One World Observatory and Maple Goodness

Today was a completely incredible day! And it was awesome for so many reasons.

So I felt like writing about it.

Last night Davis came home from work and said that he’d have to leave for a quick trip to Boston earlier than expected. These trips are so much more manageable than the ones he’d have to take when we were living in Seattle and he was gone every week for months at a time… no fun for anyone. Instead, he’s home almost every night these days and has to take one-off trips here and there, which we can handle no problem. So with this particular jaunt to Boston, he knew he’d have to go this week, but his time there got shifted around a bit, so he had to fly out tonight instead of tomorrow morning. We’d tentatively made plans tonight and he felt bad that he’d have to miss those, so he proposed a day date instead! (I just want to pause on the excitement of that for a second… he’s pretty wonderful, that husband of mine.)

Of course, it couldn’t be a full day, since both of us needed to get work done. But we did something that we’ve wanted to do for a while: go to the top of the Freedom Tower. Being able to plan with such precision made our trip cheaper (there are different tiers of tickets, and if you know exactly what time you’re going, it can save you a few bucks), and it was fun to be spontaneous!

Both of us had been to Ground Zero before, but not since construction of the museum and Freedom Tower had finished. We were pleasantly surprised to find the park area open. The lack of gates surrounding the courtyard made it feel so inviting and nice. And it was incredible seeing the tower rise above the fountains! But the reality and shock of 9/11 hit me again as I was gazing into the North Tower’s pool. Two skyscrapers stood here fourteen years ago. Two skyscrapers full of people, of lives, of work, of ambitions and dreams and friendships and love. And now they’re gone. There’s this apparent hole in the skyline that they used to fill, which I remember was what hit me the last time I’d visited the site. I was only 11 when the events happened; because I was so young and was living on the other end of the country, I wasn’t fully able to grasp the severity of the situation. But seeing this, and the hundreds of names of all the people lost that surround the pools, it really sinks in. I feel lucky that I didn’t know anyone, but I know people who did. One of my best friends lost her uncle, a firefighter who went up to help. Just thinking about it rips me apart, and I didn’t even know him. You can tell that it’s still a huge part of this city too. I see shirts everywhere saying “Never Forget”. Firetrucks have flags and decals remembering the men and women lost. The topic seems to come up a lot in conversation – where were you, what do you remember.

I feel like I can’t adequately describe my thoughts on this, nor can I properly transition away from it. Without the tragedy, there wouldn’t be the skyscraper we were in this morning. I’d really rather not have the new, shiny building if it meant that thousands of people could have their friends and loved ones back. But as it is, the Freedom Tower now stands tall at the tip of Manhattan, and that’s where we saw the world from today.

And holy moley, it was AWESOME.

The whole experience inside the tower was almost otherworldly. Everything was thought through. It’s so shiny and new, and it gives such a fantastic view of the city. They even made the elevator ride cool. We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, and midtown Manhattan, of course. In one of the videos that was shown, some of the builders said that on clear days, they could even see the curvature of the earth from the top. Isn’t that insane?! We spent a good amount of time up there, and I think I significantly confused some Italians when I asked if they’d take our picture (which they did, and I took theirs, and then apologized in Italian because there was no flash and it was too dark… but they gave me blank stares, and I felt bad.). I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting the city or who hasn’t already been – it was a really cool experience. I think we’re hoping to go again when we have family or friends in town.

(One more thing about the tower: there were definitely Disney-like aspects to it, in terms of its thoroughness. The queue kind of had Disney’s famous style of keeping the queuees occupied so they don’t notice they’re waiting. The whole thing felt almost magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if people at Disney helped put some of these pieces together.)

We ate lunch at a nearby burger joint we’d been wanting to try, then Davis said goodbye and headed to the office (and to Boston right afterward… he’ll be back tomorrow night). I spent the afternoon doing some work myself, then I wandered for a while. I’ve taken to doing this, to picking a direction and then just going. It’s helping me get acquainted with the city. There’s just so much to see and do here! Each time I go out, I find at least one more new thing to try. Yesterday I went to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. and had an ice cream sundae. An by “ice cream” I mean frozen fruit turned into soft serve… it was so delicious, and so much healthier than regular dessert! I’m definitely going back there again.

Today I stumbled upon the farmer’s market that was happening in Union Square. We live close by and I’ve walked by it once or twice, but this was the first time I deliberately explored. I stopped at a maple syrup stand and got to know its owner. He was so kind – he gave me a piece of maple candy (which was delicious – I can now see why Ross in Friends was hooked on it!) and let me try some of their out-of-this-world maple cream. This stuff is like autumn in a jar… I had to buy some. I’m going to have to pace myself, because I could see myself eating a ton of this very quickly if I’m not careful. The owner was telling me all about where he and his family live, how it’s not too far away and how beautiful it is. He and his wife were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary this week, and they were just so adorable. The whole experience made me really happy, and something to strive for in our lives. I think I’ll go back and see them again next week.

So yes – that was my day. Simple but outstanding. Part of me still can’t believe we’re actually here. I love how each day is different in this giant new city of ours. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored. Excited to see what tomorrow brings.

It’s Happening.

Four-ish years ago, my new-ish boyfriend and I would occasionally discuss our very hypothetical honeymoon. That is, if, by some small chance, we stayed together through college and beyond and decided to think seriously about getting married. We made sure we kept things vague, light, and noncommittal. Marriage itself was brought up, but with the same sense of uncertainty. We were freshmen, after all, and still new to this whole dating thing.

And we’d dream of Italy. Of exploring the countryside together. Of riding a gondola side by side. Of wandering the streets and eating the food and meeting the people and being in love in Italy.

But again, our relationship was young. Maybe that would happen, but we weren’t counting on it.

Things started off good, and they kept getting better. He met my family – they loved him – and I met his. We fell more and more in love and learned to communicate well with each other. And above all, we were best friends. We told each other everything. We celebrated the good times together and pulled each other through the tough ones. The hypothetical discussions of life after college and marriage became more and more concrete. We couldn’t see life without each other. He asked me to marry him, and I joyfully said yes.

Today we booked it. The honeymoon we talked about. We’re going to Italy in August.

I realize this is still such a small part of our future – two weeks in Europe will be like a blink of an eye in our life together. But it still makes me so incredibly excited. We get to be in love in Italy, together, just him and me. And it blows my mind that it went from being a low-possibility hypothetical to, well, real – and my life.

And it shows me that things like this happen. I know it’s incredibly cheesy, but life can be all it’s cracked up to be and more. Life with him is going to be incredible. I mean, I’m not naive, and I know that we’re going to have to work at it. But if it’s anything like these past four years have been, it’s going to be amazing.

(We’ve also already started thinking about our next big vacation. Brainstorming only, but still. We figure we should always have something to look forward to 🙂 )

I just. I can’t believe we’re going!!!

Wedding Wedding Wedding!

Now that school’s over for the quarter (yes!!!!) I’ve almost completely directed my attention to the wedding! And with that, all the excitement has come back in full-force (don’t get me wrong, it was hanging out all along – but now I can focus all of my attention on it! Weeeee!). In the past two days I’ve:

  • assembled most of the addresses needed for save-the-dates and invitations
  • finished registering (well, at one store – I have to wait til I get home to register at the other)
  • found the save-the-dates I’m going to use (now to make them myself!)
  • Pintrest-ed it up to get more ideas… 🙂
  • decided on shoes and hair for bridesmaids
  • (with my mom’s help) nailed down the flowers and caterer for sure

Whew! Oh man, I’m so stoked! 😀

Reddit’s Bucket List

(Warning: this post gets cheesy, but I’m completely okay with it.)

So I was reading Reddit today (something that’s become a common pastime for me) and I came across an AskReddit that really made me grateful for what I have. The topic went something like this:

“Before I die, I want to lay on the roof of a car looking up at the stars next to a woman I’m truly happy with… what’s something random on your bucket list, reddit?”

I mean, just from that, I was hooked. I wanted to see what else people had on their bucket lists, but more than that, I’ve done the example this person used (obviously not with a woman, but yes, with the love of my life). That is, in fact, how Davis and I first told each other how we had feelings for each other, and we’ve done it again a few times since. (We even dented the roof of his car by laying on it… woops… it ended up making me laugh, though, when our friend Jonathan fixed it)

So I scrolled through the thread. I came across some interesting ones: discover what a rainforest smells like, see the Northern Lights, watch The Lion King without crying when Mufasa dies. But most of them surrounded love, and finding your soulmate, and how even the most mundane of things are better because that person is in your life.

And as I read them, I could only feel gratitude, because I’ve been lucky enough to find that already and to do some of the things they desired most with that person.

Call me a sap, but I truly believe I’ve found “the one”. And even when things get tough, when life gets overwhelming, he helps me feel better and makes it all okay. I never want to take that for granted, because I have something that so many people long for. I met my soulmate at age 18, and I feel so incredibly lucky because I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

If you’re interested in reading the thread from Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/143fel/before_i_die_i_want_to_lay_on_the_roof_of_a_car/

And if you want another sappy story that still makes me happy: https://dreamsofwakingup.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/tear-dryer/

On Facebook-Creeping and Weddings

I’ll be the first to admit: I’m such a Facebook creeper when it comes to people I know getting married. (especially those people who I know but whose weddings I’m not going to…)

I can name seven or eight couples who just got engaged or married whose Facebook pages I check at least once a week – to read the well-wishes, to see the happy pictures, to get ideas for my own wedding. I’m a lurker, I know… it’s bad.

I guess I don’t really see it as a truly bad thing though. I mean, I’m so incredibly excited and happy for all of these people that I also want to partake in the celebrations, even if it’s days (or months) after the event and via a computer from hundreds of miles away. Every time I see any of their pictures – from the proposal picture of one friend to the “I now pronounce you…” shot of another – I get so giddy for them and excited for myself, because soon enough it will be my turn.

My friend Aaron put it quite well not too long ago: http://aarontmccoy.tumblr.com/post/32916718390/a-matter-of-happiness-or-thanks-facebook-friends-for

And don’t worry, Facebook – in a week or so, I’ll have some adorable engagement pictures of my own to share with you. ❤

I dunno why my brain jumped there.

I find it interesting when my mind just goes somewhere without any reason. Right now I was doing homework, then pulled up my gmail to look something up, where I had been having a conversation with Davis. For whatever reason, gchat didn’t let me know about his last few lines. They were simple and meaningful and made my day, and all they said were

“I love you so much
I am gonna hop in the shower
I love you
with all of my heart”
and then he left.

And suddenly my brain’s halfway around the world, back in Torino. And it’s morning, and I’m walking to school. The air is crisp and fresh, like it was there after it rained. I walk past the post office, across the street, past the corner cafe, past the tabbachi.

And that’s it.

And I’m all of a sudden so excited to take him there someday. To introduce him to my teachers. To have him eat my favorite pasta at the restaurant in the piazza. To walk with him down the streets by my apartment and show him the Lingotto mall and find Enrico and buy his amazing wine.

I could probably think hard enough and try to pretend I’ve understood why my brain made that quantum leap from my room in the US to the streets of Torino, but the truth is that I really don’t know. And it’s almost better that way. All I know is I can’t wait to go back with him.

Lessons from a Stranger

Typing takes forever one-handed. Jus’ sayin’.

(to catch y’all up: I broke my arm about a week and a half ago being chased by a liger while sprinting through the forest pretending to be Katniss Everdeen trying to save Rue. Either that or I simply faceplanted while running. Your choice.)

But I miss writing. While doing everything else is now impossibly inconvenient, I miss using my hand to write more than anything.

Tonight I came across this blog “Single Dad Laughing.” I guess I’m a little behind on the times with this, since the writer, Dan, had his really famous post “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay”, come out over a year ago. But I digress. Anyway, yes, this blog… it’s super interesting. It’s full of all these thoughts I’ve had before, and lots that I haven’t – basically it’s just a musing at life through the eyes of a guy in his early thirties that’s been divorced twice. Sad, indeed, sometimes, but he doesn’t make himself into a sympathy story or a self-righteous something or anything. He’s just a normal guy. And I have a few things I want to write down and ponder before I forget (so why not do it here?):

Being me, I read all his posts (er, the ones I could find, at least) on love and marriage and, well, namely, why his didn’t work. I have this habit of researching marriage and “what we’re getting ourselves into” like I’m writing a report for class, since I like to be prepared for things… I dunno. I realize I might be weird. I just have a tendency to do all my homework when I make a decision. But ultimately in this case I wanted to know how to proactively avoid his end result. And in these articles, there were a few things that he said that just stuck with me that I know from a personal standpoint I really need to work on. Namely:

Loving myself. I will be the first to admit that I have self-esteem issues. From my grandma calling me fat my whole life to a girl in my major telling me my glasses are ugly earlier this year, I have a lot of shit that I haven’t figured out how to work through. And that really adds up sometimes. Usually I can put on a brave face, but deep down, I really have issues admitting (even to myself) that I am beautiful. I feel… awkward. And huge. And fat. And not feminine-looking enough. And especially clumsy now that I have ten extra pounds of bandage on my arm. And I know Davis loves me just the way I am, but I really need to love myself. This doesn’t mean I should conform to who these people (read: usually strangers, whose opinions really shouldn’t have an impact on my life) want me to be; I just need to be prouder than I am now for being the kick-awesome tall blond girl with the rolly backpack and her arm in a sling. Because by loving myself, I know it will make it easier (on both me and him) for Davis to love me too. (plus the fact that it’s just good for me… not a bad reason either.)

The second point to remember is that love will grow stronger – the true, honest-to-goodness fact that what we have really is awesome and that, like good wine, it will get better over time. Davis and I are going to go through so much together. And you know what? That’s really awesome. And all of this – both the good and the bad – is going to bring us together, especially because I get to do it with my best friend. But just think of it now: by the time we’re in our seventies, we will have so much life and love under our belts, nothing will be able to tear us apart. We really are going to be the couple on the park bench holding hands and watching our grandkids play. Between now and then, we really will get to do everything together. And just that thought makes me so incredibly excited about everything; I can’t properly express it. I can’t wrap my mind around how much love I’ll have for him ten, twenty-five, fifty years from now… and that gives me so much hope too.

We have all the makings of something really great. And let’s be honest: I think our relationship’s really remarkable to begin with. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I forget that. It becomes covered in the stresses of schoolwork and extracurricular activities and jobs and broken bones, is thrown to the side and sometimes becomes a stress itself. But at the core, it really is strong and good and wonderful, and it will just get better over time.

The third and final thing I learned from this guy tonight was from the post that took me to his page in the first place: “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.” And the message was a simple one, and something that I really aspire to: love your neighbor. That’s it. Something that’s been said for thousands of years by all of the big-name religious leaders of the past. So why is it so hard for humans to do that? I still don’t fully understand it myself, and I can also guarantee that I haven’t followed it anywhere close to 100% of the time. But my point is, I do want to do it more.

So yes. Lessons from a stranger. I love it when that happens though. I love learning from and about life. And writing again. I love that too.

Do you have any thoughts on this, especially the “loving myself” part? I’m open to all suggestions 🙂

PS – Feel free to check out “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay” and Dan’s other blog posts: http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html