Rings and Lakes

So, the reason for the rush was the not-so-secret surprise engagement celebration for my sister and her fiance. And I’m glad that we made it.

Engagements are a funny thing. For most people it isn’t a movie moment where the girl is utterly surprised by the question and the man is nervous she will say ‘no’. There needs to be some type of conversation before that happens, lest you enter youtube hall of fame as ‘proposal fail’–which is totally a thing. I’ve often lamented the fact that boys (traditionally, and hopefully this will change in the next 100 years) get to choose the girl, and decide to ask. That is quite an open, albeit scary situation. A girl has to wait, and only has the option of yes or no. Why are the men the askers and the girls the answerers? Only being able to answer is stifling and also implies that they must wait for the guy alone to be ready. He controls the time, place, method, speech and women get an almost inaudible yes or no?

Anyway, D had an amazing event planned and I’m glad it worked out–he knew it would because they’d talked about it. Which is, as I said, key. The party was excellent, and it was great to meet his family in that way.

But there was an awkward moment. There came a time when it was necessary to exchange engagement stories. Now, I grew up knowing my parent’s story. It wasn’t fireworks–it was a solid love and commitment and mutual decision. The best thing is to decide together to live your lives rather than one person think its a good idea and the other agree. I never missed the glitz from it. The hard part is talking about my own which is somewhere in between flash, mutual decision and plain old practicality. Of course there was and is love. Its just not the world’s best story. Depending on who I’m reciting it to I’ve began, not exactly lying but, stretching the truth. What do people want to hear? I’ll tell them that!For me, in reality, it happened Christmas 2010. In the best way that it could have. A way that is uniquely weird and us:

Jane: indeed.. well yuo nevr said yes or n0
2:05 PM me: did you ask?
 Jane: kinda
  🙂
2:06 PM me: in person or just now over gtalk?
2:07 PM Jane: hehe gtalk
 
Jane: as i said. will you marry me
 me: 😉
1:00 PM sure
 Jane: sweet.. tht was easy
 me: nervous for a sec there?
1:01 PM Jane: not really/.. legs elope 🙂
  lets
1:03 PM me: hmm do you know if we can? your goverment is kinda strict
1:04 PM Jane: it’ll be fine i amsure
1:05 PM well ok the diffrence is wheathe we gegt amrried and or you apply for citezenship
 me: hahaha

That was over the course of two days 27th and 28th while I was in Japan and he was in the UK. And yes, for some reason my nickname for Chris on Gchat is Jane. Its a long story. The problem for me after this Christmas was the waiting. And that is something my sister also is experiencing. Why do we wait? What are we planning for? Why must there be a ring? Who actually cares about this stuff? Obviously the important thing to ask after the big question is…how can this legally be done–and it was actually a bit of a pain.

The story I tell most people involves the ring, and being at home and happy. But that isn’t how it happened. Not really.

Enough about me. My sister’s was that magical dream night. The went to dinner. He took her to the lake out behind his house and rowed to the middle. There he got down on one knee and asked (with an elegant speech I wish he had saved) and then he signaled for fireworks.

He rowed ashore to where we all were waiting with champagne and cake.

You can’t really top that.

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Why are engagements a big deal? Why do we crave stories that prove the man’s prowess and romanticism to woo a woman?

I have no answers. I just know that they are and I’m ecstatic for my sister.

 

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Flying the Columbus

We were down to our last week in the UK for who knows how long. We met up with many of Chris’ friends and had wonderful sunny barbecues. Time has already taken its toll on my memory as I don’t have specifics. But I do remember that last day when John snapped a photo of us with all our luggage–the only possessions which would be with us for the unforeseeable future–tears were shed, and we were dropped off at a hotel.

There was a sunset, and a final taking stock as what we had just done began to finally set in. We were leaving. I can still remember the slight despair and fear.

Chris had us up at 4 am to catch the first shuttle. I had a mouthful of yoghurt to try and settle my stomach against the barrage of coffee I knew was to follow.

I must take a moment to say–if you have never pre-cleared immigration, go to Ireland and fly to the US. You arrive and stand in line smelling fresh, fairly rested and only slightly nervous. I didn’t have my 7+hours on a plane to panic and think of what to tell immigration officers “Please sir, let me back into ‘my’ country, and my totally legit husband who will NOT be working here”. Nicest USA immigration officers EVER. The only small hitch was there was no picture of our luggage, so we were ushered into a small room to wait while they found our bags (which weren’t lost) and watched a strange cartoon. Also, we eavesdropped on an interesting conversation of a woman with a green card but lived in London–the officer was not pleased but his message wasn’t getting across to her. I often wonder whether she chose to live in the USA with her son and keep her green card, or forfeited it and lived in London some more…who knows?

Its not a terrible flight from Ireland to the East Coast. Short, and I feel like every flight I take now a days is shorter than those from my youth. Either I perceive time differently, or air planes have drastically improved…I hope its a combination of the two. I watch chick flicks and Chris watches action movies (so stereotypical, I apologize). Syncing up to watch a scifi together is pretty torturous as someone is always ahead of the other and either laughs or gasps giving away whatever climax to the other.

When we land, we stroll out with the domestics, hug my mom and dad and begin a long drive fueled by sweets and pho. Welcome to America. And Freedom.

Wedding bells

Before you get married you compare all weddings to either your own personal fantasy or to those you attended. After your wedding, it is always a game of looking back with inevitable comparisons, advise for those in the midst of it and if you self-critical like me, you see all the missed opportunities. Chris’ sister got married in July, and my sister will get married in February so weddings is on the brain. But for now, I want to dive into reminiscing about July.

After wales, we loaded up our tiny little car with not 1, but 2 big tents for a wonderful garden wedding. We drove 1 min. down the road and of course something broke (don’t ask me what), and we were delayed a few hours. As a result my lunch break with a dear friend was cut a little short and I never walked the streets of that wonderful book town that I’d been dreaming about, called Hay-on-Wye. I guess there is always next time.

We arrived and had about a week-worth of helping out. Small trips to the stores to buy out flowers, setting up marques in the garden, creating the perfect mood lighting with candles and just general cleaning. It was relaxing to be involved and not the centre. Weddings=stress in case you didn’t know.

It was a two-day affair and we were completely surrounded by love. A small group of us went to the registry office in downtown Manchester and witnessed their vows, signing of papers and dedication to one another. Chris cried, and he wasn’t the only one.

Back at their house we were greeted by tasty hors d’oeuvres and the perfect garden ambiance. It being almost 4 months ago, and last time that Chris got to see all his family in one happy bunch.

So, I must ask myself, why write about this now? Well, to share pictures, to remember the event, celebrate their love and document my next moves. But is that enough of an agenda? Probably not.

When the world stops spinning, go back to where you left off…

I’m not quite sure how travel bloggers do it. In the past couple months I was legitimately homeless, but always sheltered (thank you family and friends). I hated personal questions more than usual because everything was a big question mark. While I still have no idea what I am doing, at least I know where I am. I’m in Wellington. We have rented a small apartment, and Chris is working. Supposedly I am living the dream without a job, but I just feel suffocated by free time.

So, since the world has stopped spinning quite as fast, I figured I should pick up where I left off. Yes it is months late, but if I don’t write, create nothing, it is almost as if nothing happened. And so much did…

When we arrived at the farm in wales it was filled with chickens and geese, dogs and cats and horses (the cows were gone now). I realized that it really is a ‘life style’ and I asked myself if I could do this? Its the constant dirt and mud. It never actually looks as tidy as pinterest would have you believe…But I must confess, the eggs of a goose are the best.

 

 

The eggs are stunning. Huge and delicious. But the commitment to get them? Feed and love these loud animals that coat the ground in green. I am tempted. It could be my job, and Chris and I have day dreamed about it. For now, I’ll leave it to his dad to do, but the farm life is in his blood I fear (hope?).

You have to start somewhere

 
After the packing was done, there wasn’t anything left to do but leave. There were tears and thoughts of regret, but there was also the open road.

We had a flying trip past Stonehenge. We visited it about 4 years ago, and I thought we might stop again, but even from a distance you could see there were more people than stones, so it was enough to take evidence from the car.

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The main stop, however, was Glastonbury. I had only heard of it as that famous music festival, but it was a great little town full of hippie shops, old houses, magic and God. Because Chris and I are too stingy for our own good we packed a romantic picnic to eat inside the ruins of the cathedral. I highly recommend it, on your own or in a group. I almost bought all the Catholic souvenirs they had, but the painful memory of packing and throwing away too many cherished belongings stopped me cold.

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Last, but not least, Chris promised me the UK’s mini grand canyon, also known as Cheddar Gorge. At first when we ‘arrived’ I saw nothing. Then I saw it. It was impressive and cool, and ended in the blink of an eye. The comparison to the grand canyon was a vast overstatement which left me confused and bitter when it was over. The rest of the town promised to be a sweet tourist trap which I promise to revisit and explore a cave or two when time and money allows.IMG_0603

It was a good mini-trip to warm us up for our goal later this month. One word of complaint against the UK is: aircon. It may just have been our crappy little car, but travelling in it turns it quickly into an oven even when the outside is fairly cool…I have much more to tell on these sufferings later…

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Homeless and on the Road

My journey has begun a lot quicker than I thought and with little to no time to publish the updates I want. The one thing I do want to share is a feeling.

At the moment the ‘things’ that I own and want to keep are boxed up and lay in waiting for me. A small amount of ‘things’ are with me. Each night I sleep in a bed that is not mine and I dream of stability, routine, and privacy. The problem is, none of these dreams have a physical shape. There is no place like that. I am in transition. 

So how do you deal with this? You fill up your days and crowd them full as much as possible with various levels of exciting adventures. It is at that point that you realize you are longing for the mundane, the ordinary.

That being said, the pictures to come show that I’ve had a great time so far and I know I still will. Perhaps these flashes will be less and less.

Blue Alien Cat

If you were to ask me what 1 super power I wish I had, my answer would be unchanged from when I was about 6 years old and watching Doraemon. I want the power of teleportation; I would settle for a magical door that opened instantly to anywhere. Why? Because then you can always go home, you will never miss anyone or ever have to say goodbye all while experiencing new locations, cultures and most importantly food. 

This is, however, a dream. I am writing this because there is no such thing. It takes a long time to get from point A to B, I have no home, I miss everyone and am now in the middle of goodbyes (again). People ask me if I am excited to travel, but what I feel is more akin to fearful anticipation. I am leaving a great steady job for the unknown.

I waited deliberately to start writing until school was out, but I wrote this first blog entry many times in my head. Sometimes I was positive and loving towards the situation I am leaving behind, and at other times I lashed out. It has been a roller coaster ride of a year, but then my total of 5 years in the UK have all had their ups and downs. This time as I leave behind this country I also leave behind a big part of my own identity which I hope I can regain.

My house is empty, my cat is gone, and all that is left is for Chris and I to hit the road–which incidentally leads me to my point. This blog is to document our travels. A photo dump, an emotional outlet and a way to make those goodbyes seem less permanent.