When I look back on this year and think about everything it contained, I am stunned. My heart is grateful in ways I can never explain. I have done less reading this year, less writing too, but I can tell you that there were countless nights driving home alone in my car where in my mind I crafted blogs that never made it to the screen, penned letters that never materialized on a card. Time was consumed by the planning of a wedding I had nearly given up on in my heart. Rob and I had dated for years, and even though so much healing happened for both of us over that time, I was never sure if it would be enough for us to take the step toward marriage. I hoped against hope, but also held pieces of myself in check just in case it never happened.
The amazing thing about being married is that I feel very much like myself. The world has not shifted and I do not suddenly feel more complete, like I have gained a missing half or am safer from the pain of a broken heart. But I do feel like I have a partner who is in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, someone who has agreed to walk beside me through whatever life chooses to throw at us, and that is a comforting feeling. When someone looks at you with the light of truth and commitment in their eyes and says they will never walk away, it is a most powerful thing.
As I look back on the events of the year, both big and small, I cannot help but be full of gratitude for each moment, yet so eager to see what lies ahead.
- January 2014
As we took the Christmas tree down I carefully placed all the ornaments back in their wrinkled tissue paper made soft from years of use and cardboard boxes with frayed edges that hold the memories we place on the tree each year. Mementos from trips we’ve taken, the baby bell from my first Christmas, a glass ball with lighthouses from home painted on it…so much love hangs on those branches every year. Unbeknownst to me, Rob had placed the ring box in the tree along with the rest of the ornaments. It was the last one he removed as he knelt down, shaking, with his heart splayed wide open and asked me to make him the happiest man alive and marry him. It was a simple, vulnerable and beautifully precious fragment of time that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. Now here’s a gross picture for you.
Every year that I go to the GRAMMYs, I never cease to be amazed that I work for such an incredible company. While the show is very much geared toward the average music consumer, the organization is a working machine geared toward the music professional. It’s fascinating. To be at the GRAMMYs surrounded by the artists, the staff, and the many members who make up The Recording Academy is a magical moment. This year I took my cousin Jen and we had a total blast. We went to Disneyland with our other cousin, Karen, and we stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I mean, how much fun can you possibly squeeze into one weekend?
- February 2014
Rob and I hopped on a plane for a whirlwind trip to Long Island to drink lots of wine and find a venue for the wedding. The moment we stepped inside Brecknock Hall we were ruined for every other place we saw. It was “us.”
We visited Rob’s parents in Oklahoma and had such a lovely time with them. I was nervous as heck, but very thankful to be marrying into a kind, loving family. We went to this wonderful art museum called the Philbrook.
- March 2014
I was in budget hell at work and most of the month was spent trying to avoid having an ulcer. As part of our pre marital counseling we were charged with going on a date every week. It was so much fun!
A few of us at work also got to go hear Ben Folds and Giancarlo Guerrero from the Nashville Symphony perform and speak about working together. It was so refreshing to hear a maestro talk about listening to Nine Inch Nails in his spare time. I still believe there are way too many barriers between the classical music world and the mainstream world.
- April 2014
I emerged from the blur of budget hell and headed to Long Island to decompress by the water and remind myself there are bigger things in life than numbers and spreadsheets. A hawk flew into the screen porch to try and eat the cat. It was utter madness until dad pushed it onto the patio with a broom. Nature.
One of my best friends had her baby this month and she is the most adorable kid ever. It’s always special when a very close friend has a baby. As a general rule, I avoid babies and don’t like it when people try to make me feel like less of a woman because I prefer kittens over human children. However, I make an exception for a few people in my life and I could not have been more thrilled for Renee and Jules. More on this later.
The Harry Potter fun continues with our group of friends who gather to nerd out. The Goblet of Fire was on the menu this month, therefore tasks had to be completed before finding the golden egg and then watching the movie.
My cat turned 10 years old. I have had Maddox longer than most of my friends have had their kids. My kid just so happens to weigh more than theirs and could probably kick some serious baby ass, not that he would…well, maybe he would.
Rob finished building an incredible garden fence for our orto (veggie jungle).
- May 2014
I saw Arcade Fire and actually liked them even though it is impossible keeping them all straight with the 57 people they have onstage. The GRAMMYs threw their annual Block Party. I went to LA and sat in meetings at the Beverly Hilton for a day before flying back to the peace and tranquility of my garden.
I turned 33. My “Jesus” year. This is also how old my friend Will was when he passed away last year. I turned the corner of this birthday reflecting on how utterly painful and unfair life can be, and how short it is, and how I hope I end up doing something with my life that is meaningful to others.
- June 2014
I held my breath and squished all the fear in my throat as deep into my stomach as I possibly could when Rob had surgery to remove some cancer on his hand. We visited two surgeons. I sat in the room with him while they consulted and tried to listen to things he might miss in the numbness of hearing the C word thrown around. I inwardly, silently yelled at him again for not getting that disgusting “wart” taken care of while simultaneously cursing the system of medicine in this country that makes healthcare unaffordable for a tradesman who works harder than anyone I know.
We prepared to go to the courthouse and fill out all the forms and just not tell people we were legally married before the wedding. Thankfully, by a miracle we got Rob on my insurance (without signing papers) and avoided the $16,000 outpatient surgery bill that would have befallen him before our wedding…for a spot on his finger. Can you imagine?! I sat in the waiting room for 4 hours while they tried to piece the skin on his finger together. They kept calling me his “wife” and that was so weird. What? I’m not his…whatever…how is he doing?
Rob moved his stuff into my house. Oh my God. Sh*t is getting real. Half of my closet is gone. And there will be a dog. In my house. The cats are blissfully unaware.
The three incredible women who I work with everyday surprised the stuffing out of me and got Katy Perry tickets for pre-wedding fun. I’d been dying to go, but gave up because the tix were too pricey. We had so much fun. This is how we do!!!!
- July 2014
My last trip home as a “single” woman. July 4th is sacred to me. I always, always go home to see my family, my girlfriends, and the small town fireworks at the Greenport High School. The weather is balmy and warm. The Hamptons are in full swing. July on the East End of Long Island is as good as it gets.
My maid of honor, Nicole, and my mom threw a lovely get-together for me where all the women I’ve grown to love so dearly, who I grew up with, who showered their wisdom and love on me through the years came and we ate cake and mini quiches and sat in the screen porch talking till 7 pm! It was so perfect and the gift cards those ladies gave us were used to purchase our dishwasher. Every time we are spared washing a sink of dishes by hand, I will smile and remember this lovely Thursday in July. There are pics of this and I can’t find them anywhere.
I got to meet little Zadie, Renee’s baby, the future President of the U.S. Here is a current picture.
Rob’s house sold. What a hard thing to let go of, but also a blessing how it happened in a day without having to list it. No more roommates, missing rent checks, broken HVAC units, or endless rooms to be redone.
Asheville, NC with my friend Dawn and her little girl. We visited the gardens, stayed at a charming bed and breakfast, walked all over town, and ate pizza and beer after the kiddo was in bed. Certainly not my last girls trip, but it was fun to get out of town and be with a strong female compadre before the wedding month began. There was a lotus plant in full bloom at the arboretum. Absolutely stunning.
- August 2014
Rob follows up with the surgeon and all appears to be well. Thank God. I yell at him to make a dermatologist appointment.
I headed home to New York for what will be one of the most memorable times of my life. I’m gonna be all disgusting and cliche and say it was all perfect because it was and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing, except maybe our DJ, but whatever. My girls and I stayed in a gorgeous victorian that was straight out of Anne of Green Gables. Rob’s guys stayed in a modern place on the bay that was very bachelory. We took everyone to the Hamptons and walked up the Montauk lighthouse and stood in the huge ocean waves in Southampton. The sunset blew everyone away the night of the rehearsal and we all ran outside like 20 times to take pictures of it. Then we got dressed up and headed to a wedding. The weather gods smiled on us and everyone was so beautiful, the girls, the guys, our moms, the guests…oh my gosh, I could go on and on, but I won’t make you all sick…ok, maybe a little. Our wedding was everything I’d hoped it would be. You plan for so long and from so far away, and you have family and friends who say, “Hey, I can do that for you!” and somehow they do. They bring wine and pies and bobby pins and four foot heroes and cameras and they literally make the magic happen. We were so blessed, my heart was about to burst all day long. Oh my God, we just love each other so much. We said our vows and our friends stood around us and everyone looked like angels. The sun on the water was mesmerizing. Rob and I were so happy and so very, very thankful.
- September 2014
Honeymoon in St. Lucia!!! We’d never been here and it’s always been on my list of places to go. While the experience wasn’t exactly what we expected it to be, we had a fabulous time. I can’t remember the last time I swam so much. The water was magnetic and made us feel buoyant and free. We searched for hermit crabs, butterflies, dolphins, and colorful fish. We reveled in the time and space we had to do nothing but eat, swim, and just be.
We came back to real life with a dull thud. Work got crazy. People we loved got sick or languished in illness. We fielded the question “How’s married life?!” with confusion and the uncertainty of how to honestly answer because it feels the same, but with less space. I grappled with the challenge of going from having a lot of alone time which fed my introvert heart to having no alone time and watching my creativity ebb away like a wave leaving with the tide. Rob struggled with not being able to watch as much TV and having to wash a lot of dishes every time I made a meal.
I met one of the authors in my top three. Frances Mayes. Her books about Italy and her novels have been so inspiring and nurtured dreams in my own heart. For years I have wanted to meet her and I always thought maybe it would happen in Italy, but then she came to Nashville to talk about her new book and sell her new wine and I got to talk very briefly with her. What do you say to someone you admire greatly who has such a way with words, who spins worlds with her sentences and brings them closer for you to see and feel and taste? I’ve met a lot of rock stars and musicians, but I swear to God, you put me in front of an author whose work has changed my life and I am a useless blithering idiot. I asked her about Bramasole and the work they were doing, but I wish I could have had more time to just chat…it has to be so strange for authors who travel, with people knowing so much about them. She signed my copy of Under TheTuscan Sun. I hope we meet again.
I went to LA for a week to train new staff and see my friends on the side. I felt like an old, washed up grandma because many of the new generation of staff entering the music workforce are about 12 years old.
We camped out and hiked the Fiery Gizzard trail with some friends. Reminder here.
Rob and I went to the Biltmore for our two month anniversary and his birthday. It snowed and we romped through a winter wonderland in boots and gloves and hats and drank coffee like we needed it for temperature control. It was so blindingly white and fun. The next day the snow cleared and we felt like it was autumn again.
I went back to Lee University for the first time since I graduated to be part of a music advisory group there. In some ways it was healing for me. In other ways it reinforced why I felt so out of place there. I am still not sure how this is going to shape up, but it was nice to feel validated. Like, I graduated with a music business degree and am not the big fat failure some of my classical music professors thought I would be. I still hear the voices that say I’m a big fat failure when I realize there is so much music in the world and I can’t possibly be an expert on all, if any, of it. Or, when I think about how I landed in a finance position when I really really should have listened more in my accounting class. The fear of not being good enough looms great…I think they call it the imposter syndrome in the professional world. I look at women like Sheryl Sandberg or my boss and I’m like, “How the hell did you get where you are today?” because I feel like there is some secret to success that I just have not figured out yet. And what is success anyway? How do you inspire students to make their way in the world when you feel like you yourself are trying to reach Emerald City and the heel of your ruby slipper keeps getting stuck in the yellow brick road? It’s an honor to be one of two women in this group and I so deeply want to be helpful.
We saw Book of Mormon and I was reminded of my love of Broadway and singing…and hilarity!
- December 2014
The final month of the year where nights are filled with birthday parties, Christmas parties, last minute dinners with friends, and a few quiet moments snuggled next to a cat on the couch. We head to Long Island for Christmas where we will go to the Christmas Eve service at CCF and sing the same songs they sing every year, and light candles during Silent Night and hopefully not set the church on fire, and then everyone will sing some rowdy version of Go Tell It On The Mountain and put the emphasis on all the wrong words and take breaths in all the wrong places, and then hug each other silly before going home.
The thing about CCF this year is that people are missing. Over the past year and a half, five lovely souls from that special place have departed leaving our hearts in a state of swiss cheese holeyness. Linda Pisacano, Pat Restivo, Gary and Val Bufkins, and most recently Yvonne Reiter. This is where I start crying on my keyboard because my breath is short as I think about how much I love these dear friends and will miss their presence. The church I grew up in has about 100 people in it who’ve been there for years and have seen the “kids” in my generation grow up from the time we were a foot tall. CCF ruined me on other churches forever, especially the fake evangelical kind throughout much of the South, because I have never seen a group of people more genuinely love Jesus in all my life. For all their faults and weirdnesses about women in leadership, this church has been a support system like no other. The way they lift each other up during these hard times, and call each other on the prayer chain list when something happens, it’s all so lovingly done. I have moved very far away from Mattituck, but it’s still deeply present in my heart, and these people who celebrated with us at our wedding are not merely people I grew up with, but they are extended family who I love dearly and still make an effort to see when I go home. The fact that five of them are no longer with us breaks me up. It brings to mind once again the analogy of sea glass, how we are all in this vast ocean of life, being tossed upon rocks, weathering storms, and somehow becoming more beautifully softened in the process.
I don’t know what the next year will bring, but this one has left me full and empty and filled up again. Another friend has cancer. I pray and I stop and try to start again, but I know God gets it. When I want to scream WTF to the Heavens and cry till there is just nothing left in me, my solace is that God sees the suffering in this world. I can’t answer any of the questions as to why he just doesn’t take it all away, but I read Anne Lamott books and that’s just as good. I find authentic people who are real and genuine and raw and we talk about all the sticky questions and try to hone our faith so we can stand upright in this very crooked world. I hug Rob and snuggle with my cats because sometimes a cat is all you need. And books. My love for reading has come back with a vengeance now that I have time again. I look at the bookshelf and hope I am alive long enough to read all these incredible books and never ever stop learning. To write this stuff that overflows out of my heart in a semblance of phrases that make sense and connect with anyone who takes the time to read them. A year…it brings to mind the song from Rent.