Tag Archives: boyfriend

The Whole Cheesy Story, Part 4

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First read Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Finally, the end of the “how we met” saga!

When we last left off in my long, drawn out love story, Zach and I had finally said the big “L word”, and the next day I got on a plane to start my two years of Peace Corps service.  I went off to Tanzania to learn Swahili, live in a village, and do my best to contribute something, and he stayed in Ohio, working on his degree.  We left our relationship undefined and I had no idea what would happen.  I honestly expected him to forget about me and find a new girl who wasn’t an ocean away.  But he didn’t.  And the trouble was, I couldn’t forget about him either.  I did my best to adopt a “whatever happens, happens” attitude to the situation and focus on the present.  But I couldn’t stop dreaming about the future, imagining us ending up together.  Every time I got an email or a letter or a super-expensive phone call from Zach I would smile all day.  I had never wanted to be in a long-distance relationship while in the Peace Corps, as I imagined missing someone would make it even harder than it already was to be so far from home.  Well, even though our relationship was unofficial, missing him was still incredibly hard.

My Tanzanian life

So, when my bestie got engaged and told me I had to come back to be MOH in her wedding, I was unbelievably psyched!  Not only would I get to be in her wedding and eat American food I’d been missing, I’d get to see Zach!  So I booked a round trip flight home.  I’d been away for nine months and despite the ups and downs of Peace Corps life, I had every intention of sticking it out and returning for 17 more months.  In the weeks leading up to my return, I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides counting the days and wondering if Zach and I would still have the same chemistry.

Boy did we.  The sparks flew so intensely during that whirlwind two weeks.   The morning after the wedding, I suddenly found myself sitting in a Tim Hortons, hours before my return flight, sobbing that I didn’t want to go back.  Thus began the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.  I was an emotional wreck, and Zach was amazing.  He never once asked me to stay.  He told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy.  After a few gut-wrenching hours, crying conversations with my family and best friend (yes, I called her the day after her wedding, I’m horrible), and general stress over the prospect of ruining my whole life plan, I realized that I just couldn’t leave again.

I swallowed my pride and I quit the Peace Corps for a guy.  Honestly, there were other reasons why I wasn’t super happy in Tanzania, but Zach was definitely the biggest one.  If I hadn’t met him, or if I had never come home for the wedding, I’m sure I would have stuck it out for the whole two years.  Like I said, this was the hardest decision I ever made.  Life was all of a sudden full of uncertainty, and I was plagued with guilt and feelings of failure for quitting.  To this day, I still feel badly for leaving.  I never, ever envisioned myself becoming the kind of person who would give up her life plan for a romance.  But, Zach was the first guy I was ever with who I was willing to do that for, and maybe that’s how I knew it was right.  Looking back, I don’t regret any of my Peace Corps service, and I don’t regret my decision to quit either.

Anyway, all of a sudden I had the man of my dreams, no job, no plan, and a scarily insecure feeling about the future.  “What should we do now?” I asked Zach.  “Let’s drive to California.” he said.  So we did.  And the rest is (recent) history.

Pacific Beach, San Diego, a week after I quit the Peace Corps

Did anyone else make an impulsive/irresponsible-seeming/risky/life-changing decision for love?  How did it work out?

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The Whole Cheesy Story, Part 3

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First read Part 1 and Part 2

Sorry, this story is dragging on forever!  I haven’t had enough time for blogging what with the huge transition of moving back to the USA, finding a job and a place to live, etc.  Excuses, excuses, I know.

Where I last left off, Zach and I had had a wonderful first date and really connected.  I was hope hope hoping that we’d hang out again.  Well, sure enough, the next day (Valentine’s Day, in fact), he texted me “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and we made plans to hang out that very night, after we both got done working.  I even dragged my BFF and her now-husband, then-boyfriend out to the bar to be wing(wo)men so it wouldn’t be too Valentine’s-ey with just Zach and I.  What a good friend, right?  In short, we had another amazing night!

Still one of my favorite pictures of us from the early days.

What followed after this was us quickly becoming inseparable.  We hung out every chance we got, he met my friends, I met his friends.  The whole time, however, the specter of Africa was looming on the horizon.  Zach even asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend and make our relationship official, but I said no because I didn’t want to “start something that had to end so soon.”  But of course, official or unofficial, it had already started.

Our first ziplining adventure!

As my departure date got closer and closer, I found myself getting less and less excited about leaving for the Peace Corps.  I knew Zach and my attempts to keep things relaxed were failing when BFF called me out on being in love with him.  “If I were you, I wouldn’t go,” she even said once.  But I HAD to go, this was the Peace Corps, this had been my dream for years!  I knew that if I gave it up I might never forgive myself, no matter what happened.

And so, on June 13, 2009, only four short months after our first date, I found myself gathered in Zach’s embrace, both of us sobbing.  It was the hardest goodbye I’ve ever said.  As I stood there crying, wondering how I was ever going to get up the courage to leave, all of a sudden I knew I had to be honest.  “I love you,” I blubbered, for the first time ever.  “I love you too,” he said.

And the next morning, I got on a plane.

Another thing I said a lot of back in the day:

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“I don’t want to get married until I’m 30.”

Welp, I’m about to turn 25, and if our plan to get married next summer works out, I’ll be saying “I do” at 26.  According to the statistics I just googled, this is just about the average age of first marriage for women in the United States.

So while I guess I am “average”, we are abnormal because Zach is almost one year younger than me!

The reason I wanted to wait until I was around 30 was because my mom always emphasized to me, and I always believed in, the importance of living on your own for awhile and establishing your independence.  I also definitely viewed marriage as a sign of “getting old.”  Back in the day I envisioned myself as a mostly-single chick throughout my 20s, living in a fantastic apartment and galavanting around NYC with my many friends and many dates.  Dreamland, ha.

As it turned out in the real world, I got my stab at living on my own and being independent; in fact I experienced that in a much more extreme way than most people ever do.  (But that part of the story is coming later.)  For me it turned out that the phrase “When you know you know…” really was true.  As I fell in love with Zach, all of my preconceptions about age and marriage changed.  I think the first time I knew that he might be “the one” was when I realized that he was the first guy I had ever dated that I could see myself totally scrapping all of my future plans for.  Not that he asked me to do that.  But waiting until 30 to get married suddenly didn’t matter anymore.  Not that we rushed things; as I said in the beginning of our story, we met over three years ago.  In fact, I know a lot of our family members think we should have gotten married a long time ago.  But we wanted to wait until we were ready.  And it turns out, I’m ready a lot sooner than I expected to be.

What else could I possibly close this with besides the most perfectly cheeseball quote ever from “When Harry Met Sally“?

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

The Big Question with Only One Answer

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Well, for me at least.  If you haven’t guessed it yet by the title, I’ll just let it out now.

Zach and I are ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!   Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!  Happy dance!!!!!!

Think I’m thrilled enough?  I’m pretty freakin’ happy.

I kind of knew/hoped that the question was coming sometime during our South American adventure.  Of course we talked about wanting to get married many times before he proposed, because really, if you don’t already know the answer, you have no business asking.  That’s what we thought.  But although we could have just diplomatically decided to be engaged after so many discussions, we both wanted a proposal.  We wanted the fun and the surprise of it.  And so for many months we (I, mostly, I think) suffered through the awkwardness and slight tension of the “pre-engaged state.”  (This was totally me.)  I had this like, insane itch to talk about a wedding, plan a wedding, I just was so freakin’ happy at the thought that I HAD FOUND my person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with!!!  But without an official ring on the finger, society makes us women feel like we are desperate and obsessed if we start thinking at all about the wedding before we have the ring.  I call a bit of BS on that.  But I kept trying to pretend I wasn’t reading wedding blogs obsessively and I tried to keep my daydreams in my head.  “We agreed that this is Zach’s thing that he gets to do and he gets to do it on his terms…so chill,” I kept telling myself.  I think I did alright…I’d give myself about a C+ in the chilling department.

Well, finally, all my patience finally paid off.  March 13, 2012, in the gorgeous Cañon del Colca, Peru….

Yes, we probably should have found a flatter rock to set the camera on for this reenactment shot.

Happy New Year from Peru!

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Hey friends!  Happy 2012!  We celebrated in a grand fashion in Huacachina, Perú, by taking a dune buggy/sandboarding tour, camping at a place with a pool, and getting ripped off by outrageous holiday prices everywhere!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Seriously though, the journey is going great despite it’s many challenges.  Reflecting on 2011, Zach and I both decided it was the best year of our lives.  And it’s only going to get better!

I updated my Thirty by 30 today and was happy to cross four things off the list!  That’s pretty good for one year, I’d say!  So here’s a goofy picture of me out on the dunes on NYE.  Yes, I have dreadlocks now; call me crazy if you must.

Goodbyes

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“And I try not to worry, but you’ve got me terrified.  It’s like you’re in some kind of hurry to say goodbye…” -emo song lyrics courtesy of Death Cab for Cutie

Goodbyes are strange.  My life has been full of them since these phenomena called “adulthood” and “wanderlust” have taken me over.  First I moved to New York for college: goodbye party #1.  During college I went to Kenya for a summer which I think also warranted a goodbye party: #2.  College graduation of course came with #3, a “Goodbye-to-New-York” party.  Then I went into the Peace Corps, so #4 was a big shebang.  After returning from the Peace Corps, Zach and I lived in Ohio for awhile then we moved to Arizona.  That was my #5 and his #1 for goodbye parties, and don’t even ask about the stories from that night!

Anyway, I’m a spoiled brat with my goodbye parties.  My friends make fun of me for how many I’ve had, so this time I decided not to have one.  I’ve just spread the goodbyes out over the last couple weeks in Ohio.  It’s weird.  With some people, it doesn’t bother me too much.  I’ve done it so many times.  But with others, like my BFF and her hubby, who we’ve had so much fun with for the past few weeks, it’s hard every time!  I get so spoiled by being in the same state as her for a few short weeks but then it’s time to leave again!  Makes me sad.  Also, grandparents.  Every time I say goodbye to them for a long period of time there’s just an apprehension about it, you know?  One of the harder things to do in life, I’d say.

I’m not really sure where this post is going.  I guess I’m just processing all the goodbyes of the past few days.  The good news is that “my” goodbyes are officially over since we are out of Columbus and staying with Zach’s parents in his tiny town until our bus to Chicago leaves on Wednesday.  So my goodbyes are done, and his are just beginning!  Mwahahahah!

For more info on what we’ve been up to, and to read our awesome packing list, click here.

Burning Man

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The reason it has taken me so long to write about Burning Man is because the task seems impossible.  To get it, you honestly have to be there.  Words cannot do it justice, and neither can pictures (which is good because I barely took any).  All I can do is ineloquently try to give you a glimpse of what our first burn was like and try to show you that despite the media’s portrayal, Burning Man is more than a bunch of drugs and sex.

For those of you not in the know, Burning Man is an annual week-long arts festival that takes place in the desert of northern Nevada.  In recent years, more than 50,000 people have attended the event.  One of the core principles of Burning Man is “radical self-reliance.”  This means you must bring EVERYTHING you need to survive for one week in the Black Rock Desert.  The only service Burning Man provides is porta-potties.  We arrived with all our camping gear, baby wipes galore (our bathing method), 20 gallons of water, 4 cases of PBR, and plenty of food.  Burners call the Black Rock Desert “the playa.”  The playa is an otherworldly environment.  Nothing but flat, white, sand for miles constantly blowing dust.  The dust was the hardest thing to cope with.  We had to wear bandanas around our mouths and noses to avoid breathing it in.  We kept all of our electronics in Ziploc bags in the car.  Our tent, ourselves, and everything else was immediately coated in dust.  Sometimes it would blow so hard that you just had to stop and close your eyes until it stopped.   Sound miserable?  It was, at times.  But keeping Burning Man here prevents a lot of the people who shouldn’t come from coming.  You have to be able to deal with the conditions physically and mentally, be prepared, be radically self-reliant.  That’s part of the purpose.

Another basic tenet of Burning Man is environmental preservation.  This was a huge issue, as it should be when 50,000 people descend on a barren desert.  Yes, 50,000 people come to Burning Man, but EVERYONE follows the “pack it in, pack it out” rule.  No garbage facilities to be found.  No trash was supposed to hit the playa and it was AMAZING how well everyone did at this.  Even by the end of the week, there was hardly any M.O.O.P. (“Matter Out of Place”, as trash is referred to in Black Rock City).  I was impressed.

The absolute BEST thing about Burning Man for me was the sense of genuine community and connection that I felt.  Everyone is there to interact with and help each other.  As soon as we got there, as we were struggling to set up our shade tarp, an old guy from a couple camps down rode over on his turtle car (made from a lawn mower engine and a kids’ turtle sandbox) and loaned us some poles to use.  Our neighbors were all seasoned Burners and they all kept checking on us to make sure we were having fun.  I think the thing that really fostered community the most was the “gift economy” setup.  No one uses money at Burning Man.  The only things that are sold are ice and coffee.  Everything else you get all over the city is “gifted.”  It is hoped that everyone will bring some type of gift to share, but that’s really on the honor system.  We brought five gallons of homemade peach wine and used that s our gift.  But it was really nothing compared to what we received everywhere we went.  The best way to give you a sense of what a “typical” day at Burning Man is like is to take you through a sample day of ours, so that is below.  Also, I didn’t look at a clock the whole week (radical, right?) so that’s why there are no times written.

Morning: Wake up when it gets too hot to sleep more, try to make ourselves presentable with baby wipes and crazy clothes.  Head down the road to Java Johnny’s.  He was an older guy with an RV who made tons of coffee for everyone every morning.  He also collected mugs all year and sandblasted them with the Burning Man logo and gave them away with the coffee (“to avoid doing dishes,” he said).  His mugs became our reusable cups for everything all week.  We would sit there and talk to people and listen to Java Johnny yell ridiculous things into a megaphone periodically.  (Ex. After several military jets flew overhead, something they always do just to check out Burning Man, he yelled, “Fly over again boys!  Spend another $5 million!!!!)  People kept bringing breakfast contributions (we brought fruit), so by the end of the week you could get coffee and a full breakfast there.  It was a great way to start the day.

Mid-Morning: After Java Johnny’s we’d go wandering for awhile.  Black Rock City was HUGE and we never even saw it all.  The main attractions were theme camps–big group camps that had planned and built amazing structures, art cars, you name it.  There was a camp for everything–circus performing and lessons, hula hooping, yoga, chanting, meditation, a whole LGBT neighborhood (the “Gayborhood” lol), many bars with outlandish themes (sake bar, whiskey bar, homebrew bar, Bloody Mary bar, etc.), henna and body artists, places where you could relax in hammocks, musicians performing, massages, giant swings, towers to climb, snow cone camps, diners, and enormous nightclubs with DJS and massive sound and lighting systems.  You name it, there’s a camp for that.  Sometime before noon a camp down the road from us would give away amazing fresh-baked bread they made in an awesome portable oven, so we’d usually try to get some of that.

Noonish:  After walking awhile we’d head home to chill a bit.  Sometimes we’d make some lunch, try to nap, or read.  Two times, we set up a ghetto wine stand in front of our camp.  We made a little sign, put it on a card table, and bought ice.  We’d yell at passersby, “Homemade wine??” and many would stop, provide their own cup, try our wine, and chat for a bit.  This was our little gift and people said they really loved it.  It was definitely one of the most fun things we did because we got to talk to so may awesome people!  On other days, we’d do other things…one day our neighbors had a “Chuck ‘N’ Cheez-It” party with “two-buck Chuck” wine , Cheez-Its of all varieties, and a foot wash (Woot!).  That was really fun.

Evening/Night: That same night, another camp had a “Spaghetti Taco” dinner party that went to.  We’d usually chill ’til almost dark then head out again.  The first night we went and looked at all the art, which I can’t even begin to describe.  Find some pics online for that.  We’d hit some bars and try to hop on some art cars as they drove around the city.  We’d go to some parties and dance for awhile but we never stayed up all night like a lot of people do.  I like sleeping too much.  So we’d wander back exhausted and pass out.  On Saturday night we did stay up late watching the man burn.  It was crazy–triumphant fireworks and thumping music and neon lights.  Everyone was in a frenzy that night.  After the burn we saw a psychedelic rock band play at the big Center Camp venue in the wee hours.  They were amazing.  It was a beautiful night.

So on to the tricky part–sex and drugs.  Were there people doing lots of drugs and having weird sex there?  Obviously, yes.  Burning Man is also about freedom and open-mindedness and people really embraced that.  BUT this was not Woodstock; it was not everywhere.  The people who wanted those things found them but they were not in-your-face 24/7.  The Black Rock City census they take every year also showed that it is a minority of people at Burning Man who engage in drug use and/or sex with a new partner.  Although present, these activities were not the emphasis of the event, as the media would have you think.  You can have a perfectly amazing experience at Burning Man while staying totally sober and totally abstinent.

It takes a certain type of person to enjoy Burning Man.  You have to be energetic, adventurous, and able to rough it.  But more importantly, you have to be willing to jump into the community and give of yourself to really get the true experience.  The parties are rocking and the art is inspiring, but I believe the one-of-a-kind community spirit is the reason seasoned Burners call Black Rock City “home.”  Burning Man was like glimpsing the way the world should be.  It was the better, more child-like, more cooperative, and more generous side of humanity.  Being there gave me faith and made me question, “Why can’t the rest of the world be like this?”  That’s a question for another post, but suffice it to say that until the rest of the world gets it, I’ll keep returning to the playa.

Yosemite

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A quick Yosemite recap is on Zach’s blog.  Perhaps I’ll add more later, but for now I’m relishing the clean feeling I got from my last shower until next week.  Bringing back the Africa style, yeah!  We are just chilling near Lake Tahoe and trying to sleep well tonight before heading to Burning Man tomorrow!!!!

Nevada Falls at Yosemite. I'm pretty proud of this photo!

So long, Arizona

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Do me a favor.  Start here.  Meg’s post about doing things we’re afraid of is so well written and TRUE.

There was a short but bright rainbow in the sky tonight.  A sign of good luck for the start of our journey tomorrow!  It’s been a weekend of goodbyes and wrap-ups.  Packing sucked.  As usual, I found myself with a way-too-big pile of “essential” clothes and a way-too-small suitcase.  Trying to convince myself that I don’t need these, I really don’t need these, I don’t!  Who cares about variety?  The car is packed to the gills with camping supplies, clothes, food, and camera equipment.  But I’m sure we’re still forgetting something.  The rest is in boxes in a closet here.  So of course I’ll come back, because after a year of only what I stuffed in one suitcase, I’m gonna want to see the rest of my clothes again!

It’s been a year.  A seemingly quiet one compared to last year, but I still can’t believe all that’s happened.  I’ve learned how to live with someone in a real, day-to-day, “in this for the long haul” relationship, survived our first real fights, and found myself more in love than ever.  I’ve worked two new jobs and started my own business.  I’ve learned to snowboard, tried rock climbing, hiked long distances, cliff jumped from 50 feet, and climbed my first two mountains.  I’ve been to Mexico for the first time.  Biked many miles, saved many dollars, made new friends, started to integrate into a whole other family.  Tasted western microbrews and Spanish wines.  Shared so many homemade pizzas with couchsurfers from around the world.  What a year.

The next one is going to be even better.  A circular journey that will take us through two continents and back.  The western US, Ohio again, all of South America, and back to Ohio by August 2012.  After that, who knows?  These next six weeks we’ll be living out of the car, couchsurfing, exploring new national parks, and going to Burning Man.  I do have several goals for our time on the road:

1. Study Spanish every day.

2. Hike or run every day.  Work my way up to running a 10k.

3. Dumpster dive.

4. Keep the car clean and organized.

5. Take amazing photographs.

6. Keep up this blog.

7. Eat healthy.

8. Enjoy myself!!!!!

So tomorrow we begin.  First a quick stop in Las Vegas, for Zach to sell some of the scrap copper wire he’s collected at work.  Yes, we really are that poor.  And as Zach said “What great story doesn’t start with driving to Vegas to sell something?”  Lol.  Then to Death Valley NP in California, where apparently the highs can be over 120 degrees this time of  year.  Yikes.  Now it’s time to share a bottle of wine in hopes of being able to sleep tonight.  I’ll catch up with you again from somewhere in California!

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”-Christopher McCandless

I Can See!

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I recently received a Home-Try-On kit from the awesome eyewear company Warby Parker.  They’re a young, hip, new online glasses retailer doing some really innovative things.  They actually give away a pair of glasses for every pair you buy.  And they’ll send you 5 pairs to try on at home for 5 days.  After receiving my 5 pairs, I think I know which ones I like best, but I thought I’d throw it out there to the blogosphere too.  So away we go with some silly Photobooth pics to show you my options!

#1 "Sibley"

#2 "Nedwin"

#3 "Langston"

#4 "Thompson"

#5 "Pierce" Now we're getting silly.

And a bonus goofball shot. Fishy kisses in a fishtank.

So, which pair should I get?  I can only afford one, if that!  Cast your vote in the comments!