeah, pretty much. Everybody else is in position."
"How do I look?"
"Um, OK." replied Lisa.
"This outfit makes me look enormous, doesn't it?"
"I think it's just the blazer. Do you have anything else?"
"I think I have that little 3/4-sleeve black sweater in my bag, will you get it for me?"
At this point the stress of the situation totally overcame me, and I woke up. I stayed awake for a little while and managed to wake Elmo, the more pesky of our two cats. He proceeded to walk all over me for the next four hours, so I didn't sleep very well once I finally drifted off again. I hope this first wedding nightmare is the last, but I fear there are more to come.
Al and I have been having trouble adding items to our gift registry lately. It's not that we don't need a few things for our new life together—it's that we don't have anywhere to put them. I proposed to Al that we schedule a Weeding Weekend, where we get rid of all the stuff we don't need to make room for the things we do.
I had in mind the container cupboard and my bedroom (actually the guest bedroom—I just use it as a place to dump my stuff) as the primary areas in need of a good weeding, but the pantry jumped to the front of the line when I tried to make baked ziti last Sunday and discovered that the pasta had gone bad. I didn't think pasta *could* go bad, but this box apparently had. Al went out to get me some new ziti, and when he got back we went through everything in the pantry.
We tossed any item that had an expiration date of July 2002 or earlier; the oldest was a can of chicken broth from 1995. It must have moved with Al at least twice. When we were finished, we had about four shopping bags worth of expired food, and the pantry was about half full. I was pretty excited because not only did we have only edible food in the pantry, but we also knew *what* edible food we had in there! It'll definitely make shopping easier.
Inspired by the pantry weeding and unable to wait for the official Weeding Weekend to begin, a couple nights later I cleaned out the container cupboard. I kept about four baby food jars (we were feeding baby food to one of the cats when she was sick) and put the other ten or so into the recycling bin. Ditto extra jam and pickle jars, any container that didn't have a lid, and any lid that didn't have a container. We now have enough room for the Pyrex glass storage containers and the mixing bowls that are on our list.
When this Saturday finally rolled around, we were well and truly primed for weeding. Al spent Saturday unpacking the boxes of books and files that had crowded the guest room closet while I printed photos at the darkroom in San Francisco and (later) finished assembling and addressing the Family Union invitations. On Sunday I moved all the shoes that had lined the walls in the guest room into the closet and put away all the laundry that had sat on top of the dryer because it had no place else to go. I now have neatly organized stacks of shirts in the top of the guest closet, grouped by type and color.
As I was organizing the closet, Al repaired the bottom drawer of my dresser for me, so it could actually hold my biking clothes (the bottom kept popping out before, spilling clothes everywhere). Once I was able to move the biking clothes off the bed and back into the drawer, I cleared the bed, washed all the bedding, and caught up on the ironing.
It was sometime in the middle of all the weeding and cleaning that I developed a mental picture of us building our nest together. I finally started to view the house as "ours," not just "Al's." I think this is a place Al's been in for a while: looking at us as a team, working toward a common goal. I was still thinking of us as "two individual, self-contained entities choosing to share a life together." While it's true that we were each whole, happy people when we met (we weren't looking for "that missing piece" or "the other half" of ourselves), and that we'll continue to maintain our own personalities and interests after we're married, I've come to realize that marriage is a life-changing event. OK, I know: it sounds obvious. But I think I had in mind that marriage *wouldn't* change me.
It's still hard for me to articulate how I imagine I'll be changed, but I can already feel my perspective shifting a bit. The image that keeps popping into my mind is me standing in the living room amid Al's emptied boxes trying to decide what to put on the walls. Even though we've been living together for over a year, it's almost like we're starting fresh—like we're resetting the stage for the next act. I can't wait to see what happens.
I don't think I've mentioned that Al sold his car earlier this month. If I remember correctly, the original plan (hatched in the spring, before we got engaged) was that Al would sell his car and buy mine for cash when my lease was up in September, and I'd start looking for an AWD vehicle (probably a Subaru Outback wagon). Since I would need some of the proceeds from the sale of his car to buy an Outback, we'd be a one-car family in the time between the sale and the purchase.
In the summer the plan was revised: Al would sell his car and give me the down payment for buying out my lease, and I would get a small car loan (such that my car payments would remain about the same as my lease payments). We'd be a one-car family until we decided what to do about a second car, and meanwhile most of the rest of the proceeds from the sale would go toward wedding expenses.
So far the plan is actually working out rather well. At first Al panicked because I needed the car for two days in a row right after he sold his, but we managed just fine, and I think that gave him confidence. It's totally routine now to figure out each night who needs the car the next day, when we need to get to the office, etc. We usually carpool to work together, but if for some reason one of us has to go in another direction with the car, the other takes the train or bikes. (I never thought I'd see the day when Al would make the trek from the Belmont train station to his office—a little over a mile—but he did it recently and reported that it felt great!)
Aside from Al getting more exercise, a few other unforeseen benefits have arisen from this situation: (1) we get to spend time together in the mornings, chatting or just enjoying each other's company. (2) we're saving on gas. we're covering the same routes we did when we had two cars, so we're not driving any more than we would have before (in fact, by consolidating trips, we're probably driving less). we've gone from paying $120 each per month for gas to about $50 each. (3) we get to use the carpool lane. most mornings we leave the house after 9am (when HOV restrictions are lifted), but at least once a week and sometimes more often, Al has to be at the office by 9am. Traffic after 9am usually moves rather smoothly, but before 9am it's often a total mess. Thus, we get to use the carpool lane when it will do us the most good anyway. Ditto on the way home, if we leave our offices before 7pm.
After reviewing my budget the other day and seeing the gas savings, I started thinking again about financial contributions to the marriage. One of my huge concerns during our engagement has been that I can't contribute equally to the "common pot". (We'd agreed a long time ago that if we ever got married, we'd prefer to keep our own individual accounts, but possibly start a joint account for common purchases, vacations, etc.) When I figured out my budget about a month ago, I was excited to see that I could make all ends meet... except not only was there "not enough" for the common pot—there was nothing! *Why* could I pull my own weight, but not help pull the Hylan-Cho household? How did other couples manage?
On the way home the night before last it finally occurred to me why: I have my own house (and thus my own mortgage and utility payments). Most married couples starting out go from having two rents to having one rent or mortgage, so when they combine households, they save money. We're very lucky to have two homes that we love and use, but it means that there is no cost consolidation in getting married. I started to wonder: should we be a one-house family, too? It's not that I *want* to give up my house in Truckee, or that I want Al to sell his. But all of a sudden I can see a reason for having only one: it would make other things we want to do together (besides going to Truckee on the weekends) easier and more affordable.
[long pause for thought]
The one car thing may be working out, but I don't think we're ready yet to cut back to just one house, silly as that sounds. The fact that I thought of it at all is probably evidence of the changes marriage is bringing to my mindset, of how I'm starting to think about our future as a couple rather than just our futures as individuals. Perhaps the next time we go to Truckee I will begin to see that house as something other than my personal sanctuary, the place where all my stuff is, the place where I finally got to hang photos on the walls, my first home. In a way, I guess I already have: I'm beginning to accept the fact that my house is the vacation house, not our primary residence. For now, that vacation house is my contribution to the marriage—and maybe down the road, I'll be able to detach enough to sell it or turn it into a rental, and make it contribute even more.
Can't remember if I mentioned that Al & I were going to be in the Baltimore-Washington area this weekend. The idea behind the visit is to introduce our parents, who live 90 minutes apart by car, to each other. I came yesterday (that's how I could write such a long entry—I was on a plane—and Al arrives today. I'm at the airport right now, waiting to pick him up. (He missed his flight out of San Jose this morning, so he took slightly later flights from SJC and DEN.)
I've already gotten to spend a night with my sister, which was really nice. I hung out with Lisa and Mattalyn, my niece, while my brother-in-law took Jake, my nephew, to soccer practice. When the kids had eaten and gone to bed, Lisa and I stayed up talking and watching the Thursday night lineup on HGTV. She also worked on my back a bit (something's been out, and it's been causing weakness in my left leg).
This morning Lisa, Ken, dad, and I, along with Bubbles, Archie, and Angus (the dogs) saw the kids off on the school bus, I helped Ken with a few computer tasks, and then Lisa and I drove to the school so Lisa could do a couple things for Mattie's teacher. I got a tour of the school, bought a pencil from the dispenser in the hall for twenty-five cents, and felt relieved not to be a kid anymore.
After the school, Lisa and I went shopping at Kohl's for about 30 minutes, and then we met mom for lunch at the Amish market in Westminster. I'm glad I suggested we meet for lunch; it was fun to have time with my mom and sister. Since the rest of the weekend is about the parents, it was really the only opportunity for the three of us to hang out.
Tonight and tomorrow night Al and I will spend with my parents. We have a tee time at Bear Creek Golf Course at 11am tomorrow, and we're all crossing our fingers that it won't rain. (I think Lisa is secretly hoping it will, so she & the kids will get to see Al.) I haven't played golf in a while, and I'm eager for the four of us to go out. I don't think my parents have ever played golf with Al before; he's an amazingingly good sport, so it's an almost guaranteed good time.
On Sunday morning we'll drive to Columbia, an hour from my parents' house and an hour from the Cho's condo in McLean, where the six of us will have brunch at the Waterside Restaurant in the Sheraton Columbia. Hopefully our parents will like each other, and they'll have things in common to talk about. (Golf, for one thing.) After the meal we'll say goodbye to my parents and follow Mr. and Mrs. Cho to their place, where we'll spend Sunday and Monday nights. Mr. Cho has arranged for us to play 9 holes together on Monday, so we'll have another chance for golf even if it rains tomorrow.
There are probably others, but these are the ones mom took note of when we were playing together on Saturday. Mom & I rode in one cart, since we were both hitting from the red tees, and Dad and Al rode in another, since they were both hitting from the whites.
We played the Bear Creek course near my parents' house; it's a hilly course with interesting holes that I really like. Al noted that it wasn't really conducive to his style of play, since the yardages were relatively short, and the fairways narrow. It's actually a more challenging course for women, now that I think of it; the slope is quite high, and so are the distances.
I had a pretty terrible game—and screamed a few expletives at various intervals as a consequence—but it was fun to be out with Al and my parents. My mom's a hoot to golf with, and she's the next best thing to Al when it comes to a cart partner, but I really did miss Al's patient smile greeting me after each shot.
After golf we went to dinner at Park's Landing, where Al was able to order two steamed crabs, green beans, french fries, and a crabcake sandwhich, and also share some of my steamed shrimp. Call it the Maryland seafood sampler. Mom then suggested that we go for ice cream (!), so we did that, and then we walked around historic Uniontown for a bit. Mom took me there yesterday because she wanted to look at the buildings up close, and I'd seen a Victorian property that would be a perfect bed & breakfast, so I wanted to show it to Al.
With only about 15 of the 5000 calories we'd just consumed burned off, we headed back to mom & dad's to play Catchphrase. Two hours and a couple laughter-induced asthma attacks later... here we are, ready for an early bedtime. Tomorrow we go to Columbia to meet up with Mr. & Mrs. Cho.