The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Category: Love & Romance (page 2 of 2)

Planning The Reception (Wedding Woes & Wonders Pt. 4)

Here’s how the story goes.

One day, as my girlfriends and I were unamusedly browsing the consumer-bereft Sandusky Mall for a wedding-appropriate dress for my upcoming ceremony, one of my best gals, Annessia, suggested a venue. She’d attended a friend’s wedding at a place called Vermilion on the Lake. I had never heard of such a wildly-hyphenated locale, but after her eloquent and vivid description, I fell in love.

“I want this place,”I told her. “I want it now!”

We pulled up pictures on a cell phone and gawked at the gorgeousness. It seemed perfect. Almost too perfect. Like, this is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of and didn’t know it actually existed perfect.

Vermilion-on-the-Lake, OH.

Vermilion-on-the-Lake, OH.

And then I pulled up the calendar of available dates. My original pair of dates, either of the middle weekends of November, were already booked. And with no surprise! Who can call only five months prior to a reception date to reserve a locale that is one of the most desired locations in the region for weddings and gatherings?

Apparently, it turns out I can. By a stroke of luck, the first weekend in December was open, only two weeks after my originally-planned reception date. And the next day by noon, I had that sucker reserved.

“You sure scooted in at the last minute,” the raspy-voiced volunteer told me on the phone that day. “It’s only July, and we’re already accepting reservations for through 2016!”

Damn straight.

Before Jorge and I got married, one thing was certain. We wanted a big ass party on both ends of the world, and both parties would feature live music, awesome food, and red wine.

Those were basically the only stipulations. But then other factors entered in, like money. Our venue alone rings in at the cheaper end of the scale (or so I’m told) at over $1,200. Throwing a big ass party anywhere involves a hefty chunk of change. And if you want to avoid hefty chunks of change, you need to either have immaculate planning capabilities, extremely wealthy investors, and/or best friends/family members involved in all the businesses you plan to hire.

Of course, Jorge and I don’t have immaculate planning capabilities, nor do we have any wealthy investors (BUT IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO APPLY FOR THE POSITION…), or even family members that work in any related industries. The deeper I delved into planning the reception, the more I realized there exists a  sharply inverted relationship between low cost  and level of involvement in planning.

As in, for someone like me who doesn’t really like to get messy in the details of planning an event of this size, saving money means that I’d have to oversee every detail myself. Instead of relying on hired companies to connect the dots for me, I’d have to bring my own pen and coloring book and fill in all the spaces on my own. 

But things have been working out spectacularly well. And it has a lot to do with the amazing friends and family in my life.

Painting Planes and Taking Names

Planes…planes…and more planes.

My best friend Becky and her husband have become my wedding reception planners, helping me with all manner of details from centerpieces to even cooking for the event. Other friends have stepped up with decoration help, especially in the detail-focused areas that pain me most (*cough cough* painting those damn airplanes). My best friend Jamie is arming my bridal party (yes, I needed to outsource that), my mother has offered to take on the role of in-flight captain announcements (more on that later),  and my friends from within the community have cut me quite a deal for their super-talented performance at the party.

Other details swirl in the background; my dad’s recommendation to make the invitation a boarding pass, and the miraculous discovery of such a design online weeks later; another friend’s recommendation to stop by a graphics place in town to have a project dream realized, which may save me $400.

I could go on and on.

It turns out, I have a lot more help and creative input than I originally imagined. I am not doing this on my own. Not by a long shot. And between all of my friends, family, and community at large, we are arming one helluva party that will be, at the very least, a fun and  tasty time.

When asked how things are going and I answer with an honest, “Oh, a little stressful”, a couple people have responded with the following:

I wish I could tell you not to stress about it, but you will anyway! So just know that it’s gonna be fine.

I love that response. It’s true, it’s real, and it’s a direct nod to the feelings that are very inevitable and wrapped up in this whole experience.

It’s been stressful to plan the thing in the first place, and more stressful to oversee so many details that I wish I actually did have the money to just outsource. But at the end of it, I know it’s gonna be great, and worth all the stress.

And then…we’ll have a second one to plan. Except that time, Jorge’s gonna be the one behind the wheel. Just as most of the planning duties fall on my shoulders here since I’m the native gal in this region, he’s the one who will know how to navigate the system down yonder. And that means I can just relax and enjoy the February summer in Argentina…sipping red wine and wearing all my dresses for their second go-around.

From Backpacks to Three Bedrooms

It’s September, folks! So that means a couple things. One, summer is beginning that slow grind into fall, the time of year that you invariably get stuck behind the slowest school bus EVER, when my father supposes he can shut down the pool right before a 90-degree heat wave comes through, and I wonder whether or not tanning is still a thing because of the tilt of the earth, or whatever (I’m guessing, yes).

It also means that Jorge and I have officially occupied our new home. Hallelujah! My gracious and loving father let us stay at his house while we got ourselves established in town, and having our own space to ourselves again is lovely (though we miss you and Storm, dad!). This means I can finally walk around naked for most of the day, and leave all the lights on that I please. I’m paying the electricity bill, so YES, I can afford the softly-lit-kitchen mood lighting! SCORE!

Okay, well...it'll look nicer soon, I swear.

Okay, well…it’ll look softly-lit soon, I swear.

Jorge and I are no strangers to occupying (and then un-occupying) homes and apartments for lengths of time. We’ve flitted between homes in Valparaiso, Chile, Lima, Peru and Cusco, Peru. And between them all, we’ve run the gamut of living spaces—from mini-apartments with about 300 square feet, to multi-bedroom houses with wood floors. This will be our first American home, and the differences are enormous.

Here’s why: there’s this little nagging gnat called a wedding registry that’s been buzzing around my head since the second we announced we’d be getting married. Most people look either shocked or totally relieved when I say we don’t have one. Others give me a knowing smirk, to tell me Yeah, I expected that. It’s not that we’re opposed to receiving help around our wedding time. It’s just that, accumulating lots of shit doesn’t help us right now.

We do need shit, though—don’t get me wrong. We need things to put in our house, and our kitchen, and our bathrooms, etc. We need those basics like a bed and a dining room table and toilet paper and a slightly inaccurate map of the world that makes Russia look like the largest mass of land on the globe. But all of those things were provided for when we moved into the house. Seriously—we amassed an entire house of necessary shit before we even moved in, and it all came from friends and family, or those friends and family knowing someone else who was giving away said thing for free, etc.

So between the generosity of friends, family, and strangers giving away their own STUFF that they didn’t want anymore (nothing purchased new, minus silverware and plates), we were able to outfit the entire house.

Majority of these things were lent or gifted. Imagine that!

Majority of these things were lent or gifted. Imagine that!

Talk about feeling blessed.

At the same time, it’s been hard. Because a couple years ago, I gave away all my STUFF (or most of it, at least). Having lived out of my backpack for the past couple of years, it’s been slightly upsetting to watch my possession count swell. To see that my backpack can be filled and emptied several times before the entire load is moved from one house to the next.

So this is why we will be asking for no gifts from our general public when the reception invites are sent out (which should be this week!). Wedding and reception gift-giving is about helping the new couple get on their feet, and it’s a lovely tradition that I have seen put into practice in an astounding way.

Without the directed and invested support from my family and friends, this type of move-to-the-USA-and-rent-a-house undertaking would be impossible. But part of the glory has been that we receive the help where we need it most—in cash, or used furniture, or assistance with our reception planning and wedding make up, or frequent runs between Dad’s house and New House to bring all those hangers I forgot, or a special trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick out my first (and probably last) set of silverware, and on, and on.

I’m not interested in combing through fifteen million objects at the local stores only to receive a bunch of hand towels and cutesy spoon rests that I don’t actually need.

That’s just a waste of our time, and the thought of showing up at Target or Penny’s and saying the words “I’m here to start a wedding registry” makes my skin crawl.

But that’s just me—because in our particular instance, we received a LOT of objects and items either on loan or gifted. And I cannot repeat it enough: I feel so, incredibly, stupidly, otherworldly blessed. And frankly, it’s not that important to me that my hand towels match a purported kitchen décor. Though I do admire houses that have a discernable decoration theme and demonstrate a lot of attention to those details.

Living in a house with three bedrooms isn’t directly contrary to the backpacker philosophy, even though we can’t pack all this stuff into one literal backpack. After all, we use these things every place we go—whether it’s Peru or Argentina or India, etc. Even though it feels like a weight with each new thing that enters our house, I remind myself that as long as I own the stuff and the stuff doesn’t own me, everything will be fine.

Not getting too attached to objects was one of the reasons I moved abroad in the first place. I wanted to sever those emotional ties.

Now I’ve got a pretty great chance to find out whether that lesson has been learned.

With This Relic, I Thee Wed!

On August 18th, 2015, Jorge and I TIED THE KNOT!

We kept it small and intimate, and a little inconvenient: business hours on a Tuesday afternoon! Just to, you know, see who really loved us by calling off work. Just kidding! 

Being that I’m the Astromaid, I delight in the inappropriate, zany details that comprise the periphery of daily living. And some of the highlights of this event were the following:

  • The wedding was in the municipal courthouse, and in order to “check in” for the wedding, I had to go to the office labeled “Criminal/Traffic Division”. Romantic!
  • Our wedding was inserted between totally normal, daily proceedings. So when we walked into the courtroom for our wedding, several pairs of unfamiliar eyes stared back at Jorge and I–and my friends and family were nowhere to be found. These people must have been waiting for their own hearings, or verdicts, or whatever, and had to go through my wedding before they could wrap up their own business! Sorry guys, just a quick wedding to perform!
  • The judge not only was a total jokester badass, he also spoke Spanish. But the wedding would be performed in English, so I made sure to translate the whole set of vows just so my future husband knew what he was getting himself into.
  • The backdrops of the courthouse were sometimes hilarious, and also informational. My favorite was posing near the poster advertising the physical effects of abusing heroin. It’s a courthouse wedding, you guys!

As Jorge and I were running over the vows in the judge’s chambers, I noticed the part that reads With this ring, I thee wed. We opted to not purchase or exchange rings, since its a tradition that doesn’t resonate with us very much. If we do ever decide to do rings someday, it will be jewelry that we find somewhere in the world, some day–and not just some bands we pick up because tradition dictates.

Instead of rings, we brought two pre-Incan statues that we picked up in Lima, Peru over a year ago. They spoke to us because its a male/female duo that were used in actual wedding/religious ceremonies, and used to hold the coka leaves mixed with whatever powder, to be consumed throughout the ceremony. Both the husband and wife would attach the figurine to their clothing or belts, so they could partake in coka leaves throughout the procession of the wedding celebrations.

A year ago, we knew we were life partners, and purchased these as a token of our commitment. It was fitting to use these instead of rings on Tuesday.

Pointing at the infamous line, I asked the judge if he could change the world ring to relic. He shrugged, unfazed. “Sure, why not?”

As 1,100 times before, a couple was wed during business hours, in the presence of friends and family and complete strangers waiting for their court date. But maybe for the first time in Ohio history, the deal was sealed with two small pre-Incan relics as a symbol of our love and commitment.

“With this relic, I thee wed!”

We're married!

We’re married! Where are our relics? Jorge must have pocketed them. But that’s the marriage license in my hand! Judge Erich O’Brien waves himself off the stage, like the rock star he is.

An Affair in Two Hemispheres: Wedding Woes & Wonders Pt. 1

Q: Where does an astronaut mermaid celebrate her wedding? In the deep azure sea, or in the twinkling reaches of outer space?

A: BOTH!

I’m going to be writing for a while about some of the aspects of the wedding industry, the way they make my gut grumble, and some of the more traditional aspects of our non-traditional approach. Something of a Wedding Series, if you will, but without the majority of the trappings of regular wedding stuff, like, you know…the engagement party, the wedding shower, the wedding party, the registries, the religious ceremony, the ring exchange, or the white wedding dress.

OK, that sounds like the bulk of what constitutes a wedding, but I swear we are actually doing some traditional things. Though, now that I think about it, the only traditional part might just be the marriage itself.

At any rate, I want to share our plan with you. And in a nutshell (or, in my case, a helmet), we’re going to be doing the deed, and doing it DOUBLE!

Both countries, both families, two very distinct and totally awesome celebrations.

Wedding Meme

The unfortunate truth is that our worlds are very far apart. The flight between Miami, FL and Santiago, Chile (a convenient airport to getting to Jorge’s homeland) is 8 hours alone. That’s not counting the additional flights between FL an OH, the layovers, the furtive Cuban empanadas consumed, nor the various ceremonies and magical spells needed to ensure all flights arrive on time.

Furthermore, it’s hard to travel so far. Not everyone is cut out for it. International travel involves a lot of preparation and a lot of MONEY. Most of Jorge’s family hasn’t been on a plane before, and arranging an endeavor of that nature would be extremely stressful. Some of his family members get anxious just thinking about a plane. It wouldn’t be fair to have only one celebration in one country. So we must have two!

But first thing’s first: Jorge and I are going to have a small courthouse ceremony this month to get the show on the road. Then in December, we’re going to throw a big bash in Ohio for all the friends and family that can make it.

In February, Jorge and I will be in Argentina to tie the knot over there the same way we did here, with an intimate civil thing. Days later, we’ll have a big party (in high summer, no less!) with all of his friends and family down there.

We both wish that it were more feasible to bring both sides together for one roaring celebration. Maybe if it were a matter of bus rides instead of plane rides, it could work out. Jorge’s mother so wants to meet my parents, but I’m not sure that will be a possibility. And it breaks my heart that our parents might never meet in their lifetimes.

These are some of the difficulties of finding your love in a different hemisphere. Will our families ever know one another? Can our friends hang out? Will our two communities ever have a chance to meet?

The answer is, unfortunately, probably not. Maybe here and there friends can visit, but on a larger scale, our worlds might remain firmly separated. If the flight prices weren’t exclusionary enough, the fact that all of his Argentinian friends and family would need to apply for a tourist visa makes the endeavor even less likely. If it goes anything like Jorge’s experience, they’ll be rejected, and flush both time and money down the drain via embassy appointments and paying the application fee various times until the approval comes through.

All money aside, it’s much easier for North Americans to visit Argentina than for Argentinians to visit the U.S.A. And that tiny detail packs a huge punch. It might mean that nobody ever comes up here to visit. And I can totally understand why.

These are the realities of an international relationship. When we are one place, we miss the other. When we are with one family, there is another family wishing we were with them. And when we are marrying in the north, there is a marriage waiting for us down south.

Despite the difficulties, we are literally trembling with excitement for all the celebrating that awaits us. There will be nuptials; there will be a reception on Lake Erie; there will be a Pan-American buffet (more details on the Ohio-side planning later); there will be a group trip to Argentina; there will be every manner of gaucho meat options; and there will be two marriage ceremonies in two countries. (I can’t wait to report back about the differences in bureaucracy!)

When we marry, not only will we forge friendship between two nations, our flags will also dreamily melt into one.

When we marry, not only will we forge friendship between two nations, our flags will also dreamily melt into one.

Next time on the Astromaid Wedding Woes & Wonders: The Dress!

The Changing of the Tides

One of the only certainties of life is change. What goes up comes down, what recedes will swell, what backpacks to South America will someday return to North America with a frightening array of alpaca sweaters.

It’s the only constant. Back, forth, up, down, back, around, and again.

Despite knowing this, I didn’t quite expect myself end up back in Sandusky. I knew I would always be visiting home, but I hadn’t counted on my roots calling me home so quickly.

There’s something sublime about Home. It’s not just one characteristic, but rather the seamless and elegant blend of so many blessings. How could I choose just one? There’s family here; there’s four seasons and marshes; there’s my community of friends; there’s art and music; there’s my childhood memories; there’s the freaking lake; there’s Cameo pizza; there’s hummus freely available in the grocery stores.

I’ve pined for these different characteristics to varying degrees for about three years, sometimes missing each one viscerally, like a knife point in the heart; and other times just feeling the absence like a dull throb, a lingering stubbed toe.

There’s no world journey without feeling the quiet pulse of one of these sensations, like a quiet murmur in your ear. You just can’t quite shake it entirely, whether it’s the scorching smell of spring that nearly brings you to your knees with it’s familiarity of home, or maybe overhearing compatriots speaking with your accent or hometown slang. Jorge feels it when we are away from Argentina, too; we both feel it when we leave a place that we made home, like Valparaiso, Chile, or the Sacred Valley in Peru.

We’ve left pieces of our hearts around the world, a trail that leads us back to good times and fond memories. And in following the trail around the world, we’ve made our way back to Ohio.

But why OHIO of all places?

Well, for a few reasons.

One: because missing home began to hurt. Like, a lot. It took leaving home to realize how strong my roots were, and that call finally reached a fever pitch. I want more time than the frantic, one-month whirlwind; more elbow room to make plans, have dinners, make memories with my people.

Two: because Jorge wants to learn English! And boy, is he cute when he speaks it.

Three (and most importantly): because we’re getting married!

In my wildest fantasies of where my life might take me, three years ago I never imagined that this path might lead me right back to my hometown, with the love of my life at my side, preparing to seal the legal deal.

I never even imagined meeting a man like Jorge, or that he would become my partner so fluidly, so effortlessly. I have yet to write about how we met, or what it was like in the beginning (and that story is coming!), but he was the man who met me and wasn’t afraid to take the leap with me. Sure, let’s move around cities in South America and see what happens. He’s a badass and I couldn’t be more grateful to have him in my life. Oh Jorge, let me count the ways!

Jorge and I when we met, in March 2013 -- Valparaiso, Chile.

Jorge and I on the night we met, in March 2013 — Valparaiso, Chile.

Jorge and I in July 2015--Akron, OH

Jorge and I in July 2015–Akron, OH

I also never imagined I might be moving into my own Sandusky pad, complete with a tiny orange office space and back yard and free landscaping reign, which will mark my first ever rental in this fair city. (And the first time I’ve had to schedule garbage pick-up. Can’t I just tie it in a plastic bag and toss it in the plaza corner like every other South American country?)

I never imagined I’d be scouting reception venues and gathering my girlfriends so we can hunt for a damn dress (groan). Or that I’d even be confronting the issue of marriage and reception planning. Spoiler alert: I never wanted a traditional wedding, and I STILL don’t!

I couldn’t have seen any of this, and despite the fantastical weirdness of it, despite how surprising it still sounds even to my own ears, it is the truest and most organic journey I’ve ever been on.

The Horgs is the only man I’d say yes to. We’re life partners, a fact that we both feel to the marrow of our bones and back again. Travel has had a lot to do with our certainty on this front. We’ve shared so much  together, and being on the road has fortified us in a way that makes it easier to look to the unknown and know that it’s gonna turn out all right with him by my side.

People write a lot of articles about why travel is the best thing a couple can do together. I might be the next writer to add my two cents to that debate, as well.

So that’s it, folks! We’re going to be in Ohio for about a year. That’s all we can commit to for now—the travel urge pricks hard, and there’s no telling what we might be ready for in a year. If you’ve ever talked to us about our future plans, you’ll know that we have business ideas in Central America, and other ideas for around these parts. The future is brimming with possibilities!

But for right now, first thing’s first.

Time to marry this Argentinian.

What Women Don’t Reveal: When You Fall in Love

I spent the majority of my twenties avoiding serious relationships. They were, I thought, a hindrance. Like a blood pressure cuff gone out of control, I believed them to be a  source of tension and suffocation, draining the blood from my life until a limb had to be amputated, or at the very least, until a concerned pharmacy technician came rushing over.

And to be fair, most of my early relationships were like that renegade blood pressure cuff.  I felt stifled, like I had lost a part of myself, or perhaps that a part of myself had merely turned into a limp, strangled appendage.

But then I met Jorge, my partner. He’s taught me a number of really important things.

Casual Jorge

Like how to speak Argentinian Spanish, which at first I thought was a joke because like, come on, it’s ven not veni. And an appreciation for good meat, which doesn’t come in even-colored, perfectly round patties like America would have us believe. And, of course, that a relationship doesn’t have to feel like a vise around the throat. It can, as a matter of fact, feel freeing and light. Like a whoosh of spring air on a bare ass; not a frigid blast of snowstorm and you’re locked out of the house.

I’m really thankful for that. With him, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to explore personal depths as well as partnership depths. Two bodies of water that both mingle yet keep definable shapes. I’m not even sure of the physics behind that, but, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with a viscous solid and electron pairings.

But there was something else that came along with my relationship, something that I wasn’t prepared for. If falling in love were to look like a guest list for a dinner party, here’s some of the people I would have invited:

  • Peace of Mind
  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Passion/Lust
  • Physical Attraction (he always shows up looking so good!)
  • Complementary skill sets
  • Willingness (to listen, to work together, etc)

But sometimes parties get crashed, and this time, someone showed up who I didn’t invite.

  • The Annoying Girlfriend.

Among all the pluses and positives of a relationship, I’ve had to suffer the distinct horror of witnessing certain things come out of my mouth that my pre-relationship brain would never authorize.

I catch myself beginning the stupidest stories to my friends. Halfway through, I realize this story is about the shape of his toes, and nobody in the entire world wants to hear it.

I am constantly giggling about him. And I almost can never explain why.

I am so excited about knowing him, and want to share all his details with everyone. Including things he would shoot me if I shared. (I don’t, Jorge, I swear!)

I find myself planning things around the time he gets home, because that intolerable 8 or 9 hour workday has been far too much time apart and I’d like to see him as soon as humanly possible, thankyou.

I think everything he does is the cutest thing ever. And Skyping with friends while he’s in the room is the worst — plenty of times I’ve gotten distracted mid-conversation by a glimpse of him in the video, and started shrieking about how cute he is, OMG, look what he’s doing! When this happens, it’s almost guaranteed he’s casually lying on the bed, looking at his tablet or — in more extreme cases — napping. LOOK HOW CUTE MY BOYFRIEND IS WHILE HE DOES NOTHING!!! *SCREECH*

True Hued Love

Is this what true love looks like? I bet she doesn’t spill picnic secrets.

This affliction appeared swift and silent — I really hadn’t seen it coming. I had been so preoccupied during the early part of our relationship with other mental obstacles — like reminding myself that nothing had changed and that nothing would change — that I didn’t even allow myself to get giddy or gushy. I was focused entirely on finding ways to remind myself that being in a relationship meant that I had not sacrificed some integral part of my being, that I was still who I always had been.

And while it’s true that I’m independent though not single, I’m still myself though with someone else, I can’t pretend like the relationship hasn’t altered me in some ways. Who wants to cling to a former version of themselves, anyway? I realized that if you’re in a relationship and you don’t grow, evolve or adapt, then something might be wrong.

I was never informed of this, though it didn’t traumatize me as much as not being told about facials in advance. Women In Relationships say plenty of things to Women Not In Relationships, those things usually being negative, cautionary, overly romantic or totally dreamy. I was never told that I might arrive to that Annoying Girlfriend post organically. That it would actually seep from me on a cellular level, that I would ever feel inclined to squeal about the fact that my boyfriend just shifted from his left to right side on the bed behind me while I talk to a friend on the phone.

And along this journey of falling in love, of opening up to a relationship and all the silly quirks that it brings, this is one part of the fascinating puzzle that I hope I never misplace.

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