Category Archives: out and about

Dating in College?!

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“What’s dating like in college?”

My senior girls looked earnestly at me over their lunches. There’s no denying that having five guys in your year at school doesn’t play in your favor.

“Not so great,” I said, and regretted it immediately.

I scolded myself because I knew the door I’d just opened wouldn’t be closed easily. They wanted to know why – their eyes crestfallen, their hopes dashed by one sentence.

I prefaced everything with: “Well, you know things didn’t end well for me, so my opinions are skewed – I’m sure if I married someone I dated in college, I would have a very different view.”

But as I think about it now, hours later, I wonder if this is true. Because even if I had married someone I dated in college, that wouldn’t change the fact that the whole thing was quite awkward and oddly polarizing and much more work than I ever thought it should be.

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I told them I went to a small Christian college.

I told them I loved it there, but that there was a strange social construct around dating. That you don’t date, actually, but you have a boyfriend. That going on dates wasn’t really something you did. You either were in a relationship or you were starkly single.

That some girls could have guy friends, but lots couldn’t.

That I was never once asked out on a date, but somehow found myself “dating” two boys over my four years.

That there was pressure from people immediately.

That I didn’t know any better.

That there is such a thing as a good relationship. And a bad relationship. And somewhere in between.

That even though I praise God for sparing me from a terrible choice, it doesn’t change the fact that I had been wooed (or wooed myself) into thinking it was the right choice.

I told them all this over lunch, in the senior lounge, them leaning across the table.

They’ve been waiting four years to date, college beckoning to them, claiming to be full-to-bursting with attractive, single, emotionally mature young men.

And I said, “The thing is, girls, you’ve been waiting four years to date, but when you get to college, you realize they’re all the same boys.”

They’re all the same boys.

And yes, there are winners. There are awesome young men who know what they want and will treat you well.

But they’re just a few months removed from high school. Just like you.

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When I was sure I’d bruised their hopeful hearts forever, I tried to make things look less bleak. I told them about my dating experience since college – how I’ve been on dates and not felt pressured (Is he the one? Who cares?! I’m in my twenties and I’m figuring out who I am and who I want to be with! It’s a first date, darn it!). I told them it’s been a lot better, that I’ve filled my coffer with story after story – some good, some bad, most hilarious – and that even if their dating lives in college aren’t all they thought they would be, there’s hope.

I did not go into detail (trying to keep some boundaries), but I wish I could’ve told them how dating in college seems to be more about who you think you’re supposed to be instead of who you are. At least it was that way for me. I might have told them that I’m happier than ever, and regardless of what my future dating brings, I know I am a better person for giving it a try.

They’re sure to at least have good tales to tell me when they visit in the summer.

I should’ve told them to start a blog about it.

 

[Dating for Dummies photo: ZacVTA]

[Czech Couple photo: Ard Hesselink]

[Seville Couple photo: BMP]

2014 Yarn Crawl

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It’s not the first time I’ve been into something – how should I say this? – different.

When I was little, I loved the pioneers. I learned everything possible about Laura Ingalls and the Oregon Trail, and I was convinced that I would have an electricity-free farm when I grew up. (That dream’s morphed a little, thank goodness.)

I had chickens before it was cool.

I wore leggings LONG before it was cool. (Imagine this: black stirrup pants over white socks and an assortment of sneakers. Pretty hot.)

These days, what I’m into still gets a little flack. Teasing from various gentlemen who don’t know the joys of a warm sweater knit with love. I’ve been called a hipster for knitting, to which I respond:

Please, I’ve been doing this since I was five, WAY before it was the hipster thing to do.

That of course seems to solidify said-hipsterness. I do not understand how to combat this problem.

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Last fall, my friend M and I went to a Fiber Festival. No, it was not a warehouse full of various digestion-boosting devices, small group friends. It was a warehouse full of yarn and yarn potentials. There was sheep, alpaca, bison, hemp, you name it. There were more colors than you could imagine, and there was undyed roving waiting to be made into art (roving is the clean, un-spun wool).

M bought me a drop spindle and some roving to get me started. I’ve wanted to spin since I saw a woman doing it in the sheep barn at the fair. Since getting my gift, I’ve attempted it a few times, sitting on the couch in front of my family and nearly hurling the innocent spindle across the room. I think I need to sign up for a class…

Despite my frustrations with the drop spindle, that festival got us addicted to yarn extravaganzas. Yesterday, we donned our best-knit pieces and trekked out on the Fifth Annual Yarn Crawl.

What’s a yarn crawl?

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A yarn crawl is a weekend-long event where the shops in the area have special deals. You get a “passport,” and at each shop you get a stamp which enters you to win a raffle. (One prize was a beautiful afghan pattern and all the yarn to go with it. MUST HAVE IT.) We had seven shops to descend upon, so we made a route, starting up north and ending near the sea. I went with my ravelry pattern in hand, a few ideas in my head, but really, the yarn world was my oyster.

[If you haven’t checked out ravelry.com yet, do it. So many patterns, so many ideas. Lots of free stuff.]

We started the trip off right with chai tea lattes and a 50%-off rack.

After a full day of crawling, this is what I came home with:

photo 5I could’ve bought a lot more. I was restraining myself. I admire M’s wisdom when she says:

There are some things I will not feel bad about spending money on: books and yarn.

I would add tea and coffee to that list, but that’s me.

We talked about how “good thing people we know are having babies so we have more opportunities to make cute things.”

Get crackin’, people, so I can get knittin’.

This is my next project. I am working under the assumption that my dear friend never reads this blog and will therefore still be surprised when she opens it for the darling.

photo 2If she does for some reason see this post, pretend, by all means.

 

 

Great Things #35: A Saturday Jaunt

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It all started last summer with a Groupon and four women who should’ve always been friends but somehow missed each other. I was friends with two, Kayla was friends with two, and there we were, attempting to join what should have been joined from the start.

It was blistering hot and I was in a terrible mood. I whirled around, changing my outfit over and over (something I never do) and I was honest with them:

I am in a terrible mood.

They agreed with me, kindly of course, and we piled into my convertible and hit the highway.

We drove north, through country I didn’t recognize, and as the wind slapped my hair across my face and I sipped a melting Dunkin’ iced coffee, I felt my mood begin to lift. I listened to their yelling over the wind and I allowed myself to enjoy the company of three young women whose laughter rose up and out of the car.

That was June 2013, and this was Saturday, March 8th, 2014. Another Groupon in tow and a switched-out friend found us on similar roads but a different route.

My New Hampshire friend discovered another vineyard – right in the heart of country I thought too cold to grow – and I found myself nine months older and a whole lot different than I’d been before.

For starters, I was in a fabulous mood, probably due to the sunshine and the delicious dirty chai I’d consumed.

Kate wore her floppy hat and I wore a bright red skirt because there’s something about going wine tasting that calls for elegance. And good smoked gouda.

The air was spring-like, despite the snow on the ground, and my face felt the sun for what felt like the first time. Katie’s yellow dress was “too soon,” according to her, but just right, really.

What did we talk about? Silly things, mostly, and that’s exactly what I needed. Moments of teasing and joking and forgetting the schedule of everything.

The Good Thing this week is by far one of my favorites.

When the string of candids is as perfect as the actual.

When each wine tastes delicious in its own way.

When you get a tour from the owner of the vineyard and fall a little bit in love with his white hair and blue eyes because who doesn’t love someone who loves something deeply?

When you are grateful for your spot in life.

When you remember that there’s more to life than a checklist.

And thank God for that.

photo1[A little flannel makes everything better. Thanks to the kind gentleman who withstood our laughing and occasional flirt.]

Overheard at a Coffee Shop

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I have fallen prey to the teary conversation in a coffee shop. More than once.

More than even a few times.

They’re not always teary, either. Sometimes they’re heated. Sometimes they include too-passionate declarations and mountain-top experiences. They always include a good friend who’s either helping me work through something, asking me to help him or her work through something, or possibly extremely angry at me (only for the moment, of course).

But all the time I was analyzing a current situation or trying to figure out WHAT THE HECK I SHOULD DO, I assumed I was being covert.

No one could hear me, right?

I’m quiet.

And contained.

Always.

Last week, as I was innocently grading Latin quizzes, I overheard the following:

“Oh my gosh, hi! How are you? I haven’t seen in you in forever! How’ve you been?!”

[I didn’t look up, but imagine an eager twenty-something embracing a sitting-down twenty-something.]

“Well,” the other young woman said, “I’m currently identifying and working through some childhood trauma.”

*Bam*

And despite the sadness of the facts that sentence declared, I had all I could do to keep from smiling. What a response to a well-meaning question…!

The two proceeded to discuss said trauma and identification and working-through, and I tried to focus on my grading. Then I moved to writing, hoping that creativity would keep me from listening.

I am (in this case) a wonderful multi-tasker.

That wasn’t all.

The same day – during the grading of the same quizzes – I heard an in-depth account of underage drinking that resulted in barfing all over the back of a minivan.

[“I hope no one can hear us,” the boy said, looking around nervously. I kept my head down.]

It was an eventful experience.

What did I come away with?

Shut up about my traumas in coffee shops.

Using Our Eyes

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Today I’d like to share a post I wish I’d read oh, say, maybe ten years ago. Stephanie writes about relationships and how, maybe instead of asking for intangible signs, we should really just open our eyes.

Too many times I’ve watched people wait and wait. I’ve done it myself. But maybe if we trusted our senses more, we wouldn’t decide, we would choose.

Read more over at The Answer to all our Relationship Questions: Our Eyes.

2013 – A Year in Pictures

 Start off the New Year with a birthday and a dance party. Enjoy the fact that 2 goes into 4 twice and 24 makes a beautiful number.

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One of the perks of sticking close to home is you get to visit your old favorites.

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The girls had a rainy spring and the garden went through a transformation.

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At first, I was completely against the pond. “It’s too big! Who’s gonna maintain it? My forsythia bush!” Now, though, I’ve grown to like it. I do NOT however agree with the unceremonious way my forsythia was disposed of.

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We sold out of honey for the first time this year – a good thing, in most ways, but I hate having to tell people to wait till the spring. We’re also doing the favors for two weddings. Picture this: cute little glass jars with “One Pound Honey” on them, a simple cream label and a bow of twine.

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My first wedding of the season was on a beautiful island in Maine. We sang “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” and frolicked in the night along the dark streets of a sleepy town.

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I learned that you can have the wedding you want and surround yourself with all different kinds of people at once.

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We drove half-way across the country to celebrate another college friend’s wedding. The groom made their wedding shoes of leather and they danced to swing.

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I even missed a wedding, but I got to go on a hiking bachelorette – that’s the way to do it!

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The wine tasting which brought four friends together on a hot June Sunday. It’s also where a little bet began, but that’s for another day.

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The best summer job ever – teaching English at my Alma Mater.

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We didn’t have any fun at all.

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And then a trip to London, a trip I never thought I’d go on.

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A train-ride away was Oxford, and this is my attempt at a panorama.

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We stumbled upon an exhibit of mystical writings and illuminated manuscripts at Oxford University. We also found a large blue rooster.

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This photo was taken at Kensington Gardens, after a not-so-pleasant run trying to catch a tour through the palace (“I’m sorry, it’s 5:02. The tours are closed.”). I look much happier than my feet were feeling at the moment.

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A week at the Swiss L’Abri and mornings of “Oh my gosh, this is real.” Did you know the Swiss care about bees, too?!

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Fishing trips in the Atlantic are always cold, even in August.

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We didn’t win the photo contest, but the winners were holding a baby. Not fair.

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Cousin Christmas pic.

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The last photo of 2013. A reunion of roomies and I got to hold her little one for the first time.

[This has been a good exercise for me. Too often I let things slip through my fingers, moments of joy and communion, the hard lessons I’ve learned and re-learned.]

[Next week, I’ll be posting my favorite things of 2013. A little late, but I want to make sure it’s a rocking list.]

Proposal of the Century

I blame Disney, but I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.

Somehow, somewhere, I got the idea that romance had to be BIG. Dates had to be special and frequent. The proposal had to be elaborate, perhaps with candles or a sunset thrown in.

“Mama, how did Daddy propose?”

It was an innocent enough question for a five or six-year-old. I remember my mom pausing, furrowing her brow a little.

“Hmmmm. Well, we talked about it at Calitiri’s.”

I did not understand.

“You talked about it? You mean, he didn’t surprise you?”

[Insert helicopter landing with champagne here.]

“No, no surprise. I remember eating dinner and your father and I talked about getting married.”

“But then later he got down on one knee, right? And gave you a ring?”

[Insert the many proposals Anne of Green Gables got and turned down in the snow.]

“No, there was no ring, honey. Well, he did give me a sapphire at Christmas, but that wasn’t really an engagement ring.”

The dinner conversation happened in October and they were married in May.

“At least you got a honeymoon, right? Where did you go?”

“We went to Nova Scotia on a boat from Maine. We stayed in a cabin and it was freezing.”

I remember trying to understand why there wasn’t more. I thrived off stories, but my parents didn’t really give me much to work with. A dinner conversation? No surprise? No down-on-one-knee? Are you kidding me?

Where was the princess treatment?

Where was the extended year-long planning process?

Where was the gift registry? The two-week European honeymoon? The violins?

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I was five and I thought men treated the women they loved like princesses. Look at Belle or Cinderella, for instance. You don’t see them having conversations about things. I thought that maybe my father didn’t quite know how it worked. I thought that love and romance were the same thing, and my parents just didn’t get it.

These days, my friends would probably say that I’m not a romantic. They tend to like things a little more mushy, a little more This Is Supposed To Be Romantic. The thing is, I’ve been thinking lately, maybe my parents had something right.

What’s better than down-on-one-knee with a ring and roses?

Maybe an eyes-to-eyes and mind-to-mind conversation.

Maybe a six-month whirlwind-ish engagement.

Maybe a focus on the marriage instead of the pomp and circumstance leading up to it.

~     ~     ~

I have so many friends getting married now, and each one is doing things differently. Some are “The bigger the better!” and others are more low-key, and that’s okay. I can’t wait to go to weddings, be in weddings, see the love that I’ve watched grow over the past few years. I’m loving the process of choosing colors and flowers and dresses, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Everyone has a different style.

My romantic just looks a little more like a conversation.

[This is not to say that I will never once post a photo of me and the lucky guy, or that I won’t announce our upcoming nuptials on facebook. I may be a luddite, but I know where to draw the line.]

[Photo credit: Sarah. Thanks for going on a cruise!]

Talks in Cars

He sits in the back of my beetle. I forgot that eleven-year-olds usually sit in the back, so my attempt at cleaning (a.k.a., throwing everything in the backseat) was completely pointless. I make excuses, some fair, some not so much, and he tells me he doesn’t mind. I ask if his room were clean. He says yes, usually.

We drive for thirty minutes through the snow, the trees bending over the road. It’s supposed to be nearly sixty degrees this weekend, and I’m dreading the brown bedraggled wetness that will bring – just in time for Christmas.

“How was school?”
“What are your dogs names?”
“Do you have any siblings?”

– I ask.

“What’s that?” – he asks, and I clarify:

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

We go back and forth for a few minutes, neither of us quite sure how to navigate this new, unique relationship. He asks the usual progression of questions:

1. Do you have any children?

No! I answer, up-beatly.

2. Do you have a husband?

No! I answer, equally up-beatly.

I can feel his mind awkwardly fumbling for the next question, because what comes after that?

3. Do you have any pets?

These I do have, thank goodness, and I tell him about our three crazy dogs and my eighteen chickens. He listens to my every word, but he doesn’t always respond. He looks out the window.

He asks what my job is, and when I tell him I teach Latin and then explain what Latin is, he goes on to ask if I teach Spanish? French? What other languages? I wish I could tell him, Yes, yes, I teach them all!

There is a comfortable silence now, like we’ve known each other awhile. Maybe having animals makes me trustworthy. Maybe fulfilling his dream of riding in a beetle makes me fun. Maybe the fact that I “look like a science teacher in those glasses” makes me knowledgable.

Either way, I think we’ve crafted an interesting relationship. One that will happen once a week, growing into each other and our uniqueness.

Ways I Recuperate

It started snowing unexpectedly, swirling around the light posts, coating the brick walkways. I was wearing a wool sweater (with, of course, a colorful yoke to suit the time of year and my desire to be Norwegian or Swedish or something along those lines). My five-year-old brown winter coat did nothing against the wind, and I kept tucking my fingers deeper into my fingerless arm-warmer-mitts, but it didn’t seem to matter.

We couldn’t get inside fast enough. The shop smelled of incense and the colors and textures that surrounded me made me think of India. I wanted to buy the entire store but settled on a few small things (can’t say, Christmas is coming) and I reconsidered getting my nose pierced, a thought I periodically mull over.

Then to a slice of delicious pizza with mozzarella chunks and basil. We talked about family and work and Christmas on the high stools, and we both checked the time because work was calling.

To top it all off? Peppermint mochas, hot and steaming. I wanted a whoopie pie. Or a croissant. Or a cookie. But I sipped my mocha and counted that as enough.

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That was Friday. This is Saturday. Aladdin, Jr., opened last night, and the looks on the kids’ faces made every frustration, every moment of What are we DOING?! completely worth it.

This is Saturday morning, and I am recuperating. That looks different, depending on what I’m recuperating from. Yesterday, it meant wandering around my favorite port town, relishing Christmas shopping and good food. This morning, it includes writing (as you can see), french press coffee, a chat with my brother, who, even though we live in the same house, I find hard to pin down, and Love Actually.

Because love, actually, is all around us, and it’s helping me recuperate.

Good Things #18: Rolling Out of Bed

There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day at work and realizing: I have nothing else I need to do. All I’m responsible for now is eating dinner, reading a good book, making sure my next day is fully planned, putting the chickens in for the night, and heading to bed sometime before 8:30. I’m kidding. Kind of.

Fall’s always had a melancholyness to it. I go from a sunny summer high to this immediate need for hibernation, and it often includes a good dose of “woe is me” and a tiny bit of anxiety. It doesn’t seem to matter that fall is one of the most beautiful seasons, and even as I walk through the crunchy red leaves in the afternoon sun, I feel a weight of the darkness coming earlier and earlier every day.

This past Monday, as I looked out the window and realized it was almost pitch black already, I forced myself to get back in my car and drive to small group.

It was 6:30 and I wasn’t sure if I would last till after 9:00. I told myself that somehow I’d find the energy, that somehow 6:15AM wouldn’t come as quickly as it seemed and it would all be worth it. There’s something about deep cushy couches after a certain hour that beg me to fall asleep. And warm beverages. And a cozy light against a warm living room wall. Even when roughly ten people surround me talking theology and life and purpose, I still manage to drift off quietly in a corner somewhere.

But I went and I sat and I did not fall asleep. I even engaged in the conversation, offering up my paltry musings and observations. We ended in prayer and I prayed aloud for two friends who sat by me, something I never would’ve done a few years ago.

That’s the thing. My bed is extremely comfortable. My beeswax candles smell like summer and the book I am reading about an uppity twenty-something in the 1940s is quite engaging.

But they aren’t people. They don’t breathe or think or speak. They don’t ask how I’m doing and actually care, and they certainly don’t pray for me.

I have to be careful as the months get colder and the sun gets further away. I have to fight my natural tendency to curl up and shut out the world. There’s a balance between “Oh my gosh I’ve had too much people time and I just need to be alone!” and “I’d be okay with never speaking to another human being again.” I hardly ever consider myself an introvert, but in the months between October and March, it’s hard to see me as anything else.

I wouldn’t say anything earth-shattering happened at small group Monday night. Community happened. Thought happened. Prayer happened.

And none of that would’ve been possible if I hadn’t rolled out of bed.