I will come back to this blog; I’ve just been planning a wedding for the last 6 months (and abroad for 2.5 of those) – so please just forgive me.
In the meantime, I do invite you to watch our “save-the-date” video – because it’s fun and love stories should be shared. We’re also doing pre-marriage counseling (which I LOVE) and it was on our task list to write a letter to our wedding guide/officiant/counselor/mentor explaining “why we love our partner”, and I sent her the following letter this morning. It’s rough, unedited and intimate. But the world can handle it. 🙂
Why I love Slade.
The first thing that actually comes to mind, are the three words we chose to root our wedding: travel/explore, witness, play. And I think it’s because we both embody and practice these verbs together in our partnered approach to life.
Our relationship was born on a plane. We’re met in LAX and spent the first 24 hours of our life together, in route from LA to India. He was wearing flip flops and jeans – two things that I told our student group, explicitly, not to pack. And yet he provided me with a rationale in such confident good humor that I felt no need to challenge. Instead I laughed. And thus began the softening of Christina (slightly hardened, as 8 years of independent travel and living will do). We spent two weeks preparing our program together – WORKING – researching, contacting, setting up, communicating, organizing. From 7am till 11pm. Finally, it was time to pick up our students and we boarded a train that was supposed to take us to Calcutta in 12 hours. Mid-course, the train stopped. It had stopped for about 8 hours, but Slade and I hadn’t: we just talked, and laughed, and talked and laughed. I remember there was a moment of silence, when we both laid down in our separate train bunks for a few quiet moments. Looking back, we both remembering thinking at the same time, “I could care less if this train was broken for another 12 hours. Will I ever grow tired of this person? I think I’m in trouble.”
Exactly three years later, I feel like I’m still on that train with Slade; crunched up in our bunks, caring not for time or “breakdowns” – but hanging out the open door of the train, sipping chai and encouraging him to try some slightly dangerous and very spicy mung beans (or other challenges he can’t resist). Back in the bunk, Slade is prompting humorous and engaging conversations with all those that pass by, as I (still fail at) trying to read even a chapter of my book (ever) in his presence, instead being unable to resist his charms and falling over myself for just a little more banter, laughter and flirting with the elements of life together. Even now, nestled in our home together, we travel. We open up our laptops – and though others can’t see it (or necessarily speak our language) – we venture into technologies and designs and windows to worlds of imagination and invention that don’t always exists for others. Or we collaborate on a project. Be it building a green house, website, flower bed or wedding invitation – there is an element of exploration in everything we do together. A trust in following our curiosity. A faith in knowing the steps to getting there will inevitably influence the vision. And a deep love for a blank slate.
Which gets me to play.
I think it’s my natural tendency to take things a little too seriously. And at the same time get caught up in my strong imagination. Don’t worry – I know that these characteristics are also a source of my creativity. But what I didn’t know, until I met Slade, was how much healthier and lighter I felt when I had someone who could keep these elements in check – and do so delicately. I call on Slade for a “reality check” on almost every interpersonal altercation I encounter – as he has a DEEP and intuitive rational that’s calm, kind and super strategic. He says this of his mom, so he probably inherited it – but Slade is the BEST problem solver I’ve ever known. I respect him deeply for this emotional and intellectual intelligence, and actually can’t imagine having a more competent or resourceful person by my side. And as “efficient” as that sounds, I think this resourcefulness comes from his most natural drive – which is to PLAY with the elements around him. Be it a game, paintbrushes, website, camera, puppy or small child – he’ll pick it up and follow with focused curiosity. And there’s very little I love more than watching him in this state; his “artist” state. I have profound trust in his vision when he’s in the this state; It’s something I love to foster and I find myself conspiring ways of setting him up with the elements and the time, for him to “fall” into it. Especially as this spirit of constant play is infectious – and infuses my own life with a lightness – that it does need. Play and exploration were enormous themes in my independent childhood – where I spent 10 hours a day outside doing both, within the natural elements. I’m not sure what got lost or hardened along the way (maybe it does with most adults) – but what a delight to find it again, and to laugh and dance and play – feeling like that IS God’s (as loosely defined as possible) wish and our responsibility.
And I guess that gets me to Witness. I’ve seen a lot of this world. And surprisingly, I do think it’s much more beauty than ruin. Still, we’ve both seen hard things – and more than enough to put our privileges and position in perspective. I live with that every day. And I also live with the task of fitting the responsibility of what I have witnessed into my life action plan. Before I met Slade, it was really hard for me to center myself in this spinning world view. I always joke that I never felt jet lag until I met Slade; I just landed and my equilibrium re-centered immediately, and I took off running. A nice talent – but also a slightly dangerous and very unrooted one. After I met Slade, I, for the first time, felt my equilibrium struggling to stop spinning in tune with his – I literally felt like my heart had to re-calibrate. I can still acclimatize and acculturate – don’t worry. But there is something very healthy about knowing that I actually am tethered, no far how I reach, to a pole that can bring me back to center.
And the other half of Witness is the simple act of holding everything in life SACRED. I feel/know Slade to do this. As I do. And the combination allows us to hold life, beauty, and relationships with profound appreciation for their blessings. Slade’s parents are sacred to him. MY parents and siblings are sacred to him. Nature is profoundly sacred to him. This wedding is SACRED to Slade. It’s not an event or a commitment or just another traditional life stage – it might be the biggest thing in his life. Aside from the birth of a child. And he knows this. Respects and holds it as so. As I do. And probably the only thing more important in life than approaching it with humble gratitude and respect, is having a partner who can mirror, complement and share in the upholding of the same values and approach.
There are hundreds of other “reasons why” and individual characteristics of Slade that I love (already sent you 64 of them!) – but it’s really our shared approach to life and the harmony and health that I have found born between us that I love most. Like a good recipe or alchemy, complimentary ingredients just came together and made something beautiful. Something that I could have never conceived of on my own. And so to sum it up with a very appropriate metaphor: if he and I were going on a trip (along a shared life path, perhaps?), and we could only put four things in our backpack to take with us, they would be: a creative approach, playfulness with the elements, the container of our India train bunk, and a humble and sacred appreciation for all that we encounter and witness.