Monday, January 30, 2012

My True Love Story

You Haven't Even Held My Hand Yet

Day 2,714ish



I’m seeing Northern Utah for the first time, driving through Sardine canyon on the way to Logan to stay with Ryan’s sister. It’s late November, and this canyon is arguably one of the most beautiful to ever deck itself out in fall colors. The trees and bushes cover the hillsides like a ruffled ball gown that never goes out of style. It used to be that the beauty was a dangerous distraction when the canyon roads were thinner and covered in ice, but the roads have been updated and are regularly maintained now, so the driving is easy. The scenery is easy on the eyes, the red, yellow and orange, a gorgeous backdrop for the boy that is my focal point.
Ryan tells me stories of travelling here as a young boy. It was about here, as the canyon opens up into Cache Valley,” he tells me, “that I would start to get nervous. I had to uphold my record, you see. I was always the first one into Grandma’s house. My siblings got trickier at trying to stop me as the years went on, vying for the seat next to the door at the stop previous, trying to lock the door I was next to without me noticing, but they never succeeded. No matter what I had to do, or who I had to tackle nobody ever beat me. The pressure was immense.”
I laugh. I don’t know why my heart jumps into my throat whenever I hear about younger Ryan. I remember him with his super tan skin and his blonder than blond hair and his innocent, glowing face. I think of young him with all of his hopes and dreams, his competitive nature and the look in his blue eyes that told you he believed big things were possible.
His hair is darker now. His skin, tucked behind a suit jacket for the past two years, hasn’t seen much sun, but his eyes are more believing than ever. Uhh… uhh… Cache Valley. We’re talking about Cache Valley.
“What sort of urbane place is this anyway?” I ask. Why is it bequeathed Cache Valley? Not Cache County mind you. No no! Nothing so drab and commonplace as that. Cache Valley. The place where big time dreams come true in a small town atmosphere, the place of dreams and dairies!
Ryan gives me a sideways grin. “Are you finished?”
“I bet they have fancy cows here. Not like our simple Emery County cows. I bet the cowgirls here wear their rodeo queen outfits year round!” Apparently I’m not finished.
“Funny you should mention the cows,” Ryan says. “I told Tash I wanted to introduce you to Cache Valley and she arranged a tour of a local dairy. We’ll be milking a cow in a sequined leotard within the hour.”
The mocking smile slowly slides off of my face, making room for my eyes to grow larger. Ryan laughs. “I’m kidding. Tash recommended I take you to the mall, and then we’re hitting A&W for root beer served in frosted mugs.
I couldn’t be more dazzled if we were slurping two ends of an extra long spaghetti noodle in Italy.
After visiting at Tasha’s house, I change and get ready while Ryan runs some errands. Then we venture into quaint, downtown Logan. It’s plenty big for the country girl in me. Even the small version of a shopping mall, suits me to a certain level of bliss. I’m content to meander around this place and follow wherever Ryan leads me.
Through the front entrance of the mall and straight ahead, there is a gorgeous gold sign, with a spotlight shining on it and reflecting. Its sparkle gives birth to a million baby sparkles that reside below it, glimmering diamonds of all shapes and sizes. I’ve never been transfixed by jewelry stores. They always seemed like stores for grown-ups, which I was not. Therefore, as Ryan walks directly toward this one, I know that he is doing that pretend play scenario that couples in the early stages of dating do… the one where they pretend they’re shopping for engagement rings. I’ve never been keen on the idea. Who is it that’s being fooled when they play that game? The salesperson? Or one of the two daters? Or are they fooling themselves? These are the questions I’m asking myself while Ryan is asking me, “What do you think about this ring? And how about this one? Do you like silver or gold?”
I don’t answer. I gaze through the glass as though I’m at an art museum and I keep repeating, “They’re all beautiful.”
The man behind the counter finishes answering the questions of another couple, shakes the man’s hand and turns his attention to us. A terrible shudder quakes through me. I don’t want to take this man’s time by pretending that I’m getting engaged to Ryan. I don’t want to betray my own mind and heart with this terrible tease. I hear suspenseful, the-murderer-is-now-making-the-stabbing-motion-in-the-horror-film music, instead of the quiet classical music playing over the speaker. The streaks of light from the glittering diamonds are reaching out, grabbing for me like sharp fingernails.
Ryan is shaking the salesman’s hand now. My feet are glued to their spot, my mind is trying to explain to my tongue how it can move to tell lies when it wants those lies to be true. What mocking tone can be inserted to hide the longing that my voice will surely convey?
The man reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulls out a business card. On the back of the card there is a name and a phone number. The man reads it and looks up again. “It’s Ryan, right? I talked to you earlier?”
“Yeah,” Ryan says in his easy, friendly way, “And this is Amie.”
Ryan has been here earlier? What lengths did he go to so that we could come fake ring shopping? The man has his name written down on a card for heaven’s sake! I’m stunned past friendly greetings and introductions. I hardly breathe a hello. This might not be a game. This might not be a lie. Ryan points a few more rings out to me. I offer a few more statements of, “They’re all beautiful.” Ryan asks some questions and the man answers them. I’m of absolutely no use to either of them. When we walk out of the store, I feel like I’m coming up for air.
I make a beeline for the nearest bench. “Can we sit down for just a minute?”
Ryan sits next to me, angling his knees toward me and I think he’s wondering why my face portrays shock.
“That man knew you,” I say.
“Yeah, I came and looked at rings earlier today.”
“I thought maybe you were playing one of those jokes where you pretend-” I can’t finish.
Ryan rushes to explain now. “It doesn’t have to mean anything too serious, if you don’t- I mean, I just thought it might be nice to look at them. I mean, have you ever thought about what kind of ring you want?”
“No. No, I honestly haven’t. I’ve only thought about what kind of guy I want. Never what kind of ring.”
“Okay.”
“I’m a little confused,” I say. “We just looked at rings.”
“Yes…”
“And we weren’t playing a joke on that poor man.”
“No.”
“I guess I’m just surprised because… well, because you’ve been home from your mission for about two weeks now but you haven’t even held my hand yet.”
This registers on his face like a revelation. His hand, like it’s been given long awaited permission, reaches out and takes a hold of mine. A calm comes over me. A lovely, giddy sort of calm, like everything is back in its place and I couldn’t want for more.
“There.” he says. “How’s that?”
“Good. I like that.”
“Okay.”
“Okay.”
We stand up and continue to walk around the mall. There are people, but I don’t see them. There are things, but I don’t need them. Ryan’s blue eyes are full of what’s possible, his fingers are laced through mine… and it’s for real.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My True Love Story

Us and Them

Day 2,700ish


Us:


Traditionally, when missionaries return home they speak in church, and then because relatives have travelled some distance to see them, there is often a lunch served. Ryan’s Mom has reserved a nice, big room in the local city office building.
I wear a red dress. It doesn’t say, “Nevermind me. I’ll be the good, quiet girl over here in the corner, the one that didn’t know her worth when Ryan left.” The dress says, “Look at me. I’m the still good, but less frumpy, confident girl who will smile and make conversation with you, the one that has been dated and wooed and loved and won’t fall to pieces over a little heartbreak anymore. That’s how I behave too.
There are other girls here, and I smile when I see them talking to him. I hug his Mom, I hold his nieces and nephews and I let the other girls be, because if one of them is right for him it will benefit all of us to find out now.
He talks with his friends a lot. I steal glances from across the room as he mingles. I’m still intimidated by his friends. The confidence radiators. The girl magnets. Wish I dared interview them. Can you imagine getting inside their heads? Ahh! To find out what makes them tick! To find out why they choose to be with certain people over others. I settle for being genuinely kind when Ryan draws me into the conversation. I settle for watching as people snap pictures of Ryan with them, and thinking about how he shines brighter than the flash.
It’s probably been about two hours when I see Ryan make his way toward me, speaking with the people as he passes. He touches my arm, leans into my ear. “I think I’m about ready to get out of here,” he says.
“What?” I say, “Mr. Social? Come on… you’ve got a couple more hours in you, don’t you?” He laughs a little. “I’m gonna say some goodbyes and then I’m gonna take off. You wanna come?” A little thrill shoots through my scalp and all the way to my toes.
“Let’s see. Whenever I’ve been with your family, I have to do the cheek test,” I say. I squeeze my cheeks with one hand, open my mouth and move my jaw back and forth. “Yep. Cheeks hurting from all of the smiling. We’d better get going. If I stay much longer, my dimples will get too defined.”
He smiles at me and it’s like he’s touched me without touching me.
A little later, he leaves and he takes me with him.


Them:



It’s basketball season. When Ryan asks me to go to the high school game, I’m nervous. We are so perfect when we’re sitting on the plush carpet of his family room in front of the crackling fireplace. I don’t want to let others in to upset the delicate balance of us re-discovering each other. I’m using one of those little brushes that the paleontologists use to slowly bring forth the dinosaur bones, and I’m afraid that if we go someplace with the ugly memories, it will be like I’ve uncovered the teeth of the beast and it will come alive, whip its giant, reptilian head around and chew my face off.
When the girls from the past make eyes at him from across the crowd of fans, I’m not sure I’m equipped for any kind of preventative measures. I won’t drape myself over him like he’s something that belongs to me because, first of all he doesn’t, and second of all we’re taking it as slow as possible on the physical affection front, and slow for a return missionary is entirely possible. That means no draping.
I can’t drape… because of my decency.
So how come SHE comes up to him after the game as he and I are walking out right next to each other so close that our upper arms are touching as we walk? How come she comes bouncing and pouncing up and throws her arms around him? How come she starts a bubbly conversation with him and then he answers her and she laughs, grabs him by the arm and tells him how funny he is. Flamboyant and flirtacious and shameless… if those are the things he wants then he can just….
I’m quiet on the car ride home as I stew over the possibilities.

Us:

“Hello?”
“Amie?”
“Hey Ry! I didn’t expect to hear from you tonight. Tonight was your double date, right?” (One of his friends set him up with someone.)
“Yeah. I got home a little bit ago and I wanted to call you.”
Those words make my heart feel like it’s soaking in a warm bubble bath.
“Did you have a good time?”
“It was fun, and she was nice, but… I just, I don’t know- I just miss seeing you.”
I close my eyes and try not to let my deep breath out into the phone. I smile. “How is it staying with your sister?”
“It’s good. You should come up here with me next weekend.”
“That would be great! Sounds really fun. I’d love to!”
“Good. I’ll tell her we’re coming together next time.”
I fall back onto a stack of pillows on my bed and stare up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. I think wishes do come true.

Them:


I’m hurrying across the college campus when I see blue lid guy. Remember when the guys I dated had lid colors? Very organized. You haven’t heard about blue lid guy yet, but he’s an amazing guy, sometimes a steamy date, always a close friend.
He sees me from afar and runs over with a smile on his face. He picks me up in a hug and I give him a squeeze back. “What’s been going on?” he asks. “I hear Ryan is back.”
I try to act like it won’t be a big deal to either of us, but I feel a conciliatory smile slip onto my features. “He is home. We’re dating, and I think we’re getting serious pretty fast.”
“Come on…” he says, not wanting to believe it.
“He’s become a really amazing person. You’d approve, I think.”
“You’re not gonna end up with him,” he says like he’s giving me a fact he learned on animal planet.
“I think I might.”
“No, Amie. Not him. Anybody but him.”
I gasp, offended.
“He’s sooo cocky. I just can’t imagine a sweet girl like you with-“
“He’s always been confident, but I’ve always liked that about him, and now he’s humble too. You don’t know him. He’s such a good person, that I have to reach up to be on his level. Really. He’s so good.”
“You can’t. I can’t live with the thought of you and him.”
“I’ve gotta get to class now or I’ll be late. It was good seeing you.”
“Amie, wait! We’ve gotta talk about this-”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you around! Thanks for being concerned about me, really, but you don’t need to worry. I’ll make the right decision.”

Us:


Later, back in my favorite place in the world, in front of Ryan’s fireplace with paleontologist brush in hand, I sit pinching myself to try and believe this moment is real. “I talked to blue lid guy today. He wasn’t very excited when I told him that you’re home and we’re dating.”
“I can’t imagine he would be, since he wants you for himself.”
“He seemed to just want what was best for me, but he doesn’t know you.”
“Yeah? What doesn’t he know?”
“How selfless you are. How you’d do anything for anybody. How you genuinely care about people.”
“Blue lid guy and I have never gotten along very well. It’s hard to get along with someone when you both want the same thing. There’s only one of you, Amie, and a person can only share for so long.”
That familiar fluttery feeling tickles all through me, and I don’t want to be shared at all. I want to belong to Ryan.
“I can think of someone I’ve never gotten along with very well for the same reason,” I say. “Little miss flirty, grabby at the basketball game. I can’t believe that it has never given her pause that I’m right there with you. Never. Never even a moment’s respectful hesitation!” Rrrrrrgh! I added in my own brain. It’s so hard to hold back, but no girl wants to seem jealous or desperate.
Ryan chuckles. “She’s just a friendly person.”
I hate how we both feel like we need to defend the other people we’ve dated. Okay, I guess I hate how he feels like he needs to defend the flirty, grabbies. I still feel compelled to defend the people I’ve dated because they are really good guys and I’ll always wish for their happiness to my very core. I’m just starting to feel strongly that I’m not the right person for them to enjoy that happiness with. In the end, you’re led to one person to share life with and you probably have to cut ties with the others… even though facebook exists to creep you out.
If you’re smart, you choose someone who is all of the things on that list that you’ve memorized. If you’re lucky, you find someone who wows you and who is wowed by you. If you’re Ryan and I, you begin to realize the magic of having just spent two years exchanging thoughts and ideas, and before that, learning how to forgive each other, and before that, finding out you have amazing chemistry, and before that, learning that you can be best friends. The “them” becomes fuzzy. The “us” becomes clear. The teeth of the rock encrusted dinosaur are slowly uncovered and they don’t pose a threat, and everything starts to become so warm and gushy that you imagine the T-Rex is wearing pink bunny ears and sometimes… you even wish the best for the flirty, grabbies… because what the heck- he’s here with you now, isn’t he?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And The Verdict is... We'll Be Back After The Break

You guys! I did it! I went to my first ever writer's group! It was crazy awesome! There were men and women of all different beliefs and persuasions and hair colors and varying degrees of cynicism and talent and cleanliness! But we all had one thing in common. We love to write. I felt in my element. There used to be a time in my life when I didn't want to be around anyone that was different from me. The unknown was too scary. Now I want to hug the unknown because I have something in common with it. What's more I have so very much to learn from it! Which, could have gone without saying since you have to learn from something that was heretofore unknown.
So here's how it went down. The meetings take place in one of the best places on earth. The library. Seriously, I love the library. LOVE it. I get excited to go there every single time. It also makes me calm, which is my favorite way to feel (besides in love). I could almost pretend I was just walking in to check out yet another amazing YA book filled with smoochin' until I had to walk to the very back of the library, turn a corner to the left, find a little tucked away room with nothing but two long tables and people of various degrees of unknown origins. Gasp!
They were so accepting. That's how you get, I venture, when you repeatedly pick up a piece of paper on which you've typed out your heart and soul and you proceed to read it aloud to people with the express intention of having them cover it with red ink. *muffled sob*
I listened as the first woman read an excerpt from a novel she's working on. Then I listened as a handful of people critiqued someone's work from two weeks previous. I started to figure out the cruel nature of their set-up. :) You read, and you get the critiques at the next meeting. This is mostly great because it means that your wonderful helpers take two weeks to think over your work and suggest improvements.
This pattern continued. I listened to every comment with smiles and nods. I understood their language. Their suggestions to each other weren't foreign or surprising, even though their personalities were. It was clear right away that they were all of very different beliefs, but it was also clear even sooner that they had a great respect for each others' beliefs. I listened as people were hard on each other, yet kind at the same time. I listened to good-natured teasing and laughter. I was fairly mesmerized.
Then the man in charge looked at me and told me to read what I had. *GULP* Some stronger version of Amie took over my body because I picked up my paper and I started reading. I was in the alley with my Main Character. I was reading in a way that would make him proud.... trying to let them hear who he is. They were quiet. I thought I could sense them liking it, but only heaven knows! Now I have two stinking weeks to wait until I find out. Cue Ryan Seacrest saying, "...and we'll find out... right after the break." Cue my imagination punching him in his perfect nose.
Today I sent a copy of what I had read to the group by email with this message:

I want to tell you guys that I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting on Wednesday! It felt amazing to be around other writers! It's flat killing me, though, to think I have to wait two weeks for anyone to tell me whether my writing has potential or not. ;) There should be extended rules for new people. Put them out of their immediate misery with either applause, or fruit throwing.

Anxiously awaiting your thoughts (and I think I might throw up),
Amie

Last night I dreamed that I had joined a gourmet cooking group. I had to take a turn cooking a three course meal and then critique the dishes others cooked. I remember desperately trying to come up with something smart to say like, "Maybe it could use a little oregano." I have never critiqued anyone.... okay, besides my immediate family. I really don't know how to be critical of someone's creative work. One man last night quoted Stephen King, who wrote an amazing book about writing (that being the only book of his that I've actually read). The man said that King tries to do at least one of three things every day. 1)Read 2)Write 3)Critique. Each of these improves our writing. I knew about the first two, but I had never considered that critiquing someone else could help me. I thought it was just a necessary evil so that I could get help with my own work. See how I'm learning already???

Dear readers of this blog, hang in with me. Tune in after the commercials. I'll let you know if they think my writing just needs a pinch of oregano... or a whole new recipe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Steps

You know how on TV and movies you'll see someone who's afraid or in a crisis say, "I can do this." I say that every day in real life. All the time, I whisper to myself, "I can do this." Even more often I grab two handfuls of my hair, close to the scalp and say, "IcandothisIcandothisIcandothis!"
Today has been the pep-talky, whispering kind of day because it could be a big day for the writer in me. There is a local group called the League of Utah Writers. I don't know much about them, but tonight I'm going to find out a lot more. I feel a little like Nancy Drew... or more to my liking- Veronica Mars. I've been watching that show on DVD. What a cool, stylish and snarky sleuth she is.
I kind of like that I'm documenting this. Other writers are totally experienced in sharing their writing with others, getting and giving critiques, but they had to start somewhere. They were all here once, and everyone who wants to get to where they are, will be here at some point. Tomorrow you'll read one person's take on this experience!
Shhhh. I can do this.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My True Love Story

Hey guys! I'm going to update this blog a couple more times this week, but don't want to bug all of the facebookers, so just check back if you think of it! Also, for those of you that are invited to my private family blog and stopped looking because it's been awhile, I'll be updating it throughout the week. Big things. My Mom is married and we had a ring ceremony on Saturday night.


It's Either There, Or It Isn't
Still Day 2,685ish




We’ve eaten the welcome home cake. Ryan looked through, and thoroughly appreciated, the scrapbook I made. He was eager to talk about the pictures and tell us the stories. I highly recommend the scrapbook approach, missionary writers... and I highly recommend the last minute compilation of it because it wouldn’t be awesome to work on it for two years and then have the wife he ends up with throw it out. Aaaanyways….
Ryan’s older sister, Tasha is the last person in the family who is still awake and talking with us. She is the kind of person who can make conversation with anyone. I don’t think I can imagine an uncomfortable silence in her presence. She is also capable of making anybody laugh. In other words, she’s a fabulous safety net. Only problem is that I’m still in desperate need to impress mode. So safety? Not feeling it so much.
“Let’s go down to the den,” Ryan says to me. I start to walk that way and glance back to see if he’s following. I see Tasha give him a look that says, “Are you sure?” He nods, and she goes the opposite direction, up the stairs to bed. Had he been asking her to stay awake with us until now? I smile to myself at the idea. Don’t leave me alone with the scary and tempting female.
The den is one of the most unique rooms in the house. The walls are covered with book shelves, books here are treated as a valuable treasure. Where built-in book shelves are not, there are acquisitions from Ryan’s parents’ travels. Wooden masks, foreign looking swords, things that would almost be scary, if you didn’t know what kind and caring people collected them, but are certainly intimidating considering that this room mostly belongs to Ryan’s Dad, and it’s where he conducts the family interviews.
I walk in, my hands clasped behind my back, and I look at the familiar, yet still so curious, d├ęcor. Ryan sits in an office chair, but faces it toward the comfy sofa. I sit across from him. We make some more small talk and then Ryan gets out a thick, black planner. The planner has handles and is square, almost like a brief case. He tells me that he has carried it everywhere with him for some time now and that it contains his daily schedules as well as his future goals. Just when his blocked out and penciled in scheduling system begins to threaten doldrums, he tells me a funny story about how he and his companions once named their planners. Ryan’s planner is “Bully”. The other planners had nice names like “Chum”, he claimed, but Elder Bye had insisted that Ryan’s planner didn’t play well with others, thus “Bully” stuck. Nice to meet you Bully, and to realize that while Ryan has become grown up and focused, he hasn’t lost his energetic enthusiasm or his crazy sense of humor.
“Amie, I have come to whole-heartedly believe in goals. If you make them, if you focus on them, and work toward them, I just believe you can achieve anything you want to, anything at all!”
I smile at him, nod in wonder. The whole world is at his feet and he isn’t going to hesitate before climbing.
“So, all of my goals throughout the past two years,” he says, while flipping through pages of dates and quotes and numbered lists, “have been to do with missionary work. Due to those goals, I had all of the success I could’ve hoped for as a missionary. Now I have to figure out how to make that system work in this new life.”
“That sounds like a great way to go about things,” I say.
I know this isn’t a normal conversation that’s taking place. I’ve been dating, remember? I know that normally you talk about what music you like, or what movies you’ve seen recently. I know that I sound like a doofus when he talks about sophisticated things like “making goal systems work” (said in deep, professor voice) and I say, “Sounds great,” (said in voice of twenty year old, with blonde pig-tails, licking a giant lollipop). It’s okay though, because he recognizes that he has been out of touch with the “norm” and I recognize that the “norm” isn’t all that fabulous, so we make allowances for each other.
“Maybe you could help me make some goals,” Ryan says, flipping to the current date, followed by some frighteningly empty lines. He writes the words, “Things That Amie Needs from Me” at the top.
“Oh my… Ryan, I don’t know if I feel quite worthy to… fill in your… empty goal lines,” I say. “Give me an example of what it is you’re looking for here.”
“Well, what sort of things do you want in… a person that you date.”
“Oh!” Well this, I am an expert at. Are you kidding? I’ve been making lists like this since I was fourteen, backwards, alphabetical, by order of importance, and in my sleep. The genius goal maker has met his match in the jeopardy category of “qualities you look for in the opposite sex”. There’s only one problem.
“Alright, while I could fill this page with characteristics like: Shares my beliefs and values, confident, funny…” Ryan jots these down with grave attention, despite my hesitation. I reach out and lay my hand on the corner of Bully. “It might not be the best use of our time since, you know what all of them are,” I say, and then I pause and I feel my face get warm, “and you know that you already are those things.”
I take a deep breath, draw my hand back into my lap, but continue leaning forward because I’m about to address my biggest concern about Ryan, and I didn’t think I would ever speak it out loud. “There is one thing though, and it isn’t something that can be made a goal. It isn’t something that can be spelled out on a piece of paper.”
He continues to hold his pen at the ready as though he seriously doubts this.
“I want someone who is wowed by me.”
Ryan’s eyes narrow. He doesn’t understand, but he wants to.
“I want him to look at me and think ‘wow’, I want him to listen to me and be wowed by what I say, I want him to be amazed that he gets to be with me, because when he’s the right person for me that’s exactly how I’m going to feel about him.”
He knows. This isn’t something that a person can work toward. It’s either there, or it isn’t. It’s a scary thought, but I think people actually get married without being wowed. It’s something more than just love. Gosh, it’s almost like worship, and maybe it’s wrong for me to want that from someone… but who’s perfect? You don’t have to be perfect to be wow-worthy, and dang it! I want someone who is wowed by me. Ryan either is or he isn’t. Or he will be, but if he’s not- he’s out. That’s what I’ve promised myself.
Out of respect for my sincere desire for the wowage, Ryan writes three letters underneath the previously listed characteristics. “WOW.”
It is way too early for us to proclaim our wowed feelings, or the lack thereof, so we read some quotes from his planner. Then he tells me some specific experiences, amazing stories, about how he set goals that seemed almost unattainable and in the end, they were reached. We mix our acquired knowledge, mine intangible and full of emotion yet so real and important, his solid and built on experience, faith and work, tested and tried. We’re encouraged. This is what relationships should be. Differences shared and understood, taking each other by the hand, and achieving more together. There has been no actual taking of each other by the hand, mind you. No, we’re still a safe arm’s length apart.
Aaaanyways…
I feel like Cinderella, but more attentive, because I’m ever aware of the clock ticking toward midnight. Ryan soon offers to walk me home. We walk under a clear, November sky. In our small town, we have ever appreciated the view of a million stars, not blocked out by city lights. We walk the same street we’ve walked together so many times before and it feels perfect. At the doorstep, we say a quick goodbye. I think there’s another hug in the future, but for now, it stays in his eyes. I do see it there, but it’s not the thing I’m looking for. I’m not searching his eyes for intentions, for the memories or the future, for the connection between the letters and this person, I’m searching for something indefinable that we have summarized into three little letters. I’m looking for WOW.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Little Thing Called Self Control



Have you seen this hilarity? I've been thinking about this comedian's material because I'm guilty of it. Life is so easy and convenient. When I get tired from exercise, or overwhelmed from cleaning my house... I get SO put out! This stuff isn't supposed to be easy, Amie! Not everything is easy! Not everything is fun! It hurts to have a cavity filled, but is it good for you? Yes. You lift weights, you're sore the next day, but is it good for you? Yes! You go without chocolate, you crave it and get grumpy, but is it good for you? YES!

I'm so used to everything feeling like fantasy land that I don't even want to struggle anymore! I wouldn't give back one convenience of modern technology, but this is me being tough on myself in the name of my New Year's Resolutions.

Amie, the idea of failing at getting a book published is scary. The idea of succeeding at it is scary too. Honestly, the picture of me sitting at a table eventually, signing my name on books for people and trying to make myself believe that I'm worthy of someone wanting me to sign my name on something? Terrifying. And crazy. I know. I think most authors dream of people wanting their autograph, and that idea is scary to me. But you know what? So is getting a cavity filled, so is working out hard, so is going without chocolate... oh that's just too horrific- let's not go there. My goals are hard for me. If they weren't, they wouldn't need to be goals. Being tough on myself is necessary sometimes.

Life is so wonderful that we could almost believe that being the least bit uncomfortable must be a bad thing. Truth is: discomfort makes us grow. I sorta wish I had my own personal drill sergeant. Run soldier! RUN! Clean soldier, CLEAN! Edit soldier, EDIT! I'd hate him so much... and he'd be so good for me. Ryan Edward is probably willing to do the job, but I'm thinking that wouldn't be great for our relationship. ;)

How are your resolutions holding up? And are you ever afraid of success? Or am I unusual and in need my own personal therapist as well? I have suspicions I might be. (You know, I would LOVE to hear your comments even if there's bad grammar or misspelled words. Or just one word. "Like!" I'll know what you mean, because I facebook. :) It doesn't matter that this is a writer's blog at all. Your comments are really just for interaction- or encouragement. :) "LIKE!"!!!!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

And THIS! :)

Blogs are good and bad. The bad is that they can be time wasters and people comparers. In my opinion there is a lot more good. Meeting friends, getting to know people in a different way, making a lasting record, the therapy of expressing emotions through writing, knowing that there are other people who feel the same way you do.

I've been able to learn a lot about people through blogs. I've been inspired by others' accomplishments and felt pushed (in a good way) to better myself. I've grown a deeper understanding of what others are going through.

I have some friends who are trying to adopt a baby. If you or anyone you know is interested in finding a good adoptive family, please check out their profile:
https://itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/25836572/ourMessage.jsf

I know these things take consideration and prayer and just the right circumstances, so I won't say much more... only that I want to superimpose myself into their family picture.


Don't you? They wouldn't mind, would they? If we all just happened to be in that picture with them? 'Cuz it looks like a lovely little place out of time to me!

My True Love Story

Ryan's Return

Day 2,685ish
I’m sitting in the coziest of living rooms, but I’m shaking. The room is not my own, but so familiar. Here I sat with Ryan as a young teenager, both of us trying to keep our hands off of each other. Here I sat with Ryan as an older teenager, so afraid because if I was on this couch it meant a temporary truce between us that could lead me, once again, into heart-sunk helplessness. Here I sat waiting to speak to Elder Leonhardt on the phone, genuinely loving his family, and trying to be my most impressive self, hoping they could maybe accept me as one of them. Here I sat with his Mom, his wonderful, reassuring Mom who tried to calm my fears when I told her that he hasn’t written his feelings to me in these two years and I have no idea how he’ll feel or what will happen when he returns. Here I sit now, in my carefully chosen clothes, my carefully styled hair, waiting for him… for a face I haven’t seen in two years.
What concerns me is that after two year’s worth of letters containing apologies, and speaking of change and of strength, I still think of Ryan as the guy who is capable of smashing my heart and my dreams. On the outside, I’m a little over-confident. I’m wearing a tough exterior that even I can almost believe. On the inside I have a fear that will cause me nightmares for years no matter how well this turns out.
I glance at my watch as a new flock of butterflies assaults my stomach. The minutes seem like hours. I started watching the clock real hours ago, not knowing exactly when he’d arrive. I watched as dusk turned to dark and the stars came out, reminding myself, all the while, to breathe. Finally, when I was considering letting the scary, scary unknown win out, climbing into pajamas and burrowing into bed for the night to cover my head with a pillow and pretend I could actually sleep- I got a call from his family. They were home. Ryan wasn’t with them yet. His Dad had stopped along the way at the home of the proper authority so that he could be officially released from his calling as missionary. Elder Leonhardt, no more. Just Ryan now… but never just Ryan, not to me, and I’d venture to say, not to anyone who has ever truly known him.
“Are you going to hug him when you see him?”
That’s the question everyone asks. Missionaries spend two years with constraining rules where girls are concerned. When they return, they often greet the fairer sex with handshakes and an arm’s-length distance. Doesn’t matter how many people ask it, or how often, the question repeats over and over in my mind.
“He was really, really strict about the rules. I’ll probably just reach out my hand to shake his and see what happens.”
That’s the answer I usually give. I make it sound like I haven’t imagined the scenario over and over. Like I’m not afraid of the awkward offer of my hand, or how I’ll feel so distant from him if he simply shakes it.
I made a scrapbook for him and it’s sitting on my lap. The outside of it is covered in fabric to resemble a missionary’s suit. Okay, I didn’t make that part, I bought it. I made the pages inside. I’d really be a dedicated missionary-writer if I had the whole two years covered in those pages, but the truth is I’ve been busy dating and living and trying to figure everything out. Am I afraid of what he’ll say about the people I’ve dated and the relationships I’ve had? No. No, that isn’t something that concerns me. I’d be so much more afraid if I hadn’t explored love and life that way. I’d be afraid if I hadn’t dated anyone exceptional. Because I did, I have memories and growth and knowledge. I know more about who I am. I know more about what I deserve. I needed that. Other people don’t need to date the way I did to know that, but Ryan and I both needed that from me.
Anyway, the scrapbook is mostly good intentions, mixed with a few hours of cutting and pasting as his homecoming approached. I’ve only covered the first couple of places that he served so far. So far. I wonder if I’ll finish this book or if someone else will. No, no one else would. No other girl would want to finish a scrapbook that I started for Ryan, or even keep it for that matter. I take a deep breath, nervously tuck my hair behind my ear and then remember that it doesn’t look as good that way, un-tuck it, and fluff it a little.
His Mom, his little sister, his older, married sister and her family are all scuttling around preparing the house, probably for the twentieth time. There’s a cake that says, “Welcome home Elder Leonhardt.” I put a big sign out on the front of the house with balloons. Thank goodness I had that project to pour some nervous energy into, or I might not be conscious by now. His good family members attempt to talk to me now and again, but I’m sure they don’t know which the bigger challenge is- trying to get petrified me to form coherent sentences, or trying to find a subject appropriate for this moment. “Soooo… do you think Ryan will still have feelings for you? Or will he have become so strong, so controlled, so charitable and knowledgeable that you will seem like an emotional teenage wreck to him now?” “Soooo… we’ve seen you around town with a few other guys. How long until you break our brother’s heart, and give us an excuse to break your head, you hideous excuse for a trustworthy missionary writer.”
“Sooo… Are you going to hug him when you see him?”
You can see why the masses stick with that old standby.
They were all at the airport when he got off of the plane, so I am the one they look at with wide, excited eyes when headlights turn in the direction of their driveway, followed by gasps and exclamations of, “I think they’re here!”
The garage door opens to allow for the vehicle to pull in. I forget to remind myself to breath. I stand up, tug on my shirt and straighten my jeans. I think it’s his Mom who says, “Do you want to go outside to meet him?”
I look around at them, my heart racing. Minutes that were hours, are nanoseconds now, speeding out of control. “Should I?” I ask.
“Sure, just head out the front door, there.”
Somehow, my feet, in the platform heels that I’ve adapted so that I can appear taller, take me out that door. I don’t know what happens. I don’t know who directs him to come toward me instead of walking in the back door, I don’t know if it’s cold outside or if anyone is talking or if my palm is sweaty, or soft and sexy for the shaking.
All I know is what I can see: the form, the broad, straight, confident form of a guy in a suit that belongs on him as nothing else ever has. He takes two steps out of the garage, and the form has light shed on it. Defined cheekbones, a gleaming smile, a twinkle of magic in his blue eyes.
The faltering steps that took me down the front walk are no longer sufficient to my feet and legs. They propel me forward before my mind can tell them to. He’s coming toward me just as quickly and his arms are open wide. At the sight of that, my mind does catch up and instructs my feet and legs that the chosen pace could yet increase. My last steps toward him are practically a run, and those arms- those dress suit clad, muscular, warm, welcoming arms wrap around my waist, as I hadn’t dared hope they would. My arms, in their red sweater (because red is my best color), and spritzed with the perfume he remembers (because it can’t hurt) wrap around his neck, and the hug is so enthusiastic that I’m fairly lifted off the ground.
All four of the arms let go almost as quickly as they grabbed on… probably remembering that the other option was a stodgy handshake, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to get too greedy. We’re making some small talk, I think, through huge smiles. I don’t know what we’re saying. I don’t. I think I’m remembering to breathe though, because after a couple of seconds he directs me back the way I’ve come and I’m able to acquiesce. He follows me into the warm living room, and motions for me to sit down on the couch. He sits an arm’s length away. Old habits die hard. We’re about to talk. We’re about to discover each other all over again. The changes and the intentions and the answers, the answers that won’t come any other way but to look each other in the eye and talk, talk, talk. My hands are sweaty now, and I’m thankful that the handshake possibilities have passed. I smile at him again, from across an entire couch cushion… and I remind myself to breathe.