Archive for the ‘love’ Category

happy birthday, husband
August 20, 2012

Dave has had to work the overnight shift on his birthday for three out of the last four years.

The first year, I took peach cupcakes across the bridge to Camden and then watched as my medical student helped a very pregnant woman into a wheelchair.

“Is this your first child?” he asked her.

“First three, yes,” she said.

I waved goodbye to the newly 24 year old with the terrified look on his face as he scurried off to handle the forthcoming triplets.

Last year, he was just switching to overnights. This meant that if I took the day off from work we could spend it together, because he hadn’t yet fallen into the nocturnal rhythm of the rotation.

Last year, we had just moved to New York. This meant that we were itching to try new things in the city; and also, that nearly everything in the city was new to us.

Last year, we had just started getting adjusted to his residency schedule. This meant that a day together felt like fucking Christmas. (But not residency Christmas, because you work then. And not Jewish Christmas, because that doesn’t involve presents or Jesus. So, ok, that was officially the worst simile ever.)

Anyway, the point is, all of these circumstances led to us celebrating Dave’s birthday by swinging on a trapeze on the roof of a building overlooking the Hudson River. It was kind of gorgeous but mostly terrifying (“Check out that girl shaking,” people would say when I was up on the platform, knees banging together, refusing to jump.) Our post-class Shake Shack cheese fries were arguably the best part of the day. No, the best part of the day was triumphantly somersaulting down from the net after I landed the first catch of the class (the shaking girl pulled it off!) or maybe walking along the river in the sun or probably just being together, but still. No need to face your greatest fear just to commemorate your significant others’ birthday, you know?

So this year, I wised up. I took the day off but we made plans only to sleep in, laze about in bed and walk to midtown for a nice little lunch.

I think it was our best celebration yet.

So happy 27th to that guy who’s been my greatest happiness for the last six August 20ths. I love you, day and night.

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Rach & Dave get married, part 3
August 6, 2012

First on the agenda after all those Mediterranean appetizers: a teeth check.

Once we affirm we don’t have strands of roasted red pepper stuck in our bicuspids, we’re ready to hit cocktail hour.

We’ve rejected the idea of a receiving line and will end up spending the dinner hour downing our beef wellington and then sneaking out to the terrace alone when we probably should be rotating amongst the tables, but for now, we’re really working it. The tartar station and passed slices of filet I was planning on focusing on are now a distant memory; my new cocktail hour goal seems to involve flinging my arms around as many people as possible. I am a hugging machine. (The massive wine glass filled with champagne that a family friend hands me seems to help with this pursuit.)

One of the many modern American wedding expectations I have a problem with is the Grand Entrance Of The Newly Betrothed Mr. And His Missus. First off, I’m not taking Dave’s name in any way, shape or form, so what is there to really announce anyway? I fret about the bridal party not wanting to boogie in to the Black Eyed Peas, about Dave and I being embarrassed of the spotlight too.

And then I come up with a solution.

Only Dave and I will do the entrance. They’ll call us “Dave and Rach” – duh, those are our names. And Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize will be blaring in the background.

It is absolutely the right call.

Then it’s time for the traditional Jewish dance/brush with death: the hora.

I watch in horror as some of Dave’s scrawny, non-Jewish friends are recruited in the heat of the moment to hold the chairs. The result is a bumpy, petrifying ride meant to…brace us for what marriage feels like? I’m not sure, but I know I’m much happier when we’re finally on the ground again.

Of course, as soon as it’s my parents’ turn to test the limits of their mortality, I’m all for it, clapping away.

There are some more dances, but there’s nothing really hilarious about them to share, except for maybe how terrible Dave and I are at dancing. It never even crossed our minds to take a class; we know we’re beyond help.

My dance with my Dad is no better choreographed – the coordination challenges I face span generations – but it is very special to me, if only because both my parents, never the biggest supporters of all this traditional wedding crap, are somehow now beaming.

The toasts range from Poignant (my best friends) to Not At All Focused On Us (my mother, classically trying to prevent her daughter from being the center of attention on her freaking wedding day) to Very Painful To Listen To (An Unidentified Drunk Brother.)

Not because the Unidentified Drunk Brother doesn’t love us of course, but maybe because he put too much faith in his improv skills and his ability to handle an open bar. His final line – wishing us the 3 C’s in our marriage: compassion, communication and sex – gets a big laugh from me, both because it’s funny and because, thank god, it seems like he’s finally going to hand over the mic to someone else.

Dave’s 15-year-old brother – he of bar mitzvah and embarrassing Facebook debacle fame – makes the best speech, in Dave’s and my opinion. He cuts right to the chase, wishes us well, and is done in 15 seconds flat. The whole crowd is so grateful we all ignore the glass of champagne he’s holding.

I know you’re supposed to have some big moving moment at your wedding, probably at your ceremony, as you devote the remainder of your days on earth to your husband, or maybe right before you walk down the aisle, as you contemplate your girlhood  with your parents and begin to see the step you’re taking as a distinct, new chapter in your life. But my moment, if I had one, probably came on the dance floor.

We’re surrounded by a swaying crowd of family and friends, and, this is far from poetic, I know, but everyone just appears to be having a wonderful time at this silly little event. Everyone we love seems to love us right back.

Honestly, Dave and I are kind of shocked that we are capable of throwing this kind of party, capable of somehow convincing people to rally around us like that. We’re moderately sure the constant flow of champagne has something to do with it, but still. It makes me very happy.

The dance floor festivities continue to rage and Dave and I momentarily sneak out for a private cake cutting.

By this point, I’m pretty sure the night has officially reached Your Wedding Isn’t A Failure status (see above dance floor moment), but we’re not taking any chances. Our back-up plan was to buy our guests’ love calorically, with 10 different flavors of cake, and we’re sticking to it.

So that’s my wedding success tip: excessive desserts. Heaping plates of cakes slices, lemon bars, cream puffs and meringues seem to do the trick for us.

After all the cake has been eaten, the champagne drunk, the two encores played by the band, who promises to perform at our anniversary party, it’s time to peace out.

We board the buses. I’m next to Dave near the back, head on his shoulder, soaking everything in, when suddenly I catch a snippet of conversation from the seat ahead of me.

“Get it together, man,” the voice whispers. “We’re almost there.”

And then, there’s a lot of vomit.

I’m so high on bliss, so bossy on bridal status and so fucking intent on throwing a rager that I simply gather up my dress and make a beeline for the exit, no worse for the wear.

Then we all pile into the bar in the lobby of our hotel. My cousins are situated on bar stools, our friends are sprawled out on the lounge furniture, my aunts and uncles are congregating near the entrance. Jon is pouring glasses of champagne for my parents, someone’s ordering wine by the bottle. My college newspaper co-editor is sitting next to my high school biology classmate who’s  laughing at something my office husband is saying as he slowly drains a glass of whiskey. The bar is starting to feel like an episode of “This is Your Life,” and it’s awesome.

Of course, the happy couple can’t outstay their welcome. We leave the partygoers to their revelry and head upstairs to our room, consider the bottle of champagne on ice, the note addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. B.” (never heard of them), the cute little nightgowns I stocked up on for our honeymoon.

“How would you feel about getting a cheeseburger?” I ask.

And my new husband just laughs at me.

Next up: The day after, and a few bonus features.

Previously: the pre-wedded state; Rach & Dave get married, part 1; Rach & Dave get married, part 2

All photographs by Elisabeth Millay.

Rach & Dave get married, part 2
August 3, 2012

Once we leave behind the packed lobby and beseeching relatives, and it’s just me and Dave, I’m a very happy girl.

We wander down the streets of New Haven and soon learn that my cathedral-length veil is serious business.

It has a mind of its own and is kind of hamming it up for the camera. Instead of staying behind my head, where it seems to me veils generally ought to reside, it gets all brash and needy and  starts tangling up in Dave’s legs.

My veil is an attention whore.

It’s awkward for everyone involved.


Once the veil is put back in its place – literally and figuratively – Dave and I get back to our jobs: walking around and looking at each other adoringly.

Eventually we get to a big courtyard — Yale’s Old Campus, where I partied with Meg many a night freshman year.

All those girls I forced to wear mint green show up, along with our families. We fit in some group shots in lightening speed and round out the hour with the proven Three-Prong Approach to Solid Candid Photos in mind: giggle, smile, walk. Repeat.

We head back to the hotel and board a bus that takes us to the totally non-exclusive club where we’re holding the wedding. The veil gets all demanding again (seriously, whose wedding day is it?) and I require assistance to de-board.

We set up camp in the bridal suite and the girls immediately start fretting over the veil and the skirt of my dress. All that tulle has gathered dirt and debris and possibly even some baby animals after the outdoor photo session and the bridesmaids are determined to make it perfect before my walk down the aisle.

They start out handling everything in a pretty PG manner.

But soon they’re all up in my business. They’re under my skirt, attacking every layer. Someone finds a lint roller in the bathroom baskets. The photographer says she’s never seen anything like this.

I’m initially a touch skeptical, but soon feel nothing but pride and gratitude as my best friends swirl around and below me like little cleaning nymphs. I remember all the times they’ve been there for me, through breakups and hangups and all manner of catastrophes — now, including a dirtied bridal gown. My love for them has never been so palpable or infinite.

Next up is the signing of our ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract. We get a few family members arranged in the room, and we sit, and we wait. The rabbi – the only guy required to get this show on the road – is late. I’m a little panicky and implore my mother to perhaps just “reach out” to him. She scorns my PR speak and brings in the wedding coordinator, who tells me clergy of all denominations are inevitably late, too busy answering to a higher power and all that to pay attention to the time.

Lo and behold, he soon arrives, and we sign the small but beautiful papercut document with an intimate group watching.

Two of our old friends act as our witnesses, including my dear friend Meriel, who used to eat dinner at my family’s house every Tuesday night growing up. Afterwards, we would either go to Hebrew School or, if I could convince Meriel to ditch, the mall. It’s hard to believe we’re two grown-up Jewish women now, but somehow, here we are. I’m feeling stunned and grateful for her signature and her embrace and her fierce haircut. The day is turning into a blur of joy.

After signing our lives away, Dave and I have a few moments to decompress.

And just as the severity of what we’re about to do comes to me, it’s off to the races.

Let it be known that my father, through all of this, appears elated. In person, my mother looks ravishing in her navy and black off the shoulder Bergdorf cocktail dress and I can only assume that, deep down inside, she shares my father’s joy. But the photographic evidence points to something…less than happiness. My mother and a handful of other relatives radiate not glee but confusion and disapproval. Their looks range from Extremely Low IQ to Stroke Victim to Utterly Disgusted By The Event That’s About To Take Place.

Some people just have resting angry faces or lack control of their facial muscles, my mother explains as we scroll through the pictures.

Needless to say, there are lots of photos of my dad in our wedding album.

Anyway, like I said, we’re heading into battle.

We’ve opted for a theatre-in-the-round type set up for the ceremony. We pat ourselves on the back for our untraditional approach only to later find out that the chuppah in the middle thing is actually a longstanding Sephardic Jewish tradition. We’re not Sephardic and thus decide we still get points for creativity. Besides, everyone seems to like the cozy, inclusive feel it creates.

The rabbi, who we’ve been working with for over a year, leads a lovely, moving ceremony that apparently makes Bridget’s parents beg her to marry a Jewish guy. We circle each other seven times as part of a mystical, ancient tradition. We drink wine from two silver kiddush cups – one that belonged to my great grandparents and one that Tracey got us as a wedding gift. We’re wrapped in a tallis – Jewish prayer shawl – and feel the hands of our parents on our heads as they give us their blessing.

Then it’s time to do that thing we initially tried to avoid but were coaxed into by our very wise rabbi: open our mouths.

They’re not vows exactly, just little statements of love and devotion. I’ve been working on mine in a Gmail draft stubbornly labeled “ceremony thoughts” (the word “vows” makes me kind of want to “vomit”) for upwards of five months, often with Call Me Maybe blaring on repeat in the background. Dave started and finished his the night before — and I have it on good authority he exceeded our recommended word count.

Mine are short, sugary sweet, and made Megan cry when I let her take a peek at them the Thursday night before the wedding.

I am convinced that mine are going to kick Dave’s ass. I am a writer, for God’s sakes. People pay me to do this.

Instead, Dave, speaking first, busts out a set of perfectly sappy, shockingly well-written sentences, referencing life and death and love. The crescendo comes with a hospital anecdote that revolves around an elderly patient’s UTI.

The crowd (packed full of nephrologists) goes wild.

My own reaction slowly evolves from incredulity that he actually just said that, to slight agitation at the realization that he’s upstaging me, to, finally, just giving in and laughing along with everyone else.

Of course, now that it’s my turn, the spoken promises and memories I’ve woven together seem to fall on deaf ears — they are poignant yes, but they lack references to pee. Not as fun, seems to be the audience’s consensus.

Whatever — before we know it, Dave breaks the glass and everyone’s screaming Mazel Tov and we’re booking it out of there as Eight Days a Week plays in the background.

We head straight to our yichud, a Jewish custom that ensures a married couple’s first moments together will be shielded from their elderly relatives’ piercing New York accents and that they won’t have to camp out in front of the kitchen door with the other old Jewish men in order to ensure access to the passed appetizers. No, instead we are whisked away to a private room with our own hors d’oeuvre tray.

We sit down, I shrug off my shoes, we start to process the fact that we’re going to be together forever…and then the rabbi busts in.

“Oops!” he says, averting his eyes and hurrying off the way he came.

Fortunately, we are not engaged in any inappropriate behavior, unless you count examining our new wedding rings and stuffing our faces with Mediterranean sampler appetizers.

And besides, so what if we were? We’re married now! Three years of living in sin and wearing red dresses at the wrong time have come to a rather official end and while I doubt very much that my penchant for sarcastic statements or fashion risks will be casualties of the transition, it does feel like something really wonderful and new is starting.

Next up: We make our grand entrance to a rap classic, we start to suspect we’re throwing an amazing party and someone throws up on the bus home, thus confirming our suspicions. 

Previously: the pre-wedded state, Rach & Dave Get Married Part 1

All photos by Elisabeth Millay.

 

Rach & Dave get married, part 1
August 1, 2012

I wake up the morning of the wedding feeling both characteristically like myself (giddy over the big pile of tulle hanging in the closet) but  also, in other, shocking ways, most definitely not like myself (absence of hunger.) The big pile of tulle, aka my dress, gets flung over my shoulder and carried upstairs to the little penthouse space of the hotel, where I am the first to arrive.

It’s the perfect backdrop for getting ready. Slowly, my closest girlfriends, a few female family members and the people we’ve hired to make us beautiful arrive.

Surrounded by all of my favorite girls, fielding a few poignant emails from friends detained in Africa or Michigan and wishing us well, I’m pretty content. For about two hours. Then I start to get extremely antsy. Everyone else is getting their locks curled or giggling over mimosas while I, slated last for hair and makeup and equipped with my newfound disdain for food, am just kind of sitting there, very ready to get this show on the road.

 

Suddenly, in a flash, everything starts happening. The four-course lunch my mother and I planned, while under the delusion that either of us would be capable of eating roasted tomato soup and smoked salmon sandwiches, arrives. The florist is here, carrying big boxes of blooms. And it’s finally time for the professionals to have at my face and hair.

In the midst of this flurry of activity, the elevator doors open and my dad’s childhood friend emerges. Apparently unaware that this is a ladies only zone, he parks it and starts gabbing with my mother. He’s eating a big green apple. Loudly. The photographers think he’s my father and start snapping away. I start to lose my shit.

Sensing trouble, my friend Courtney starts administering sips of champagne as the hair dresser and makeup artist step it into high gear and double team me. The girls also force feed me mini muffins, ignoring my insistence that I’ve evolved into some sort of superhuman creature that doesn’t require sustenance. Somewhere in there, the baby’s breath headband that the florist designed to look just like the one my mother wore on her wedding day gets pinned in my hair.

The maids of honor throw their mint green dresses on and Megan and I each take a second to contemplate our appearance. I’m not completely enthused but decide just to go with it.

We’re running 15 minutes behind schedule now, which sends That Girl Who’s Always 15 Minutes Early into a tailspin. I throw off my clothing in the bathroom and stomp out into the windowed room in my underwear, ready to confront my dress.

I am intent on getting this party started immediately.

My mother helps me put on my grandmother’s watch and starts to cry a bit. It is very delicate and very beautiful and a reminder of all the people who aren’t here.

We move on to my other jewels (all borrowed, with my mother’s reluctant blessing) and are confronted with a knot emergency. My dad – my real dad! – is summoned up from the suite where the boys are getting ready to help. He is highly photogenic. The photographers start snapping away with purpose now.

Downstairs, my brothers are in need of backup from my father too. Much more comfortable in climbing harnesses than tuxedos, they require some assistance getting dressed. Dave is looking happy and confident, though he tells me later that both him and my dad ordered the egg white frittata at breakfast, a sure sign that they’re affected by the same No Food Necessary bug I seem to have caught.

Dave gets downstairs first. Waiting patiently for his bride, he runs into our good friend who promptly launches into a story about a post-rehearsal dinner hookup that took place the evening before.

And that is exactly the information that Dave is relaying to me when we see each other for the first time in our wedding garb.

I’m vaguely aware that the lobby is filled with dozens of our guests. As soon as I hear my aunt with the loving yet extremely screechy voice call my name, I decide it’s time to book it.

And off we go.

Next up: My bridesmaids throw themselves under my wedding gown, we sign our lives away in an ancient Jewish tradition and Dave makes a references to UTIs in his vows. Stay tuned.

Previously: the pre-wedded state

*All photos by the wonderful Elisabeth Millay, except for the third, fourth and sixth, which are from my dear friend and devoted documenter of our lives, Tracey.

true love is…(part 2)
June 22, 2012

…letting your resident (!) husband take a peak inside your ears with his otoscope (in your living room, of course), to make sure that that head cold is really just a head cold.

On a similar note: congrats, Dave, on finishing your intern year. I am in awe of you a lot, but especially when I think back on all the people you’ve helped and the calm, patient, positive way you’ve done it. Even with all the crazy hours and the crazy pressure and the mandatory Upper East Side residence, watching you grow into a physician has been one of the greatest joys of my life so far. Really.

(True love part 1, back when he was just my med student boyfriend, and I just had a huge, India-acquired gash in my leg, is here.)

two tickets to paradise
June 21, 2012

I really, really miss our honeymoon.

I recognize this is the most predictable statement in the history of the world. Who wouldn’t miss white sand beaches and postcard-perfect sunsets and mandatory happy hour? Who doesn’t like vacation?

But honestly, sometimes I don’t.

Our trip to Mexico in November was lovely, but Dave and I felt a little trapped at the resort, a little bored and restless and really, I don’t do well with all-inclusive meal plans. (White girl problems, literally, I know.) India was moving and beautiful and exhilarating but also difficult and stressful. And while Dave and I met in Spain, all of our trips together since then have been more “dear lord I will not make it to spring if we don’t escape work/school/winter for at least 48 hours” than purposeful search for adventure and fun.

Basically, it’s been a while since I’ve had that elusive perfect vacation.

So maybe, by the standards of my admittedly very first world, exceedingly charmed life, I was due for a killer honeymoon. Which, conveniently, is just what we got.

Part of it was the post-wedded bliss, I’m sure — I was operating on such a baseline level of happy that my lunch of McDonald’s fries and a grilled chicken caesar wrap at the Dallas Fort Worth airport literally thrilled me. I was buzzed off of our vows, those cakes, that party, and everything felt wonderful — the private car we booked to the airport so luxurious, the flight from Texas to Maui so, somehow, fun? We were surrounded by scores of fellow newlyweds – some writing their thank you notes already (clearly the valedictorians of wedding planning) and some reading Fifty Shades of Gray together (um, maybe the valedictorians of honeymoon sex?) Whatever works! I was happy just resting my head on my new husband’s shoulder and watching the Hawaiian islands finally make their way to my window.

We spent one week on Maui and one in Kuaui. We lay by the pool, on the hammock, on the balcony and admired our rings. We walked along the coastline and dipped our toes in the ocean and ordered fish tacos over and over again. We ate dinner at oceanfront restaurants and felt like maybe we’d never seen a sunset before? They were so bright and so beautiful.

We ate shave ice and mahi mahi and so much raw tuna I became convinced I would pick up mercury poisoning by the end of the trip. We drove along the coast of Maui, feet on the dash, eating parmesan goldfish by the handful. We swam in waterfalls (ok, one of us did) and tried to hike in flip-flops. We took one snorkeling trip that was lovely — calm sea, cool crater, turtles spotted — and one that was horrific — gorgeous coastline, cool fish, lots of vomiting from one new wife. We got over it and headed back to the pool.

Our triumphant return to real life was a bit of a shock — not just that whole lack of paradise thing, but also that lack of each other thing, due to two crazy work schedules. Saturday will actually be the first weekend day Dave has had off since the honeymoon, and even though I’ve been busy, filling my time with the most stereotypical summer in New York itineraries you’ve ever seen (Met rooftop happy hour, Amy Poehler at the 92nd St. Y, a trip to the Cloisters, yes I read Time Out New York how did you know?) it’s all felt a teensy bit lacking without him. I also have to keep reminding myself that just because I suddenly get to spend more than four hours in a row with my husband doesn’t mean the frozen drinks and little St. Regis service flags will suddenly appear too.

But I will say that when we’re together, tropical backdrop or not, life is pretty fun, for the most part. And when it stops feeling like wedded bliss every second of every day, as I’ve heard marriages are wont to do? I’ll just try to keep my eye on that trip to Hawaii we’re already planning for next summer.

xoxo, Franny
February 14, 2011

Hope your February 14ths are full of love, sweets or whatever it is you’re craving this year.

Personally, these giant heart-shaped glasses were exactly what I needed. Thanks, Valentine. You know who you are.

PS- There’s a version where she’s wearing a princess crown too. But I didn’t know if y’all were ready to handle that.

 

kitchen confidential
November 19, 2010

In a lot of ways, Dave doesn’t exactly pull his weight around here. We don’t split the rent down the middle (since one of us is, um, pulling in negative income.) We don’t really split the housework down the middle, to my everlasting annoyance (his disinterest in cleaning the bathroom is getting to the point where we might have to post a chore chart on the fridge.) And when it comes to the kitchen, I cook almost all of our meals.

That last discrepancy actually doesn’t bother me that much, though. After all, I actually enjoy cooking, and I can be a little bit of a control freak in the kitchen, in a way that’s been known to isolate my sous chefs. Plus, if I cook, Dave does the dishes (eventually.)

Most importantly, perhaps, there’s this: when I cook, Dave is contractually obligated to like every single thing I make.

I’m not sure how exactly we came to this unspoken agreement, but it’s been in effect since the very first time I prepared a meal for him. It doesn’t matter what I mess up – and believe me, I’ve done some terrible things to some quality ingredients – that kid will eat it, and then, without fail, laud it.

That key lime coconut cake I made upon his arrival from California, the one where I burned the coconut not once, not twice, but three freaking times? He loved it. The pasta with the kale and the swiss chard, prepared before I had really figured out how to properly clean kale and swiss chard? He had three (gritty) helpings.

I’ve gotten so used to his undying affection for my food preparation, in fact, that I’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to have an impartial party involved.

Enter Matty, our temporary roommate.

Tonight, I whipped up a batch of pumpkin bread pudding for the three of us. It’s an easy and delicious dessert that I totally believe in, as evidenced by the fact that I had three bowls (plus a few extra bites swiped surreptitiously from the edges.) Dave had seconds and was quick to inform me of the dish’s culinary merits.

But Matty quickly deposited his bowl in the dishwasher after the first helping, with nary a comment.

This always-congratulated cook was confused.

“How was it?” I pressed him, ready for praise.

“It was…OK,” he said. And that was it.

I started thinking back over the past few days’ meals. Monday night’s dinner: Dave blatantly ignored my warnings that the asparagus was hideously over-cooked, while Matty avoided it like the plague. Friday night’s (would-be) dinner: Matty presented tipsy Rachel with a glass of water and suggested it might be best if she just skipped cooking, after which he indulged in a cheeseburger at a bar.

It appears as though the only people who actually like my cooking are those who will suffer greatly if they express dissonance. My kitchen is less Ina Garten, more Adolph Hitler.

And to think, I really just thought Matty was bringing home all that wine and cheese to be nice.

an October apart
October 28, 2010

Over the past several years, I’ve had ample opportunity to miss Dave.

There were those two years spent apart, where I was mostly OK, but every so often needed to spring for a last-minute Amtrak ticket just to remind myself I had a real live boyfriend. (You know you really love someone when you’re willing to pay lots of money to board a train that’s bound for New Jersey.)

There were also all those trips I took last year, to Italy and Scotland and India and Ecuador, where I frequently found myself all alone, or in semi-grave danger, or both, and desperately wanted to hear his voice or offer him a lick of my gelato or ask him to gauge the width of the rifle currently pointed at my head.

But he wasn’t there, and save a few very-expensive long-distance phone calls, I traipsed through it by myself, the better for it, I’m sure, but a little sad nonetheless.

All the while, as I was criss-crossing the globe and living in our nation’s capital, Dave was less than lonely. He’s always lived close to his parents, and will happily evacuate to their home whenever school gets stressful or that girl who cooks him dinner and makes his bed is gone for more than a night. He also appears to really like his family. And looks forward to family vacations. And didn’t appear to miss me very much while he was perched on the beach in Maui, drinking something called a fishbowl and plotting the best way to avoid the crowds of ten-year-olds on the line for the waterslides. (I suppose I might not have needed as many of those emergency phone calls either if my getaways had been a little more Oahu and a little less Agra. Oh well.)

But these days, two weeks into his little California adventure, the tables are turned. He’s sleeping on couch cushions plopped on the floor. He’s car-less in a city known for its lack of public transportation and dependence on motor vehicles. His one friend, who has been gracious enough to let Dave crash at his apartment, has bad hours and no internet and conveniently deposited his television off at his parents’ house the week before Dave arrived. The TV relocation was meant to enable the friend to study for the GMAT without distraction but had the devastating side-effect of cutting off Dave’s access to his beloved Yankees (who were, momentarily, in the playoffs.)

Without baseball or a bed or the beloved, aging minivan his parents let us cruise around Jersey in, the kid is all alone. And he misses me. A lot.

He calls in the morning, on his walk to work, past the strip malls and the gas stations that make up the city he doesn’t really like very much at all. He calls in the evenings, after his day at the hospital is through, or even sometimes during lunch, when he’s still there. For someone who’s always the happy, optimistic counterpart to my moody, dramatic self, he sounds vaguely…sad. Even a much anticipated weekend trip to Vegas failed to cheer him up (though that may have less to do with how much he misses me and more to do with the fact that he lost his debit card and is at the mercy of our joint account – religiously monitored by yours truly – and knows that taking out cash to gamble is totally not going to fly.)

Whatever the reason, he’s kind of miserable. And, while I ultimately want nothing more than for him to be happy, always, I have to admit that I think there’s some value in his little foray into loneliness. After all, the absence of someone can sometimes be just as important as their presence; the empty, echoey apartment just as crucial as those days when they’re sitting next to you at the dinner table and bumping into you in the awkwardly shaped bathroom and lying there next to you in bed before you fall asleep. It’s the only way to really know, really feel, that you can’t live without someone, a gut-check that carries special importance when there’s a big move (potentially) looming on the horizon.

It’s important for Dave to know why he’s asking me to come, and it’s important for me to know why I’m going. Not just because there’s a ring on my finger or because our relationship has a new label that comes with a certain amount of gravitas. But because we really, truly want to be together, always.

And if it take a few weeks on the West Coast to totally get that, to really feel that, in an almost physical way, well, then I think it’s all been worth it.

the ambivalent bride
October 27, 2010

As of this week, I have a wedding website. I have a registry (two, actually), featuring such must-haves as a cutting board shaped like a pig and glass-footed ice cream bowls. I have a contract with a venue and a meeting with a photographer and hours logged scrolling through the websites of every bridal designer you can imagine. I’m starting to be able to talk about my “wedding colors” without wanting to vomit.

All of this is to say, I’m pretty sure I’m turning into a real, honest-to-goodness bride. I felt it when I tried on white lace dresses the other day, when they placed the veil on my head and Meg started tearing up. (It should probably be noted that it doesn’t take much to get her going.) I felt it when I caught myself ogling over a chip-and-dip bowl from Bloomingdale’s, just staring at its likeness reflecting back at me from my computer screen, under the heading ‘silver and metal giftware’ on my little wish list.

In my defense, the platter is shaped like a chrysanthemum!

On second thought, that’s the lamest defense ever. Which fortifies my initial hypothesis: I really must be turning into a bride now, huh?

All of these things, pieced together, lead me to such a conclusion, as does the ring on my finger and the wedding magazines on my night stand and, most importantly, the boy who loves me.

But sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job playing this role. There was the Bloomingdales saleswoman that told me I looked like I was 19, and the bridal salon manager who thought Megan and I were a giddy pair of high schoolers, and each and every vendor who repeats our wedding date back to me when I tell it to them: Twenty-twelve? As if we’re suggesting we’d like to get married on another planet.

All these things make me feel just the teensiest bit fake, like I’m not a real bride at all, like I haven’t earned my stripes. I take a deep breath, and try to ignore the insecurities, convincing myself that plenty of people have long engagements these days and that it’s a blessing to look so young after a whole quarter-century and that I’m happy to have so much time and not secretly fearful that it means we’re slightly less serious about this whole thing than all those other couples racing to the altar.

And then I’m confronted with the real stuff, or rather, the stuff that reminds me of the real stuff. Like, the fact that we can’t request any monogrammed ice buckets or champagne flutes or towels, because I’m not taking David’s name. And what kind of a wife doesn’t do that? And what does it mean to be married when your family unit doesn’t have one cohesive tag of identification and when you’re committed to being called something different than your own children and when you’re hesitant to leave behind your old life and your old self? What does it mean to be a bride when you’re a feminist that adores tulle?

Luckily, I have 18 more months to figure it all out. Thank god for twenty-twelve.