Getting it back

Two things happened recently:

1. The weight of everything got to me and I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for an hour.

2. Andrew and I had a serious talk (through the locked bathroom door) about the lacking romantical-ness in our relationship and what I realize is the completely and entirely nonsensical argument of mine that he never plans anything and then, when I yell him to plan something and he does, it’s still not enough because it’s like I planned it anyway because I am, clearly, a crazy person.

So last weekend, after I stopped crying about EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD THAT SUCKS (boo-fucking-hoo), which, admittedly it not something I do, except for maybe once or twice a year when the floodgates burst and I cry until I can’t anymore, Andrew and I went to dinner. A nice dinner. With delicious stuffed mushrooms and a fabulous bottle of wine and a sinfully delightful dessert. And we talked about all sorts of things and I think we came to a few realizations.

1. Being around each other all day is not the same as spending quality time together.

2. Crashing onto the couch and zoning out does not count as quality time together.

3. We need to start keeping more lists of all the things we want to do together.

Richmond’s a neat city, with lots of very Richmond things to experience. We talk about going and doing things in and around our city all the damn time, but we never make any plans. Ideas get filed away in the back of our minds and we end up wasting another weekend on the couch or on the internet or just trying to catch our breath from a busy work week.

This past weekend though, things were different. Instead of saying we should do something someday in the eventual future, we made plans. What a novel fucking concept, right?

We’d talked forever about having some friends over, and finally, we did. I made dinner. Caprese salad on a stick, beer can chicken, grilled (back-yard garden-grown) vegetables, garlic fries, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Simple. Perfect.

Saturday we lounged. We took glorious naps, caught up on our Netflix movies and I finally took Andrew to see a movie at the Byrd Theater.  It’s this amazing old movie theater in one of the cutest parts of my city. Andrew had never been and we’d talked about going since we first moved back to Richmond two and half years ago.

The movie, Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell, was absolutely hilarious and the ambiance was pretty nice too.

Sunday, we brunched. Somehow, after everyone moved out of the old apartment, we got out of the habit of brunching. Thing is, I love brunch and declared, on Friday, that we needed to bring brunching back into our lives.

After stuffing our faces with eggs and sausage and french toast and mimosas, we hit the recently reopened Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, another place we’d been meaning to visit.

Sunday afternoon, we napped, again. Because we could.

Monday still feels like a bitch, but I’m happier knowing we didn’t waste the weekend. We’ve lulled ourselves into a bit of a lazy habit of not doing anything special to celebrate this thing we’ve got going on and that shit needs to change. Sure, we go on great vacations every once in a while and celebrate birthdays, but we need to work on making every day special and perfect and better.

5 things I didn't do "right."

I’m not a traditional sort of girl. Maybe that’s obvious. My Army career should have been a pretty clear indicator. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the woods. Maybe it’s all those women’s studies and sociology classes that fostered my feminism. Maybe it’s because I like letting my freak flag fly, or maybe I’m just different. Either way, I like doing things my way. My marriage has been no different. We haven’t gone the traditional route, much to the dismay of some friends and family and more than a few complete strangers.

5 things I didn’t do “right” :: the marriage & wedding edition

1. There’s no engagement ring. In fact, there really wasn’t even an engagement. Andrew said he wanted to get married as soon as possible, and I didn’t object. I made it clear I didn’t want a ring from the beginning, not because we couldn’t afford it, but because it wasn’t something I needed. I know Andrew loves me. I didn’t need a ring and honestly, it just wasn’t high on my priority list. Plus, I’m pretty hard on my hands. I wouldn’t want to wear a beautiful sparkly ring in the woods and on the shooting range, and what’s the point of spending thousands on a ring I would be afraid to wear? Plus, my feminist just conscience wouldn’t allow it.

2. I got married in Vegas. Yes, I wore a white dress. No, Elvis didn’t marry us. For some reason, this freaks people out. It’s not like we eloped. Or like we got drunk and got hitched. We planned a wedding. It just happened to be in Las Vegas.

3. I didn’t take his name. And I probably never will. It’s not that I don’t love Andrew’s last name, it’s that my last name is such a big part of who I am now and who I’ve always been that I can’t imagine losing it. This bothers people. Men, mostly. One man we encountered kept telling Andrew over and over again that he really needed to fix the situation and make me change my name. He went on and on about how it “just isn’t right.” Like it was any of his business.

4. We probably aren’t going to reproduce. My clock is not ticking. My ovaries don’t get pangs of baby lust. Babies are cute, sure. But they poop and drool. And I really, really, really don’t like poop and drool. Instead, we have dogs.

5. We haven’t really celebrated an anniversary yet. We made a mistake. We got married the second weekend of January, which will likely always be our one weekend a month for the National Guard. Our first anniversary, we worked. Our second anniversary,we worked. It’s not that we don’t think it’s important to celebrate our love and our marriage and blah blah blah, it’s just that we’re really busy.

Bottom line? People are different. I promise not to judge you if you don’t judge me.

Year 2

Two years ago today, Andrew and I got married in Las Vegas.

There are lots of cheesy things I want to say. Like how I married my best friend. Like how happy we are. Like how I can’t wait for what the future holds, but, I think the most important thing I’ve said to Andrew all day, is that I love him. More today than yesterday.

In our second year of marriage, we:

– Moved into our first home.
– Got to know each other a little better.
– Played in the snow.
– Went to San Francisco.
– Threw a party.
– Snuggled.
– Spent Christmas in Michigan.
– Fell more in love every single day.

Love

Once upon a time, in the before times, Andrew said “I love you” to me for the first time on this very day.

I know, I know, it’s a silly thing to remember but today is the day before Andrew’s birthday so it would actually be pretty hard for me NOT to remember the significance of today’s date.

The story:

Early in the day, Andrew said he had something to tell me. Something important. My guts were doing somersaults since I woke up that morning and when he told me that, I just KNEW.  I knew, without a doubt, that he was going to say the l-word. It was a no-brainer.

So I waited, all day. I ate lunch with him, worked with him, stared at him and felt my stomach fill with more and more butterflies as the day went on.

Finally, after dinner and work, we went for a walk. Like we always did. I asked him over and over and over again if he was ready to tell me that important something he’d mentioned earlier in the day. But he kept saying he wasn’t ready so we walked around and around and finally we stopped and just sort of stared at each other.

We talked about other things, non-love things. The weather. Work. Stupid shit.

And then he said, “I think I love you.”

And it didn’t matter that I knew he was going to say it all day. It didn’t matter that I’d known I loved him since the first day I’d met him. It didn’t matter that all day I’d been practicing my response in my head. I was knocked speechless.

So I stared at him, grasping for words, trying to catch my breath. I wanted something snarky, something smart to say in response to his thinking he loved me but I came up short.

Andrew will say it was 15 minutes before I responded. I say it was more like seconds before I said, “I think…I know I love you too.” Which was, I know, totally lame, but the best I could come up with.

Luckily, we’ve gotten much better at saying “I love you.”

(Excuse me. I have to go throw up in my mouth because THE CUTE – I CANNOT HANDLE IT!)

Lovin' me some San Francsico: Days 3 + 4

Day 3: Mr. & Mrs. Hikes-A-Lot, Wine Drunk, & the Castro

DAY 3If I could use just one word to describe our third day in San Francisco, I would use the word “hike.” Because we did. All across San Francisco. Because we’re crazy, and hate our feet. I know that path right there doesn’t look too long, but it was all up hill. Because that’s what San Francisco is. UP HILL.

We left our hotel (that’s where the blue thing is) and headed south to check out Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world.  It was an up-hill hike, of course, but so, so worth it because every time we turned around and looked down, the views of San Francisco and the bay just got better and better.  I took so many pictures on the way up that by the time we got three blocks, Andrew was ready to kill me because I kept making him stop.

We momentarily contemplated walking all the way down to Union Square but then a trolley showed up and we were all “Oh neat – a trolley!” and since it wasn’t too too packed, we pitched the idea of walking.

I highly recommend taking a trolley ride through San Francisco while standing up, clinging to those leather strap hand hold things for dear life. It’s fun, scary and worth the $5. DO IT!

Seriously. Trolley rides are SO FUN and I’m still trying to figure out how I didn’t topple over onto the lap of the very nice British couple sitting next to the bar I was clinging to. But lo – it was fun, and in true tourist fashion I took pictures like crazy because OMG! TROLLEY! CALIFORNIA! SQUEE!

After the trolley, we walked down Market Street marveling at the shops and I kept saying over and over how big everything was, even though I’ve been to places like NYC and Munich and Houston and Philadelphia and have not, as my words might have implied to passerby, spent my whole life living in a box far, far away from the city.

I did notice that cop cars in San Francisco suck. I mean, maybe they were hiding the nice ones or something because the ones I saw were super crappy. I had assumed that a city so expensive and fabulous would have money to throw at their police force so they could look super cool. But no. Richmond, Virginia has better copcars.

After we had thoroughly window shopped along Market St. and Union Square, we went up to Chinatown. I had been told that walking into Chinatown felt like walking into a different world and it absolutely was. It was fun, and beautiful and I couldn’t stop staring at all the beautiful colors and street decorations.

Seeing as we made it to Chinatown around lunchtime, and were starving, we popped into a slightly promising looking restaurant and ate outside on the balcony. I then discovered that I LOVE green tea ice cream.

Day 3-fty

After lunch we debated where to go and what to do, and ultimately decided to head up to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower to get a better view of the city. As if we hadn’t climbed enough hills that day. We’re gluttons for punishment, I tell you.

On the way up to Coit Tower, Andrew almost got in a fight with a super scary lesbian. I’m not quite sure what he did to offend her (it might have been the penis), but when he walked by, she puffed herself up and gave him the evil eye.  I thought for sure I was going to have to defend his honor or something but she just glared at him as we walked up the hill.  I was so freaked out by her evil eye that I kept turning around to make sure she wasn’t flying up the hill on lesbian roller skates with a baseball bat to kill us both.

By the time we made it up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower we were glad to be alive and totally awed by the view. San Francisco is just so damn beautiful. From every. single. angle.

Coming down from Coit Tower we got lost. Each street we tried to turn down turned into a dead end. Thank goodness for my Crackberry. It saved the day with its wonder-twin powers of Google Maps. And lucky for us, the accidental walk back to the hotel resulted in us passing through North Beach. North Beach is where the very, very yummy food is – especially the very, very, very, very yummy Italian food.

We made it back to the hotel with just enough time to take off our shoes and complain about how bad our feet hurt for 30 minutes. Then it was time for free wine again at the hotel and then we walked BACK to North Beach for dinner.  We simply had to. It had smelled so good. Everyone we asked about San Francisco told us we HAD to go there to get some Italian food. So we did. And it was one of the best decisions we made.

San from theinbetweenismine.com had recommended a few places to eat in North Beach, but by the time we were walking through looking for a place to eat, I had totally forgotten about them. We choose this little place that didn’t look too pretentious but that promised homemade gnocchi. We sat down, ordered some bruschetta and I remembered – shit! – San had recommended places to eat in North Beach! Dammit! She was nice enough to offer up suggestions and I’d totally forgotten to check them once in the city! I grabbed my phone, opened her email and found this:

There are a few good Italian restaurants, I recommend:

Trattoria Volare Caffee
561 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133-2801
(near Washington Square)

I looked down at our menu, and at the window we were sitting beside and lo and behold – that’s the place we were at! Que freak out about how the universe is wonderful and neat and what a freakin’ coincidence and YAY! now I can say I went to the place she recommended!

The food OH MY GOODNESS – SO good. It’s owned by an adorable Sicilian man who talked to all his Italian patrons in Italian and who obviously takes enormous pride in his restaurant. We ordered a bottle of wine and some of the best food I’ve had in my entire life. It was so low-key. So mellow. We weren’t rushed through our meal. We were left to enjoy our food. And it was the best. THE BEST.

After dinner we went back to the little wine bar place we’d visited the night before. We ordered a glass of wine and chatted with the people who worked there. Andrew asked if we could be friends with them on Facebook. They said yes. We asked what they were getting into that night and they informed us they were going to the Castro for a friend’s birthday (we had absolutely no idea what the Castro was at this point and just assumed it was a bar or something). We asked if we could tag along. They said yes. (!!!)

So we left the wine bar, hopped in the car with these relative strangers and rode to the Haight to drop off the car. Then we hopped on a bus and went to the Castro. Which is when we realized that the Castro is the gay part of San Francisco. (More !!!) So we went to two different bars (and saw no less than 3 totally naked men standing on the street) and danced and laughed and drank and I realized then that I had never even been to a gay bar before and that, holy crap! my first gay bar experience was in SAN FRANCISCO, because I am awesome like that and sometimes things just turn out so freakin’ well.

As the bars starting closing, we spilled out onto the street. There were these adorable gay boys there and they had just been to a wedding out in Sonoma and were still dressed to the nines. We chatted with them and I fell in love with them because they kept telling me I’m fabulous and then I introduced them to Andrew, who they loved as well but who they were mad at because of that whole he’s straight thing and so there we stood, in the middle of the Castro in San Francisco with our new wine friends and some funny gay boys who couldn’t stop telling us how fabulous we were and how more men should be like Andrew. It was one of the best adventures I’ve ever been on. Ever.

We hailed a cab at 3 AM (that’d be 6 AM Virginia time…) and made it back to the hotel at 3:25 AM. We had to be buzzed in to the hotel and the guy at the front desk looked at us with a disapproving glare. I felt like I was 16 again. It was perfect.

Day 3 - later

Day 4: HUNG OVER & don’t rock the boat

I’m 25. Andrew is very close to turning 29. We should have known better. We should have known that if we drank a bottle of wine with dinner, and then if we went to a wine bar and drank more wine, and then if we went to the Castro and drank beers we would feel like shit the next day. And we did.

Before the Castro adventure we loosely planned on riding the bus over to the Golden Gate Bridge. But then we woke up. And couldn’t move. Seriously. It was the WORST hangover of my life. I’m all about things in moderation and apparently I forgot about that while living it up San Francisco style with the gays. Oops.

So instead of going on an adventure we went to brunch. Where I had toast. And then we went to check out a whole bunch of old boats at the Hyde St. Pier because we’re suckers for old stuff. But that was stupid. Because when you’re hungover and nauseous it’s best not to get on a boat that’s quietly swaying in the water. Because it will make you feel worse. A lot worse. Apparently, we’re not nearly as smart as we thought we were, and we obviously CANNOT party like we’re 21 anymore either.

Lesson learned.

We didn’t really accomplish much on Day 4, and that’s okay. The crowds started to get bad  and I was really, really content just to sit outside at a restaurant and people watch. There are some crazy people in San Francisco (the BUSHMAN!) and we were able to partake in some first class people watching.

San Francisco SEP 092

Since our flight left San Francisco at 10:36 PM we headed to the airport, via cab a bit early. The cab ride was wonderful, amazingly, and we spent our last few hours in San Francisco wandering around the airport talking about how it was the best vacation we’ve ever taken. And we vowed to do it more often. We go on vacation fairly regularly but we always seem to go with friends and while that’s fun and all, it’s better when it’s just us. Just the two of us doing whatever we want to do, getting to know each other all over again and experiencing things together for the first time. That’s what this time in our lives should be all about – living life to the fullest and taking as many adventures as possible.

We made it home by noon on Monday and spent the day curled up on the couch watching Big Brother. It was the perfect end to a perfect long weekend.

I love you, San Francisco!