Sunday, July 29, 2012

Appreciating His Music

I am a lover of words, of stories, of hearing about the journeys that have brought people to the present.  This man that I have fallen love with steadily every day since I met him has shown me who he is, where his journey had brought him, and I know that he is the man he is today because of the God that has kept him (even when he didn't want to be kept).  His story is like the music he is playing on his keyboard right now, multi-layered and multi-faceted.

The part of the story he is living now is the one that is uncovering his creative gifts that have up until now have remained hidden.  He is a creative genius in my eyes, but my hope is that one day he will see himself as he is.  Especially with music...he lives, eats, breathes it.  I know like writing and art is for me, he cannot exist on this earth without it.  He has to have it; it is an addiction to let his fingers press those keys into submission.

I am sitting here, being healed as his soul finds itself in true expression.  This is the place where my life creatively becomes intertwined with his.  True marriage....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Observations From an Unimpressed Bride-to-Be

If anyone can answer the questions I have about what the heck I am supposed to be doing right now in terms of the actual ceremony planning, the world of weddings would be a whole lot easier to navigate.  I was never the little girl who planned my dream wedding: imagining a princess bridal gown with a cathedral train, the types of flowers, the food for the reception, and the exact color my bridesmaids would wear.  If you look at me today, you would probably think the complete opposite since I am so eccentric and adore fashion and have been known to color my hair red, then blue, then black, and now considering a little splash of unconventional color (not telling what it is) randomly placed. 

The truth is I don't care about any of the hooplah associated with weddings.  We could have eloped, and I would be way happier. 

I guess I shouldn't have passed up the huge bridal magazine section in Barnes and Noble, for more important reads.  I should have had the intent to get prepared if some guy happened to pop the question and slip a ring on my finger.  I was more interested in reading magazines about music or art or writing or the next big hair color that I should bribe Mr. Jackson (my hairdresser) to put in my hair. Just wasn't too impressed with the whole thing at all and in fact, kind of had an attitude about the traditions and rites of passage that every bride-to-be apparently has to go through so everyone that shows up gift-less at the reception can approve of.

So here are my observations.  The truth is, the wedding will be quiet and small so I hope no one is offended.  The reception will be full of soul food and R&B music that me and Mr. will be breaking it down to because OUR nuptials have taken so long people wrote us off and assumed that we would die alone in a nursing home somewhere and a party with lots of dancing is definitely in order.  The only thing I have decided on for sure is that the invites to the reception will have the disclaimer that while the music will be tasteful, guests are absolutely NOT allowed to sit down.  I am planning to have security and bouncers in place that will escort guests out if they stand against the wall too long.  I mean, if it is a dance party reception, why in the world would anyone stand there like they have no clue what they should be doing.

I'm the bride and I pull rank, so on that day...NO ONE CAN TELL ME NO.

I digress.  Sorry.  Got a little too hype on that issue.

Back to my observations:

(1) I bet the lady at David's Bridal hates my guts right now because I cancelled my appointment to buy that fabulous $550 wedding dress that I must admit I looked HOT!!! HOT!!! HOT!!! in.  But really...Why, on God's green earth, would I (Mildred Bracy Jones' only granddaughter whom proudly picked up her frugal a.k.a. cheap demeanor) ever buy something I will only wear ONE TIME for $550?!?!?!  Nothing in my closet ever cost that much. And if anything ever did cost that much, there are two things I can guarantee you:  (a) I didn't buy it and (b) I have it encased in bulletproof glass with a death ray alarm system that would be set off the moment someone even stood near it.  I'm sorry but I wear my $5 Dots tee-shirts until the thread begins to unravel and the material loses its shape.  I am NOT buying that dress.  Nope, sorry.  No huge commission for you, Madam.

(2) Tell me this:  Who needs to have a reception at a golf course/country club?  I don't know anyone that plays golf and paying $15 a head for nasty food that absolutely does not compare to Miss Lena's cornbread dressing and Miss Gladys' fried chicken makes absolutely, positively NO SENSE.  And as stated before in describing the plan for the reception, all I need is a nice venue with a big dance floor.  I could care less about round or square tables or linen table cloths with matching chair covers.  Ain't nobody gonna be sitting down that long because they will need to dance off all the calories from Mr. Jackson's rainbow pound cake (that he doesn't know he's making yet unless he reads this).

(3) I would love to have blue flowers - like dark blue flowers - at the wedding and during the reception because blue is Mr.'s favorite color.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that navy blue calla lilies or roses are only a little hard to come by.  And if I am not buying a $550 dollar wedding dress, I am for sure not shipping in blue flowers only native to Timbuktu.  Silk it is.

(4) I don't want to have a bridal party because I'm afraid of turning into one of those crazy women from the "Bridezillas" show.  I don't EVEN want to go there, giving myself the chance to ruin friendships for life and promote sibling warfare, more or less have the unfortunate chance of getting on his family's nerves (so much so that they pull him to the side and berate him for being blinded by my good looks when it came down to choosing a life partner or whatever it was that made him overlook my tendency to swing from the lights when I can't have my way.)  Yea, I don't want to be the one his cousins whisper about at the family get togethers, that turn a pitying eye on my dear husband because he really did choose a HOT one (HOT-tempered, that is...).

(5)  I want to wear crispy white Air Force Ones customized with lace and rhinestones under my dress at the reception because that would be so ME, but convincing Mr. that I can still make that look classy is proving to be a hard endeavor.  But I am pretty sure I can pull it off.  And if not, hey, he won't notice until it doesn't matter anyway, right?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why An Engagement Cannot Lose Its Beauty

Holding hands through the Detroit Institute of Art, people seemed to turn and look at us as if we were like those mementos of great art lining the walls, like the huge mural painted in the atrium of the great hall.  I caught eyes with one woman who looked first at him and then gave a soft smile at me, as if in the middle of her day, we had reminded her of something.  I wondered if we reminded her that true love has little to do with the element of feigned perfection and more to do with the way we walked, talked, laughed, fingers intertwined.

Maybe it was just me, paying attention to how his handsome face and beautiful smile that brings me back to the center, to the reality, to the promise that God made me when I lost love before, has that same impact on anyone that sees him.  He doesn't really believe any of this.  And that's okay because I am meant to spend the rest of my life with him helping him see his own brilliance.

That is my mission, anyway.

When the ring is slipped on the finger, the stars glitter in the eyes, and the fairytale infiltrates a cold world, there has to be beauty.  There has to be violins and angels and love songs.  There has to be the hatred of being alone at night wishing for the shared bedroom and pajamas (maybe). There has to be the daydreams. After the browsing through bridal books and thoughts of a shared existence and after the chosen attire, flowers, and festive decor of a reception is long over, there has to be the understanding that love is still very much there.  It exists with the frou-frou beginnings into the supposed mundane nature of everyday life - what all this is really for.

That is what I think about now.  We are engaged.  We are together when before being singly focused on life had been an accustomed state of mind.  And here we are...fingers intertwined, his laughter at something silly I've done or said and my gaze on his profile when he doesn't know that I am looking.  He has me - hook, line, and sinker.

I gaze at the ring on my finger everyday...cannot leave the house without it now.  And that is a gorgeous change for a person that never wears rings and always said she would only wear her wedding ring, should she ever be given one.  I notice people looking at it, especially other women, and I think haughtily that their engagement or wedding bands are much plainer than mine.  Mine sparkles in the sun like I'm the Queen of England.

The beginning of this thing was strange because, quite frankly, we had no idea what being really engaged looked like.  There had been others in and out of our worlds that I think we knew at those times would never share our entire lives when the game-playing ended.  But, now?  We had rings, a date, a venue for a dance-off reception.  We had ideas about a house and three bedrooms/two bathrooms and a fenced in backyard for our five-pound dog.  We had meetings and conversations and phone calls with our parents that probably deep down (excuse the French) wondered what the hell we were doing, moving so fast.  And then there was us, staring each other down when the raw-ugly humanity surfaced and we realized we hadn't actually met the quintessential perfect partner.

I refused to lose my grip on my umbrella while all this change rained down on our heads.  I told him to duck under and ride it out.  Because no matter what, after life's raw beauty, there is still beauty - after all.

This is why the engagement cannot lose the romantic.  It cannot be shelved so we can treat all this like a contractual agreement.  It is why we cannot trade the God designed intent for the humanistic rationalization that downgrades what we and a lot of others are doing and still want to do into a piece of paper with signatures that actually doesn't mean that much. 

"A piece of paper doesn't mean that much," I have heard some say.  Maybe not, I want to tell them.  But what about when you've been co-habitating with someone forever but have no legal justification or standing when something serious happens...or when you think your personal definition of marriage equates to a glorified "friendship with benefits" but still no legal merit (and likely never will be)...or when one of you gets sick and the other just stands back, crying from a hospital corner, left out of decision-making if death is standing in the other corner, inching closer.

On July 24th, while sitting outside at 6 a.m. watching the sunrise in communion with God, I wrote these words:

"The thing that has made this relationship so important in the whole scheme of things, but also so strange, is the need to do what we are both meant to do.  We cannot escape what God is mandating.  We have approached it wrong...from the side instead of dead on...from the side of the flesh, from the place that cannot enter into a spiritual union.  What is it we want from this?  Do we want the beautiful, exquisite, unconventional; or do we want the hybrid, the dangerous,the alternative?"

When a thing that is meant to be beautiful, like the paintings in the DIA that are worth more than the building itself, is reduced to simply the human compostion of that thing...broken down into mere brush strokes, grid lines, representations only...the beauty is lost.  But when people turn and look, smiling softly, reminded of the grip of love between intertwined fingers, life returns to what it is meant to be.

The artistic touch of a loving and creative God...

We are engaged.  Loved.  Beautiful.  Ready.

Friday, July 13, 2012

At Lan Ta

28th Floor, the highest floor available at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center....Quiet times to collect thoughts and hand them all over to God...  This, my first vacation, was simply divine, a place where I could meet God in the rest.  And rest was exactly what I needed.  Sometimes, like the awareness of all else brings you right back to the Center, the place where we are free to rest in God.  We cannot battle always.

As I gazed out of the window at the world going on far below, I was given clarity about some matters.  I stood away fronm the heat and the crowds.  This is exactly where I needed to be - not touched by the chaos going on below.  Instead I lifted my eyes and looked up.  As high up as I appeared to be, I knew that spiritually and natural the view from here is simply a foretaste of the place God has for me to be.

Positioned in a place, at a new position unrecognizable, moving forward into another dimension in God...Higher and higher and higher this location, At Lan Ta, where others have misread its intention, I see from a higher place in God and have learned that His perspective has to be brighter than mine....