Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Morning Papers

If he poured his heart into a glass And offered it like wine
She could drink and be back in time for the morning papers
They could take a walk down the ocean side Make a wish on every wave
They could find a carousel And ride or kiss in every cave
They could contemplate the entire universe
Or just one star
Or just how far was the walk for the morning papers

There was a pre-wedding playlist that until the wedding day I didn't share with anyone and the entirety of it will never be shared with anyone other than the person I married later that day. But the songs varied from songs that were meaningful in our story, songs that were meaningful in my story. They were mostly romantic songs but not entirely as some were fun like The Final Countdown. The song In Late August showed how much I feared the weather our wedding might have too much heat in the wrong direction (it ended up being reasonable so we saved some of the heat for after we ran out of there and got to the hotel room). There was even a couple of hymns in there. I'm not a guy who prays much in the actual meaning of the word which is to request something but there were a couple of hymns in there because if nothing else I want to express thanks because I'm not quite sure how so many blessings flow my way. 

But the very last song added was one that I had no personal connection and came on just shuffle, it's the one quoted as I start these thoughts, Prince's The Morning Papers. Like too many romantic songs around wedding time it made me sappy but reflective. I was marrying a girl who was romantic but practical. Our wedding registry we wondered who would if anyone buy us certain gifts because well they were and I quote 'boring' but even the elaborate start line from the wedding wasn't kept (it was recycled for a classroom) because we're practical people. This is the girl who I've been to multiple countries with and tomorrow we head to Greece (because if you meet a girl training for a marathon and propose at a Spartan and neither of you has ever there, where else would you go for a honeymoon... and while we're on train of thought another song on the playlist was honey and the moon). But despite being to all those countries, we don't have much physical stuff to show for it, mostly a heart and a faulty brain full of memories. We've had philosophical conversations and practical obnoxious ones, big picture and little details.

But less than a handful of people had the courage to bring up to me how the brain cancer diagnosis relates to us in all this. Well, anyone who thinks we didn't have a conversation about it is naive at best but we're not. Before we were ever boyfriend and girlfriend, I heard her talk about someone in her family with health problems and recognized a maturity about it. She heard me talk about mine in a public speech at Livestrong in which the theme was 'my first time' and I talked about how bad my first kiss went but that while the second one wasn't much better, I was more teachable. I tried to share some ideas about how sometimes life, things like cancer gives you second chances at life and that can be more valuable if you're more teachable. But I ended with a joke that the real reason I was here was if they knew any girls who were into guys that were bad kissers to give them my number. Not long after that, she asked me out... I'm just saying. 

But we've talked about it. I updated my will to include her in it (Kiana's still the primary beneficiary instead of the sole one but there's no way I'm marrying someone and not sharing somethings in both life and death). But she also got fully informed of things like that I have a do not resuscitate clause, how I have a clause that I won't be seeking any more treatment again and that those who have power of attorney, which now includes her, can't over ride those. If the time comes to die, it comes. A friend in the legal profession has and is encouraging me to change those now that I'm married but my wife knows that's not going to be the story and at least conceptually she agreed with it or else well... I wouldn't have asked her to be my wife. It's that concept why we can talk about the breadth of the universe or how far the walk is to the morning papers.

The fact that I liked that song may have demonstrated my age but oddly enough a little over a week after the wedding, a picture and an article came out in the local paper. I've come out in many papers for race wins etc but this is one of my biggest wins and it was the biggest picture there's ever been with me picking up a really hot girl in a wedding dress (take hot whichever way you want but I gotta tell you if hang out with me and we'll have an awesome where I'll literally pick you up... if that's not a good pick up line, I don't know what is). The article was by someone whose written about me more than once on the day she took the buyout from the Statesman. By that change it became that without exception all of the reporters who I've stayed in regular contact with from the Beaumont win are no longer at their jobs; change continues to be life's constant. 

Why is age more than a number when it comes to love?
Should we ask the ones who speculate
When they don't know what it's made of?
Should we ask the moonlight on your face
Or the raindrops in your hair
Or should we ask the man who wrote it there in the morning papers?

Many people, mostly older but a few closer to my age and one close to Elaine's age reached out to me to let me know they'd seen it or they sent me screen captures etc. There was actually a preview of it on the front page, that huge picture on the front of the lifestyle section and the article finished on the very back of the paper. It seemed fitting that marriage would be from front to back with a huge section on lifestyle. But if anyone else noticed it, they didn't mention that on that same front page, there was talk of Sen McCain's death. When he passed, a few people asked me about it. The truth is that like any public figure, I could only gleam from what was reported about him but I admired him way back when and till his death and no matter what he passed away from I think it would have been a loss to our government. But he died from a higher grade of the same cancer I have... For something that's supposed to be so rare, 7 per 100K people, I don't quite know how to grasp that we've had 2 Senators in a body of 100 pass from it in less than a decade... I've met many people in the events that I am a part of the cause so that seems a little more 'logical' but there are other random things. Another ARC board member got it in the 4 years I've been there as President, my old boss's child got it and passed away from it since I've gotten it. The privilege of survivorship is never lost on me. It's one of the reasons there is a Livestrong bracelet on me and reminders of hope are visible in almost all areas of the house. 

I don't know why I'm still alive. I made no mention of my cancer in the wedding ceremony but I said to the groomsman as I thanked them for the many positive and negative things that they'd been there for in over a decade that I was shocked to be here not just getting married but alive. But my fiancee, now wife, knew the importance of it because we revolved that honeymoon around getting back to the Brainpower 5k, the only race that I've done every year of its existence. It's its 8th year and assuming all international travel goes well, I'll be getting in really late the night before to run it on next to no sleep. She's actually never missed it since she started doing it and on her first one at a party afterwards is my first memory of her, when I threw her in a pool. The Scarecrows will be out there again so if you want to donate or join... here's the place. It's not too late and if you want I can make sure you get thrown in a pool though it's too late for it to turn into marriage, at least to me or Elaine anyway. Brain cancer and good times don't have to be mutually exclusive.

But speaking of pool, several people have noticed, I've lost weight. Since this blog is full of inadequate confessions, I wasn't on a diet but I did step up my running and eat less quantities as my birthday and wedding were coming up so that I could look good in my wedding and birthday suit. We didn't go our honeymoon right away which frankly getting thank you cards and clean up done may be more fun than immediately traveling and coming back to all that but the main reason was to get Kiana situated right as she started Jr. High. We also purposely revolved it so that due to the new custody schedule I only have to miss two days while I'm gone for 10. The only thing that I'll think about or miss is something that I didn't know the schedule until she joined less than 48 hours ago which Kiana's first cross country meet but Ms. Independent will be fine for that and you better believe I'll make the rest. We had mariachi at the wedding but we changed while they were on and left before they were done so we went and caught some at a hillside theater last weekend but before that we went swimming in cold Barton Springs cause this Texas heat is not relenting (Greece is going to be so tough to bear the cooler temperature, just kidding. We were swimming there and I wondered what the water would be like in Santorini and remembering that the ancient Olympics were done in the nude but then again that's probably not the way I want to be in any papers even if Europeans are more liberal). But as I sat there and swam with my wife and my daughter and thought about Senator McCain and our return to the Brainpower 5k, all I could do to cope and hope with the privilege and guilt of still being alive was remember the joke I usually close speeches with “I still have brain cancer which has a 10 year survival rate of 12% so statistically speaking I’m not supposed to make 40. But when I think of that I remember what an old college profesor used to say ‘statistics are like bikinis: what they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is vital.’ But I’m going to keep running hoping to defy statistics plus I want to look good in a bikini."

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Perfect Imperfections

In describing my fears of what has gone on in my brain, I always note that what is at risk and at some level damaged in me are my memory and language skills. But 8 days into being married, I have to tell you that if they were perfect they couldn't have captured the happiest day my life has seen, so far, which is my wedding day 8/18/18. This entry will be like looking at the night sky where you see beauty and try to create patterns in a massive spacious place that is so far beyond what I'll ever understand.

Where to start? I suppose I'll start with a story I always turn dad mode on when some romantic or pop song comes on the radio about how someone is perfect and I'm like 'Kiana don't believe that, no one is perfect and that's okay. There's some balance of acceptance and striving to improve but if acceptance makes you lazy the former is less important'. She rolls her eyes so loud I can hear them from the backseat and goes "yes, dad." However, not long before the wedding, John Legend's All of Me came on and I was belting out:

"'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you"

Kiana is like wait, why do you like that song, it has perfect in it. As un-eloquently as I could, I tried to say that was the balance and somehow communicated it to where Kiana said it made sense. That's the best I could hope for in remembering our wedding day. 

We had events for several days before with family, international friends, any friend who wanted to show up, rehearsal dinners. Without exception, someone made fun of me at it and at some level jokes aimed at Elaine seemed directed at me. There were 8 events just like there would be 8 cases of ice cream, Mexican coke, wine, beer. Anyway, I'd cover them all but I'm sure it's no surprise that for the couple being married on 8/18/18 there were 18 8 things. Someone asked if there were things they had missed and of course there was, that was the point and there were things I couldn't catch with so much of my friends and family there in the room. There were people there who had been there since Kiana's birth, since Elaine's birth, and way back when at my birth and at all points in between. If you want an outsider's perspective, this blogger and his wife got blogged about by the only reporter invited because we've become friends. And if you believe the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, here's 195k better words than what I'll write.  

But if you'll let me write down a few, I was more emotional that day than I can recall. I ran with no watch on with the group I had met Elaine through. Some of the run was with her, partly with her brother, partly with guests. I don't know the distance since I went back and forth some but it was all on easy pace but when I got to half a mile to go, I ran on my own and bolted till the finish. My last closing solo run was going to be with conviction as a single man. I went from there to get the fro removed because well it was a fun gag but I wanted her to say I do. And in a day where everyone was getting ready to grow up a little more, I took Kiana to her 6th grade orientation which no surprise to anyone she wanted to go to see her schedule step by step for each of the 3 variations that it comes in which included what felt like stair repeats in her 3 story school. 

I had a thousand jokes to tell the groomsman and the officiant and my family and friends and guests during, before or after the wedding but not one came out smoothly, some didn't come out at all. From the shot of tequila with the guys to the prayer with my pastor, tears, usually one at a time came flowing. Still, the smiles and preparedness solidified when Kiana tied my bowtie. 

I could tell you some of the things that went wrong in preparation like that the original caterer wasn't the final one or that the original band ended up being replaced by 4 different musicians but a good show you don't notice the lights and sounds, you notice the focus and if we got it right, the people who were present had the focus on faith, hope and love and the greatest of those was love. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, the officiant, Elaine's coach and the guy I run with the most, delivered pun after pun, joke after joke but poignant ones but he pointed out both of our stubbornness and captured the fact that our best days and our worst days have been when they are aimed in the right direction. We had written our own vows and never having heard each other's before was a good least for Elaine cause she upstaged me. 

We skipped a lot of proper 'ceremonial' stuff. No one except the flower girl, the bride and the ring bearer walked down the less than 20 yard aisle and all songs being played before and during the ceremony were actually meaningful ones to us from movies or musicals, for me one hymn. Still, when did I become one of those people that's all about their animal? Was it when I brought her from the south pacific? Was it when I bought a house partly based on that it had a doggy door? Well, whenever it was, it was solidified when my 14.5 year old friend was the ring bearer and I traded out her one ring per treat.  There was an exchange of rings but no with this ring I thee wed (there were no thees or thous for that matter). 

We had plans after the ceremony that went askew but I'm not sure anyone including us noticed. We had skipped the dad walking down the aisle part, disregarding the idea the tradition that someone was giving away the bride as well she'd made that decision on her own. We did take everyone on a walk though across a mile of beautiful terrain that would have felt surprisingly reasonable in a suit, in a day that had reached 102, much less both of them.  The traditional dances of daddy/daughter, mom/son gave way to entire family dances. While we may have ignored the traditional role of parents, parents still got to give speeches and if anyone thinks I wasn't nervous during that time, I want to point out I was chugging straight from the bottle of a wine that I gave Elaine that she's the only I'll ever share with, the Hess Collection Lion Tamer. Both the officiant and Elaine's dad were incredibly gracious in pointing out how important Kiana was to us. 

There were  board games, puzzles and Kiana-hand-painted lawn games, dancing and DJ's. We'd billed it as a party that happened to include a wedding and I hope it lived up to the hype. One hour after it was over feels the same as 8 days out, it was a blur but a blast. The groomsmen had made me take off my watch which I'm a little bitter about because all those steps and dancing I don't get credit for. But maybe that means the donuts and Mexican ice cream or rum with Mexican coke that I had also don't count? 5 of the 7 continents were represented, several language, a few more countries and plenty of states. Somehow life has been kind enough to realize friends had showed us where people did show up from north, south, east and west.

We got married under a start line with a skyline of Austin. There was a moon and each of our constellations on pretty much everything, perhaps showing what I dare our marriage grows into until life's final finish line, something well grounded and always reaching so far beyond what we can imagine. 

The fine dance of being a host to all your friends and family got us to conscientiously spend tome of the time apart and together physically but we kept checking in, some times with a dance, sometimes with a look, sometimes with a kiss, and each time with a smile. When we did get around to doing the first official dance it was actually to a song from the Greatest Showman, Tightrope. I was nervous and people thought some of the things that happened organically were practiced like when we touched each other's nose but they hadn't which somehow made it more special to both the audience and us. 

Mountains and valleys, and all that will come in between
Desert and ocean
You pulled me in and together we're lost in a dream
Always in motion
So I risk it all just to be with you
And I risk it all for this life we choose
There are many blog entries here about this hopeful romantic that this day would never come. Well, life is unpredictable but this was the best thing I would have bet against (in fact I did and I paid the $100 a couple of days ago). But for those few minutes that dance lasted would have been worth that and all the risks that come and will come with it are too. 
But I promise you this, while that day, it was the happiest day of my life, I'll work hard at making sure that doesn't stay true. I proposed before a start line on purpose. We got married under a start line for a reason. Unsurprisingly when we changed and got out of there through a tunnel, we ran through friends and family that were cheering us on but like I intend and promised that day, I'm running with her. Yesterday, on a hot humid summer day, we did our first run of married life of 20 miles together.
No we aren't going to do every single thing together but we're in for the long haul and anytime we're running to the next place or next adventure, we'll be running off holding hands. The song says walking the tightrope but I think we'll be running it. The engagement, the dating, the wedding, this writing about it all, nothing we've ever done together has gone perfect. And yet through all those imperfections it all there is one thing I couldn't improve on, I made a perfect choice in who I said I do to. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Night Before the Night Before

I never sleep well before significant races so it's no surprise that I'm not sleeping well before the start of the run of a lifetime, how I refer to as my wedding. I try to make adequate sleep to the night before the night before but that wasn't great either cause I'm nervous, excited there are friends in town.  It's funny how Elaine, the girl I'm marrying tomorrow (later today really) said long before we ever went on a date how it seems so much of my life is scripted. I mean how do you put explain that the guy who put off brain surgery to run a marathon would go on to win one, 1 second slower a couple of years later?

And now in less than 24 hours, I'll be married. It's still shocking to me even though it's pleasantly around the corner. There's been good jokes of how I finally settled down but a hesitation was/is I didn't think I'd still be around right now. I've got fucking brain cancer people and median survival rate is 7 years for people with surgery but I'm here, alive and kicking. But if I'm living the scripted life, it's a good writer (better than the one from this blog). Because life is kind enough to where there will be people from every stage of my life, including the ones from Stage 2 Cancer. There will be people there from childhood and high school and college and running. But there will also be the guy who I met at the first Brain Power 5k who had to relearn to walk and talk. There will be people there who were part of my first Livestrong Challenge, the one that I learned to ride a bike for who when I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to embrace part of this cancer identity too strongly reached out from across a tent. A criterion for local invites was people who we'd been to each other's house in the last year but there are several out of town, out of state, out of country people who do or all but do meet that criterion, 3 of them cancer connections. It is perhaps no coincidence that the two friends from high school who were invited are the ones who showed up in Austin and Duke where I had brain surgery within days of it and they will both be there (I've visited them both in their out of state homes since too). The ultimate and college friends from California, Chicago, who when I wasn't allowed to drive still hosted me and taxied me around will be there. The relatives who were part of the meals as I did my goodbye tour where I said to people 'I'm not sure the guy going in is the same one that goes out but this one loves you guys." The chief organizers of events, Todd, Chris, Rachel and Dave that helped with the medical bills will be there. Troy, the guy who stopped me from leaving the hospital when I first found out I had a tumor will be the best man. The guy who helped me sneak off a hospital after a run will be there. The 4 people who gave me the most rides to and from runs will be there. The church that helped me thank God from whom all blessings flow will be there.  Even the wedding coordinator came from a cancer connection! I could go on and on but the truth is I loved these guys several years ago, some decades ago and I can't think as I enter into this event that surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, I'm going to run this race not only for the price but committed to a faithfulness of life and love.

But of course, if a story has a good script, I've longed called the cancer journey, life part II. And tomorrow the leading lady arrives in her permanent position. How else could I have met her but training but for a marathon? Of course, when we were both doing Boston and were just friends, I end up sitting next to her and people would make jokes about how someday we'd end up together. Of course long before a first date, people confused our friendship for dating and even marriage. Of course, she talked me into doing my first trail race and night race by having the audacity to suggest it as a way to celebrate her birthday. What else could it be that she didn't hesitate to sign up for a spartan and unable to do a pull up back then or even a year or two later she beat me at our most recent one? In response to frustrations about custodial issues and insurance in a moment of desperation, I asked why do you want a guy with so much baggage; it wasn't what I meant but I've never appreciated a response to a misunderstanding when she said, "Kiana's not baggage?"  Where else would I propose but at the start of a race that we'd do side by side and it was a fair question of whether or not I'd keep up? Where else we would honeymoon except Greece, home of the marathon and Spartans and somewhere neither of us has ever been? Can this script get any more obvious than that the guy who said neither marriage nor an ultra were in his future is now doing them both in a short period with this girl? Of course, the guy is going to end up with the smart girl and spend the next several decades wondering what he's thought for a few years, where his first thought is she the one still sleeping or am I the one dreaming, perhaps still on that surgery table, reaching for creative and positivity in the most surreal longest imaginable matrix like dream? I mean come on the guy doing the ceremony is the guy I've ran with the most who also happens to be her coach.

On a few hours of sleep, I've ran my fastest and best races many times. My last speech before the wedding, as a single man, was at a Catholic University. I may have let them in on more details of the wedding at the speech than I should have cause college kids can keep a secret right? Call it my confession. There has been oohs and ahhs and laughter about various parts of the story but especially about the part that hadn't come true. But when it came down to the Q&A, the biggest guy in the room started the question with, hey can you find someway to send us pictures from the wedding. I don't know what the photographer will catch but I promise you I won't be posing. But the truth is the night before the race isn't tonight, the race starts on Sunday with married life. We don't leave on our honeymoon till the 30th so I imagine it will just be a recovery day but it will also be one of those days where the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step or two. But while I may be doing the formal ceremony in a few hours, for many steps and unknown number of infinite miles, for better or worse, richer or poor, in sick or health, I will be saying I do.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Throwing Away My Shot (glasses)

As my wedding date is getting closer (by wedding date I mean 8/18/18, who I'm going way with was settled way back), it's a good time to take inventory of my life. There's a few jokes that are easy as my cancer and divorced and jokes about not ever getting into a serious commitment are fairly public. If you think weddings are expensive, the icing on the donuts is that I have to pay an additional $100 from losing my George Clooney bet. The jokes are fairly fun from good friends: 'no one will ever figure out why she's marrying you but why her, is it that she has the fastest marathon time? Is is that she a solid job?' Like all good jokes, there's some truth that make them a little funnier. Her fastest marathon (yet) came after we sat on a bus next to each other for Boston and I kid you not a few days ago after we finally joined financial accounts she got a raise (sugar mama) but that's not why I'm marrying her.

I'm marrying her because I'm less uncomfortable at every level with Elaine. It would be a blatant lie to say I'm perfectly comfortable around her because well I'm not even perfectly comfortable being myself by myself but somewhere in the primal and the intellectual, I think she gets my better and worse side. It seems that every even semi romantic song gets me thinking about the wedding and married life together, still dreaming about a 50th anniversary where I'll be 88 and she'll be 77 (the age gap will be a smaller deal then right?). If I started telling you about all of them, it would become a falsehood that I'm somehow suddenly not emotional reticent but there are two that literally were the subjects of previous blog posts that I've been listening to and realize that she's become the substance of things hoped for. In one of those posts, I said I had no one who would compare to this,

So run till you cannot take a single step in strength
Then crawl on your hands and knees, till your hands and knees they ache
And when you cannot crawl

It will be me you call to carry you back home again.

I wrote about that about a year after meeting her, about a year before asking her on a date and about 2 years before proposing while still saying I'd never marry. Well, I've also said forever that I'd never do an ultra and well, neither is done yet but I think come August 19th, I'll be her husband and almost exactly a year after I propose we are signed up for our first Ultra, a Spartan Ultra where we will be on our hands and knees crawling but next to each other and then heading home, together. The main premise of that song is its title, Done Living, the question isn't are you going to die, you're going to die but will you be done living when you do? I'm still going to die, and I don't know when or how even if it's with or from this cancer but somehow, I think those wedding vows are a new start line.

Still, that song isn't the one I've listened to the most from old days. It's one given reference to in this post, the song Arms of a Woman. I have a playlist set up that I'll be listening to on wedding day which has a variety of songs from cheesy to hymns to romantic to humorous but this song I played it for Elaine recently across a table and I started crying, not sobbing, just a few tears going down my cheek because of the lyrics:

Now most days I spend like a child
Who's afraid of ghosts in my mind
I know there ain't nothing out there
But I'm still afraid to turn on the light

I am at ease in the arms of a woman
When she wakes me, she takes me back home

While it is not the order that I recommend or hope that my daughter takes (that whole moving in first), the truth is we've in some ways minor and some ways major redone something in every section of the house since she did so a little over a year ago and nowhere that I've lived in the entirety of my adult life has a place felt so much like home. I would roll my eyes at anyone talking about someone else being their home and I'm certainly not going to say it about Elaine but we've made it a joint home, a family one and I'm surprisingly at ease.

There are many songs that are part of the while people are sitting around part of the wedding that they'll not catch (that's okay, they're supposed to be socializing) but many are nods to musicals (including the one in the title here). This amuses me as when I was first hearing about musicals I thought what an absolutely ridiculous form of entertainment, that people would just walk around and burst into song about what's going on in their lives or minds or hearts. There are several musicals that are being nodded to in the wedding time because as I've gotten a lot older and only a little wiser, maybe just maybe bursting out into song to express yourself doesn't seem like the worst idea. We're even inviting everyone to go see a musical a couple of nights before the wedding at a park, something we did with each other and her parents back when we were friends.

This is a world I've seen 4 World Wonders with and a 5th is on the calendar but part of the reason we work is we live for experiences for things. My first international trip I saw that all of us tourists seemed to be in gift shops picking up one if not several items. The ones that seemed to be everywhere were shotglasses, postcards, magnets and spoons. Like finishers medals or completion ribbons, I've dutifully picked one up from all the places and countries I've been to. When Elaine moved in, I put away all the ones that weren't from joint trips with her or Kiana. However, as wedding gifts have started to come in and my anti materialistic kick comes in, it seems with each gift I clear out a shelf. Almost two decades worth of shot glasses were gotten rid of (someone working on my house accidentally broke one and was very apologetic) but I realized as I looked at the shelf, mostly it reminded me shopping for them not being at those places and plus the place wasn't mine, it was ours so they went to goodwill. The shelves were replaced with a nod to Mexican culture and another to Chinese, far less space and yet far more elegant. I've cleared out clothes and shoes and camping gear and... and... perhaps there are those who think you make more room but it's been a head, heart and space clearing process and the vast majority will create growing space for Elaine and Kiana and faith, hope and love.

We're still having fun with the wedding process. I'm still growing out my hair for the wedding weekend which when Kiana heard me refer to it as a fro, she researched it and I went skating for the first time since high school and her first time ever, all dressed appropriately in 70's clothes. Elaine fairly called out that I theoretically don't hold onto things but somehow I had 3 different 70's outfits available without shopping for a thing (I have one full costume drawer).

There are many of the traditions that we're not going to be the fiddler on the roof and just keep them for tradition sake (there's no cake or giving away of the bride). The ways we incorporate our families is a little different, a little the same. Appreciate the fact that diversity is a good thing, there are nods to our backgrounds (Chinese and Mexican food will be served). In those senses, we've embraced the 'it's your day, don't worry about anyone else' advice I'm annoyed at receiving so much (if it's my day, why am I inviting anyone else? We're hosts and we want this to be a good party where people eat and drink while we get married?!?). But in other ways, it's just a beginning, a first I love you and unlike the first time I said where I was hugging her from behind and didn't quite have the courage to look at her in the eye as I said, I'll be saying it in front of a few dozen friends and family and committing to do it while I'm living and unlike I've thought for far too long, I trust and hope that I'm just getting started.