Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If I was a Boy

There were two times in my life that I found it necessary to attempt to trick people into believing I was boy.

The first was around age 7. I was a girl scout. I was a girl scout who longed to be a boy scout. Why? You ask?

Simple. Girl scouts had to sit around knitting things and making doilies. This was long before knitting was cool and even if it had been cool back then, my hyperactive little self would not have been having any part of it. I had little to no interest in reading American Girl books or sewing clothing for dolls. I liked baking things, but not nearly as much as I liked more lively pastimes like catching potentially dangerous wildlife with my bare hands.

It just so happened that the boy scouts got to participate in activities that were exactly conducive to that sort of thing. They camped and built fires and fished. They earned merit badges for things like archery and survival skills. They made little wooden cars with their dads and sanded them down all smooth and then raced them to see whose was the fastest.

I knew. I had a little brother in boy scouts. And I was jealous.

My best friend, Deja, also had a brother in boy scouts, though her's was older.

Fortunately for me, Deja was jealous too. So Deja and I devised a plan. We would stuff our (already boyishly short) hair under baseball caps and sneak into a boy scout meeting. They would take us in with open arms, and we'd be camping and building pinewood derby cars before we knew it!

I remember walking in with her, our hands in our pockets, trying to look tough. We thought it was going to work until her older brother appeared from another room and shouted, "Those aren't boys! That's my little sister and her friend!"

We were promptly ushered out.

Not willing to consider ourselves doomed to live only vicariously through our brothers, we quit girl scouts (well, after the year ended as our mothers wanted to teach us to follow through on our commitments) and started our own club. We called it the Straight A Team. Nobody else joined it because they all thought that "Straight A" meant they had to have perfect grades when really A only stood for animals.

Fortunately that wasn't our only club. We also had the Last Chance Detectives, which I'm pretty sure we just swiped the name of from some really cheesy television show we both watched.

Our activities for the Straight A Team largely consisted of dragging the same 3 tires out of the river in our school playground at least once a week, only to find that adults had put them right back in again the very next day. I have a feeling, in hindsight, that those tires were probably a tool to maintain the structural integrity of the river bank or something. As kids, though, every time we hauled them out and onto the grass, we were convinced that we were saving the lives of countless otters and... probably even some dolphins.

As for the Last Chance Detectives, our attention was focused on one caper. The reoccurring mailbox bandit. Someone was knocking down Deja's family's mailbox. Violently.

Whoever it was had to be brought to justice.

We noticed a hapless wanderer who limped up and down the road that ran parallel to the embankment at the edge of my yard and took it upon ourselves to spy on this man with binoculars. We also made notes about him in our club journal.

"Man walks with a limp today but he didn't yesterday."

"Man walks with cane."

"Limp is gone. Looks suspicious."

"No cane today, but now he is wearing a bandana over his face. What is he hiding?"

"Man is growing a beard. Must be changing looks to hide from cops. We'll get 'im!"

This poor guy. We even had plans for some kind of tripwire trap that would have him hanging by his foot from a tree like in the movies. Fortunately for everyone involved, my dad refused to help us set that one up.

The second time I thought it imperative to be mistaken for a boy was when I was 13. The reasons had changed immeasurably, however. This time it was because I had a crush on a boy or two in the tiny class I was in.

Again, a friend collaborated. My classmate Mandy also had a thing for one of the guys in our class. The only problem was that we, being just newly teenage girls, were convinced we could never know what boys talked about (namely, whether or not they talked about us) unless we could be a fly on the wall in their conversation.

The only way to make this happen was to become one of them. To infiltrate undetected into their camp.

Mandy and I planned this hoodwink thoroughly for weeks in advance. We chose our boy names (she would be Brent and I would be Tré with a little accent over the e ) and figured out the best ways to hide our hair. We even got our teacher in on it.

In order to explain our absence when Brent and Tré showed up, we would stage a mock fight with our teacher (who we actually got along with beautifully) and she would pretend to have us suspended from school. This part of the plan was executed with precision. Our teacher took us out in the hall, and we three pretended to shout at each other as we stifled the giggles that threatened to blow our cover.

After going outside to walk around in the sunshine and compose ourselves for a bit, and to make it look like the principal was calling our mothers, we sulked somberly back into our classroom to say goodbye to our classmates and leave early.

Mandy's dad drove over and picked us up. We spent the weekend disguising our hair and ourselves to the very best of our ability. I was frustrated when my amateur quest to dye my hair red produced only a subtle tint on my dark chocolate locks.

When we walked back into the living room after my hair was dry, Mandy's pops said, "Hey that looks good!", to which I replied, "It's not supposed to look good! It's supposed to look different! Really really different!" I sighed heavily before I thanked him for the compliment.

Mandy and I stayed up all night before school began again on Monday putting our hair into a million tiny braids and folding the braids in half as a last ditch effort to make it appear shorter.

There I was again. Monday morning, strutting into a room with my hands in my pockets, trying to look tough.

The boys we had crushes on, the very ones we sought to fool, were the only other souls about as early as we arrived. They took one look at us and said, "Sarah? Mandy? I thought you guys were suspended! Why are you dressed like that? What happened to your hair?"

"Uh" I said in my best guy-voice, "No. Sarah and Mandy got suspended, so they sent us in their place. My name is Tré, with an accent over the e, and this is my friend Brent."

There was a momentary pause.    

And then Nathan and Eric burst into uncontrollable laughter. At a loss for explaining ourselves, we made up a story on the spot about dressing up as boys to infiltrate their hang-out talks... as a research project.

Thankfully, they were amused enough with the whole situation not to question us further. Instead, they decided to sneak us into a closet to try and help us make our disguises more convincing. Nathan tried to use mascara to paint facial hair on us, and Eric... mostly just made a mess.

Needless to say, we didn't end up deceiving one single classmate.

But somehow, as with the silliness when I was 7, the endeavor was not entirely fruitless.

Ever since then I have been more than content being a girl. Even if it means that sometimes catching dangerous wild animals is frowned upon. Last I heard, boys aren't exactly encouraged to bring home adult wild raccoons either.

Though that is another story. And shall be told another time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 56)

That morning finally arrived. Star pulled me out of bed and insisted that I go find something to put in my stomach, so I sleepily stumbled out in the direction of the hotel lobby.

The second we walked in, our sleepy eyes were met with Joseph's whole family, all dressed and ready and wide awake. Joseph's dad hummed "Here Comes the Bride" as I tried not to think about the fact that I was still in my sleeping shorts and tank top. We swiped a few donuts and got the hell out of there.

Grey and Star helped me get ready while my sweet friend Meriah took pictures.

Meriah is a fantastic photographer. You can check out her work here

I got so engrossed in this process and in conversation that I certainly would have forgotten to eat lunch had Dayanara not stopped by with a sandwich and some sweet tea and required that I partake. 

When it was getting close to time to go, I gave up on anything resembling shoes, and hopped into Meriah's car barefoot. 

Genevieve met me in the driveway, took my face in her hands and gasped, "The Spirit of God on you!". I smiled thankfully to her. There was no other statement that could have melted my stage fright jitters faster. 

As if that wasn't enough to kill my nerves, Adelaide ran over and leapt into my arms for a hug. 

Everyone was mulling about excitedly around the yard while we waited. 

Just before the ceremony, we were all rounded onto the porch to huddle up for a prayer. 

Meanwhile, as Joseph and Jim made their way to the alter, 

the Hanwell's cat (not to be caught at a wedding empty pawed) dragged a dead rat up the aisle and dropped it at Joseph's feet. 

Our wedding party was fabulous. Everyone was so lovely.

As a matter of fact, Rosie and Jett looked like so much fun together, that a few of my unaware guests asked them if they were married! Jett, confused, said, "No...", and Rosie (not missing a beat) looked aghast and replied, "And to think that I gave you the best years of my life!"  

My Dad had started bawling halfway through the rehearsal and was not about to stop as he walked me down the aisle. 

Almost there, I tried to focus on Joseph's eyes. Dad tripped and I heard a rip. It was because his foot had gotten tangled in my train. 

My pops has never been one to do much of anything delicately, so his attempts to untangle himself consisted of shaking his leg violently until there was another tearing sound and he was free to walk again. 

Jim accidentally forgot to do the ceremony and skipped straight to our vows. We were secretly a bit grateful that it worked out that way because it meant that we could just stand and listen to it all without worrying about our part. 

My cousins read Scripture over us, and my beautiful friend Chloe sang "Meet Me by the River" (by Enter the Worship Circle) from the Hanwell's balcony. 

We had planned to exit at the very end to The Darkness's song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"  - which we did. The only thing was that there was a slight delay. Star's husband spaced out for a few awkward moments before he hit play. 

We just kind of stood there looking around, hoping he would notice. 

He did finally figure it out, though, and we dashed out into the parking lot to make a receiving line to hug everyone. It was overwhelming and sweet to have one dear friend after another in my arms - many of whom I hadn't seen in ages. 

Everyone went down to the reception, and Meriah made quick work of the wedding party pictures so that we could swiftly be on our way as well. 

Joseph and I stopped by the hotel before we joined everyone at the reception so that I could switch my dress out. I thought I'd wear it all night, but the part Dad ripped accidentally was hanging all bejiggidy, so I was relieved to find that I randomly had something else that I figured was appropriate to wear instead.

At the reception, Eddie Kindle (who had come early to help set up tables) engaged me in conversation about his latest romantic conundrum. He sounded as though he would reach a resolution soon, and Maggie would have her boyfriend back. 

Adelaide played in the grass with my childhood friend Deja's daughter. 

The doves miraculously got along beautifully with each other for the whole reception. They had everyone well fooled by their peaceful cooing and occasional rustling of feathers as they dozed.

Star's husband called a line dance that even my mom and dad (who until that point, I had never seen dance in public... or... at all, for that matter) participated in. 

And at the very end of the reception after almost everyone else had gone home, just before Joseph and I headed off ourselves, Joseph's three best friends called me over. 

James and Starbuck stood sheepishly behind Jett, staring at their shoes and occasionally looking up to nod in agreement with him as he confided quietly to me, "We love Joseph. We have known him forever and he is our bro. We all three have his artwork all over our dorms and apartments. He has had a few girlfriends in the past that we just knew weren't right for him. But that day we all hung out at the waterfall, and he carried that little rock with mica on it down to you, and you saw the same beauty in it that he did, we knew." 

He went on to tell me with his precious eyes gleaming that they knew I cared for him and that he cared for me in the way that they had only hoped they could see happen for their friend. 

Shortly after that, I hugged the remainder of my friends and family goodbye and climbed into our car (that Banjo and BestfriendDavid had snuck away to "decorate") to embark on some new adventures. 

Star later told me that the very second that she had placed the last of the decorations into her car and shut the trunk, the sky opened up and the rain that had stayed at bay all day long came pouring down. 

So there you have it. That was how I became acquainted with a new world in the heart of my God. How I saw that He is a God of restoration. That He is for the healing of all relationships broken, and the finding of all cherished things lost. 

I did nothing to bring about the mending that took place in my friendship with Eddie, or in my husband's relationship with Jesus. In fact, my attempts only caused more strife in most cases. 

Even my best efforts in finding the lost turtle only resulted in a significantly messier room. 

It is just that I belong to one seriously faithful God. 

And if you are wondering about anything in this story that still seems unresolved, do not worry. There are always more things aching to be restored. 

But that is why He has promised to finish the work that He started in us. Because, in the end, for those who love Him, all things will be made whole. 

The end 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 55)

A few months prior to the wedding, when Joseph and I were in the thick of wedding planning and classes, there were a myriad of preposterous ideas tossed around.

If there is one thing I've never been able to stand, it's being usual. Predictable. Boring. Sometimes my judgement can become a bit clouded when exciting possibilities enter my mind that buck the monotonous rhythm of normalcy.

Such silly business as our vows being written Dr. Seuss style, the attendance of various barnyard animals, and providing people with picnic blankets instead of chairs to sit on were (thankfully) flatly refused and kindly refuted by those closest to me.

One thing nobody managed to talk me out of, however, was my plan to replace a unity candle with doves. I wanted doves at our wedding, but due to the hawk that lived not far from the Hanwell's backyard, I didn't think the standard release-them-into-the-wild-blue-yonder route was the best to go. My plan was to have them in separate cages during the ceremony and then somehow magically morph them into one cage for the reception. It was brilliant. The symbology of unity would be there, but it would be in the background instead of blazingly stated with candles and fire and it's own moment that could very easily turn awkward if we took too long trying to get wicks to catch with our trembly stage-fright hands.

Our pet store searches only produced a number of little brown doves. Not a single white dove was there to be found. I don't know why I was so adamant about obtaining white doves. I was on wedding planning crazy pills, I think.

What happened in the end was that we found a guy who lived in a minuscule dot of a town, way way way back in the mountains, whose hobby was collecting and raising rare and exotic pigeons and doves. Who would have guessed that such a thing could be a real passion for someone?

This guy was delighted with his birds. He had crafted multiple nesting sheds for them with his hands, and longed for nothing more than to fill our ears with everything he knew about what they ate, how they behaved, how many breeds there were, what they all were, and bird-related stories of his own.

When he found out he was talking to Christians, his eyes lit up even more. He told us of a pigeon that had been his son's absolute favorite. The kid took this bird everywhere with him. He even snuggled it as he watched movies.

The pigeons could fly free during the day, and they always returned back to their pen at night. One day, his son's favorite pigeon flew into the sky only to be snapped up immediately by a hawk. Panicking, the father had run at the predator, waving his arms and throwing things. When the hawk dropped the pigeon, the father saw that it was too late. The pigeon's neck was severed down to the bone. He thought there was no way the bird would live.

He carried it inside to show his wife. Neither of them could bare to tell their son, so they tucked the pigeon into a warm little crate, prayed over it, and left it be for the night.

When they woke in the morning, the father almost couldn't bring himself to go look and see how the bird was doing. He couldn't have been more shocked when he peeked in, and saw that the pigeon was alive and well and healing.

"He was good as new in just a few days!", He proclaimed. He then went into the coop and brought that pigeon out to show us it's scar.

Before he got to our doves, he showed us a pen after pen of pigeons that looked like elaborate works of art. At one pen, he stopped.

"These little guys don't look like much, I know" he noted, "but they are some of my favorites. They are called the rollers and the tumblers. People bred these pigeons for centuries to stick close to their owners. Eventually the flight was bred out of them. See?"

He picked up a roller and gave it a gentle toss. The second it hit the ground, it began doing somersaults. Literally. This bird moved along the ground doing speedy little somersaults by tucking it's head under it's body and propelling itself into a forward roll with a flurry of winged flutters.

When he saw that we were adequately astonished by this, he took a tumbler out and repeated the light toss. This bird did a flip on it's way down and landed on it's feet. It then flapped it's wings, which sent it into another flip.

Joseph and I watched in awe as the roller somersaulted all over the barn and the tumbler followed behind with flip after flip.

The guy, who we came to refer to affectionately as Dove Man, was grinning from ear to ear by the time he replaced them into their dwellings.

He finally trotted over to the white doves and brought out the youngest two adults he owned.

They were huge! Why I had thought doves were small, I'll never know. These two were at least the size of small chickens.

Despite being blindsided by their size, we took the doves and were on our way.

On the way home, I realized I had not planned this out as well as I had thought. The birdcage I assumed would accommodate them nicely was obviously out of the question now. One of those doves could easily fill it up on it's own, leaving not even enough room for it to stretch it's wings.

Before we got back, we stopped at Lowe's and purchased a few coop-building supplies.

We spent the rest of the night learning a new hatred for chicken wire as we cut and bent and sculpted and resculpted and complained to each other about the scratches that were turning up all over our arms.

By the time we were finished, we had a top heavy, totally impractical dove-keeping structure in our living room.

The doves themselves were also ridiculous. As a symbol of unity, tranquility, and peace, we thought they would just sit nestled in their hutch and coo all day. For the first week or two it seemed we were mostly correct, but as the wedding day drew closer, our doves became increasingly homicidal.

They began fighting with each other all the time. I came home from class one day to find one of them with a gaping neck wound and was forced to separate them for a week and a half so the wounded one could heal.

When they weren't assuming fencing poses and dueling to the death with beak assaults and winged right-hooks, they would go back to the contented nestling and cooing.

Apart, they seemed miserable, so we decided to put them back together and see if they outgrew trying to maim each other.

So intense was their feud for the higher perch, that whichever dove obtained this goal would suffer more for it, knowing that the other was constantly watching for a moment to steal his ground. Higher-perch dove would literally sleep with one eye open, always on anxious guard for a sneak attack.

Said sneak attack always came with full force the very second high-ground-dove nodded off completely.

In interest of keeping our doves alive, they were separated again by the time the night before our wedding was upon us.

I had relegated the task of moving them into the same cage again after the wedding ceremony to Grey. I knew that she was fearless, yet gentle enough to handle it.

I only hoped that they wouldn't fight each other into a bloody pulp at the reception. The symbolism of that couldn't be good.

(Continued here)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 54)

The week before my wedding finally arrived. My mom flew down early to help me work out the details. Things I never would have thought about. Like table clothes.

Joseph and I were preparing for an outdoor wedding. The Hanwells had been planting beautiful things in their yard and making everything lovely and perfect for us and I couldn't believe how incredible it was looking.

We would be getting married under the tree that Joseph and I had sat under on my Mexico blanket to work out our pasts.

One thing we didn't plan for was rain. We had no backup plan for rain whatsoever. Mom immediately set about figuring out pricing for tent rentals so that people would have somewhere to huddle in case of a downpour. Joseph made it his mission to check on the weather online every chance he got.

5 days to go. I wanted my bridesmaids to have dresses that they would like and wear again, so I had given them a deep earthy burgundy/purple and told them to find a dress they liked in any color that remotely resembled that swatch.

This request turned out to be more stressful to fulfill than I anticipated, so I amended that request to include white cottony dresses that I could dye for them.

3 or 4 of my bridesmaids went the white cottony dress route and sent them to me in the mail. They came  just in time. Kentucky came over to help me dye them, and it was an adventure in and of itself. Mom chuckled at how different each one turned out. One was bright neon purple and one was eggplant and marbled. Yet another had polyester stitching that didn't take the dye at all and left a bright white pattern all over the dress.

I personally loved how they all turned out. I only hoped my bridesmaids would, too.

4 more days. Joseph pulled me aside and noted that he felt like we hadn't seen each other all semester. He felt disconnected from me and didn't want to feel that way when he said his vows. We blew everything off and went to the park to lay in the sun by the river we were baptized in and just be still for hours and hours. It was exactly what we needed.

3 days left. Mom, Joseph and I were at Men's Warehouse trying to find something appropriate for Joseph to get married in when Star called to tell us that her car broke down. She would have to wait until the day of our wedding to come over because her husband couldn't get off work to come with her until then. He was going to be our sound guy and call some contra-ish dances for us at the reception, so his truck would be full of instruments and electronic type things.

I had to have my best friend. I told her we would come to Chattanooga and get her. Joseph purchased the first combination of clothing that somewhat fit him and we dashed out the door.

We got to Chattanooga in the wee hours of the morning. Star put Adelaide in her car seat in the back with my mom and we turned right back around to go back to Cullowhee.

Adelaide woke up and sleepily asked Mom in her raspy just-awoke voice, "Did you see the fish?". Star was in stitches. This was the first time she had heard her little one's just-awoke voice. It was the first time Adelaide had ever spoken in such a half-asleep state.

2 days more. My childhood friend Deja arrived, and so did Josephs old buddies (James, Starbuck, and Jett) from back in high school.  We all went to the double waterfall (where I had admitted my more-than-friends feelings for Joseph) together as the beginning of bachelor/bachelorette celebrations. The plan was we would all go there and play for a while, and then the guys and girls would split up and Joe would hang out with his buddies at the house, and the girls and I would hang out at the hotel we were staying in.

When we got to the waterfall, the guys climbed up to the top, and Star, Deja and I stayed below to chat and wallow in the sunshine.

Deja went over to a pool at the bottom of the waterfall and stretched out a leg to put a toe in. One false move, and she slipped and tumbled in. She came back up treading water and swearing. That water was cold!

Star and I felt a little guilty for laughing at her, so we decided to suck it up and jump in too.

As the sun began it's journey down and the three of us were drying out on the rocks, Joseph and the guys trotted over and flopped down. Joe pulled from his pocket a sparkly little rock with mica on it and handed it to me, noting that he found it lovely.

I thanked him, grinning, and validated that I, too, thought it was a thing of beauty.

We packed up and started to head home. James helped us swipe a little mountain laurel on the way back because flowers for a wedding are expensive and it was just so pretty.

In the evening, I was reunited with Dayanara, my dear friend who worked at a summer camp with me, and all of us girls went to Walmart to pick up Grey.

Grey's phone wasn't working, and we weren't exactly sure where she was. It didn't take us long to find her, though. She was outside on a bench with an oldish lady who had evidently had way, way too much to drink. Grey was listening carefully and patiently to this lady's stories. She hugged her goodbye tenderly and did her best to make sure she had someplace to go for the night before we left her.

Back at the hotel, after we did a yarning with shiny white wedding yarn, we sat around outside just relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Dad arrived with my brother and his girlfriend, Charlie.

Everyone went to bed tuckered out. The only one who was fighting sleep was Weezle.

"I can't sleep! I have a cough drop in my mouth!"

"So spit it out!" Charlie grumbled.

"I don't want to! It's at the good part!"

"So chew it up!"

"Eeeeeew nooooooo!"

"Well then sit there quietly and suck on it 'til it's gone!"

"So boring! I don't wanna!"

"Fine! Put it in your butt crack and save it for later!"

That shut him up. Everyone wished each other sweet dreams and fell right asleep.

1 day away. The rest of the bridesmaids and groomsmen came on over. It was priceless to all be together.

There was a very sweet and giving lady who worked in the flower department at Lowes, who had offered to let me come pick flowers from her personal garden for my wedding.

We tried to take her up on her offer, but after a half an hour's drive in the direction of Franklin, we failed catastrophically at finding her house. In the end, we gave up.

It just so happened, though, that the wildflowers on the side of the road were exactly my wedding colors. Star and I pulled over and piled a bunch of them into boxes, ducking whenever we heard a car coming, lest it be a cop and we find ourselves in trouble.

We still didn't know if it was going to rain or not the next day. The forecast was iffy. We were a little nervous, but at this point, we mostly just wanted to get married.

The guys took the chairs we had rented and went to line them up in the Hanwell's backyard so we could have the rehearsal. When they were done, it looked great... except that they forgot to include an aisle.

Genevieve and Star stared at it in silence for a moment before Star finally said, "Um... where is she going to walk?"

Genevieve, relieved someone else had noticed it too, set about helping Star sort this issue out.

They sent the guys to go put up some this-is-how-you-get-there signs.

My dad almost didn't show up for the rehearsal. I think he knew that he would be so emotional and he didn't want to face it. When he finally came, he was fine all through the actual practicing, but later got all choked up randomly while telling one of my uncles a story about our dogs. 

Jim was officiating for us, so he taped his lines into his Bible so that it would look like he had them all memorized. I spent the make believe ceremony trying not to giggle. 

Star teared up when we said our pretend "I do"s and hid behind her white paper parasol. I had given all the bridesmaids white paper parasols. 

When the rehearsal was over, we mulled around a bit. 

Dayanara had brought with her the hat that we told secrets under at camp. It was our secret-tellin' hat. I was happy to see it again. 

There was time for some hugs and some pictures, 

before we pranced on down to the picnic area on campus to partake in stuffed shells, garlic bread, salad, and sweet tea that Joseph's mom was so gracious to provide us with. 

When the day was through, Star made me promise to go to bed before midnight. 

"It's the night before your wedding!", she reminded me, "You will need all the sleep you can get!" 

I did go to bed, dutifully, around 11:00pm. I lay there, staring at the ceiling, wide awake. Until 3am. 

Suddenly Weezle came in and said, "Sarah, you have to get up!" 

"What?! No I don't! I have to go to sleep! I'm getting married tomorrow!" 

"No, you have to get up. Charlie and I want to go to Walmart and get something gross to eat. You do want to come with us, don't you?" 

"But I promised Star..." I stopped. He was making that face at me. The liddle brudder face. The face that he had used since he was a child to get away with murder. "...Oh fine! Wait, I've got to put on some shoes." 

I scanned the room for an instant and realized that I had no idea where my shoes were, and it wasn't likely I would ever find them amid the jumble of wedding madness I was surrounded by. I decided to go without my shoes. 

Weezle and I are tall kids. I am 5' 9" and he's definitely over 6 feet. Charlie, on the other hand is 4' 8". 

When we all trooped through the sliding doors at Walmart, and I attempted to tell Charlie under my breath to walk to the left of me so the "greeter" (aka, the guard) wouldn't notice my shoeless feet, my words had too far down to travel in order to get there on time. Or I was simply too much bigger than she to be hidden at all by walking on her other side. Either way, when I looked up, I saw that the greeter was staring straight at my feet with crazy eyes. 

He began to take a step towards me, and without giving it a second thought all three of us bolted. The greeter took chase. We spent the next 12 minutes or so zipping around the store trying to lose him. Finally, Weezle peeled off to the right and was gone for a bit before jogging back to tell us, "I had him tailing me until I got to the toy section, but I lost him somewhere back there around art supplies." 

He slowed to a cantor, "Come on you guys, let's go to the food department." 

Weezle and Charlie chose some kind of sherbet... cups. They did look pretty gross.  

When we were in the checkout line, I peeked over at the greeter's post and accidentally made eye contact with him. He shot me some daggers. 

I looked at the clerk and said, "I'm getting married tomorrow. I'm getting married tomorrow, and that greeter is going to kill me!"

The clerk glanced over at the greeter and then looked at me, yawned, and said, "Huh. That's too bad. $3.17 please." 

That was it. The other doors were closed because it was so late. There was no way of avoiding him. I took a deep breath and marched towards my fate. 

We tried to give him as wide a berth as we possibly could, but he dashed in front of us. 

"Next time you come here," he bellowed, "you'd better bring a pair of shoes!" 

We ducked around him and ran for the car. 

Once we were safely in the car with the windows rolled up and thoroughly out of earshot, Weezle shook his fist and shouted, "Next time you come here, you'd better bring a better FACE!" 

When we got back to the hotel around 4:30am, I face-planted into bed and fell asleep almost immediately. 

And that is how I spent the last unmarried night of my life. 

The Restoration of All Things (Part 53)

About 2 weeks before our wedding, I had a conversation with the Hanwells. We finally talked about the fact that Joseph and I were essentially living together.

I shouldn't have been doing that, but it wasn't until we finally talked about it that I understood with clarity why. It was a hard situation for everyone, and I wished with all that was in me that it was a mistake I hadn't made.

The Hanwells believed me, but there were some who didn't. I still don't know who they were, but there were people who knew me who thought I was having pre-marital sex. And they saw our church as unsafe as a result, because Joseph and I were kind of our tiny church's worship team.

 It broke my heart. There was no way I could prove that I was telling the truth.

I looked at Jim and sniffled, "But... but don't they know me?"

Jim looked on me with kindness and said gently, "It doesn't matter if they know you. You know, I was once accused wrongfully of stealing something a long time ago at work. I was in a position to have taken the thing and nobody would ever have known, but I didn't. I said to my friend who thought I had done it, 'I would never do that! Don't you know me?' and my friend said, 'Yes, I do know you', so I asked him why he didn't believe me, and he said, 'Because I would do something like that.' "

He went on to explain that people don't always judge other people by what they know of them. Sometimes they judge other people by what they know of themselves. It isn't fair, but it's what people do.

Through my tears, I told them that I wanted to make it right. I wanted to undo as much damage as I could. I asked if they wouldn't mind if I started staying there at night again.

The bunk over Kentucky's bed had been taken down, so Genevieve made a little place for me to sleep on the windowsill in the room I used to sleep in.

I felt like it wasn't enough, because I only had to sleep there for a week until my mom got into town to help me tie up any loose ends still hanging before the wedding, but it was all the penance I had to offer.

Fortunately for me it isn't penance that my church family or my God cared about. It was repentance. And that was exactly what I was doing.

(Continued here)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 52)

That night after Eddie left, I was tooling around on Facebook, and I noticed Maggie was online on the chat feature.

I felt compelled to say hi to her, hoping she wouldn't think I was crazy or some kind of freak stalker. I felt a connection to her, though, because I knew what it felt like to ache over Eddie Kindle. And he and I had never even been in a relationship. I thought, since they had broken up, it was possible she was hurting.

I told her that he had come over so we could talk some things through, and she said that was cool. We had been in conversation for some time when her screen name popped up with, "Do you think he's done with me?"

I wanted to hug the computer screen and tell her no, absolutely not, he adores you and he will come back to his senses permanently any second now and return to your side.

But I couldn't. Because I didn't know. That could have been the case, but if it wasn't, I didn't want to give her false hope.  Eddie Kindle was hard for me to predict. I couldn't give her any kind of guess that I felt confident about at all.

I sat in front of my glowing computer screen trying to think of something better to say than "I don't know.", but I was at a loss. So I told her I didn't know, but I put some hearts after that sentence in hopes that they would convey to her that I really really cared.

Because I was so endeared to her, and I deeply hoped that those two would work out.

As the weeks drew closer and closer to my wedding, I started having dreams that the day had arrived and Star was fashioning a dress for me out of a bed sheet. Toga style.

I had been looking for a dress with my mom when I was in Indiana, and again with my friends when I came back home, but the sea of white had failed me in store after store. My options were dresses that looked like layer cakes, dresses that looked like I longed to be a mermaid, and dresses that were insanely expensive.

Finally, I went to Chattanooga to see Star. After about 2 hours of shopping with her, we gave up and decided to just make a dress together.

We stopped by a fabric store on the way home and spent $125 on everything we could possibly need. The only catch was that we bought all of the silk material the store had to offer, so every cut would have to be done with care.

Back at her house, we sat back to back on the floor, sketching what we thought this dress should look like.

It was the first out of many days we would spend together over the months preceding the wedding diligently working together on this dress.

Adelaide would come in from finding bugs (her favorite pastime) outside and sit in the antique armchair near our work area and ask questions about what we were doing.

"What are you making?"

"We're making a wedding dress!"


"Because I'm getting married!"


"Because I love Joseph!"


"Um..." I paused, "Because he's considerate and..."

"What's considadit?"

Star had to tell me to hold still lest she stab with a pin while I was cracking up, "It means he thinks about other people and is attentive to their needs."

"Oh. Okay. Bye!" She shouted and scampered off to cause a ruckus elsewhere.

One month left. The Hanwells had offered up their backyard for us to get married in, and we found a picnic area on campus for the reception. Occasionally I woke up in a panicky awareness that my entire extended family and all my dearest friends would be in the same place at the same time. As glorious as it sounded, it was also rather terrifying, given that my family is a little bit on the crazy side.

Star came over for one last work session on the dress. At first with every cut we made, she took a smoke break. It was nerve wracking. We were attempting some kind of rumpled effect, but the fabric was stubbornly folding over and looking more and more like scales instead of graceful rumples.

At some point in the afternoon, we needed me to be wearing the dress in the living room so that we could take half decent photos to send my mom, who was a bit concerned about this endeavor of ours. Star had warned Joseph not to come in so that he wouldn't accidentally see me in my dress.

He faithfully stayed outside... until he forgot. Joe came through the front door, started to look over, and was met with Star screaming, "Nooooooo!"

He yelped and leaped in the air, and then fell face down on the floor and crawled back outside. We were pretty much cracking up hysterically at him, and were mostly sure that he didn't really see me.

Around 3am, we stressed out, hung the thing up and went outside for a break. When we came back inside, it was abundantly clear that it looked more like a wadded up tissue than a wedding dress. We had worked and worked for days, with Mamma Mia playing in the background until we could quote the whole movie by heart.

And there it was with the slippery polyester lining sticking out from under the silk all wadded up and looking absolutely ridiculous.

Star sighed and told me to get into it so we could see what we could do.

We decided to just chop of the bottom half of the dress (except the lining) and start over. It wasn't even stressful anymore, we were so slaphappy and silly.

Star hacked into it until the bottom half fell off and then started giggling. My dress looked like something out of Tinkerbell's wardrobe gone horribly wrong, and the lining was sticking out all the way down to the floor.

We stood in front of the mirror so I could see it too, and we both doubled over laughing.

Of course, we had to document this moment in our friendship, so I pulled out my camera and counted to three. We stood trying to grin into the mirror, as we waited for the camera flash.

Wait, it wasn't flashing. Maybe I didn't click... Star began to turn away to laugh... Oh there it went!

I turned the camera around to see how the picture turned out, and could not have been more amused with what I saw. One of Star's eyes was going this way, and the other was going that way.

When I showed her, we reached levels of mirth that can only be described as shrieking.

I believe with all my heart that if I were to crack up any harder I would have broken a rib. Which would have been hilarious and would not have helped matters. Perhaps that's how someone really could die laughing.

As it were, I could hardly help thinking to myself, (despite the fact that I wasn't wearing pants) "Oh no! What if I pee my pants in my wedding dress!"

This thought was closely followed by, "Oh no! I'm peeing my pants in my wedding dress!"

Panicking, but no less able to stop giggling hysterically, I cried for help and started gathering up the lining so as to minimize the, ahem, pee effect.

Star was too busy literally rolling around on the floor still roaring with merriment and snapping pictures to help me get my dress out of the way.

I was so grateful that Joseph wasn't home when we had composed ourselves just enough to waddle into the bathroom and put the lining in the sink to wash it off with laundry detergent. I was also grateful that the silk had been spared this trauma, as it would have been much harder to wash.

It seemed only appropriate to call it a night and try again the next day.

At the end of Star's visit, the dress was nearly complete, and we were feeling much better about it.

The day of mine and Joe's wedding was drawing nearer, and I was starting to feel like it was really happening.

(Continued here)

The Restoration of All Things (Part 51)

Saturday came quietly and unassumingly. I woke up on the couch to gaze outside at one of the first warm, dewy mornings of Spring. This was the day of my meeting with Eddie, but first Kaylee was on her way over.

Funny that they should both come see me on the same day, one right after another. I hadn't seen Kaylee in ages.

She arrived shortly after breakfast with a knock on the door and a housewarming gift of peanut butter and jelly cookbooks in her hands. It was a breath of fresh air to see her.

We sat on the couch and caught up. She took the opportunity to get to know Joseph a little more. To ask the important questions, such as, "What is your stance on duct tape?"

"I think it's incredibly useful."

"Good. I just had to check. You can tell a lot about a person by how they feel about duct tape."

I had only just told her that Eddie was coming to see me later when he called me. I excused myself and answered my phone.

"Hi there!"

"Hey... I um... I'm really sorry Sarah, but um... I got bit by a spider, I think? A really nasty one. And I'm awful woozy. I'm afraid I'll have to cancel our meeting today."

"Oh! Awe, I'm sorry you got bitten! Do you think you should go to a doctor?"

"No... no, it wasn't that kind of spider... "

"Oh, ok. Well you can come another weekend if you want to..."

"Yeah. Yeah, okay. Alright, I'll call you."

"Okay, bye."


That kind of figured. I didn't really think he would come. I went back inside and resumed my lovely chat with Kaylee. We were having so much fun together, I barely noticed the hours passing. Suddenly my phone rang again.

"Hey Sarah, I'm almost in Cullowhee, can I get some directions to your house?"

"What? I thought you got bitten by a spider and you were too sick to drive!"

"No, no, it turns out I'm fine."

"Oh. Okay... "

I gave Eddie directions and hopped off the phone. Kaylee stood up and said it was about time for her to get going anyway. She wasn't sure how to get back on the highway, so I said I would lead her to the Papa's Pizza parking lot and we could say goodbye there.

In the parking lot, I climbed out of my car and into hers to hug her goodbye. She asked if she could pray for me before she left. If we could pray for each other.

Sometimes it's awkward to be prayed for. Sometimes it is almost painful. And sometimes, it is one of the most life-giving, uplifting experiences there is.

Praying with Kaylee was absolutely wonderful. I knew that God was with us, holding us and every broken piece of us in His hands as we brought our hearts to Him. It was hard to say goodbye to her and get back in my car to go home and wait for Eddie.

It wasn't much longer before Eddie's giant truck pulled into our driveway. He came into our kitchen, shook hands with Joseph, and asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.

I did very much want to go for a walk. I gave Joseph a goodbye squeeze and off we went.

Through the little valley and out onto the road.

"So, what's up?" He asked, staring at the pavement.

I knew this was it. There was no reason to hold back right now. No reason to be shy with my words.

"Eddie, we were friends. Like, really really good friends. Before I went to Australia. Do you remember that?"

"Yes. I do remember that."

"Then, why did you go away? You went away, Eddie! It wasn't okay that you did that. I just... I don't understand."

He was quiet for a little while. I walked beside him with my arms crossed.

"I knew that I was going to graduate and move away, so I distanced myself."


"Because. Because I was going away. I don't know..."

"I understand that sometimes people do that... but... but it hurts, Eddie. You can't get that close to people and then just go away randomly."

"Yeah...  I shouldn't have done that. Hey, "


"I'm sorry."

I smiled a little, but that didn't mean he was off the hook.

"I noticed there was a peanut butter and jelly cookbook on your counter..." he said.

"Yeah, Kaylee came over earlier. She brought that to us as a housewarming gift."

"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't bring anything..." he paused, "... Next time I'll bring something."

"Next time? Like there will be a next time! You won't come back, I know you!" I teased.

"Oh you. There will be a next time, and you know it."

As our walk took us onto campus, he was telling me that he understood what I was doing here. That there was a girl he had cared for since high school who he had always secretly believed he would end up with. He said that so many times he had come to her to talk about it and every time she had said no no no.

He said that once, he had gone to her house and filled her sink up with rocks. Except that one rock was plastic and floaty. On the floaty "rock" he had written in Sharpie, "You rise above the rest."

Even that wasn't enough to woo her.

Our walk took us under the bell tower, over the sidewalk we had walked to class on so many times, through the crosswalk where I had given him the note about pink elephants and friendship, and all the way up to the graveyard. We stood at Hattie's tombstone where we used to meet up.

We talked about his tendency to lead girls on. He swore that he couldn't tell when girls liked him.

"This girl Heather that I just met has been leaving me things in my truck. Cd's and T-shirts, fun things!"

"Yeah, I'd be careful about that." I winked. "And... Eddie?"


"Please value the people that get close to you. They value you. So much. You are a phenomenal person, whether you believe it or not. You sell yourself short when you blow off the people who love you. Stop that."

I was thinking that he pushed people away because he was afraid they wouldn't care about him as much as he did about them. I had no way to know if that was the case or not, but if it was, I wanted him to know that nobody was pretending to care about him. They all cared. Tremendously. And I didn't believe they would ever stop caring.

He was suppressing a grin. "Okay, Sarah. I'll try."

We talked about Maggie as we walked through the parking lots of our old dorms. He said so many sweet things about her, but he sounded on the fence about their relationship.

One the way back towards my house, we went through the part of campus where we had planned our attack on the snowmen. It was like God was following us around with a dustpan and a broom and sweeping the memories of our friendship up behind us as we walked and talked out our issues.

When we got back to my driveway, I was about to hug him goodbye and he told me to wait a second.

"I have something for you", he stated, reaching into his truck, "Well, actually, it's for Joe."

He came out with a little school-lunch sized carton of 2% milk.

"What? What is this..." I was confused.

"It's your 2%." He beamed, "I brought it back for you."

I stared at him. "Oh... Thank you!"

He came into the kitchen to say goodbye to Joseph and then he was on his way.

Finally, after all that time, closure had come to me like a giant sigh of relief.

(Continued here)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 50)

For the first month or so of the new semester, I spent afternoons in the little house on the hill with Joseph and faithfully returned to the Hanwell's house in the evening, going back to Joe's house only in the morning to get ready where all my stuff was.

It was working out swimmingly until the way-too-much that I had bitten off to chew caught up with me. I was taking 8 classes, and wedding planning. It was exhausting.

So, I made a mistake. I reasoned in my head that (since my Camry broke down, Joseph had gotten himself a car, and my aunt had given me her old Honda Civic) three cars in the driveway looked less scandalous than the two that would be left each evening when I drove back to the Hanwell's. I thought to myself, "Those who don't know me will think there are three people here, and those who do know me, know me. They'll know that I really am literally only sleeping here."

It was a naive thought, in all honesty, but I was staying later and later trying to keep up with my homework, and with my body craving rest, I talked myself into a wrong choice. I decided to give up and just stop going to the Hanwell's to sleep. Joseph tried and tried to get me to go, but, seeing how famished for sleep I was, he couldn't resist making me a bed on the couch night after night before he left to sleep on the floor in the bedroom.

I should have gone over in the afternoon and talked to Genevieve about my struggle.  I don't know why I didn't. So many mistakes can be thwarted by a little open communication, if only I could remember to try talking. But, I was afraid of the failure I was displaying, and I didn't want to face it.

As a result (and also due to the insane amount of work I had buried myself under), I was seeing the Hanwells less and less. I was secretly sad and I missed them so, so much.

Once I realized that we were technically living together, we had a talk about resisting temptation. As ridiculous as that sounds. Obviously we had failed at resisting temptation not to sleep in the same house, but the reason people don't sleep in the same house before they marry is so they don't destroy their physical boundaries - we thought was probably the case. So we drew other lines in the sand. We quit kissing. I traded my dresses and leggings (that Joseph so adored) for T-shirts and jeans. We wouldn't even sit on the couch together and snuggle while we watched movies. One of us would be on the floor. Aim small, miss small was our motto in that regard.

It was hard, but not as hard at it would have been if we stole something that was meant to be received with jubilation at the right time. And that's all it was. Just a matter of time.

One afternoon, I was sitting in the living room working on some homework when my phone rang. It was Eddie Kindle. Thinking that was odd, he didn't really call me, ever, I answered and went outside to sit on my car.


"Hi, Sarah?"

"Hey, what's goin on?"

"Not much, I just wanted to say hi... "

"Oh... okay... well hi. How are you?"

"I'm alright... I broke up with my girlfriend..."

I held the phone in front of my face and blinked at it. What...?

"Huh. I'm sorry!"

"So, I just wanted to tell you that I was making a list of character traits that I hope to find in the girl that becomes my future wife."


"Yeah... And the very first thing on my list was... here, I'll read it to you... 'Someone who is a princess who would take off her crown and give it to a little child.' "

"Awwwe, that's really sweet!"

"And I thought to myself, 'That. Is Sarah Whitlock.' "

I was speechless for a moment. What was he saying? Or did he just want me to be encouraged?

"Thank you, Eddie. That is a very sweet compliment and I shall keep it for always."


"Did you get a wedding invitation yet? I think I sent you one..."

"Yes. Yes I did."

When I got off the phone, I went straight to the internet and sent Genevieve a message. I always felt like I should tell her when I talked to Eddie. Since we were all so connected.

She wrote back with one question: "Sarah, are you sure you are over him?"

Joseph was in the room when I received this question, and I told him about it and the phone call.

"Well, are you?", he asked softly.

"Of course I am! I love YOU!"

"I know you love me. But are you over him?"

Oh no. I had to really think about it.

"I... YES! No. Yes. I mean..." I had started to tear up a little, "I mean... Joe... you are the one that I love. You have like 98% of me. But I think he might still have this little 2%. He took it and he never gave it back. I mean, I let it go with him. I don't know, I don't know!"

Joseph hugged me, "I think you need to talk to Genevieve."

He was right. Boy did I ever need to talk to Genevieve. Not just about this, but about everything.

When I went to see her, she was in the kitchen with Banjo and Scarlett's newborn daughter in her arms, pacing to and fro to help her sleep. We spoke in hushed voices to maintain the quiet.

Genevieve asked me the same question Joseph had asked. I had responded similarly. She was worried to see that I wasn't in my usual style. Not that I didn't often wear T-shirts and jeans normally, but she hadn't seen me in a dress all semester. She was afraid Joseph was controlling something so personal about me. I explained that it was my idea, not his, and she looked relieved.

I wanted to talk about my absence there at night, but I didn't know how to start talking about it.

I told her that I didn't think I had any right to be questioning whether I was over Eddie or not. Because I was engaged.

She whispered back that engagement is absolutely a time to be asking those questions. More than appropriate, I had to work it out. She said that she thought I should see Eddie again before I got married. As soon as possible, in fact.

And as dreadful as that sounded, I knew that she was right.

I also knew Eddie. He was one flighty fella if I ever met one. I didn't know if it would happen.

I decided to suck it up and call him anyway. When he answered, I told him that we had an assignment from Genevieve and then went on to explain.

"You have my 2% and I want it back."

"Well..." he mused, "an assignment from Genevieve is an assignment from Genevieve. I'll see you next weekend! How's Saturday sound?"

I was almost too shocked to speak. "Sure, Saturday sounds great."

And that is how it happened that I made plans to see Eddie Kindle again.

(Continued here)

The Restoration of All Things (Part 49)

We had decided to get married on May 24th.  That meant that it would only be something like a week after the next semester before we would be sharing a dwelling place all by ourselves.

Knowing that housing in a college town is hard to come by (especially on a very small student-sized budget), we began the search for a place to move into when it was time to start our lives together.

Every place that we looked at that was within our price range was nothing short of pitiful. Single-wide trailers with the floors rotting through.  More single wide trailers with the floors rotting through. Not a lot of options.

One day, however, we stumbled across a little valley very close to the college with teeny tiny brick houses nestled into it.  We figured it was either out of our price range or already claimed, but Joseph called the landlord anyway out of curiosity.

We were shocked to find one of the teeny tiny houses was both affordable and available.

Once we had seen the inside, we knew we had to jump on it or it would be gone. The only way we could do it financially, though, was if at least one of us moved into it immediately.

The Hanwell's and I figured out a new arrangement. Joseph and I would move our stuff into our new house, but I would still spend my nights at the Hanwell's house, on my top bunk in Kentucky's room. That way it wouldn't be like we were living together before we got married. I would have accountability.

The evening Joseph and I began moving things in, Genevieve handed me a blue candle in a little glass holder and a box of matches.

"Here you go! In case the power isn't on yet. It'll be so romantic!"

I reached for the candle, but she pulled it back for a second, "Not too romantic though...", she narrowed her eyes at me teasingly.

"Of course not! Genevieve!" I laughed, taking the candle happily from her.

It didn't take us long to successfully move all of our worldly possessions into that precious teeny tiny house on the top of it's own hill in the little valley.

Not a few days after the move, Christmas break began and I bid Joseph farewell once more. We departed from each other and went to be with our separate families. 

Christmas came and went, and along with it the week long fast of each other. We had completed the three tasks successfully. That is not to say I wasn't hating that piece every step of the way, and some very stubborn tears may or may not have snuck out the corners of my eyes which may or may not have caused my parents to look confused and my mom to say to my dad, "Huh, I never cried because I missed you that much!" This episode may or may not have ended with my own outlandish claim that my contact solution was made out of rust and splinters and that was the true cause of the completely uncalled for waterworks. Not missing my fiance whom I was only disconnected from for a week, and who I was going to see in another week or two when he flew up for the rest of the break. 

And fly up at the end of the break, he did. 

It was to be the last time he would see my family before all the wedding madness. 

Until this, my 23rd Christmas, I had never in my life kissed a single boy. Okay, scratch that. I had kissed two boys. But I never counted either of them. They were both stolen kisses, and both no more than a pop kiss. 

The first was a boy I went to high school with who had always gone out of his way to make fun of me. Not in the silly good-natured way I was used to with my guy friends. He was... well, he was kind of mean. When I graduated, I was glad that he wasn't a part of my every day anymore. 

And then one day, suddenly, when I was 19 years old, I came home from my job at the group home for people with Autism, and found him sitting in the living room of the doublewide I was renting with my childhood friend, Deja. As if that wasn't obnoxious enough, Deja and another friend of ours launched into a rant about my never-been-kissed status and then proceeded to dare him to kiss me. 

I was not amused. I stood up and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth so that I could go to bed. For whatever reason, my girl friends started squealing, "She's brushing her teeth! That means she wants you to kiss her!" 

I quit brushing my teeth and emerged back into the living room to tell them how asinine that reasoning was, and had barely even made it round the corner before he hauled off and planted one on me. I blinked a few times and wished them all goodnight. 

The second boy was a friend of mine in high school. He caught me off guard sometime around my 21st Christmas at a contra dance at the Folk School when we accidentally waltzed under some mistletoe. Oops. 

No real kisses though. It was never time. 

And then one morning I went downstairs to wake Joseph up because he was sleeping in the ugly yellow room with no windows. He could sleep forever in there. 

We weren't at the beach at sunrise or on top of a waterfall. There wasn't a stringed quartet serenading us, and there weren't stars winking at us from the heavens. We were in the ugly yellow room downstairs with no windows. But I rested my chin on his arm and he started to stir.

As I gazed into his sweet pale blue eyes, I thought of the first summer he had visited my family in Indiana. Mom had taken us to see Horton Hears a Who, and I had caught myself with my head on his shoulder feeling so safe. I had always been the safe place for my friends, and yet Joseph was here being a safe place for me. I had hoped that he would never go away.

It was that trip that we had seen the most incredible sky that a sun had ever set upon. We were in the living room playing scrabble with my brother when a crazy intense storm wailed through, complete with sideways rain, giant echoing thunder claps, and tree limbs flying around the backyard. I watched out the picture window, nervous that the sickly green/yellow sky might bring us a classic midwestern tornado. Joseph came over and took my hand to watch with me.

We watched and we watched, until the green melted away and the storm became a sun-shower. It was the golden time of the afternoon.

"Look over there!" Joseph pointed, "and then look over there!"

It was only raining in random spots and everywhere else it was all radiant beams of sunlight shooting in every direction. We dashed down the stairs and out the back door. There was no passing up weather like this.

I cantered around the backyard in the brilliantly glowing green grass hopping from puddle of sunlight to puddle of sunlight, in and out of rain showers.

"Look Joe! Now I'm being rained on! And now I'm not!"

When the golden splendor started to fade, we wandered into the front yard and were struck with a brand new kind of wonder. The sun was setting, and we were gazing upon the wide open Indiana sky changing vivid, deep colors before our eyes. To the right it was all blood red blending into fiery orange with bright white rays still poking through. To the left it was rich purple clouds, pale yellows and blues.

Across the street there was a rainbow touching down.

We took so many pictures, and not a single one even remotely did it any kind of justice.

He was my favorite to have adventures with. He was so kind and patient. 

It wasn't a fancy setting or surviving a natural disaster together that finally made me kiss him. It was just the fact that he woke up in the middle of my daydreams. And his eyes were so lovely. 

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that after that, we spent quite some time looking for opportunities to practice this newfound pastime. As if we were in middle school. Kissing was our new hobby. 

We did have other hobbies, though. When we got back to Cullowhee, Joseph got a camera with a fun setting that allowed one to draw in the air with a flashlight and then get behind the "drawing" for a moment, and the end result was a picture of the person behind the "picture" they drew. It was so cool. 

We were lighthearted and carefree... until classes started again. We just had no idea what we were in for.