This is Getting Personal (Part 1 of 2)
WEDDING PICTURES INCLUDED IN THE NEXT POST
So since 2013 I haven't really created many personal blog posts. Mostly because this blog is my workspace, a professional extension of myself. I've tried to maintain a healthy personal-to-professional ratio, but something happened, kind of recently, that alters who I am and how I shoot.
I got married.
And I want to share a lot about our long distance dating, the past year, our quick engagement, our perfect elopement, and where we're at now.
So hang on. I promise this won't be one of those 18-part-read-all-about-my-life-because-you-don't-have-anything-better-to-do posts, but it does get a little cray.
Kurt and I started dating way back in June of 2012. I met him at a wedding the year prior, in March of 2011. I thought he was rude because even though we had mutual friends, he didn't introduce himself or talk to me. But I did notice him. Several months later, guess who I got a friend request from? Yep. I sent him a relevant article or two, and he responded a little. But we didn't talk, really, until 10 months later, on January 25th, 2012, when he sent me a darling little message about getting coffee - never mind the fact that he was up in school in Minneapolis, buried under 17 feet of snow, and I was out of my comfort zone in a bizarre, foreign land called Oklahoma. But I was lonely (see "out of comfort zone") and was really only looking for friendship, so I sent back a platonic, "dude, sure." message that was interpreted with more enthusiasm than I imagined at the time.
That led to 6 months of talking long distance - facebook, skype, texting, he even got my permission to call me (I hated phone chit chat with a passion). I never admitted to him that I liked him, and even though I thought I was being a brazen flirt, he just didn't get the message that I was really in to him. So when he called me one evening in June and asked to officially date me, he didn't think I would actually say yes. The stunned silence on the phone when I agreed wasn't exactly the response I was expecting from my affirmation.
Well you know how dating goes. It's either heaven or hell, and luckily, that summer will forever be immortalized in my heart as the perfect summer. It was the summer I got to be a teenager again, taking time off from work to make flights to Minneapolis during the semesters and roadtrips to Austin in the summer to see this guy, going kayaking, camping, picnicking, dancing.
But I only did a fraction of the travel he did - he would skip school, drive 12 hours, ONE WAY, on a Friday from MN to see me in OK, get in at 1am on Saturday morning. We would spend Saturday together, and Sunday afternoon he would leave to drive through the night back up to MN for school on Monday morning. And I was over here like, "meh, I don't know, he might like me."
Well we dated for almost a year in this long-distance way. About 8 or 9 months in, sometime around February 2013, we thought that going on a 6-week-camping-roadtrip together would be a really good idea after he graduated from school. Never mind that up to that point, we had only been together for a few days or so at a time. My brother flew up to MN after Kurt's graduation and together the 3 of us packed our tent and backpacks and food into the back of my Altima and began a trip that changed everything...
... But we've been down that road. Been there, blogged that trip. Going from long-distance to such close quarters we had a lot of things to find out about each other. And when you're dating long distance it's really easy to create a picture in your head of who you think the other person is. And you set yourself up to be let down. In summary, 2013 was a hard year. The summer was painful, but the fall was also hard because I made the decision to move to Austin afterwards to be closer to him, and to see how things would pan out. I moved down in October with a job position, and in the beginning of December the location I worked for closed down. Three days before that, Kurt and I broke up.
We took a 10-day break to evaluate our lives, our direction, our feelings. We both worked through a crap-load in those long 10 days that literally felt like 10 months.
We met up at the end of that time at a little local coffee shop, more ourselves than we had ever been. No pretenses, no fronts. Just ourselves. We talked through a lot that afternoon - expectations, the past, hurts, hopes. We talked for hours. After some really grueling conversation, he called me that evening and said, "lets do this. really. unwavering, for the long haul". It wasn't a proposal, but we both committed to sticking with each other, no more on-again-off-again. We were going to move toward preparing for marriage.
Kurt began searching for an apartment the next month. But Austin is a booming city and after months of touring the cheapest 1 bedrooms and studios we could find, we decided to put our money into something more permanent. So we started looking at small homes instead, and the only places we could afford were fixer-uppers and foreclosed homes. With the wealthy coasts moving into town, we were always out-bid even when we offered more than the asking price.
Then in late June, he found a perfect plot of land. Two and a half acres of rich soil 30 minutes south east of Austin. And he put down an offer. And got it.
2014 was the most financially difficult year for me. My roommate and I were being screwed over by our Sterling Springs apartment with outrageous electrical bills, and I was barely scraping by. Since three freak accidents left me with no car and no money, when our lease was up, I wasn't in a place to even find another apartment. I didn't know what I was going to do. That's a terrifying situation to be in. I was in a new place with almost no friends and no one to lean on. All the doors closed on me. Amazingly, at the same time I was wondering where God was in all of this and whether or not I could find a few cardboard boxes big enough to sleep in, Kurt reconnected with two friends who lived 5 minutes down the road from me who were looking for a roommate.
I moved in with two angels, Kristin and Dan, in September.
At this point, I was wondering where the proposal was - it had been a shaky, traumatic year of truly growing up. We loved each other, knew we wanted to be together, and he had his property. We'd been moving towards marriage for 10 months at this point, and I couldn't live with my friends forever... It turns out Kurt had been saving and scraping together his money and in October, he bought a fifth wheel. (He surprised me one evening after a particularly difficult week and said we were going over to the property for a bonfire. But of course, when I got there, there was a lot more than just a bonfire.) He wanted to be prepared before he asked. To have things together.
On November 19th, on a Wednesday evening, after a rough day he texted me, asking if he could come over, and if I had already eaten. I had, but he wanted to try out a little Greek place down the road..... and then go to Mount Bonnell. For those of you who don't live in Austin, Mount Bonnell is a lovely little hill that overlooks downtown Austin.... and people get engaged up there. So yeah, I was suspicious. "Just in case..." I put on a little extra makeup.
Well the Greek food truck at the food trailer court was closed, so, he asked if we could go to Taco Cabana. "Sure, I don't care". I said. I really didn't. I had already eaten and wasn't hungry, though I admitted that the lights strung up around the court were pretty. "Really?" He asked "I mean we can go back and find something there..." "No. Really. It's okay. We can go to Taco Cabana." "Are you sure?" "YES. I'M SURE." Taco Cabana had lights around their patio and he made sure to point this out to me and ask if they would suffice. "YES. THEY'RE FINE."
He got a taco bowl and I got one of those tart little margarita slushie things and our noses dripped outside so we moved inside.
Then we drove to Mount Bonnell and climbed the hill.
He was quiet. I was jovial. We watched the beautiful houses below our feet light up with Christmas decorations, and then walked over to overlook the austin city night lights. I'd never been on Mount Bonnell at night and I stood behind him with my arms wrapped around him.
A couple sat behind us on a bench with their dogs as we stood and gazed out at the city. "This is perfect," I thought. "It's not a proposal. This is just another perfect, quiet date night. I'm going to just enjoy it for what it is". So many dates I had spent wondering, "Is this it?!" and I was really trying not to do that any more.
But after a few minutes, the couple behind us moved down the path and away from us. Kurt turned around and smiled and kissed me. Then he pushed himself away from me and reached into his pocket and got down on one knee.
Okay. Wait. Wow. He looked at me in the dark and asked if I would marry him. Simple. Pure. No pretenses.
I realized that I had covered my mouth with my hands once got down on his knee and I was shaking and surprised and it took me a moment to respond. He was like, "um...Anna?"
But I wanted to savor that moment. I wanted to remember everything. His face, this moment. When it happens to you it's different than all those flash mobs and elaborate proposals. It's YOU and he's THERE IN FRONT OF YOU AND THIS IS HAPPENING NOW.
No, I didn't cry. But my gosh was I shaking. I said yes.
We had dated for almost 2.5 years by the time he proposed. We were ready to get married. We went back and forth on a few days but ultimately knew we didn't want to stretch it out. We were ready. We set the date for January 25th, 2015 - I realized later, three years to the day he had sent me that very first facebook message about coffee.
Planning wasn't hard. We knew we wanted to keep it simple. BUT I had a heck of a time finding a dress, and we didn't pick a venue until the week before the wedding.
Originally my intention was to have a simple, much more versatile dress from Free People that had a deep V neck and a slit up the sides. I ordered the white silk dress over the phone the day after Thanksgiving of 2014 and chatted briefly with the lady about how excited I was to wear this dress in my wedding.
Several weeks later the dress arrived - IN BLACK.
IN BLACK. IT WAS BLACK.
I can't tell you how upset I was. I called Free People back and they were out of the white. There was no apology, no remorse, no offer of restitution from Customer Service.
Okay, so, Plan B. I found this gorgeous floor length Ralph Lauren wrap dress online, much more casual. They were out of stock but it was so simple, I thought, why couldn't a seamstress make it? I had a Gap dress in the same wrap style, only shorter. I contacted a seamstress in the Austin area and showed her pictures of the dress and offered to give her my dress as an example. Just a few things, I said: I want it longer so that it drags on the floor. I want the wrap to be a deep V. and I want the sleeves to hit my thumb. She took my measurements (I made sure to have my wedding shoes on!), had me buy the fabric, and got to work. After multiple misunderstandings and late-shows, she finally brought me in for my fitting.
This was exactly 6 days before the wedding.
The dress was horrible. It didn't wrap. It tied. I looked like a cardboard box. The dress length hovered above the floor. The sleeves fit loose and short. I came out and painfully asked about these severe errors. She realized her huge mistakes and haltingly tried to assure me she could fix it.
I did what any rational, about-to-be-married bride does: I cried all the way home and called my mother.