Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Personal Update - Engagement

Well, now, it's official. Privately, C. and I agreed way back in July that we were going to get married, but now I have this fancy ring on my finger and need to brush off my French and start saying the word "fiance."

Oh, yeah, and plan a wedding. In an ideal world my personal assistant would work on that for me. If my life were a movie, my mom or best friend would get in those trenches with me. In the world I actually live in, it's going to have to be simple, and I'm asking God to guide and fuel the process so it can be a special day, beautiful but not too complicated. I'm so glad I was able to make the transition to Oregon first!

I'd asked C. not to propose until after I'd moved. Maybe Thanksgiving. We'd talked about having a gathering of friends and family to celebrate with us, but again, that's more a dream world than the kind of thing we could really pull off. A young friend, the daughter of my friends J. & L., just had that kind of experience. She thought it was just a party. Her boyfriend surprised her when, her close-knit family gathered round, he proposed. But she's young, and her family much less fragmented. What worked for them would require the kind of relationships that I just don't have. Especially right after a cross-country move. 

After considering timing and possibilities, C. decided it would be better to seal the deal before, rather than during or after, the Thanksgiving holiday, and not in front of other people. Maybe in a holy and special place. Not the best time of year for a mountaintop or alpine meadow; it would have to be someplace indoors. Perhaps one that represented the cloud of witnesses that, even if they can't be gathered around to clap and cheer, nevertheless could not be more pleased that we are taking this step.

So he proposed to me at church this Sunday. I like that. C. always likes to be early for things so it didn't strike me as odd when he told me he'd pick me up at 9:30 for the 10:00 service, less than 10 minutes' drive from my house. Of course, since I'd arrived home the night before from a trip the East Coast, I had been up since 5:00. Uh huh; jet lag. So C. and I were early to church. When he ushered me into the sanctuary at 9:45 I wondered what he had in mind. He pulled out a little box... "Oh, this is the place," I said, since he'd told me he'd chosen the place where he'd ask me. I opened the box. A necklace? The gold chain was a birthday present, he said. And a good place for the promise ring, the "place holder" I'd been wearing since the beginning of the summer. Most people thought it was an engagement ring, but he wanted to get me something more.

The necklace tangled badly, immediately. C. was trying to straighten it out the whole time he made his speech. I can't tell you all he said; I was distracted by the knots. But he asked if I'd marry him, and I said yes. The promise ring went on the chain around my neck.

A second box held the engagement ring and the wedding band that will join it sometime this summer. He put the first one on my finger, and I smiled and kissed him.  It is a lovely ring! And he is a wonderful man. He adores me. I'm pleased with him and honored by the invitation to become his wife.

Perfect? Well, maybe not, but somehow just that we're together I can let go of perfect.

I would have loved it if we could tell the pastor and after the service began he'd announce it, with a big grin, and everybody would clap and maybe even stop and pray for us. Again, dream world. Neither of us is known in the church; those who I've met know I came out to marry C. and maybe they would not see the actual engagement as much of  step at all. I'm hoping when we get up to Washington sometime next month, I can announce it and introduce him during the service and get, perhaps, the response I desire. Maybe. Maybe not.

The sermon was actually very timely for me as I was rejoicing in my good fortune while quietly grieving my transplanted state. It spoke to the fact that our roots are now planted in heaven, and we don't need to keep looking to the world around us for pleasure or purpose or significance. This isn't home. We may not have the life or community we want, here, but that doesn't mean those desires are bad; they're actually going to find their fulfillment in the world to come. What does it mean to live in light of that reality, today?

I give my desire for attention a little mental poke. Does that hurt? A little. But the swelling has gone down. My love and I are together, brought together by the God who holds us in his hand, and maybe I don't need the affirmation of the world to feel safe and treasured. To know that I matter. Sigh. Wouldn't it be nice if this were not a question? Yet even if this adolescent-like thing I struggle with is not a permanent condition, perhaps its existence is going to prove of some use to me, as the years unfold. Is there some way God wants to use this, instead of just healing me and taking it away?

We did get the encouragement I'd wished for when we changed our relationship status on Facebook later in the day. Today's version of the great cloud of witnesses! More than 100 people left comments and congratulations. 

After church we talked to a few people, went out to lunch, and made our way to Best Buy where I made a scary decision to go ahead and spend my very generous supply of birthday money on an iPad 2. I was thinking about a Nook or Kindle but since the iPad can do all they can and much more... probably a big help for both work and school, I went for it.

Buying expensive and unnecessary electronics actually freaked me out more than the engagement, in a way. We got a substantial case and extended warranty for the iPad - somewhat to my comfort - but that did make handing over my Visa card $200 more painful. At the last minute I remembered I had a coupon from Best Buy, somewhere in my "desk stuff" box. Would it cover things like this? I didn't know, but I brought the thing anyway. (Found the coupon today. Nope, it did not apply).

Seems kind of funny that I came home, that day, with both a big ol' engagement ring and an iPad. I'm rather glad the engagement ring attaches me to my very own IT department. Yes, among his many skills and talents, C. is a tech guy. And to his credit, one who doesn't mind that I have an iPad 2 and he only has an iPad 1! (See, he is a keeper!)

Next on the agenda for our busy day was bowling. Yup. We swung by C.'s house to pick up the kids and headed over the fire station. C. packed up gear in one of the bright-red trucks - in case there was a call during the afternoon - and drove us in it to the bowling alley for the volunteer fire department's annual bowing and pizza event.

One of the fire dept. girls squealed when C. told her we were engaged now. Apparently he's talked about me a great deal. And since he's in the habit of going around showing my picture to people, they all knew who I was. Bowling and pizza I could take or leave, but it was great to be included. I was expected to be there, really. I bowled terribly, but enjoyed talking to some new people - including the high school senior now dating C's 18-year-old daughter.

We wrapped it up with a family birthday party and an ice cream cake back at the house. I was one of the honorees, actually, having reached the ripe old age of 41 about 10 days earlier. The other was D., C.'s son, recently turned 15. With seven teenagers and five adults, things were pretty lively.

C. and I slipped away to call my closest family members with the news of our engagement. Then we went to a hot-tub place - a pricy but pleasant indulgence for when we want to be alone together. This seemed like a good day for it.

So, now we can move toward the next chapter. C. would really like to nail down a lot of the wedding details before the end of January. For you Myers-Briggs fans, he's all "J" and I'm more of a "P," so where he feels the need for closure I resist committing to a course too soon. He's more stressed by the lack of decision, I'm more stressed when I feel pressured to make a decision. I'd prefer to do what needs to be done as I feel it needs to be done - not before. Not when I don't know what I want. I can't picture how to either pursue or let go of my dreams - most of which have to do much less with things like dresses and flowers and more with things I can't control like who should come and how they should behave.

We're aiming for June. I'm hoping to pull off a wedding for less than, say, $5000. Think it can be done?


Dean Smith said...

I am very, very happy for you -- for BOTH the ring (and C) and the iPad. Now we can do facetime. We need to figure that out between an iPhone and an iPad. C had probably already mastered it.

Gretchen O'Donnell said...

It's so fantastic, Marti - May your next few months of planning be a joy and not a stress...for you both!

Marti said...

Thanks, Dad! Yes, let's give Facetime a try, soon.

Marti said...

Ged, thanks for your encouragement! And planning can be satisfying, as well as frustrating; I'll be looking for opportunities to adjust my perspective when I start to feel stressed out!

Megan Noel said...

sorry i did not see this post before i came down to see you! congratulations, of course!

Jenni Duenes said...

Congratulations, Marti! Yes, I think a wedding for $5000 can be done, depending on how you choose to spend your money. We were blessed with a free venue and photography. I had a friend who had worked for a florist teach a few friends and I how to arrange flowers, and then my friends did the flowers for the wedding. E-mail me if you want more details.

Marti said...

Jenni: thanks! I know, there are so many different ways of doing things. We have to decide what things we want to spend money on and what things we'd rather skip or skimp on.