Unplugged but Not Forgotten

I’ve been doing this nifty thing lately where I have hardly documented my life through social media. I think that’s evident since I haven’t posted anything since April 1. Whoops.

I assure you we are alive, healthy, and well. We have been doing pretty much the same routine as always, one weekend in St. Pete, one weekend in Orlando, with a few trips in between to Atlanta. It’s been a pretty hectic two months, that’s for sure and I’m sure I echo pretty much everyone you’ve spoken to lately but I CANNOT BELIEVE IT’S ALREADY JUNE.

So to quickly recap, this is what life has looked like lately for us:

April

  • We were able to hook up with a longtime friend from high school who lives in the Orlando area for a Braves Spring Training game which was super hot but luckily, he and his family have tickets in the shade, so thank god for that. It was a sad moment for me as I realized I only recognized 2 names on our roster, and thus, I’m old.
  • My friend Athena, who works at USF Tampa, was able to score me a VIP pass and seating to see Bill Nye, a personal hero of mine. It did not disappoint. If you ever get a chance to see him, DO IT.
  • We also got to go to the Rowdies home opener! Professional soccer is not something I’m super into, but we had a really good time! The fan section was KRUNK, for sho.
  • We also went to Animal Kingdom as we continued the use of our incredible Florida Resident Disney Passes. I was convinced that I had never been, and truly nothing looked familiar, but it turns out my uncle posted a picture of us on FB riding the Dinosaur ride back when I was in high school, so memory is not the perfect time recorder as you may think it is. I would post pictures of all the safari animals, but really, you’re not going to care.
  • I got us tickets MONTHS ago to see Kathy Griffin who I’m pretty much obsessed with. That woman knocks my socks off, she’s too damn funny. We even braved going back to Lakeland for her, and I’m sure she’ll never know the sacrifice we showed for her.
    • Side note: Timmy is still pretty popular with the gays, as he is really a bear (look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about). He even got pinched by Katherine, Kathy Griffin’s look-alike drag queen, and got his picture taken for one of those gay nightlife magazines. HE STOLE MY DREAM WITHOUT EVEN TRYING. F@#$*@@, I should’ve been a gay man.
  • April finally finished up with a trip back to Atlanta for my friend Mel’s bachelorette party and bridal shower. These girls, they steal my heart. This is my close group of friends from grad school, and man do I love them. We did a little clubbing, a little lake house fun, and it was such a needed trip for me. We also had time that weekend to go to the Inman Park Festival and meet up with my really good girlfriend Alex. It’s been forever since we’ve been able to go to an Atlanta festival, and god it was wonderful.We also stopped by Timmy’s friend’s crawfish boil, where I proceeded to amaze the men by throwing like a pro. (notice I didn’t say “like a man”. I’m a girl, and I throw like a person who knows what they’re doing. Gender ain’t got nothing to do with it.)

May

  • So began the month of a ton of family birthdays. My soon-to-be niece Caroline, my soon-to-be sister in law Katy, mine, my niece Charlotte, my father…July/August were THE months, if you catch my drift. I didn’t get to celebrate with anyone, which was fine, but for the first time in a long time, I was kind of lonely. I’m starting to miss my friends and family more than before, but now that it’s summer (not technically, but who are we kidding? It’s FL), it’s really the perfect time for everyone to start visiting and satisfy my friend/family cravings.
  • I had 3 spine injections. Life is much better now.
  • We had more beach weekends. This is really the sweet spot of FL weather. It’s hot, but not disgusting yet, and the beaches aren’t full with tourists. It’s delightful.
  • We went back to Atlanta for Mel and Brandon’s wedding, which I had the honor of officiating. That’s two weddings now, and I’d better have a 2-0 record. I’m available for weddings and vow renewals in case anyone’s in the market.
  • We packed in wedding planning that weekend as well, and it was freaking exhausting. We had a SUPER unpleasant meeting with one of our venue’s reps, and it was so bad I had to email the director and had someone else assigned to us. If you plan on using the Foundry at Puritan Mill, stay clear of Wendy Collins. She’s the WORST.
  • That weekend we also got in our engagement photos, which we will be getting back this week and I’m about to pee my pants, I’m so excited to share with you “our vision”. You. Should. Be. Excited.
  • My sister and niece Anna came to visit, and I LOVED IT. Anna is so not used to being by herself with all the adult attention on her (since she’s a twin), so it was really neat to see her personality without her feeling like she’s fighting for the spotlight. We took her shelling, and we watched her eat lemons including the rind. She’s a little weirdo, and I love her.
  • We had a lovely Memorial Day evening basically doing a craft brewery crawl, starting with Green Bench with a co-worker, his fiancee and her son. GOOOOOOD times.
  • I got to present at the American College Health Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Orlando last week, and it was fantastic. We had a crowd of 85 people, and when I got to the office today, I had phone calls and emails from other universities waiting for me, wanting to talk about how to integrate their college health services like we have! I was voted Secretary of the Health Promotion section for 2015-16, and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with ACHA this year.
  • Finally, we finished off our Disney field trips with a visit to Epcot on Saturday. I got over 24,000 steps that day, so yeah, it was a good day.

And now you’re all caught up. Life is moving quickly and picking up pace (as if that’s even possible), and we have even more trips planned out of town and in town with friends coming to visit. I LOVE SUMMER IN ST. PETE.

♥, VB

Laughs at Theme Parks

It should come as no surprise to you that Orlando is a BITCH of a commute, namely because of the traffic from theme parks. Everywhere you look, theme park, ride, slide, fun thing! And tourists make I-4 a living hell.

Of course, that’s the only way to drive directly through Orlando on the way to St. Pete and to get to Timmy’s place, so that’s always super fun. Thankfully, in order to get my head and spirit out of the funk it was in the last month or so, we’ve been taking a few field trips.

Disney offers FL resident ticket packages regularly, but the most recent deal was just too good to pass up. 3 day-tickets that don’t have to be used consecutively for only $129/person. ARE YOU KIDDING?!?! And even better, we can add on an extra day for $20/person. Unreal.

So of course, we got those tickets, added on a day, and have spent most of our last Orlando weekends taking advantage of Disney. I tried to get us in on weekends that bookend spring breaks so that it would be busy (duh, it’s Disney) but not psycho booked with out-of-towners. And my planning so far has pretty much been spot on.

Our first day, we hit up Magic Kingdom. Thank you Fast Pass, for letting me book 3 rides online. No Thank You Fast Pass, for not showing on the website in bright flashing lights that once those 3 were done, I could find a kiosk at the park and get more fast passes. That would’ve been nice in order to avoid the 80 minute line for the Dwarf Mine Train (which was awesome btw).

Of course, I downloaded our candid photos that turned out to not be so candid because we were prepared to be dorks. Enjoy.

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The next day, our friend from high school was in town playing with American Authors for Universal Studios’ Mardi Gras. I had no plans to go because they were playing on a Sunday night, a time I usually spend driving 2 hours home from Orlando. Zac was too sweet and not only got us VIP passes to meet everyone after the show, but he also got us free tickets to both parks.

So hell yeah we went.

We met up with one of Timmy’s friends who lives in Sarasota, and proceeded to roam the parks. The Harry Potter section of the park is still just as amazing as it was the last time we were there, but since then, they opened the Hogwarts Express train that takes you from Islands of Adventure to the Studios park and Diagon Alley.

I may or may not have admitted to being more excited to ride the train than planning our wedding.

Diagon Alley was just unbelievable. Truly 100% crazy cool. We were also able to ride the Escape from Gringott’s ride right before the parks closed, which was hella fun. My ride home at 11:30pm? That was not hella fun, but the weekend rocked, so I can’t complain.

I warn you that my pictures include my fanny pack. I unabashedly rock my fanny pack when we hit the parks because I HATE wearing a purse. It always makes my shoulder/back sweat, and my shoulder always gets sore from the weight. I can’t stand it. So fanny packs, we’re BFFs and I have NO SHAME ABOUT IT.

Next up was Hollywood Studios, which is one of my favorites because they have LEGIT rides there. I normally have to wear a motion sickness patch because I’m old as crap, but I decided to forego it for these day trips because they give me cotton mouth like I’ve never experienced before and they make you super sleepy.

I forgot how quickly you can run through Hollywood Studios, so it’s a good thing we got there around 2p. We hit every ride there AND still made the massive show Fantasmic right before the park closed. We also got to do Tower of Terror twice, which might be one of the biggest natural highs we’ve ever had.

I had a slight sad attack when we arrived though because the large Mickey wizard hat is gone, so there were construction gates all around where the hat used to be. This area is in front of my favorite ride, The Great Movie Ride. Don’t ask me why it’s my favorite. Maybe the innocence of it? Maybe because it’s the only thing I could truly stomach as a child? I’m lame, I know.

Anyways, we both thought that the construction was also for the Great Movie Ride, which meant that it was closed. And I was so sad. Until hours later, we walked around the back and saw the line! So yay, panic over (although I did read that they’re also getting rid of this ride soon…boo).

The Tower of Terror, although it starts tummy rumblings for me whenever I think of that scary ass building, is maybe one of the most fun rides ever. I can’t stand freefalls when you can see how high you’re dropping, but there’s something about the Tower of Terror that gets me every time. You have no idea how far you’re falling, you have no idea when you’re going to fall the entire distance, and the random up-and-down drops make me laugh thinking about it, even NOW.

The two of us, giggling non-stop, after both times, god that was fun. Why would anyone want to do drugs when rides like this one exist? Adrenaline rush much?

After the natural high, we still had enough in us to hit up Downtown Disney and House of Blues with a killer blues band to boot.

[I realize that it looks like I’m wearing the exact same blue top two weekends in a row, but I can assure you it is a different top. And maybe I need to branch out on my wardrobe colors.]

Side note: As a follow up to my last post, it’s no secret that I’ve still been struggling with the marriage thing. I’ve been having massive anxiety issues, still having trouble sleeping, and it’s kind of disrupting this wonderful flow that Timmy and I have. Now I’m looking for some professional help in order to work out these mental issues. No shame in this game. If it’s a problem, time to work on it.

Animal Kingdom and Epcot, we’re coming for you.

♥, VB

Rough Go

That’s been me lately. Having a rough go of it. It’s like a switch has been thrown and I’m in the funk.

This whole wedding planning thing is OVERWHELMING. Capital letters all the way.

I don’t say this for pity or to be dramatic. I know there are worse things happening globally, there are things that need attention beyond my little world. I know people would love to be in a position of planning an over-the-top wedding with all the fixins. But I am completely overwhelmed.

I’ve been trying to find the happy medium, the balance, but let me tell you, when your ideal wedding was a courthouse getaway that has now been turned into a full-blown wedding extravaganza, it’s hard to find the healthy grip on life again.

All the compromises, I’ve heard them and pitched them, so no need to offer advice on how to find the middle ground, either. Destination wedding? Timmy vetoed that a LONG time ago. Courthouse wedding then have a big party? No difference in the overall price, so not really worth compromising on. Eloping? I think I would greatly regret it. Split the cost? I. am. poor.

I don’t need any, “Hey girl, you’ll be fine!” and I especially don’t need any, “Just get over it and have fun!” None of those help, and in fact, they make me feel worse.

The budget just keeps climbing and climbing so fast I’m having anxiety and trouble sleeping. I’m feeling such an overwhelming (there’s that word again) amount of guilt mixed with appreciation…I don’t really think there’s a word that fits the feeling that has embedded itself into my veins. My parents have offered to pay for the wedding, which holy shit, is just about the most generous thing they’ve done for me since, oh I don’t know, paid for all of my education and everything I’ve ever needed ever.

How do you accept a gift like that when you expected all the gifts to have ended by now?

I have felt physically ill when I see how much this wedding is already costing, and I think back to all those times (and there were MANY times) I scoffed at the wedding industry and couldn’t believe people spent that much money on one day that goes by likethat.

I guess I am now one of those people. Never say never, I guess.

Don’t get my intentions here wrong. I am not unappreciative. In fact, I’m so appreciative, I can’t stop crying. I seriously have cried nearly every single day for over a week, and we’ve only been wedding planning for like 5 weeks now. First it was the guest list that just about stopped my heart. Then it was the searching for a venue in a city and state we don’t live in, which makes the necessity of finding a place that much greater so we can stop worrying about it and not have to fly back and forth a million times. Then it was the list that our wedding planner handed to us with a never-ending list of things to do that shortens my breath. Then it was the year anniversary of Jake passing, which was just the cherry on top of a guilt-ridden, weepy, anxiety-producing sundae.

I will get to a place where I’m ok with all of this, I know I will. I will feel immensely happy and appreciative without the guilt. I’m not quite there yet, and I have to be ok with that too. We all have a process, and considering this is the first and last time I will ever do this, I need to move through the shock to get to the happy.

The happy is being with my partner, the happy is spending a life exploring each other and this world, the happy is making him laugh for years to come, the happy is in the celebration of this love.

The happy is Timmy. Which will be my mantra from here until our wedding day.

♥, VB

Birthday Wishes for My Birthday Boy

Timmy, for you on your birthday day, I wish:

  • that 32 feels more amazing than 31, 30, and 29 did.
  • that you accomplish your heart’s desires.
  • that you always feel as loved as you make me feel, every day of this year, and every year afterwards.
  • that you see Floyd do something cute and laugh.
  • that you remember something I did to make you laugh and smile.
  • that you remind yourself that our separation is temporary.
  • that you feel the love of all your friends and family, even though they’re not near.
  • that we continue to make each other laugh at all the ridiculous ideas we’re coming up with for our wedding.
  • that you truly feel content in the path that you’ve chosen.
  • that you feel supported by me to stay on this path or on any other path you want to travel.
  • that we travel to more new and exciting places this year and continue to create magical memories together.
  • that you know, without a doubt, that this day, the day of your birth, is one of the few days that I’m the most thankful for.

I love you, truly and deeply. Happy birthday partner.

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♥, VB

Our Engagement: Behind the Story

You know how little girls dream about wedding dresses and perfect grooms and being a bride? Yeah, well, I was never one of those girls.

I never really gave serious thought to getting married. Even when the thought would cross my mind, the idea of being linked to someone forever didn’t really seem like a realistic possibility. It didn’t pain me or worry me; it just didn’t sound realistic.

As someone who has been independent or seeking freedom in any small way since I was little, I could only imagine being with a partner who had certain qualities. And even “being with” didn’t include forever. My partner was a nebulous figure, never with a discernible shape or gender, just someone who had the following characteristics:

  • likes to dance or can at least have fun on the dance floor
  • someone who is independent-minded and self-sufficient
  • someone who is kind and respectful
  • someone who makes me laugh
  • someone who makes me feel safe
  • someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously
  • someone who allows me to be me

I dare to say that’s a pretty mature list for a kid to have. But it was no joke. That’s absolutely the kind of future partner I wanted.

Time moved along, and I went in and of out relationships, sometimes successfully and sometimes with great grief and heartache. As I grew older, the idea of marriage grew more distant and terrifying to me. I saw people getting married, very young, without much thought to how marriage would greatly change a person’s ability to define themselves on their own terms. I judged and judged and judged because I didn’t get it. How could you marry someone, how could you pledge to love someone else forever when you hadn’t really gotten the chance to love yourself, to be happy with yourself, to become yourself?

I graduated college then I graduated from my master’s program. I took a miserable fellowship at the CDC because the economy tanked and I had no other real options. I broke up with a boyfriend because we weren’t compatible. I relished my freedom from that dead-end relationship, lived it up at night with my girlfriends, and basically came back to equilibrium.

And then Timmy walked into my life.

After chatting on FB after nearly 7 years of no contact, we had a friend date at Eclipse di Luna. He picked me up in his traditional bear hug, told me I looked great, asked how my job was going and if I was making good money. Wait what? Making good money? How is that an appropriate question to ask someone after not seeing them for years?

Timmy: “I forgot my wallet so you’ll have to pay tonight.”

Me: “I’m never going to let you forget this.”

He says it was an accident, but a happy one at that because it led to our first real date in which he “paid me back”. We stayed at Joey D’s Oak Room for 3 hours, with servers doing sidework and playing cards, vacuuming around us, waiting for us to leave any.minute.now. We had our first kiss in that parking lot, and I knew that things were seriously about to change in my life.

Would I say I knew he was “the one” from the beginning? No. Not even a little bit. All I knew was that I had fun whenever I was with Timmy. He made me laugh, he made me feel safe, he made me feel comfortable. In a total “that’s not like her” move, I made a promise to myself that I would see where things went until I no longer had fun with him.

Well, I think we can all agree that year 4 of our relationship — moving to FL, living in Lakeland, Timmy and his medications — WAS NOT FUN. We both struggled a lot last year, and I went back and forth, deciding whether to continue in this relationship or strike out on my own again. I’m so glad I knew the real Timmy and that I knew in my heart he would come back to me again. I knew we could probably never go back to how we once were, but we could find a new, happy, more mature place in our relationship.

The past 4 years have been full of lots of ups and downs, but through all of it, I remained sure that I did not want to get married. My distaste for those early engagements, for those getting married for all the wrong reasons, pushed me to the other extreme, where I was more willing to live like Oprah and Steadman than give any real credence to marriage. I know that commitment is in the heart, not on paper. You’re either committed to each other or you’re not.

But after coming out of the darkness that was last year — the constant fights, being isolated, the death of Jake, our mutual grieving of not only our friend but the passing of a lighter time in our relationship — changed our course forever. With lots of discussions (and I mean LOTS), we intentionally came to the decision that we were now ready to be responsible for each other, legally and fiscally.

That isn’t super romantic, I know, and I’m sure a lot of y’all were disappointed when we said that I knew the engagement was coming in Italy and that I had designed my ring. But for us, this engagement isn’t a spontaneous, romantic, sweep-me-off-my-feet gesture. This is an intentional, joint decision about the logistics of our lives as adults.

We also are now ready to commit ourselves for life in front of our friends and family, so yes, we get that this is also about romance and love. But I have a partner that knows me so well, he didn’t dare try to make this decision without including me. In fact, when I tried to send him ideas for rings that I liked, he flat out said, “No way. I know you, and you are so particular, there’s no way I’m trying to design something that you have to wear for life. You need to 100% love what you get.”

Months before we left for our trip to Italy, I had a conversation with Timmy at lunch. I wanted to have a serious talk about our engagement and future marriage. But before I could get the words out, I burst into tears. I had never imagined taking this step before and I was wholly unprepared for the flood of fearful emotions that hit me. Getting engaged was so overwhelming for me, I couldn’t even discuss what I had feared my whole life without getting emotional.

My fears of having my identity subsumed by his last name, losing a huge part of my identity as an independent woman, not being able to fully control how people will perceive me once I’m married, the unjust inequality of the woman losing her name and the male just continuing, as is…it was just too much and my fears spilled out as fast as the tears streaming down my face. Whether those fears were grounded in reality or not didn’t matter. Those fears were as real to me as anything has ever been.

The shock of that moment, I think it really hit Timmy that this was going to be the most major step I had ever taken, way beyond moving to NY for college without knowing a soul, going to grad school, trying to get a job in a recession, becoming a self-sufficient, tax-paying adult, moving to FL without knowing the next steps.

So there we were in Italy, overlooking miles and miles of Tuscan wine country behind a centuries-old castle, me with my camera strapped around my neck and my iPhone out, ready for pictures. I turned around, and Timmy was on his knee, holding the ring in his hand.

And I immediately wanted to throw up.

Even knowing it was coming, the weight of the moment still hit me like a train. With this engagement, we plan on committing ourselves to each other in front of everyone we’ve ever loved. We will legally be responsible for each other in very real, adult ways that could have serious consequences. People will automatically assume I’ve taken his name and say, “Hello Mrs. Teck.” I will have to change tax documents, create a living will and power of attorney documents,  I mean, things are about to really change in ways I’ve never prepared myself for.

We haven’t started really planning anything for the wedding. We’ve had conversations about reception ideas, food, music, but we have no date, we haven’t officially asked friends to be a part of our wedding party, no venue chosen. The more I think about it, the less willing I am to just jump into this, even though we all know I LOVE PLANNING.

It took me 31 years to think I could get engaged. The feeling of being ready to get married doesn’t come overnight, especially when you’ve fought it off for this long.

So to those who are dying for us to move things along, give us time, and we’ll get there. Be happy for us now, in this moment, because we want to enjoy it for as long as possible.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from being with Timmy, it’s that planning only gets you so far, and then out of nowhere, the most special/amazing/unfortunate/crazy things will happen and you’ve got to be flexible enough to absorb them and move forward with love, honesty, and respect.

After I said yes, we hugged and cried. And then he whispered in my ear, “Nothing will change.” And I thought to myself, “This person is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”

♥, VB