Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Pickle

What is a guy to do after a two-by-four moment? At the time, it was not the perfect scenario to be engaged. Martha and I were technically dating but we only saw each other on weekends in St. Louis or Columbia. Our families knew we were "friends," if not "good friends," but would they be expecting an engagement? She was looking at some job prospects but there were not any big leads yet in St. Louis. The thought of continuing a long distance relationship was scary enough, but the thought of a long distance engagement was down right frightening. I found myself in a pickle. My mind was made up with what I wanted to do, or so I thought, but I didn't yet see on how it was all supposed to work.

While trying to figure out how it would all come together, I needed to talk with a friend about what was going through my mind. He had already taken the plunge himself and maybe he would have some words of wisdom for me.  Over dinner we walked through Martha and I's long and complicated history, my thought process on why she was the one and why now was the time. He told me he saw no flaws in anything I said but cautioned,

"Once you push that boulder over the hill... you will not be able to get it to stop. Be sure that if and when you are ready, you are really ready."

What he said did not give me pause at the moment, but once digested, it did resonate. Was I really ready? Was this about emotions or was this really the next step in my life? After a brief moment of reassessment, another part of that dinner conversation came to mind. He shared with me his engagement story, details about the wedding day and the joys of married life. While it might have given me pause, it presented an ultimatum. If an engagement was really the next step, if this was the course my life should be taking, my sign would come. There was no need to worry about a long distance engagement. If this was supposed to happen, the pieces would fall into place.

What came as a surprise was how quickly the pieces fell into place. Just a few weeks later Martha was offered a job with the Parkway School District in St. Louis. She would be moving in June and would be in St. Louis full time by the end of July. My sign had just been delivered. My mind was made up. I would be asking this girl to marry me and soon. The only things left to figure out were the minor details of a small piece of shiny metal with a sparkly rock on top and the most romantic proposal ever. Piece of cake... or so I thought.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two-By-Four Moment

I have heard, on more than one occasion, that who you marry is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. It will be who you make every major decision with for the rest of your life. You will mix your gene pool with theirs; or in some cases hope to dilute one pool or another. They will forever be as much a part of you as you are a part of them. At the least, you have to look at them everyday for a very, very long time. With all that pressure, the decision to get married was not one I was even considering at the beginning of this year.

For many years, family and friends closest to Martha and I went out of their way to reiterate over and over the fact that it was only a matter of time before we would take the plunge. They had pointed this fact out to us again and again. Through times when we weren't speaking to each other, in times when we were "just friends" and most recently when we were whatever it was that we didn't want to call ourselves. However, for me it was not that clear.

Let me back this up a few years to give you some of the history. Almost ten years ago I faintly remember a shy, freckled faced 16 year old red headed girl attending church youth functions in Illinois. Through our interactions at different events we became pretty good friends, but friends is all we ever really were. A few years after meeting Martha I was dating her best friend in High School and even attended Martha's sister's wedding as her best friend's date. We were always good friends, but it wasn't until college that we both flirted with the idea of dating. Looking back, those times in college when we were dating were some of the most enjoyable parts of my college experience. But as I am a glutton for punishment and I thought there were greener pastures to be found; I broke up with Martha after a year and a half of dating. During the time after, I experienced a lot of ups and downs with bad relationships, college ending, struggling with finding a job and starting a new career. But amazingly Martha was there for me through all of it. Offering me a closet of a bedroom when I had no where to go and no money to pay rent. Helping me take care of a burned hand from a unfortunate fireworks accident. Even helping me navigate a relationship I should have never been in and trying her darndest to befriend the girl.

You would think that after all we have been through, I would have jumped at the idea of marrying her. But as I mentioned in my first post, sometimes it takes a two-by-four moment for me to fully wake up to the idea. Many experiences in my life, personal and professional, paved the way for me begin to accept the idea that I was ready to begin the next chapter in my life and to begin it with her. But it was one in particular that smacked me over the head: the passing of my grandfather.

My grandfather died on February 18 of this year. It was while sitting with my grandmother in the hospital ICU and listening to her tell stories about meeting my grandfather after high school, writing back and forth during his deployment during the Korean War, getting married, buying their house, raising a family and ultimately watching her squeeze his hand as his slipped from this earth that I realized there is much more to life that I wanted to experience. My grandfather died surrounded by the people he loved and holding the hand of the woman he loved for more than fifty years. In his death, my grandfather turned the page to the next chapter of my life and for that I will be forever grateful to him.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


"Why am I doing this?" is a question I asked myself today when this idea popped in my head and then subsequently committed to my fiance that we would each do blogs about the experiences leading up to and including our wedding. I came up with a few reasons to justify to myself why I would do this.

1.) There are countless blogs out there that show the "frilly" side of an engagement and wedding, including my fiance's. I want to give the perspective of the other side of what I believe is a story not often told, the story of the Groom.
2.) I/we have gotten countless questions in the last two weeks (wow it has only been two weeks) about our experiences being engaged. This blog provides a vehicle for me/we to keep family and friends up to date about our experiences.
3.) This will be an exercise in keeping my sanity. If I have a place to release the thoughts, worries, concerns and humor about this experience I might just make it out sane. 

Now, what you need to know about me in order for this blog to make a bit of sense to you.

I'm not your typical Groom. 

Right after I got engaged I was told that "my part" was done and now all I had to do was show up for the wedding.. While I did spend months agonizing over the purchase of an engagement ring (I'll save that story for another post), meticulously planning plan A,B,C & D (all of which failed. See Martha's post about our engagement and then choreographing the release of the good news to family, friends and colleagues, I do not believe "my part" is done.

One of the reasons that I had such a terrible time picking out a ring is that it was a complete surprise to Martha. Not a word was mentioned to friends or family, as to keep them surprised and most importantly, not able to ruin the special moment I wanted to take place. She and I talk about everything, including major life decisions. This helps give another perspective, reassure your decisions and most importantly gives me the option to blame her for not stopping me from making a bad decision. This wedding will be OUR wedding. As painful as it will be, I plan on being by her side through every step of the process from bridal shows, to seating charts to the overwhelmed tears. I plan to enjoy every moment of this journey and take in every everything I can.

Sometimes I need a two-by-four to smack me upside the head to realize the obvious.

This again will for sure be a later post, but know that for years Martha has been one of the shinning parts of my life. I may have tried to block out that light at times or pretend it wasn't there, but that is where the two-by-four came in. Almost always, my heart/gut tells me what I should be doing. It usually takes my brain a little while to get invited to the "good idea" party.

I have a bizarre sense of humor.

Be prepared for thoughts and insight that at times might be shocking. However, I will not welcome you completely to my inner psyche. This, of course, is totally for your protection.

Well, I hope you enjoy. I look forward to your questions, feedback and sharing this exciting life journey with Martha and myself.