The Old Adage Was Right: Monkeys Should NOT Jump On The Bed

I rarely have occasion to say "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into", Stanley. But Wednesday morning was different.

You know, we're real adult around our house. We definitely do NOT do things like speak in a weird language to each other. We definitely do not regularly refer to the neighbor's pet as "Roof Dog" and try to take clandestine pictures of it. And we definitely do not attempt WWF wresting moves on our bed in the morning before work.

Alright, we do all those things and you know it.

Another really adult thing we do? Wait for THE most inopportune moments to tell each other REALLY important stuff that affects our lives. Burdy, for instance, likes to set up plans in the space of a few seconds between my kissing him goodbye and walking out the door in the morning for work. It usually sounds like this:

"K.Bye!Oh,andJillandGabrielinvitedusoverfordinneronThursday,shouldIsayyes?Itooktheboatmotortotherepairshopandit'sgoingtocostlikefiftydollarstofix,butIfgurethatthat'sbetterthanmetryingtofixitandscrewingitup,right? Oh,andyoucanjusthavemybluetooth,sodon'tgoandbuyone.IfoundmineandIneveruseitanymore,plusIhavemywiredsetsoyoucanjusthavetheoldone. Isthereanythingforlunchinthefridge?ShouldIbuythoseplaneticketstogobacktoJerseyinAugust?Whattimeareyoucominghome?ImightstaylateatAikidotonight! Bye!"

And I have a very bad habit of trying to tell him every last thing I've thought of in the past 24 hours in the few moments in takes him to fall asleep at night.

Me: Have you fixed the boat motor yet?

Burdy: Mmmmfff.

Me: I'm thinking about getting a new Bluetooth. I hate the wired thingee I use.

Burdy: Mmmmff.

Me: Shoot. We still have to get those plane tickets, don't we?

Burdy: ...Zzzzzzz....

The (obvious) problem with both of these scenarios is that both of us is stumbling (or lying around, as it were) in alpha wave mode when the other is trying to talk to the other... and well, we wind up forgetting a lot of what the other one is saying. I mean you would think after twelve years together, we would understand that the only real time we are awake and functioning at the same time is around lunch and that when I am trundling towards the bathroom with my shirt all twisted around my torso and my hair doing its best Don King impersonation and my eyes all slitty and crusted over , it is NOT the best time to tell me that we are scheduled to make an appearance at like 5 parties this weekend, so clear my calendar... but, Burdy doesn't recognize zombies when he sees them. (Mostly deaf, still-dreaming zombies who are groping the air for coffee mugs and sugar bowls.) And I, apparently, can't appreciate that "lights out" does not mean "divulge the contents of your psyche".

Anywho, Wednesday morning, I actually got up early (SERIOUSLY. How do you people with the jobs do it?) and I made my way down to the chiropractor (to learn I have minor scoliosis in my upper back! Huzzah!) and then home again. I was wide awake by the time I got home. And so was Burdy. And so we actually talked like real adults. About weekend plans and where we were going to be at dinner time.

And then he decided it would be fun to test out the bed with wrestling moves.

So, we got this king sized bed from the parents of Giggles and Little Man. We've always known we've wanted a king sized bed. It's like the ONE luxury item we have pined for. The only item of excess we felt we deserved. Because we are really frugal and don't spend money on things like cars and clothes and jewelry. And because Burdy kicks and punches in his sleep.

Anywho, we got this awesome, marshmallowy, huge king-sized mattress. Burdy's kicks now happen in another zip code and I can't feel a thing. It's a perfect mattress. Perfect for, for example, launching yourself from the corner and body-slamming a pillow.

Now, our old mattress, it was a platform bed. Very low to the ground. The new bed? She's practically at chest height for me. So maybe Burdy hadn't done the calculations involved. Big bed, regular sized ceilings, overhead lamp complete with seventies style shade (probably full of dead bugs), plus six foot tall man launching three feet into the air, arcing DIRECTLY underneath the lamp....

equals one surprised man clam-shelled on his back in the bed, his hair and pajamas full of microscopic pieces of glass, his eyes wide open in shock, his hands open in front of him, his mouth frozen in the shape of the words OOOOOOOOOOH, FUUUUUUUUUUUDGE.

And one woman laughing hysterically going to fetch the dustpan.

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Hawaiian Odyssey, Part II

It occurs to me that in order to name a post "Hawaiian Odyssey Part I", I need to actually write the part II. Riiiiight. I'm on it.

Where were we? Ah, yes. Mawaage.

So. Mr. Burdy is on the high seas. And I am doing calisthenics and taking my Metamucil.

There is a satellite phone on the boat to be used for outgoing calls for emergencies only. In addition to making calls, the phone sends and receives texts. This is how the captain tells his wife (who tells the other sea-wives, and wives-to-be) that he and the rest of the crew are alive and making progress. We wives (and wives-to-be) didn't request much in the way of details when we learned we would be updated daily. A message stating "Not dead; sails still working" would have sufficed. But sometimes we got more detail; we learned about when the head (that's Pirate for "toilet") got clogged... and when the swells reached fourteen feet. Technology is amazing, is it not?

After about a week or so, the captain's wife says that the captain says that they'll never use up all the texting time they've pre-purchased, so go ahead and send our menfolk a daily message. They're apparently longing for the soft and delicate curves of a female body text message.

Mr. Burdy has been allowed to send a message home to me. When you only have 140 characters to sum up your whole state of being, you choose your words carefully. And when you receive a message that you know can only be 140 characters long, you read it over and over again, reading between each character to glean the meaning, trying your hardest to imagine what was going on at the time those characters were typed.

He requests that I write him a haiku every day. I oblige.

Here is High-Ku Seas Haiku #3, written after I find out that they are all "recovering" (read: not puking anymore) from the first big waves they encounter:

"Text from Chuck Norris:
Roundhouse kick to the seas, boys.
Hilo awaits you. "

I text a haiku every day, I mark the days off the calendar, I search online for ticket prices to Hilo. I work, I eat, I sleep.

A few weeks later, I get on the plane, and I try to distract myself from the fact that I am about to reunite with Mr. Burdy after not seeing him for nearly six weeks. He picks me up on a gloriously hot afternoon with a bouquet of tropical flowers in hand. We hug, we cry, we almost forget how to kiss. (Wait. Do I lean in, or does he?) I bury my nose in his neck. He holds me tightly like in one of those coming-home-from-war pictures. We walk back to the car and we hold hands the whole way back to the house.

We stay at a friend's house for the week. Unbeknown to Mr. Burdy, I arrange for our first night together to be at Aaron's Cottage, a lovely little bed and breakfast. I want our first night together to be all romantical and cozy. And it is. Until the toddler in the room next to our starts being vivisected. Or whatever was happening to it to make it scream like that. I don't know. Whoever you are, father of that child, thank you for taking it on a car ride at midnight to calm it down. You are a saint.

Everything's going exactly as you might imagine it would after two people who love each other are finally reunited after a month and a half apart. There's a lot of PDA going on. And canoodling. Mr. Burdy is holding open doors and reading me whole sections of his journal and we're having an awesome time. We're plotting a million and one creative endeavors together, we're laughing, and we're eating some of the BEST food we've ever had on vacation. We vow to eat rice and eggs every morning till the day we die. And to eat more raw fish. And maybe some SPAM once in a while.

Now, in the midst of all this bliss, my adrenal glands are taking a much needed nap. They had nothing to worry about, 'cause we were on vacation, baby! Except, wait, what's that he's reaching for in his pocket? OH GOD, HERE IT COMES! RED ALERT. RED ALERT. WE HAVE A POSSIBLE RING SIGHTING. COMMENCE SHORTNESS OF BREATH PROCEDURE. You see, I have a very strong intuition. A very strong intuition. You might say I can smell a man's intent to marry me from 3,000 miles away. I knew Burdy was up to something. But I just didn't know when he was going to be up to something. So, every time he asked me to "sit down" because he "wanted to tell me something", my adrenal glands blasted a metric ton of adrenaline up to my brain and I nearly blacked out from the pressure change. Of course, Mr. Burdy didn't know he was doing this to me. He just wanted to show me the birds on the horizon, and why didn't I sit right here where I would get a better view and he would tell me about the birds he saw while he was at sea? And then he would reach into his pocket... and pull out a handkerchief and loudly blow his nose.

Mr. Burdy was especially eager to tell me about this particular constellation he saw while sailing at night. He even drew a map of the stars in his journal. In the constellation, he saw a female form. And the female form was leaning forward, sort of like a sprinter in a running position. The stars were his focal point at night during his watch. They pointed right to Hilo. No matter how dark it was, or how far away they were, all he had to do was look up to get his bearings. He kept the boat pointed where those stars pointed and they made their way to Hilo. Burdy kept mentioning these stars to me over and over again. I imagined that ANYone who had to steer a boat in the absolute pitch blackness with nothing but the stars for light and reference would have formed a special bond with one patch of sky or another, but there was something in his voice that I hadn't heard before. Some sort of seriousness. Something that quieted his normal boyish energy and drew out a more contemplative man. This was only the beginning of my understanding all the ways that this trip had changed him.

Oh, I should mention something else pivotal to this story. The weather.

One of the first things I asked Mr. Burdy when he came ashore was how the weather was in Hilo. Seattle had been (still is, goddamnit) having one hell of a cold summer and I was DYING for some hot sun. I think I was so excited for Hawaiian sun that I might have answered that first phone call from him with "Sun?" instead of "Hello?"

Burdy reassured me that the weather was sunny. He even took a picture of the sky with his phone and sent it to me as proof. He said that Hilo was on the rainy side of the island, but that it was sunny a lot of the time. It would probably rain a little bit each day, but after that, it would be bright and sunny. Pack your sundresses, he told me. Bring sunscreen. You'll love it here.

When I got to Hilo, though, it was overcast. The sun poked out from behind the clouds every few hours or so, but only for a few minutes. It was warm, but it was not "sunny" as promised. It went on like this for two days. Two days of overcast skies. And Burdy not proposing. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

On day three we decided to leave the Hilo side of the island and sail to the Kona side. Burdy was very eager to show me the pointed wooden clog he'd been living in for the last 30 days and thought it might be fun to sail to the other side of the Big Island rather than drive. And overcome with bliss, I agreed that yes, it would be romantic and adventurous to sail to the other side of the island! More on that (incredibly shortsighted) decision in Part III.

Before we left, though, we decided to visit the Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Gardens. We strolled through the gardens, took pictures, and then we came to a tree on the outskirts of the garden. It was enormous. It looked out of place and out of time. I think I had Morgan Freeman's voice running through my head while I stared up into its massive canopy: "At the base of that wall, you'll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield." This tree had no earthly business being on the island of Hawaii. I'm not the kind of person that usually describes flora and fauna as "magical", but, I have to admit: there was something magnetic about this tree. Something that spoke to us. It said: sit down. I have something to tell you.

So we did. And THAT'S when Burdy finally pulled something out of his pocket. It was a letter. He handed it to me, and I opened it. Here it was, finally. My heart was beating out of my chest. I scanned the page, turned it over, my eyes searching for the words. And there they were. I looked up at him, my eyes already filling with tears, and I asked, "Really"? He nodded, took my hands, and pressed into my palm a small piece of teak. It was a carving he'd made on the boat. The carving was of the constellation. The constellation that guided him to Hilo and told him to marry me.

We held each other for a few trembly moments, both of us full of nervous and excited energy. It began to sink in. I had just agreed to marry Burdy. Which meant we would have to get married. Which mean we would be married. Like real adults. With rings and stuff. And invitations. And catering. And guest lists. And OKAY BOYS, FULL STEAM AHEAD! WE'VE GOT A WEDDING TO STRESS OUT ABOUT. LAUNCH ADRENALINE! COMMENCE UNENDING QUESTIONS THAT DON'T NEED TO BE ANSWERED RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT WILL ALL GET SORTED OUT LATER SEQUENCE.

"Aw, shit", I said. "Does this mean we have to plan a wedding?"

And, as if in answer, the heavens opened up, and FINALLY, after two full days of nervous tension and overcast skies, it began to rain.

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Hawaiian Odyssey, Part I

You didn't think I was going to just drop the f-bomb on you like that and not have a good story to go along with it, did you?

Honestly, I have been saving this post up for about two weeks now. I have been trying to figure out just how to say this all. And there is more to say than I ever imagined I would want to say about the subject of marriage.

Let's just start this epic tale from the beginning, shall we?

Let's start by calling CLH by his new name: Burdy. That's what I call him at home (it's what he calls me too for reasons that are too over-the-top cutesy to explain right now) . Anyway, that's what we'll call him on this site from now on. He will no longer be "common-law". He'll just be my "husband". We are hereby removing the "CL" from "CLH", Internet. Weird. This will not be the last time I will see the word "husband" and think "weird".

So, Burdy left for Mexico about 8 weeks ago. He was to get on a boat and sail, with three other men, from Puerta Vallarta, Mexico to Hilo, Hawaii*. He did this because just about a year ago, I left for my own little adventure in a land-of-little-hygiene, and the deal was that if I got to go to Burning Man without him, then he was allowed to go on his own life- changing shindig a year later. So, he agreed to be crew for a 47' long boat named the Jolly Roger.

I was excited for him, but, I also tried to be as hands-off with his experience as he had been with mine.

Truth be told, I was WAY hands off. When it came time to prepare for his trip, I sort of tuned out. Did I care how many hundreds of pounds of rigging they would have to fly to Mexico to re-rig the boat? Not really. Was I concerned that he would have to brace himself in a tiny, rollicking, closet whenever he needed to answer nature's call? Not so much. Could I really conceptualized three WEEKS at sea with no land in sight? Nope. Was I excited to sleep in our bed ALL BY MYSELF? You bet your sweet ass I was.

That's not to say that I wasn't thinking about his safety- I was, in fact, but I was trying to not freak out. I was trying really hard not to think about shark attacks, and bad storms, and holes being punched in the hull by random crap and the guys having to hang on to floating debris and drinking seawater because they were dying of thirst and then going mad and murdering each other with sharpened pieces of decking. We all know that my adrenal glands did not need any more punishment, and I knew that by focusing on all the things that could go WRONG, I would a) make him more nervous about this trip than he needed to be and b) I would exclude the possibility that he might have a WONDERFULLY LIFE CHANGING, positive experience on his trip. So, I sent him off with a wave and a kiss and told him to say Hi to the sun for me.

Then I prepared myself for four weeks of glorious bachelorette-dom.

And by week three, I was really bored.

On Day One, I missed him. I cried at a little at the sight of his balled up pajama bottoms on our bed. On Day Three, I was LOVING living by myself. By day five, I had found my groove. I was garage sale shopping on the weekends, eating really well, avoiding caffeine and going to bed early (wow. on second thought... that isn't really a "groove"; it's the way quadruple bypass survivors spend their recovery period. What a bag o' fun I am. Jeezus.) Anywho, by week two, I was starting to get lonely. Shopping for goofy old records is fun and all, but it's more fun if there's someone by your side. 'Cause, you know. Snickering with your manfriend in public is normal. Snickering by yourself is sort of weird. I was finding myself having a thought, and turning to the empty space beside me where he normally would be standing... and then remembering. Oh yeah. He's on the ocean. And I can't talk to him right now.

And that sucked.

By the beginning of week three, I was feeling this feeling that I hadn't really ever felt before. It was this... I-don't-want-to-ever-be-without-you-feeling. Not in a desperate I-can't- live-without-you sort of way. Just sort of a practical "hey, this is stupid for us not to be together" way.

Can I get a little woo-woo with you, Internet?

The older I get, the more I believe that the Universe speaks to us just like we speak to each other. If you listen closely, you can hear what It's saying to you. Sometimes the Universe whispers. It says: you might want to get those cute shoes at that boutique you just passed on the street. They're not going to be here next week and you're going to kick yourself for not buying them.

And sometimes the Universe cold cocks you right in the face. It gives you a heart attack in the middle of the freeway to remind you to call your kids more often, or it makes your adrenal glands stop working properly to remind you that you're not living the way you should. The point is that the Universe has a cadence just like our spoken language does. And not all revelatory messages from the Universe are light-bulb-over-your-head moments. Sometimes our moments of truth come in very subtle, very quiet ways. And this was one of those times. When I thought about being without Mr. Burdy, the Universe just very quietly and matter of factly said: you should be with this guy for a long, long time. It's that simple. Stop fighting the simple and beautiful truth of your life: you have built an amazing life with this man who treats you well, who loves you for all you are and is excited to meet your future self too. He is generous, he is kind, he is going to make an amazing father, he listens to you when you talk about what needs improving, and he knows how to celebrate what is good in life.

A word about the institution of marriage and the the non-linear nature of my life:
not being married was, on the surface, a part of my fist-raised-to-The-Man defiance of the conventional... but it wasn't the whole story. Sure, I think it's utterly ridiculous that being gay in this country means that you can't be married legally, and, yes, I was making a political statement by not engaging in a practice that was being denied other perfectly qualified members of our society. But, really, my biggest reason for not being married was that I couldn't define what marriage MEANT to me. And my reasoning was that so long as I didn't really know what marriage meant, I didn't have any business being married.

Our friends have teased us over the years about not being married (we've been together for just about twelve years now)... about how were were probably secretly plotting to never be married. Or that maybe we had some plan to be the very last people in our circle of friends to be married just to prove a point. The truth is far less entertaining. Plain and simple: we were just children who weren't ready. Children who had not really figured out how marriage would make our lives any different. Life was comfortable and we'd never really had to make a decision. We were together and that's all that mattered, right?

I can't say we're any closer to understanding what marriage means. I just know we're committed to finding out together.

When we made the announcement to my family, two of the questions my little (taller) brother shot back at us were: why did it take so long, and why now? And those are the two most profound questions we've been asked since making this decision. I think it occurred to each of us, independently and simultaneously, that this is what we should do. Something changed in each of us while Mr. Burdy was on that god-forsaken sailboat.

Victoria asked me before I boarded that plane for Hawaii whether or not I would say yes if Mr. Burdy asked. I said, without hesitating, yes, of course I would. But if I am going to be totally honest, I have to admit that I'd spent many hours thinking of ways to say no. I'm spilling the beans here, on the Internet, because I think it's necessary to talk about this stuff in our marrying culture. Our relationship has meandered through quite a few profound twists and turns. We have been through couples therapy, and through individual counseling. We've broken up and we've gotten back together. We've had some awesome times together, and we've had some truly dark moments together. We both come from wounded families, and that has played no small part in delaying our decision to take the next step in our relationship. I have gone back and forth in my mind for years about whether or not I've made the right decision in being in this relationship for this long.

As a writer, I am moved to draw out and dwell upon ALL the feelings associated with commitment- not just the rosy invitation and dress-picking-out euphoric ones (though, euphoria definitely has a place in this whole thing!) I want to claim a spot at the marriage table for those of us who are still trying to figure this out as we go along. I want to be totally honest about this whole experience because I want to expose love for the journey it is. I want to use more than "scared nervous happy excited" to describe my feelings. Because sometimes I feel three of these at once. And other times I feel nothing at all. I feel completely neutral. Sometimes I feel solid and grounded and like I'm making the most natural decision of my life, it feels that effortless. And sometimes I start to literally hyperventilate thinking about about being with one man for the rest of my life. Scared and nervous don't even being to cover these emotions.

Before Hawaii, I thought about telling CLH things like: you're too late, sucka. Or, that he'd already had me for this long.... so what the hell would a commitment ceremony really mean when he'd gotten the milk without having to buy the farm for thirteen years or so? Besides which... there were logistics to think about. What coast to be married on, for beginners. The thought of having to suggest hotels and plane fares and pick out flowers made me want to stick my head under a pillow. One thing you can do really well out here amongst the evergreens here in the Pacific Northwest is delay your adulthood indefinitely. And we were doing that very well, thank you very much.

But in the moment, when he actually asked me, when it came right down to it, none of the "no" reasons came into my head. Of course, I might have been thinking HOLY SHIT WHAT AM I AGREEING TO, but I was feeling that right alongside YES! FINALLY! I'M SO EXCITED AND HAPPY! and the decision was obvious: of course I would marry him.

So here we are. Muddling our way through what it means to have nothing change and everything change all at the same time.

I'll tell you all about how he did it (and how I saw it coming but was still surprised) in Part II.

*You can read Mr. Burdy's version of events here.

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Love Is In The Air… Literally

Thanks to my fiance* for taking this. I happened to notice this while I was on the phone with Quickbooks customer service this morning. See what happens when you pace while you're on the phone? You notice insects having sex on your windowsill.

Also? The velvet plant has sprung a few new blooms!

*Wait. Did I just type that? Yes, Internet. Yes, I did. WEEEEEEEIRD.

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Letter To A Tropical Fruit

Dear Papaya,

Let's just start over, shall we? I know I called you all those horrible names at that breakfast bar at Macchu Picchu, but I think we should move on. I know, I know. You have every right to hate me. I practically projectile vomited you all over my traveling companions, but, so what, Papaya? Every friendship goes through a few rough patches, right? Okay, so, maybe "You taste like puke" is not something you say to a fruit you've just met. I apologize. I was young. I didn't know.

Brazil? Why are you bringing up Brazil? Alright, so I was much older then. It was many years after Peru, you're right. So I avoided you in Brazil like the plague. So what? Let's face it, Papaya. You taste like throw-up when you're overripe. And Peru scarred me for life. Plus, that lady at the hotel was feeding you to the local birds, so, really, how good could you have been? Imagine if you were all excited to eat fresh tropical fruit for the first time and it was early in the morning (and you don't do mornings) and you were standing in the midst of an ancient mountain range and you had piled your plate high with eggs and toast and brightly colored chunks of juicy, beautiful fruit as you prepared your body and spirit for a trek into those mountains. And then you closed your eyes slowly and bit into those exotic pieces of fruit, and instead of tasting God's candy, you tasted... well, you know what you tasted like, Papaya. I know you're trying to emulate your svelte relative, the mango, but, ummm.. you are not a mango. You are mango's ugly cousin in a stained muumuu and you really just don't smell that good. I'm sorry, Papaya! Somebody had to tell you! I KNOW I'm supposed to be apologizing! Calm down! I'm just trying to be honest with you! You see? This is why we haven't spoken in almost fifteen years.

I know you feed a good portion of the equatorial world, and that you're rich in all the sorts of digestive enzymes that my body needs, but ever since that time in Peru, I have not wanted to go near you. Your green self I can handle. Covered in lime and salt and fresh chilies and tossed with onions and maybe a string bean or ten? Awesome, Papaya. We can totally hang. But that mushy fruit thing you do? Gross, dude.

I'm over it now. I'm a changed woman, Papaya. I just recently found a variety of you in Hawaii that I really like: the strawberry papaya. And for two dollars for SIX of you, well, even if you DO taste a little like stomach acid, I can't resist a bargain. You know what goes really well with you? Strawberries. And mint. In the blender. Yum.

So let's be friends, Papaya. I promise not to hate on you any more.

Now, if I can just get Guava to answer my emails...

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