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When You Find The One Stop Looking And Other Wedding Thoughts

1 Jun

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In The Magnolia Story, Joanna Gaines talks about her wedding. She had red roses and a formal updo and a long white gown. I have always been drawn to a classic look she said. I’m a classic kind of girl.

As I’ve been planning my own wedding I’ve thought about this concept.

The classic look.

The classic girl.

I see weddings from even 10 years ago and think Yikes! That’s dated!

Wouldn’t it be nice to be the person with those elegant Audrey Hepburn photos that span generations? My Mimi, she’s always been classic, classy, my grandchildren would say.

A regular Jackie Kennedy.

Except.

Nope.

Nah.

I’m not that girl.

For one, I don’t love roses. Also my hair looks way, way, way better down, like it’s not even a competition, like I would never consider an updo and I would unfriend you if you suggested it to me.

My personal style trends towards bright colors, sequined accents and rainbow nightgown mumus. When I decorate, when I dress, when I generally am the answer is “more.”

A classic wedding would feel stifled, stuffy, and blatantly untrue.

I’m not a classic girl.

I wondered if The Wedding Dress was a myth. Something society had passed down through Julia Roberts and that I needed to ignore.

There is no one and only perfect option, there is only choice, right?

But what about the bell?

I ordered four wedding dresses as I tried to figure this out.  I knew I wanted something vintage and nontraditional. I knew I likely couldn’t walk into a wedding store and find it there.

And so to flea markets and vintage shops and Etsy I went.

Three dresses in I started to think that maybe this was a case of “Yeah I like it!”

Pause.

This was a case of putting way too much expectation on one piece of clothing and I would not have the moment where Richard Gere read the newspaper upside down.

Beyoncé didn’t love her dress.

“Yeah I like it!” pause is pretty good.

Right?

(Pause.)

Five years ago I drove twenty hours in one weekend to help my sister pick out her wedding dress.

It was the girls in the family who went with her, through rows of taffeta and tulle, white puffy things of dreams.

Early on in the night she tried on a princess looking dress with a large, beautiful skirt. It was The One.

We all agreed.

My cousin gave her the advice, “Just like with dating: when you find the one, stop looking.”

I’ve thought about that a lot since.

When you find the one, stop looking

It seems self explanatory, but there’s a reason we still have to say it out loud, repeat it again and again like the sacred wisdom it is.

We live in a world where nothing is allowed to be good enough. Internet advertisers lurk, showing us more, better, different versions of things we’ve already bought.  Dating apps exist where you can click and scroll again and again, swipe your way to insanity.

Without thought we can spend out whole lives looking.

The fourth dress arrived when I was out of town. I had high hopes for this one. Online it looked like me. Like if this were Beauty and the Beast and humans turned into household objects, I would turn into this dress.

I slipped it on, nervously. I slowly zipped the back. Was it possible?

Don’t jinx it!

I took a breath and saw myself in the mirror.

(Pause.)

The dress fit like a glove.

No alterations necessary.

It looked like me.

More, more, more me.

(Pause.)

I stopped looking.

 

Engaged

22 Mar

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Rob and I are engaged! Here’s the evidence!

In many ways this blog feels like a love story dedicated to him. It started years ago when we were friends and took us here. And now wherever the future leads.

Every once in a while I stumble across a post written about friend Rob, where we both had no idea what was in store, and my heart smiles. Today, in honor of the engagement, I thought I would share some poetry I’ve written about us through the years.

Heart smile, heart smile.

 

BEFORE

They had a pool

on when we would get together

if we would get together

how we would get together

 

we would have bet against it

 

HOW WE GOT TOGETHER

You are all logic and facts, economics and science, there’s an explanation for everything

 

I am all emotion and faith, mystical and spiritual, a social worker bleeding heart

 

to get together

you ignored reality and I listened to my head

 

Dodger Stadium

5 Jul

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I love going to Dodgers games.

I don’t know why, really.  I’ve never once watched a Dodgers game at home on my own time.

It’s something about the ritual of it all.  Packing my broken hat.  Wearing my coolest possible clothing, but bringing along my blue fleece blanket.  Slathering on sunscreen.

It’s about the drive.  At least an hour and a half, maybe more.

Meeting up with Rob halfway.  Complaining about the traffic.  Knowing that that particular tribulation is just beginning.

It’s about the pre-game food routine.  The papusas at Grand Central Market.  Talking about how it’s silly everyone comes to Grand Central Market for Egg Slut when the papusas are the only reason to come to Grand Central Market.

Maybe a jaunt to Silver Lake if there’s time.

If I ever lived that deep into LA, I think I would live in Silver Lake.

But oh it’s hot there.

It’s about the parking and the walk from far left field.  It’s about the line to get in.

It’s about the heat and the Dodger dogs, the mini caps full of ice cream, the $8 Diet Cokes.

It’s about the seventh-inning stretch where we sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and the movies after the game that we always intend on watching but never make it through.

I almost told Rob I loved him for the first time at a Dodgers game.  I think I said something like, “I want to tell you something—see, I’ve been thinking—“ and then I clammed up and giggled and he told me it was OK and I could tell him when I felt comfortable telling him.

I had been playing with telling him for a while.  I knew when I left Caitlin’s one night and ran to my car to see him.

There I was, running to see a boy I had seen an hour before and would see an hour later.

I knew I loved him then.

I almost told him at a Dodgers game.

Instead I told him later that night, back at my apartment.

Sometimes I wish I had told him at the actual stadium. It makes the declaration more special, more epic in its scale.  It makes Dodger Stadium Our Place.

But then, again, maybe it’s Our Place anyway.

Maybe it’s just as good that it was the stadium where I realized that I was ready to share it, this big important thing. Where he said I could take as long as I needed.

Saying I love you is just about the bravest and scariest thing you can do, I think.

Or I guess not saying I love you but actually loving someone, whoever it is, whatever relationship you have with them–opening your heart up and risking the most vulnerable parts of you–that’s the bravest and scariest thing you can do.

I think.

Give Yourself Time

27 May

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I recently had dinner with a friend who is in the midst of heartbreak.

She’s at that point where tears might come at any moment, where nothing seems like it will be OK ever again.  Where you make bold, dramatic statements about your life and the relationship and where you see your life without the relationship.

“I’m always going to want him,” she told me.  “I will always, always regret that it ended like this.”

I paused for a moment.  Those words are familiar to me, I’ve spoken them.  I’ve taken them further than she did.

“You say that now,” I tell her.  “You say that now and you feel that now, but that is not your final feeling.  No feeling is final.  Give yourself time.”

Give yourself time.

That’s my only breakup advice.

I feel like I should have more, that when people come to me shattered and manic, I should have something profound to say on the topic.

All I have is give yourself time.

A lot of time.

Maybe years and years of time.

Also, be kind to yourself for what you did when you were heartbroken.

There’s a part in Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith looks McDreamy in the eyes and says I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke.

I’ve had a similar conversation with myself.

I will learn from how I tried to fix what was broken.  But I don’t apologize for it. I don’t think I could have done better than I did when I did it.

Heartbreak is so hard.

There are no easy answers.  There is only time.

And eventually confidence.

Heartbreak does that to you, I suppose.

Total heartbreak turns you inside out.  It makes you about as insecure as you can be–in yourself, your life, your choices.  And then, once you’re on the other side, when you’ve finally, finally made it to the place you were sure didn’t exist–you love yourself a lot more.

There should be a better way to put that, a less cheesy way, maybe, but that’s all I keep thinking of.

I love myself a whole lot more now.

“Would you go back?” she asked me.

“No,” I said.  “My life is so much better now.”

“Wow,” she said.

“I can’t imagine,” she said.

Time does that.  It heals wounds, just like everyone always claimed it did.

Suddenly the person who was everything, the person who you needed to tell the details of your life to, who was your sun, moon, stars and every single grain of sand–suddenly it’s different.  And not so suddenly, actually.

Over time.  You build your new life.

That’s what you do post breakup.

You build a world in which they do not exist, except as a reminder of what kind of love to accept or the type of person you will be.

And one day they are not the first person on your list to call.

One day they are not the second.

One day they don’t make the list.

And you fill your life with new people, with new happiness.

You find yourself, build yourself, make yourself a new life.

That takes time.

Give yourself time.

That’s my heartbreak advice.

Give yourself time.

In Which Hannah Horvath Chooses Healthiness And I Cry

23 Mar

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*This post contains Girls spoilers*

At the end of this season of Girls we finally see the feminine leads saving themselves.  Shoshanna decides to move to Japan for her dream job (or something like it).  Jessa announces she’s going to become a therapist.  Marnie performs solo on stage and kills it.

And what of our lead, our bold Hannah Horvath?

Hannah chooses healthiness.

Adam approaches Hannah after a shared traumatic experience. He says he misses her and wants her and he held on to all the wrong things when he let her go.

Hannah cries and says she can’t.

I can’t, she says.

Yes you can, he says.

I can’t, she says again.

And I cried.

Earlier in the season, Adam and Hannah had perhaps the best breakup I’ve ever seen on TV.

Adam looks at Hannah and says,

Did you think it was working between us?

We tried this all different kinds of ways.  I don’t know any other ways. Do you?

The scene was so brilliant I’ve thought about it ever since.  I don’t know any other ways, do you?

It makes me reflect on the delusions we hold while in relationships.  How Hannah can imagine that if they just try harder or try more it will work.  It will work.  They love each other!  It has to work.

Girls gets to me usually on a small scale.  I relate to Hannah probably more than I’m comfortable with.  When her boss says, “You’re an adult.  And I know it sucks but you just have to start at least trying to keep at least some stuff inside,” I squirm.  Because I say all my feelings as they happen.  I share and share again.  I keep nothing inside. I am the teenager in an adult body that Hannah is.

Over-identifying with small-scale Girls stuff I’m used to.  But the large-scale stuff?

That stuff has me in tears.

When I see Hannah looking the man she loves in the eye and saying I can’t, I imagine all the unspoken words.

I can’t choose this cycle again.

I can’t go through this heartache.

I know how this goes.  I know how this ends.

I love you.

I want you.

I can’t I can’t I can’t.

The season ends with Hannah, six months later, holding hands with the nice guy from school, the guy who seems so very kind and good and healthy.

I cry and cry and cry.

And then I call Rob and tell him I love him.

Because I chose healthiness.

Maybe that’s what we do as adults.

Maybe that’s what our 20s are about.

Learning to choose healthiness.

Saying I can’t.

Maybe that’s what growing up is.

I’m Not The Banana Trifle Lady

11 Feb

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My friend is having a 90s karaoke birthday party and one of my favorite topics of discussion is what everyone will sing.

I will sing Spice Girls, but only with a group who knows which girl they are.

I will sing Jewel, but only on a stool with a spotlight on me.

I will sing You Oughta Know, but only with every bit of feeling I have in my soul.

When I announce this to people, I then begin to sing, in a harsh, staccato voice to demonstrate what a treat they are in for:

I.

Want.

You.

toknow.

I’m.

Hap.

Y.

foryou.

People start to get scared eyes, especially at the part where I scream, “Does she know that you told me you’d hold me until you died? Til you died? But you’re still alive!”

When my audience starts to look for escape routes I know I’ve really channeled the spirit of Alanis.

I’m going to say it and get it over with:

You Oughta Know is the best song of all time.

It’s not my favorite song of all time, but it’s the best song of all time.

Just like 4 Weddings is not my favorite Hugh Grant movie but is my favorite Hugh Grant.

Are you following?

These things always make sense in my head.

Two weeks ago I decided I was going to become a banana trifle person.  I had an “easy” recipe, the right ingredients, and the internet assurances of dozens of others that I could, indeed, accomplish this task.

“This is so exciting now that I’m the banana trifle lady,” I told Rob.

“The banana trifle lady?” he said.

“The woman that everyone knows makes the best banana trifle.  Invite Jill over!  She’ll bring that majesty of a banana trifle! That Nobel Peace Prize of a dish!” I said.

“Oh,” he said.

“The woman whose trifle is mentioned in her obituary, who passes her secrets on to her grandchildren, who whips up a trifle just for the fun of it on a Tuesday afternoon because the sun is bright and the bananas are ripe,” I said.

“Oh,” he said.

“Oh oh!” I said.

One week later and with a bowl of as-yet-unable-to-be-whipped heavy whipping cream, I sent a defeated text to several friends, “I’m not going to be the banana trifle lady.”

Exactly what type of lady I am is yet to be determined.

I think I’m a hostess.  I think I like hosting?  Is this real?

I’m trying to gauge myself to see if it’s true.

I think I like hosting under certain conditions.  I like hosting when it’s people I know very well.

I like hosting with Rob.

That’s what it comes down to, I think.

Rob told me several years ago that he was waiting for the time when his peers stopped going to bars and started going to dinner patties.  That would be his time.

And so it is.

Rob is such an excellent cook.  It’s the Italian in him, I think.  He loves being in the kitchen.  He loves feeding me.  He can list everything I’ve eaten of his,when I ate it, how much I liked it.

For instance, the first thing he cooked me is bacon.

Caitlin claims she knew we were MFEO that day, The Bacon Day, but I think that’s a dramatic revision of history.  And I think just typing that makes me all sad for the days when Caitlin was my roommate and Rob was making me bacon and my life was changing and I didn’t even know it.

Rob and I have been in charge of some events lately.  Getting our feet wet in the hosting scene, if you will.

We threw Hilary a birthday party last week.  Rob made an elaborate breakfast spread.  I sat on the couch and created a playlist based on the year of her birth and wrapped her carefully chosen present and make sure the Diet Coke drawer was full.

“So you did nothing,” my brother said when he heard about our night.

So I did nothing.

Except no!  I’m sorry.  On behalf of all people everywhere whose skills aren’t tangible I want to say our contributions are real.  90s playlists are real.  So are conversational skills.

After Rob cooks he sits down, tired.  I take the conversation from there.  ”You’re good at it,” he says.  And I do like it.  I love a good conversation.  I love asking people odd questions, finding out their Elevator People or their 90s karaoke songs.  I love staying up all night laughing and debating and answering questions that never need to be answered in the first place.

So I did nothing for the dinner party.

But then I did everything.

OK, maybe not everything.

Rob did a lot.  But I did things, too.

And we both think we got the better end of the deal.

I Should Have Known Then

5 Feb

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“Do you read my blog?” I asked him.  He rolled his eyes and sighed, as though I had posed a difficult question just for the sake of it.  As though this would start something.

“I’ve read parts,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I pushed.

He sighed again, “Jill, asking me to read your blog is like me asking you to read a car manual.  It’s just not that interesting for either of us.”

I recoiled.  This was the man I loved telling me that my thoughts, my words, my life weren’t that interesting.

I should have known then.

I showed up on Cape Cod broken and bruised.  My heart felt like it no longer existed, that after so many repeated beatings and shatterings it had just turned to dust, scattered across the rest of my body.  The pain was always with me.

I had kind of, sort of invited myself to Rob’s house for his annual Cape trip.  Granted, he seemed eager about the idea, but I suggested it.  I needed it.  I wanted it.

He said yes.

I took a bus from Boston to the outer Cape.  I felt conspicious, like the people around me could look at me and see my flaws.  ”That girl.  There’s something seriously wrong with her.”

“That girl.  Stay away.”

I stared out the window, letting my thoughts twist and turn. I didn’t know how my life could be right again, not in a dramatic way, but in a “if I fix this thing, then my life will no longer be my life.  I will be starting completely over” way.

It didn’t scare me.  It didn’t anything.

It just was.

I got off the bus at my stop, found my bag and looked around.  There he was.

Rob smiled at me.  He was wearing a swimsuit and t-shirt, a Nantucket baseball cap on his head, Ray-Bans on his face.  He came up to me, awkwardly.  He’s always awkward.

“Give me a hug,” I said.  I knew he would never touch me without being asked.

He did.

We got in his car and turned on the music, the trees whizzing past.

“I’m so sad,” I told him.

He knew this, of course. He talked to me every day.  He knew just how sad I was.

“Well, we’re in the business of cheering people up here,” he said.

He made me laugh.

I should have known then.

Rob asks me every day when I’m going to blog.  ”More blog,” he says.  ”Always more blog.”

He once admitted to me that he fell in love with me because of my blog.  That my thoughts and words and life made me irresistible to him.

He fell in love with my writing, he said.

I should have known then.

I do know now.

Arthur Aron’s Theory Of Love

21 Jan

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In a recent New York Times Modern Love column, Mandy Len Catron references psychologist Arthur Aron’s study on intimacy.  Aron examines whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a series of ever more personal questions.

The column was a bit of a sensation, and Aron’s 36 questions have been making the rounds of the internet.

Naturally, I made Rob participate in the study on our drive to San Diego.

“All right,” I said, feet on the dashboard, “First question.  Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”

“Pass,” he said.

“That’s not how this works.  Take a moment think about it,” I said.

“Who would you have?” he asked.

“That’s not the point, is it?  I asked you first,” I said.

“Ahhh so you don’t know either,” he said.

“Of course I have plenty of people I would love to sit down with, minds I would simply die to pick,” I said.

“Uh-huh,” he said.  ”Like whom?”

“Well…you know…oh! Oprah!” I blurted.  ”Maybe JK Rowling, ask her some questions.”

“Yeah? What questions about the Harry Potter series are burning in your brain right now?”

“Well, I don’t know.  I want to find out the secrets.  Where are the other bombs she’s been hiding?  I’m sure there are things.”

“Uh-huh,” he said.

“I’m more concerned that you don’t have a single person in the world you would want to have dinner with.  No writers?  No heroes?”  I asked.

“Next question,” he said.

“TOM BRADY!” I yelled.  That’s it!  That’s who you would want dinner with.”

“RONDO!” he said.  ”We would play Connect Four.  He’s really into Connect Four.”

“Is is sad that I have to answer your questions about intimacy?  What did you do before me?  Did you have no idea who you were?” I asked.

“Something like that,” he said.

We both sat back, a little exhausted from the strain of our increased intimacy.

“OK so, Question 2,” I said, “Would you like to be famous.  In what way?”

We got through most of the list fairly quickly.  Some of the questions were redundant, some were not worth the time when you’ve known each other as long as we have.  ”Tell your life story in four minutes,” for instance, just seemed like a lot of effort with no reward.

“Pass,” we said in unison, when it came up.

When we finished the list, Rob asked, “Are you feeling more intimate now?” and I rolled my eyes at him.

Later, Hilary sent me this New Yorker article: To Fall Out Of Love, Do This.  It’s a spoof on Aron’s study and begins with, “The following questions are part of a follow-up study to see whether the intimacy between two committed partners can be broken down by forcing them to ask each other thirty-six questions no one in a relationship should actually ask.”

I sent the article to Rob and we both had a good laugh.

Interestingly, Rob and I both answered the first question of the spoof study without even having to think twice, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to punch in the face?”

The spoof list, it seems, is easier to answer.

Or maybe we’re an especially odd couple.

The 36 questions that lead to love!  Try it!

(Try it when you don’t know someone, maybe.)

(Or not, that has a bit of charm, too.)

My Word For 2014

6 Jan

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2014 was my year of love.

This was an easy one to decide.  I didn’t have to parse through experiences and memories looking for a common thread.  There were no leaps or generalizations or maybe-sort-ofs about it.

Love

That was my word last year.

My mother jokingly talked about what she would have put on the Christmas card had we done one this year.

FATHER started a new job and took up triathlons.  He’s great!

BROTHER finished up his degree and started a job in a new state.  He’s great!

JILLIAN’S heart was healed after a very long time of pain.  She’s great!

Love, love, love.

What a good word.  What a good year.

I wrote a letter to my boyfriend for New Years and I thought I would share a piece of it with you here.

I figured this would be a good time to start referring to him by his real name on this blog of mine, too.

My dearest Robert,

If you told me last year at this time I would write you a letter for New Years that started “my dearest Robert” I would never haves bought it.  Last year I was so caught up in a nowhere relationship, so far away from being with you.

I always knew you liked me.

I know I say I was surprised about the love, and I was, but I knew you liked me in the way that other guys have liked me.  I saw it in the looks you gave me and in your willingness to spend time with me.

But the thing I said and I mean, was I didn’t know how you loved me.  I didn’t know you loved me more than anyone has ever loved me.  I didn’t know you would be so patient and willing and eager and selfless with me.

Perhaps you didn’t know either, when it comes down to it.

I needed to be loved an incredible amount.  It was a tall order, and probably why everyone thought it impossible, including me.

And then you came along.

So yes, I was surprised with how you loved me.

I was surprised anyone would love anyone like that.

Love, love ,love.

2014 was a good one.

Here’s to 2015.

Breakfast Burgers

13 Nov

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It’s 10AM and he’s making burgers.  He calls them breakfast burgers as though the title changes the reality.

A rose by any other name.

Or something.

A pan of water boils.

I read more Anne Lamott.  I’m sitting in the leather chair, curled up in his old basketball shorts, the ones I hate.

“Why do you love her so much?” he asks.

“It’s her truth.  She tells the truth.” I say.

I read him a passage where Anne vaguely threatens a 7-year-old, giggling all the while.

“Truth.”

He kisses my forehead.  ”You get more excited reading this book than I do about anything in my life.”

“Except me,” I say, going back to Anne.

He sets a plate in front of me.  A bacon cheese breakfast burger on a cheddar bun.  A heaping side of Annie’s shells–my requests at midnight when the store was closed and In-N-Out too far away.  My requests before I fell asleep in my dress.

I hate that I pass out so early these days.

“Anne is signing books in Santa Barbara in a few weeks,” I say.

“Let’s go,” he says.

“Should we have tri-tip again or try something new?” I ask.  A sliver of avocado falls from my burger, collecting the yolk on my plate.

He often tells me I’m this bright, giggling spot in his dark cynical life.

Me, the girl with the fickle heart, the teenage angst, all the emotions.

He, the boy who says, in his calm, non-excited way, that he’s so happy, so lucky all of the time.

Funny how that works.