Ryan

I’ve been asked several times why I’ve never written about Ryan or how I met him, and since we are creeping up on the big ONE YEAR, I am finally giving in.  Here you go, y’all, here’s how it all began (WARNING: I could get mushy) :

 

July 12, 2012

It was the second Friday of July and I was waiting tables, per usual, at my beloved fine dining restaurant.  I was still new, fresh out of training and slightly intimidated by the chandeliers and fragile glassware, by my intelligent and well-versed co-workers and also by our clientele.

It was on this night when a couple came in with their daughter to celebrate her college graduation.  They were fantastic and fun and we talked as if we had known each other for years.

When the evening was coming to a close, the mother said to the daughter, “Do you know who she’d be perfect for?”

The daughter responded immediately, “Ryan.”

As it turned out, Ryan was the oldest son of their family, and was serving in the Marine Corps and soon to be deployed for the second time.

“He’s going to be on pre-deployment leave, though, so while he’s home I’ll take him in for a drink so he can meet you,”said the daughter.

“I’d love that!” I responded, and then smiled for a picture with the daughter (her name is Kayla) for them to send to Ryan. (How could he not fall for the bow tie?)

 

20140712-161307-58387864.jpg

These wonderful people went on their way, and I didn’t hear from them.  Eventually they were tucked quietly in the back of my memories with all the other cozy, good ones.

Fast forward a year to the day later, July 12, 2013 and we come to meet Hannah again, understandably frustrated by the depressing topic of the male race.  I had had several mediocre to hilariously awful encounters, dates, and set-ups, and I had begun to worry that there were no good eggs left.  They were all single for a reason, and apparently so was I.

I was still serving at the same restaurant on the day my manager handed me a note with a couple names and a phone number.

“Call them to confirm a reservation.  They requested you,” he said.

I didn’t recognize the names at all.

I dialed the number, and the first person I spoke to was male.

“My daughter and wife are actually the ones setting this up, you may want to talk with one of them,” he said.

Before putting his wife on the phone, however, he had given me enough information to piece things together.  They were the family from the previous year, and just as sweet as I remembered.

As I spoke with Mrs. (Innis) on the phone, I learned that this time around they would be out celebrating none other than Ryan, who was home from the Marines for good.

More than anything, I was excited to see that family again, but in the back of my mind, I remembered how they wanted me to meet him.  It was a bad day to pass on a quick tease of the hair and a little extra make-up.  And let’s be real, my bow tie and vest don’t do me any favors.

Picture it in slow motion, people, because it’s seriously like a movie.  I’m chatting with the family when he walks in through the glass doors, tall and tan and manly.  You guys, serious, it all happened in slow motion.  I drooled all over the table.

Five days after our first meeting we had our first date, and have spent few days apart since.

Ryan is good to the core.  When I prayed about finding someone, it’s amazing how I was praying for him.  He is tall and tan and manly, yes, but he is also caring, goofy, and intelligent.  He is crazy about his family, adores his grandparents, and has faith that inspires me.  He makes me feel safe without being dominant, and at the same time he makes me feel strong and confident in myself.

Today is the 12th, and yesterday was the second Friday in July, making it one year since I met him.  Last night we went up north to one of our favorite places, the home that belongs to his late best friend’s mother and stepdad (Aunt Char and Uncle Jim).  They live on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, and as the sun set he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. (Side note: Aunt Char tied the ring around my dog’s neck and he delivered it to Ryan….you guys, I KNOW.  Literally dying)

366 days ago.

Ryan, I never saw you coming.

To Kayla and Mama Innis for the best set up ever, to my dad for giving permission, to Aunt Char and Uncle Jim for their help, but mostly, to my favorite person that I get to live with forever-Ryan, I totally do.

Cheers!

 

 

 

20140712-161338-58418277.jpg

Advertisements

MOMENTS

One of the goals I made for the blog this year was to write a post every week – to keep the creative juices flowing, fingers typing, mind working.  Clearly, this is a difficult one for me.  Recently I’ve felt that I just don’t have enough going on or happening in my life to form a post that’s worthy of reading.  My readers want adventure and pictures and excitement, and my days are surrounded by my nieces and nephews, reading easy books, racing last minute to work, and returning home late at night, exhausted and wide awake.  I come to the morning where I told myself I will absolutely blog today and think nothing has happened worth writing about.  I walk away from my computer.  Maybe next week.

I always want to entertain you, make you laugh, make you think, maybe inspire you,  but then I put pressure on having these momentous occasions to refer to, ones that teach lessons or are cause for laughing so hard you get the hiccups.

But it’s time to admit it – my life right now, is simple.

It’s beautifully and perfectly simple – full of the most monumentally simple things.

I’ve had the travel bug for a bit now, tugging at me to set everything aside and GO. Go somewhere, anywhere.

I want to see all the places I’ve never been.  I want to breathe that air and swim in that culture and explore everything that makes others lives what mine is now.  What do other’s lives look like when it’s “simple”?

I have friends that are spending the summer travelling through Europe.  Others who are planning weeks later this summer for epic road trips and adventures in South America.  I see on Instagram and Facebook pictures of moments that are life-changing, soul-bursting, heart-wrenching.  It makes me want to leave even more.

It also makes me think of all these beautiful, small moments in my life now with less gratitude.  How often do we compare our lives with those we see online?

I don’t want to do that.  I want to see these pictures and find inspiration and encouragement, yes, but not a means to belittle my own life.

So today I’m thinking of the small moments the past few weeks, because they’ve added heaps of joy to my life.

Like last night, when I sat around the table with my parents, three of my sisters, and my boyfriend, with candles lit and wine open and kids’ happy shouts coming from the basement.  Phones were set aside as we sat and talked late into the evening.

Or the other day, when my three-year-old nephew jumped on my lap and asked me to look out the window with him.  He pointed out trees and puddles and flowers and then we laid our heads on the back of the couch looking at each other.  He was looking not into my eyes but all over my face and I asked him, “What are you looking at, D?”  I was certain his stare was aimed at a zit of blemish, an imperfection I should be more aware of.

“Your face,” he responded, “it’s so pretty.”

He popped his head up, ready to jump off the couch before he paused and said, “Or do you like awesome better?” and then leapt away with a squeal before I could answer.

I think of this moment at work the other day, while I set up the restaurant.

My boss and I had gotten into a couple small arguments recently that made me sad and frustrated, and I was declining into a period of desperation to leave.  That day, I was setting up in the dining room whem my boss pulled out a chair and asked, “Hannah, are you okay?  I’ve been noticing lately that maybe you aren’t as happy here as you used to be, and I want to make sure that we do our job to keep you happy.”

I scrambled for words – I could have said a million of them, and responded, “I have my ups and downs, but I’m happy.”

He paused, maybe also searching through millions of his own words before saying, “I think you carry a lot of the spirit in this place, Hannah.  I truly think that.”

It was a compliment my restaurant-weary soul needed, and least expected from him.  My eyes immediately filled with tears (I’m a crier, he knows this and I also know that it makes him intensely uncomfortable).  I said a thank-you and warned him I could cry, to which he responded by nearly jumping out of his seat and moving on.  It was a strangely perfect way for the two of us to make amends.

I think of my sister and her three kids who are staying with us for the summer as they do each year, visiting from Alabama, so there’s always a mob of kids (her and my other sisters’ kids) running around.  It’s a fun, loud, creative, hilarious mob of loving cousins, and I see magic when they’re pretending, when the big kids tend to the little ones, encouraging their imaginations .

So yes, I want adventures and travel stories and big, momentous occasions that drastically shape me, but I never want to overlook the small ones.  These perfectly simple moments of kindness, innocence, beauty.  These moments you can’t catch and post online.  The conversations that aren’t texts, the things you only get to keep in your memory.  I want my eyes to be wide open and away from a screen for each of them.

To all of the little things,

Cheers!

Being Kind is SO Overrated

I’m serious.

We’ve given it up.  We used to effort ourselves to “kill people with kindness,” and now we’ve reverted to killing people with bitterness, snarkiness, anger, and behind-closed-doors-cursing.  We’re a bunch of smart-asses, waiting for the opportunity to roll our eyes and make the other person feel the angry shadow we cast as we loom above them, glowering in our headiness.

We can feel this like a thickness in the air, weighing everyone down, our shoulders drooping forward and our eyes downcast.

I see this often.  I see it in the way we handle conflict, in our demeanor towards co-workers, strangers on the street, on our oh-so-beloved social medias where we turn into sharks, safe behind our plastic keyboards.

I’ve been a victim, but I’ve also been the antagonist, though it breaks my heart to admit.  I’ve responded to harmless questions with sharp words, sarcastic and dry – sandpaper to a baby’s soft skin.

What happened to our effort for kindness?

Putting ourselves above others seems to come naturally.  Quickly defensive and slow to take blame, we are becoming a society where we are never wrong and the other person is always the idiot.  Throw them under that roaring, angry, hateful bus.

It’s slowly, but visibly, wearing us down.

It has to change.  If we ever want to see better, to do better, to be better, we have to change.  Change our mindset, our vocabulary, tone of voice.  Change our pedestal…lower it a few levels.  There isn’t one of us who has it all together, with all the answers and the perfect plan.  You will make mistakes today, and so will others.  So what if we decided to take a deep breath and be kind?

I’ve worked in the service industry for nearly ten years and I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to scream at a guest an unpleasant reminder that although I am waiting on them, I am still, in fact, a human.  Their rudeness is a baseball to the head, shouldn’t I return the favor?  But I smile (no, it may not be a genuine smile) and continue on.  I want to keep my job.  I want to be professional.  I want to KILL THAT PERSON with kindness.  More often than not, they notice how big of a jerk they’re being, and take it down a notch (though, not always).

What if we took the extra effort in our every day lives?  A deep breath and clenched smile and a genuine effort to not become a jerk could go a long way.  There’s one world and we all have to live in it, we may as well try.

I like you all, in my most sincerest way of liking,

Cheers!

Why I’m a Crazy Dog Lady For Life

Today is the day where we all take a look at ourselves and realize that we all have some serious sucking up to do.  Generally, Valentine’s Day is dedicated to those who are blissfully in love and have totally forgotten that they are so, and therefore, need a special day to remind themselves that they are, in fact, in a relationship, and they should probably do the annual nice thing for their significant other.

I like it because sometimes we need that reminder to do nice things for our loved ones, but I also despise it, because at the same time we totally should not need it at all.

My Valentine’s Day gift for Ryan was making him breakfast before he scurried off to class.  I do this for him every so often, but today was different because on behalf of Valentine’s Day I went out and bought an onion and spicy sausage to put in our scrambled eggs.  Love you babe, now don’t even think of breathing near me. 

Valentine’s Day for me, however, has a little more meaning, aside from the goopy lovey crap.  Today is my dog’s birthday.

Even writing it seems so stupid, because he is, in fact, a dog.  So let me tell you quickly and lovingly the story of Cooper.

I chose to “foster” Cooper on a random May morning when I still lived out West.  I frequently scoured Petfinder.com to weep over all the dogs who needed homes and then sulk with a glass (bottle) of wine because I was not at a time in my life where owning a dog was a good idea. The night before I met Cooper, I stumbled on a page featuring a litter of freaking-adorable-I-can’t-stop-squeaking puppies.  They were at a shelter two hours away.  Knowing I would never make that drive, I e-mailed the contact for more information.  I sent this late in the evening and she responded very quickly with “I’m actually fostering them in Wilson.  Feel free to stop by any time to see them.” 

Wilson was a ten minute drive.

Obviously, I went to see them the next morning with my roommate and his girlfriend and we took two puppies home with us to our apartment that was not at all pet friendly.  We snuck around for two weeks with our four month old puppies, but if you know anything about four month old Labrador mixes, you know that they are not at all easy to sneak around.  Nor are they easy in any other way.  Cute, eff yes.  Easy? Ha!

Image

My roommate and I would pass each other on the stairs at 3am, each holding a whiny puppy that needed to relieve himself.  There was one time when Cooper was so whiny during the night, and I was positive it was just because he wanted to cuddle with me and not be in his crate (since I had just let him out) when all of a sudden I heard an enormous fart with squishy spatters of poop smacking every single square inch of his crate. 

Our landlord eventually found out about our puppies and I had to stay with a friend for two weeks until our lease was up, meanwhile searching for the impossible – a pet friendly apartment.  When I did magically end up in one, Cooper formed a habit of destroying books and newspapers, digging through the trash, and if I were gone, he’d pee in the house. 

Image

He got hit by a car when he took off toward who knows what, leaving me to pay a $500 vet bill for what was maybe a sprained toe.  

He also had three more butt explosions, entirely destroying two separate crates.

I was so quickly in love with this dog, and he grew so attached to me that he formed separation anxiety, where, to this day, if I do not lock him in my room with all of my Hannah-smelling stuff whenever I leave, he will 100% take a crap in the house.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

(Let’s be real, I so don’t mind…and seeing as how I take him wherever I can, I must have a bit of this separation anxiety as well)

When I first decided to keep him, I had sincere hopes that he would hinder me from always going out at night, maybe slow down my party mode.  He did, but only a little.  I tried to use him as a tool to change myself immediately, when what I really had to do was make that decision myself, and it would not at all be immediate.  I put a big job on such a little dog.

I wasn’t immediately successful, but he loved me despite me hating myself. 

Like I said, he loves me to the point where he takes a crap in the house every single time I leave, because he misses me so much.  My boyfriend doesn’t even do that for me.

His furry, intrusive, obsessive love has had a profound impact on me.  Because despite his crazy bowels and his incessant habit to lick anything and everything, he is the best at cuddling, he doesn’t impose his beliefs or his unwanted criticism or advice, he is gentle beyond words (with dogs and babies, it’s the kind of cuteness you want to die from), and he lives to love.  Not many of us can say that.

Image

Image

Image

Image

So happy 3rd birthday, my sweet little canine.  I’ll be that crazy dog lady any day for you.

Image

 

Image

Image

We all know who I’m raising my glass to today,

To the Coop dog

Cheers!

Image