33 weeks

Reflections on week 33 …  and life in general:

I threw a fit in the middle of taking these pictures. They weren’t turning out the way my head said they should. Being reunited with Opal after 5 weeks, a swelling baby belly, and the fact that Walker was still here on this earth, I just wanted some fun family photos Sunday afternoon. But Opal wasn’t cooperating. Walker was squinting. I was experiencing flabby arm body image issues. And the sun, the sun we’d been aching to see for weeks, threw me overboard. There was too much light. There were too many shadows. It was too bright or too dark to capture the vision voyaging through my head.

I wanted picture perfect. The picture perfect of the Internet that says these non-professional photos capture our real life in our perfectly curated home and our effortlessly styled outfits. The kind with captions that say it’s been a rough day but here’s a beautiful picture of my family in front of this awesome ivy wall we just happened upon. I wanted that picture perfect. And it just wasn’t happening. But a marital argument, that did start happening.

So into our bedroom I went. I launched (the only word to describe it these days) myself into our bed, on my left side of course, and the waterworks began to make their appearance. Some might contend the tears were only overemotional products of pregnancy hormones, but I must disagree. The door slam, yes, maybe I’ll blame that one on the hormones, but the tears, no. Those tears were tangible reactions to the reality of the weekend. A weekend that loudly proclaimed our life is not picture perfect. A weekend so intertwined with light and shadows that it left me wondering how I could feel so joyous yet so anxious about life at the same time.  Shadows: not so gentle reminders of what’s important.

On Friday around lunchtime Walker called to tell me he had been in a pretty serious accident. As I left my classroom crying, three teachers swiftly ushered me into a private room to collect myself and convince me it was okay to leave school. As I made my way upon the wreckage scene, I saw just what he meant by serious. There was his truck and the path it had clearly taken through two small trees, into a telephone pole and finally into a larger tree. Worse than I had thought, but there stood Walker alive and well and calming to my soul. In that moment, nothing else mattered.Light: an overwhelming burst or a tender glow of what really matters.

The next morning we found ourselves surrounded by friends and family, many who came long distances, to shower us with affection and gifts at our baby shower in Waco. Given by 4 of my closest friends, the shower was Pinterestly decorated and filled with so much love that all we could feel was special. But as I sat there opening generous gift after generous gift, I recognized that more important to me was their presence. It meant more than any gift card or swaddle blanket I received. For me, their generosity came in many forms, but most importantly in the realization that we were surrounded by close to 30 people who chose to dedicate a couple of hours to say ‘I love you’ by simply showing up.It’s so easy to want picture perfect. To desire a life that resembles a grid of dreamily curated Instagram pictures all shot in that golden hour of the setting sun. A life that disguises what it really means to live. Picture perfect tells us that stylish maternity clothes, impeccable nursery decor, scenic backgrounds and exotic travels actually matter. Don’t get me wrong, I love and enjoy beautiful pictures, but we so easily believe that these things are life and so easily forget that each new breath we are able to draw not only gives life but is life.

Our life may not be picture perfect, but it sure is a stunning picture of life. Full of light that lingers even into the shadows. Full of shadows that trickle into the light. A life that constantly reminds us to be thankful for light and for shadows, for without both, neither exists. We must brave the shadows to grasp the joy of the light.  Sometimes it takes a wreck and a baby shower all within 24 hours to remind us that being present in the lives of others and having them present in ours can never be taken for granted. That in all moments, nothing else matters. That reality reveals a more beautiful masterpiece than any edited photo ever could. That abundant life is ultimately revealed through the mingling of life and shadows. May we be have the courage to be witnesses of both. Baby of ours, you’ve been in our lives for 33 weeks. Thank you for being a constant source of light through any shadow that has come our way.

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Surrender

Sometimes I write…and then get the courage to publish later…

A few Saturdays back, a small group of friends and I met for brunch. Our group gets together yes, for girl time, but also to intentionally discuss certain questions and topics. One question brought up holiday schedules and another led to a discussion about Santa, but then came the last question.

“What does your prayer of surrender look like?”

I was jokingly asked to answer this one. In normal Katelyn fashion, I was unable to give an answer on the spot. Wait, let’s go back to Santa?

It’s funny, I think I first started composing this blog in October, long before our brunch discussion came to be. The thoughts were there and the words were forming, but I couldn’t finish. But maybe now, 12 months into this hell of a year, I’m brave enough to say that even while writing these thoughts, I really wasn’t so sure I believed them. Maybe now, I’m brave enough to reveal our many imperfections and to quietly whisper that, by faith and choice, I finally believe this to be true.

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I originally began writing these words to the gentle noise of Walker strumming his guitar upstairs. I was writing. He was strumming. Because we were both grieving in our own personal ways.

On that Friday night in October, we unexpectedly found ourselves sitting on the edge of our bathtub, my arm around his, throwing wadded and wet tissues into the toilet. Well that, and consequently scolding Opal for attempting to eat the missed shots.

For some reason, we thought ourselves strong enough to watch The Fault in Our Stars, the movie version of the novel about childhood cancer. The one that so accurately and emotionally let us into a world that though we tried, we could never fully understand. We miss you, friend, and that night our irrepressible sobs reminded us just how much.

There is a line in The Fault in our Stars that’s become too familiar to us this year.

Pain must be felt.

2014 has proved this so. For us. And for so many others.

We’ve seen death and disease sweep down in the cruelest of ways, at times to us personally and in other times to those we care about. We’ve watched families and friendships be forcefully ripped apart, leaving jagged seams and irreparable holes. We’ve experienced our church scandalized by tragedy, and watched the media proudly make life hell for all involved. We were bystanders as adults and youth alike fled from our pews without even a quick goodbye. We stood shocked as strangers and friends showed up in the midst of crisis, while those we just knew would show up, well, they never did. And then there were the weeks the entire world went haywire. Iraq. Ukraine. Ebola. The border children crisis. Missing planes. Ferguson.

The bitterness crept in just as plainly as it did in my words above. We smiled in front of the curtain while behind the scenes soon became strangers to ourselves. Complaining too much, criticizing too often, loving too little. Looking back, I see two people unwilling to even look for glimpses of good, because with all the pain in us and around us, survivor’s guilt told us not to. Even with all the good things happening, too, our weary hearts wondered ‘When will the next bad thing happen?’

But, we’re learning.Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Yes, pain must be felt. Circumstances arise and they leave you helpless, but I think today, on the last day of the year, we can confidently declare that while they can leave us helpless, they do not have the power to leave us hopeless. This year has changed us, but we have the power to choose how it changed us. Pain can demand to be felt. But pain cannot demand to be lived. Grief is long lasting. It can and does last a lifetime. But joy.

Joy is eternal.

I write these words not because our skies are now abundantly blue.

We began this year with death. And now, again, we are leaving this year with death.

I write these words because through all the unexpected back roads we’ve taken on our journey these past 12 months, I can shakily say that joy, in fact, does not come in the morning. Joy is present even through our darkest of nights.

Joy, much like love, is not something we are meant to feel. Joy is something we are called to do, to recognize and accept, to seek out, to give to others. We must boldly notice it in the midst of a new baby or in the gathering of family at a graveside. In the monotony of a job or in the old couple laughing in the car next to us.

It doesn’t always look the way we want or expect. Sometimes it’s almost unrecognizable. But it’s there. Prompting us to remember that

Great loss means there was once an even greater presence.

Grief reminds us we had the opportunity to love someone with every fiber of our being.

Pain reveals we had the privilege to believe in someone or something so deeply that now we must relearn to live without.

Loss. Grief. Pain. We feel them deeply. Our tears are real and our anguish is tangible.

But.

Joy says look for me. I am here through it all.

So maybe, just maybe this nutso year called 2014, has gradually and unsteadily revealed not only the agony of this world and our own imperfections, but perhaps it has also taught us about the relief that comes with embracing a surrender prayer.

A prayer that says I will stop resisting and surrender to the reality that joy is always there. That these are my circumstances, good or bad. I promise to feel the pain profoundly, but I will obediently seek out the beauty in it all. That there is community even in the loneliness, contentment in the longing, laughter in the tears, hope in the despair, and life even in death. That this is life, and amidst the suffering, heartache and disappointment, I will stay open, stay vulnerable, and be present through it all. I will continue to love and believe and risk. I surrender. I surrender to life. Because come what may, life is abundantly good.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

A collection

of a few happy moments around our new house lately.

Opening Gobble’s teapot to be surprised by a familiar handwriting. 20140614-110648-40008605.jpgBreakfast by a bearded man. 20140614-110649-40009167.jpgThanks to a generous couple, we now live in a log cabin in the woods. The kind where we watch the deer sashay through our yard. 20140614-110649-40009697.jpgThese two explorers. Particularly his ridiculous getup and her little sassy booty. I miss them. One’s away at camp and the other at her grandparents. 20140614-110650-40010333.jpgWe are headed to Europe on Monday! Although I’m not sure we yet believe it, the trip we’ve waited months for is finally in reach. I’m more than ready to roam the streets of Paris hand in hand with my husband. And finally introduce him to my friends in Madrid. Europe or Lufkin, we cherish every memory in our little collection and are grateful for each chance to gain another.

 

Good things

It’s obviously been a while since I just published this post two times accidentally before it was even close to being finished…

Today marks exactly 2 months since my last post. And this being my first free weekend in 2 months, I took a 3.5 hour nap this afternoon. So, tonight seems to be lending me some free time. The past 8 weeks have been a little out of control- in a totally acceptable kind of way. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this busy. But with this type of busyness also comes lots and lots of friends–new and old. Between weddings, showers, births, retreats, birthdays and passed exams, we’ve been on the go quite a bit. And even though we’ve been battling those hurdles called exhaustion, we’re still sprinting full speed ahead from celebration to celebration, because people are just worth it to us. We are so grateful for all of these friends and feel so honored to be a part of their lives! We are just as grateful that we’ve been able to be present at so many of their important occasions!

I said in January that my words seem to have left me, and it’s holding true still. I’ve honestly barely had time to form any thoughts. Much less flesh them out. But there have just been so many good things in the last few months that I want to remember. So while writing isn’t my thing right now, these pictures easily speak for themselves.

Lynn and James’ Fiesta Shower20140413-224052.jpgMeeting baby Nolan for the first time and Amanda’s 30th birthday.20140413-221918.jpgGetting to spend the day with Danielle before she welcomed baby Evie. Just for clarification … I’m dressed for an 80’s partaaay. 20140413-222010.jpgFishin’ with Jared. 20140413-222147.jpgLynn and James’ wedding!20140413-222334.jpgThrilled to be her Maid of Honor.20140413-222503.jpgStacia’s bridal shower in Phoenix. 20140413-222604.jpgstaciabridalshower20140413-223654.jpgA really great group of seniors at FBC Athens’ Dnow. 20140413-223809.jpgOk, I’m pushing publish. On purpose this time.

January

Lufkin snow dayI’d like to think the reason behind my month long hiatus from this space was due to my confession of having toe fungus in my last post, but the truth revealed probably lies more in the month of January itself. The first month of 2014 has been an inexplicable blend of emotions. The kind where laughter or tears strike in any moment. In the same moment.

But as I sit here and write very late thank-you cards to some freaking awesome people, I’ve realized it’s February 1. We made it. And so now I’ll blog about that month I didn’t want to blog about, if not only because it’s a part of our story.

Before Walker and I left Tucson the four of us felt our hearts break as we put our 13-year old dog, Yoda, to sleep. Minutes later I took one last look at the the house I grew up in before my parents move across town. We found ourselves back in Lufkin only being forced to buy a new washer and dryer but how trivial the stress of appliance shopping would soon seem.

On January 14, Walker kissed Lizzie on her forehead and I stroked her cheek as we left her hospice room that night. In the early morning hours of January 15, Lizzie passed away. And as thankful as we are that her suffering is no more, we miss her. Through the many times as I’ve written and erased my thoughts about her, I’ve come to accept that although I know they will return, right now my words have been stolen by grief.

But this is where it feels confusing. Because we look back on January and remember such wonderful times, too. The Fiesta Bowl followed by a day with friends in Ft. Worth was a pretty decent way to start the year. Opal turned 2 and my dad made it to SIXTY! I was able to attend Danielle’s shower for soon to be baby Evie all while getting to see a bunch of friends. Baby Landon made his 6 lb. appearance in this world and we spent most of our days with Jared. I caught bronchitis and not the flu, so that’s a Super Bowl win in my opinion.

So many emotions unexpectedly given life in 31 days left us feeling exhausted and constantly trying to catch up. But as we move into February, our heartbeats grow steadier and our breaths more relaxed. We can look back at January knowing that if we have lost, it means we have loved. And for us, that’s enough.

Plus we had snow. Twice!Play in snow 2Lufkin snowOpal in snowLufkin snow ball

My life outside the internet: Christmas edition

A new series called My Life Outside the Internet. Because I refuse to be a part of the dishonest Internet game any longer.20131221-073552.jpgEveryone is posting photos of their adorable home Christmas décor, and I’m like there is literally not one space in my house clean enough to sit, much less take a picture.

Everyone is busting out statuses and Instagrams of Christmas cheer, and I’m thinking ‘Teenager, you need to slowly back away from me, run, and pretend we never saw each other.”

Everyone is posting pictures of immaculately wrapped Christmas presents, and last night I found a baby shower gift I have yet to wrap…over a month after the shower.

Everyone is snapping pictures of their festive fingernail polishes, and I’m just wishing this toenail fungus would go away.

Everyone (well maybe just my favorite blogger) dyed her hair from dark brown to bleach blonde last week and it looks incredible, and I’m remembering when I went to the hair salon last month and wasn’t charged because I left with my hair such a disaster.

Everyone (well maybe just two of my good friends) were texting about the gourmet-ish meals they made last week while I was sitting on my dog hair-covered couch eating Ramen and Cheetos as a 27-year old.

Everyone is debuting stylin’ winter garb of boots and scarves and hats, and I’m just wishing I would unpack that suitcase I took to Arizona over a month ago.

Everyone’s lives are looking so perfect on the internet these days, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one who is so far behind on cleaning, gifting, cooking, sleeping and pretty much life in general?

And then there’s the real stuff.

The real emotions I feel as I walk beside my 19-year old friend living in the end stages of cancer.

The real feelings of helplessness as I watch friends battle anxiety and depression.

The real feelings of failure as I physically can’t be in as many places as people are asking me to be.

The real tears streaming from stories about Syria.

The real inability to be ourselves and fully express who we are and what we believe.

The real unfulfillment of feeling creatively claustrophobic in a job and the powerless feeling of being overwhelmed as the to-do list piles up.

The real feelings of betrayal toward a Christian institution that wronged a friend to an unforgiving degree.

The real angst-ridden confrontation in my thoughts of how to best befriend those that I know are lonely.

The real lack of words I can express when talking to friends experiencing fertility problems and miscarriages.

For this to be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s sure an easy season to feel less than. To compare myself in ways I didn’t even know I cared about. Insecurities, self-loathing, stress, chaos, worry and self-doubt seem to be enhanced in the glow of these merry and bright days.

But a sob story this is not. It’s simply a look into a real life that does not stop as the Christmas carols start.

I’ve been trying to take myself back to the manger. I say ‘trying’ because this socially connected world we live in can make it almost impossible to remember that while I am less than, He is more than. But. I’m trying.

I’ve been imagining the scene in my head almost daily. Imagining how different it must have been from what those familiar songs lead us to believe.

For a silent night it was not. A holy night, yes, but a silent night, no.

It was anything but perfectly planned, perfectly executed or perfectly put together. There were messes. There was stress. There was pain.

I’ve tried to envision Mary and Joseph scrounging to find a place to deliver a baby. The anxiety and uncertainty of their unborn child’s safety only adding to the strain of a birth. I see Mary hunched in shock as the contractions set in while Joseph’s wide yet tired eyes burst forth from his helpless reaction. The solidarity they might feel as she clenches his dusty hand with all of her might and they both taste the salty sweat drip from their brow.  The unsteady cries of a young girl wondering if she will even make it through the night. Mary and Joseph labored through real fear and real pain to bring forth a perfect being into their frightfully imperfect reality.

And born from that exhausting, terrifying night came hope for creation evermore.

Immanuel. God with us.

Most of my days are not Internet worthy. All is not usually calm and all is not always bright. For a silent life I do not live. A holy one I strive for, yes, but a silent one it is not. It’s tiring and messy and emotional. But hopefully it is this way because I am laboring to share a perfect hope and peace and joy with others found in their own frightfully imperfect reality.

Immanuel. God with us. God revealed in us.

So as we expectantly wait a few more days to celebrate Love come down, we remember that just like Mary we will make it through the night. That in the midst of those exhausting, terrifying hours shines the One who will banish night itself. And somewhere in the midst of our laughter and tears, our joy and sorrow, our satisfaction and hunger, we proclaim that Jesus in fact is not the reason for the season. He is quite simply the reason. And we messily, shakily, chaotically banish the night for others.

Last week I unbelievably found 6, yes 6, empty toilet paper rolls scattered around our bathroom floor. Maybe if I had done any sort of laundry in the last 4 weeks I would have seen them sooner, but no, I left those dirty clothes piling in the bathroom, and I didn’t get to those toilet paper rolls when I should have. And you know what?

It’s ok.20131221-073603.jpg

A happy place

20131130-180905.jpgConfession. Pretty much everything I said in my last post never happened, except well, Opal is away. We didn’t make it to Arizona, and the eye twitch has worsened. Like, maybe-I- shouldn’t-drive worsened. It definitely wasn’t the Thanksgiving break we anticipated or planned. It’s been an emotional seven days. An uncertain seven days.

But still, there is much to be thankful for.

And one of those many things is how we spent our Saturday. My two bearded men and I headed over to a local tree farm to pick out our first Christmas tree. It’s my first time to have a real tree, whereas Walker looked in the mirror and proclaimed, “The blood of a 1,000 lumberjacks is running through my veins.” Obviously, he let us newbies know he’s a professional.

I loved wandering through the trees like a kid and spotting Walker’s head pop in and out of the rows. And hearing Jared choose his favorite trees, which all happened to be abnormally uniquely shaped. We walked away with one of the many perfect pines, and on the way home I asked if we could go back and pick another. I got denied. Lots of fist pumps for this family owned farm that provided us not only with a cherished tree but also some tangible cheer and merriment!

Yes, there is still much to be thankful for. 20131130-180954.jpg20131130-182400.jpgProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset20131130-180856.jpg20131130-180932.jpg20131130-180940.jpg20131130-182354.jpgProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBesties at Kendricks20131130-180848.jpgKendricks20131130-180913.jpg20131130-180921.jpg

Welcome to the Bunny Club

This is the Bunny ClubProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAnd we gained a new member last weekend. Our third male to be inducted. makeupMiss Alyssa became Mrs. Schmeider, and we had way too much fun reuniting in AZ and celebrating her new marriage with Joey. I think we’re all a little sad the long-awaited weekend together is over. photo-4The weekend was filled with details galore, as Alyssa the dream chaser not only works for the American Cancer Society but also owns her own events planning company. Everyone involved had such a good time. She’s one of those people that’s always, and I mean always, looking out for others. On this weekend, the weekend she’s allowed to make all about herself, she was constantly taking care of everyone else. That’s just who she is. She loves a lot. And Alyssa, we love you a lot.best day everAs I watched Joey and Alyssa leave together for our junior prom, I’m absolutely sure I never imagined them getting married 10 years down the road. But as a testament to hard work, devotion, sacrifice and sometimes unconventional ways, that’s just what these two did. It couldn’t be more uplifting to see their journey come to this point of marriage, and to walk alongside them as they forge a new path together.  photo 1Now, if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I thought the Bunny Club would still be around today, watching each other get married and pushing through life together, my young little self would have said “DUH.” I might not have known the kinds of circumstances life would bring us or how far away we would end up from one another, but there was never a doubt in my mind that we’d stick it through, this thing called friendship, for the long run–for life. And that’s what we’ve done. From middle school to high school, through college and now young-adulthood, we’ve waded through life together, listened to each other, flown across the country and played phone tag for 6 months. We’ve celebrated in new jobs and marriages and moves, and we’ve comforted in doubt and uncertainty and disappointments. There have been big gestures and small texts messages, but I think they key to our friendship is really much simpler. We’ve never thought about not being friends. Through distance, and the bigger kicker–busyness, letting go has never been an option. We’re friends, and that’s just the way it is. So basically all this rambling is just to say how thankful I am for this set of girls and their families, too. A giant fist pump for 15 years of friendship, and a raise the roof to many more! photo-7I really wish I’d taken more pictures, but I was just too busy enjoying my friends. Until May, Bunny Club, until May.photo-2

Thanksween

Well, Mo and I are no longer on speaking terms after she said Opal isn’t very cute, but…20131027-223542.jpgThree cheers jumps for Mo and Kari’s annual trip to Lufkin!! I’ve said before that friends taking the time to come east means the world to us. We are constantly driving near and far to see people, so when people come to us, we feel so special. Unfortunately Walker wasn’t here on Saturday, but Jared filled his manly presence, and I’m also noticing he got the most camera time.

Kari and Mo sewed these awesome Thanksween t-shirts. Notice they match! And there I am wearing a plain black v-neck they brought me because they got tired : ) I’m still laughing about that. downtownbookstoreLast year the weather forced us to stay inside and knit all day, but this year Kari only knit in our down time. We spent the afternoon walking around downtown and popping in the coffee shop, used bookstore and antique shops.20131027-223655.jpg20131027-223753.jpgThe clear skies had a chill in the air, and since we are pretty much obsessed with our new lights, it was the perfect night for an outdoor dinner and movie. Jared whipped up a Wild Rice and Kale Chowder while Kari and I worked on the caramel apples. Mo took her role as photog. 20131027-223824.jpgThat cat is lucky to be alive after he tried messing with Kari, but I guess he won her over considering he cuddled in her lap for the entire movie. 20131104-174634.jpg20131027-223851.jpgapple laughsjared appleAs we sat around the table warming ourselves with hot chowder, we kept repeating “this is perfect!” The atmosphere took on somewhat of a whimsical feel, but it had much more to do with the companionship than the twinkle lights. Kari and Mo are two of the wisest and most genuine people I know. To be in their presence is to feel comfortable, hopeful and safe. Their conversations are meaningful and uplifting, their words are encouraging and intentional, and their laughter is deep. It was such a refreshing weekend, not because of what we did or where we went, but rest was found in the simplicity of reuniting with good friends. Jared and I were so happy to spend the day with you. We miss y’all already! Come back, and maybe Walker will grace us with his presence. movie copy

Dallas: Our real life wrecking ball

Before I begin, let me preface with this. Walker and I are completely aware of how fortunate we are to take any kind of trip. We recognize the privilege to drive even just down the road as we have cars and gas money and eyes that see. We know that. But we are human. And sometimes we show it…bigtime. I’m choosing to write every detail of the weekend, because I never want to forget. Nor do I want to “pull another October 11” as the new catchphrase around our house goes. Now, onto the story. 20131014-214625.jpgTwo weeks ago, Walker and I took a quick trip to Dallas to celebrate our 2-year anniversary and my birthday, and so the affectionate story of Birthversary weekend begins…

After racing home from work on Friday and being told to hurry and pack, my hormonal self lay on the floor of our closet atop dirty clothes and shoes poking me in the back. After five minutes of staring up at 2 full racks of fashionable attire, I heard myself lament, “I have nothing to wear.” And so began the 10 minute tantrum of no longer wanting to go because “I wouldn’t feel cute.” I’m sure Walker was questioning his desire to take me with him by this point, too.

I changed outfits 4 times before finally pulling a trustworthy chambray out of the dirty clothes and dressing myself in wrinkled desperation. I grabbed my antibiotics, threw my rain boots in the truck and positioned my body to the window. I’m such a good companion.

The ride was quiet with intermittent interruptions of Walker’s attempts to lighten the mood. He really is a good companion.

The situation plunged again as hunger pains arrived, and we thought it a good idea to grab a snack. We pulled off the road for that ‘quick snack,’ and before we knew it we each devoured 10 chicken nuggets followed by fries. We were stuffed and in no need of an actual dinner. Our lack of discipline and addiction to instant gratification left us frustrated angry we had wasted a Birthversary meal on McDonalds. McDonalds!

My horrible mood finally took its toll on Walker as he grew quiet with inner thoughts of having ‘ruined the weekend.’  He had waited ‘til Friday to book a hotel for Friday night. ON RED RIVER SHOOTOUT WEEKEND. While all of Austin and Oklahoma were trekking to Dallas, so were we. And we were paying for it, literally, in having to book the only open hotel room in Dallas—a club level room in the downtown Sheraton. So of course I said we just shouldn’t go because it was a waste of money.

Not only had I dampened the trip with my repulsive disposition, Walker now began sprinkling the weekend with gripes of self-loathing. Together we straight up drowned the trip.

Then, by some immaculate conception of higher hopes we unsteadily managed to gather ourselves into making a decision: “We will do better and enjoy this weekend.” As we drove into downtown Dallas we had no idea that Dallas was about to wreck us. And not in the ‘that worship service really wrecked me’ way, but more in the Miley Cyrus kind of way.7-11Sitting in the hotel lobby in black-rimmed glasses and cuffed jeans, I have never before felt like such a fun-hating, miserable grump. While Walker cut in front of 30 drunken college kids oblivious it was their turn to check in, I omnisciently sat assessing the situation in my head.

We had arrived at the Sheraton around 8 p.m. to find a mass of cars attempting to edge their way into parking garage numero dos. Parking garage numero uno was full. There were honks, near collisions, an excess of selfish attitudes and I’m sure a few middle fingers. After 45 minutes circling the same 6 parking levels including 10 minutes of trying to back out of a dead end with 5 cars behind us (who plans a parking lot with a dead end?) we finally made the decision to park illegally in a space for rent cars only. The situation only got better when a girl also trying to park told us she wasn’t even staying in the hotel. Must memorize license plate. Must memorize license plate.

Relieved and exhausted, we made it to the hotel lobby frat house. For one weekend and one weekend only, the downtown Sheraton transformed itself into the biggest frat party of all time.

So there I sat in a sea of toned, tanned thighs and high pitched squeals observing my surroundings. Every girl in TX and OK had vowed to wear cut off jean shorts paired with cowboy boots, unless they had already committed to mini skirts and wedges. As I watched cooler after cooler being rolled past (seriously though, even Wal-Mart doesn’t own the amount of rolling ice-chests I saw that night), I tried my best to relate. “They’re in college! They’re just having a good time! Who am I to think they’re annoying! I don’t want to be their kill-joy!” I’d like to think I’d succeeded in wishing them the best, until I witnessed a dude introduce himself to a girl and then ask her if she wanted to go upstairs with him.

And with that, Walker and I dodged our way to the elevator thinking the situation couldn’t have been worse, until we saw 2 young parents with 3 kids walk by, and we knew, yes, yes it could be worse.

Floor 27. Club level. We made it. Maybe it was destiny that ended us here on an expensive yet quiet, peaceful floor in the middle of collegiate chaos.

Walker decided he actually did need dinner, so after a quick check of the room, we wearily ventured back to ground level.

Waiting for the elevator Walker joked, “You know what would complete the night? Beer pong.”

No sooner did his vocal chords finish vibrating when we undeniably heard

Ping.

Pong.

Ping.

Followed by cheers and laughter.

Forget destiny. There was no escape.

Having dashed to poke my head around the corner, I turned back to Walker with my jaw on the floor. Someone had taken the time and effort to lug a Ping-Pong table from home, through the parking garage, to the 27th floor. And they were playing beer pong. Across the hall from our room. With the door open. On the club level.

Good thing I had time to pick my jaw off the floor before we got in the elevator, or I might have accidentally shared saliva with a stranger. The elevator floor was littered with leftover Jell-o shots. It was then we knew it was all out of our control. We could laugh. Or we could complain. We did both.

Knowing that we absolutely could in no circumstance move the car and knowing every restaurant would be a mirror image of our hotel lobby, we settled on walking to some place simple—Jimmy John’s seemed to be the only nearby establishment.

Closed.

So, for our 2nd attempt at a Birthversary meal, Walker purchased a hotdog and Funyuns from the only dining availability—SEVEN ELEVEN.

Let’s go back to the hotel. Get in bed. Watch TV. Forget this day all together.

Having forgotten my pajamas, before collapsing on the bed I stared at myself in the mirror wearing Walker’s sweat-stained undershirt with cut-off sleeves. See, it really was a Miley kind of weekend.

Around 9:30 with a mix of enthusiasm and despair, we jumped into bed unable to click the remote fast enough. Oh please let the TV take us to a land far away.

Half of our channels did not work.

But that’s ok. Because we found a modern family marathon. And by 9:45, my day was over.donutsOctober 12 proved to be evidence of the power of hormones as I awoke chipper and positive to take Dallas back. It wasn’t my doing, but thank goodness it was done. Overcast and dreary, Dallas seemed bright and beautiful as everyone had begun making their way to the stadium leaving us with a city to explore. We ate Hypnotic Donuts at White Rock Lake and visited a fun antique shop. We cried our way through the JFK 6th Floor Museum and did a little shopping in the afternoon. Our evening ended with pizza, which is always a great ending for us. We began our drive home Saturday night grateful that a bad day didn’t turn into a bad weekend. And realizing how much we just wanted to cuddle with Opal. hypnotic donuts dallasIt wasn’t what we imagined it would be…like, at all…but any time away together is good time. Or at least a growing experience in some way or another. Dallas, you wrecked us, but maybe our selfish, grumpy, materialistic, entitled selves need to be wrecked every once in a while. jfk museumsecond shotsixth floorMay we never ‘pull an October 11’ ever again. Happy Birthversary!