Friday, June 15, 2012

my life: cincinnati

Currently doing a auto-bio series, hoping to reflect, learn, and grow...and for you to get to know this blogger better!  To catch up read:
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After my college graduation I packed up my life again...this time instead of Portland I was heading to Cincinnati.

This time instead of a red Dodge Neon I was driving a dark blue Honda Civic.
This time - it was for good.

When I arrived in Cincinnati in February of 2006 it was only the second time I had ever been there.  I had spent only a total of three days there.  Yet, now it was my home.

Unlike the snowy landscape and frigid temperatures of Minnesota, the weather in Ohio was balmy, with no snow.   I felt like I was in the twilight zone.  Surely this wasn't "winter weather."  I have to admit, I kind of liked it.

I drove to where Paul was living - in a neighborhood called Oakley, in a house with a new friend and co-worker at the company he was working for.

It was a little odd seeing him...realizing that we were now, for the first time in four years, living in the same city.  But, as always, his arms felt like home to me.

I stayed with him initially, as I searched for my own apartment.  Also, I wanted to get acclimated to my new job, which was still with the same company I had been working for in Minnesota -- an assistant manager at one of the locations in the Cincinnati area.  I started immediately.

It was a little difficult -- coming in fresh to a new district and being manager in a store-full of workers I had never met before.  There was animosity those first few months -- I took it all in stride, was professional, but on the inside I was pretty stressed.

I found my own place to live pretty quickly -- an apartment in an old brick building, of course.  It was a one-bedroom with hardwoods tall ceilings, etc.  I felt at home there immediately.

my living room in the hyde park apt
Also, it was set in a neighborhood called Hyde Park, which was a trendy area very similar to where I had been living in St. Paul.  Lots of restaurants, bars and shopping within walking distance.

some running group buddies
I thought it would be wise to make some friends, so I joined a running group in my neighborhood and found several  kindred spirits.  I also found out that not only was I a distance runner...but I was pretty dang fast!   I ran with the "fast" group - averaging about 7-7 1/2 minute miles.   Running races gave me a high that was pretty addicting.

derby tailgating - flip cup!
I also took a side job for a short time as a hostess at a local restaurant/bar. It was an interesting experience.  I made a few friends, but I quit after about a month when I realized most everyone else working there were using cocaine {at work.} I really did not fit with the crowd, it was eating up a lot of my time, and I didn't need the money.

So what was happening with Paul and I?  Well, while I'd like to tell you how easy it was, and we immediately knew we wanted to get married...but it wasn't  and we didn't.

While we went out, spent time together, loved each other...we still had fights, and even broke up several times.  We both have our relational flaws: there was irrational jealousy {on my part} and cold logic {on his part.}  I will never ever claim we are that "perfect" {no such thing} couple that never argues.  In fact, we argue a lot, are both very stubborn, and both can have a temper.  I can't imagine us being a peaceful, passive pair.  We love hard and fight hard.  {We've gotten a lot better over the years, though...}

In fact, there was a time where we broke up and didn't speak much for a couple months.   Then my family decided to visit me from Minnesota.  My parents, my sister and her new baby, and my younger brother.  It was June.

Of course they wanted to see Paul -- they adored Paul, particularly my mother.  Sometimes I felt they liked him more than me!   I had no problem inviting him along.

He basically spent the entire weekend with me and my family - despite us being "broken up."   We had so much fun - going to dinner, having a picnic {at the park we would someday be married at} having a game night in my tiny apartment, and even driving to his hometown of Louisville to attend church and have brunch on the river.  
I adore all the wine drinking and that everyone is looking different directions.
dad and little brother - on our picnic in ault park
even when broken up we accidentally coordinated our outfits.
Such an unforgettable weekend -- with my family -- and my love.  Such comfort there -- so why in the world were we broken up?

And so went our relationship -- sort of together, yet slightly non-committal.   I got the feeling that in order to move forward it would have to be all or nothing.

In August I went on my family's annual canoe trip in Northern Minnesota's BWCA.  Paul did not go this time.  I remember marvelling at my sister and her beautiful daughter Isabel, who was toddling around the campsite, on  the verge of walking, and thinking, I want a family someday.  So what am I doing?   Paul is clearly the only man I ever would want to have a family with.  He already is my family - the only man I have ever truly trusted, been completely myself with {good and bad.}  The only one I would move across the country for {twice.}

So what was I doing?   Did I want to date more people?  I had already dated plenty, and while that was fun, it was also tiresome.

The single, dating lifestyle could only go on for so long, and I knew I wanted more out of this life.

That trip was an epoch in my life.  There, the same place I had broken off our engagement a year ago, is where I came to the realization we needed to be together.  Married.

I didn't tell him that right away, though.  We continued on, dating, fighting, loving, bickering.   I casually asked him one day if he would ever propose to me again.

He laughed, "No.  You'd have to ask me this time."   He said it jokingly, but with what I though was a serious undertone.  So I took him literally and thought,  Crap.  Now the ball is in my court.

Christmas loomed ahead and the malls were buzzing.  I wandered aimlessly, wondering how I could possibly propose.  At the time I was not a planner, and really wasn't used to using the creative side of my brain.  My shoe retail job, having been promoted to store manager of the largest location in Cincinnati, left me feeling stressed and my brain sapped at the end of each 10-hour workday.

I walked into a jeweler and decided I had to just do it.  For some strange reason I thought I had to have a ring for a proposal.  So I purchased a simple band and wondered when I could pop the question.  It all felt a little odd, but I knew one of us had to do something about our on again, off again relationship.

Soon after that Paul and I planned an evening out.  Nothing special -- we were simply going to go to dinner at one of our favorite seafood restaurants and see a movie.  I decided I would do it that night.

I sat through dinner rather preoccupied with my impending proposal, but trying to act my normal, wine-drinking, flirtatious and conversational self.   There was a gaggle of bachelorette party-goers at a large table next to us, which made me even more distracted.

Plus, Paul seemed particularly anxious to be done with dinner and not be late for the movie, a comic-book come-to-life that he really wanted to see.

I sat there swirling my wine glass, rooted to the spot.

Another burst of wild laughter from the girls nearby.  How was I ever going to do this with all the distraction.  The moment did not seem right, but that ring was, as they say, burning a hole in my pocket.  Or purse, as the case may be.

I reach into my purse and gripped the heavy thing.  What do I do?  How the heck do guys do this all the time?  Ugh.  But I had to suck it up.  I couldn't imagine going another day not engaged.  I had sort of rehearsed how I was going to ask.

Then my mind went blank.

He seemed to sense my reluctance to go anywhere: "Do you even want to go to the movie?" he asked.

"No, not really."

"Do you want to sit here and talk."


"Do you want another drink?"


Out came an exasperated, bewildered sigh from the ever-patient Paul.  "Well...then what do you want?"  Now there was the question I was fishing for!

"I marry you!"  I exclaimed breathlessly, and basically thrust the ring I had been clutching in my sweaty palms into his hands.

We stared at each other for a moment in silence, then I burst into tears!

He grinned widely and as I peeked at him through the spread fingers of the hands that were now covering my face due to the emotional agony of the moment.

He laughed at my outburst and grabbed my hands, "Yes, of course I'll marry you."

I can't even remember now if we went to the movie...but when we got back to his place he immediately went to his safe and retrieved the important ring, my ring.

Back on my left hand it went, and has not been off more than maybe a few moments since, for cleaning and photographs and such.
engaged - again
Now, at long last, we were ready to plan a wedding - both of us.  For real this time.

Next chapter: {our engagement}