Saturday, October 4, 2014

I knew this day would come.

Today is my friend Trevor’s birthday. But no matter how many October 4ths pass, he will never turn older than 23. I wonder how he’d celebrate his day if he were here.

I had a dream about him last night. I tend to have very vivid dreams, and while I do remember the majority of them, sometimes I don’t feel they’re worth sharing. This one is different though. Sure, I could sit here and analyze the meaning of it, but mostly I just want to share it because talking about him helps me to hold on to him. He was too important to me to just let him go. When I think about him I start to play the song “Long Live” by Taylor Swift in my head. It’s not a well known song, but I really like it. The part that stands out the most in my mind is this:

Can you take a moment
Promise me this:
That you stand by me forever,
But if God forbid fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye,
If you have children some day
When they point to the pictures
Please tell them my name.
Tell them how the crowds went wild
Tell them how I hope they shine

Anyway, before I get to the dream I just want to say how much I miss him. Granted, I know that we weren’t as super close after his mission as we were before and during his mission, but some people just have a significant and deep impact on you. Just as there are some college buddies you stay in contact with most your life, Trevor is a childhood (can I call it that? We met when we were 14) friend that I feel similarly about. Sometimes I miss him so badly it literally hurts; I can’t breathe and I feel like someone has stabbed me in the heart. I don’t express this out loud because I know people don’t know how to respond to it other than saying, “I’m so sorry.” or giving me a hug. But to be honest, the only people I feel comforted by through the expression of a hug are my parents because they knew Trevor and his impact on me, and they loved him very much as well.

I like to express myself through music, and I have been trying to write a song about Trevor for months now. One day I will finish it. Sometimes I just settle with lyrics or with the piano when I write songs. Trevor doesn’t deserve for me to settle. I want the song to be genuine, and I want to make sure to accurately capture just how I feel.

In my dream, I knew Trevor had passed away. But I was walking down the street and I saw him. I ran up to him and gave him a hug and asked him how it was possible he was there in front of me. He seemed confused and asked me what I meant. I told him, “I saw them lay you in the ground. I don’t understand how you are here now.” He told me not to question it.

We didn’t really talk, and I was too fascinated by the fact he was there that I didn’t really mind the silence. He told me he wanted to show me something. We walked through a field with some trees, and I looked up to see we were at the bottom of a steep hill that had a road at the top. We walked a little further and he gestured for me to look closer. I saw a red car that had clearly fallen off the road and tumbled down the hill, hitting trees on the way. He showed me the dents on the car on the passenger’s side, and as I pressed my had against the dents, I saw a video clip in my head of that car sliding off the road, Trevor inside, it crashing through the trees, and his head smacking against the side of the car. I saw his dad in the driver’s seat crying and yelling Trevor’s name and trying to shake him awake. The image scared me and I looked over to Trevor and noticed some markings on the side of his face.

“Trevor. You died, didn’t you? I mean, I was at your funeral. How are you here now?” I asked him, now in tears.

“I just am,” he responded.

Somehow I magically ended up back in Provo and I ran up and down the streets telling everyone I knew that I had seen Trevor and he was alive. People called me crazy and told me it was impossible to see someone who had died. I shouted at them that I knew it was true. After awhile, people thought I was having a mental breakdown and told me I needed serious help. I ended up going home to my family. My dad tried to console me and told me I had every right to miss Trevor, but that he really was gone and there was nothing I could do to bring him back.

But Trevor showed up. My family started crying and gave him a hug and we didn’t understand how he was there, but we didn’t care. We were so happy to see him. My family told everyone that I wasn’t crazy, that Trevor really was back.

I didn’t get to spend any more time with Trevor because sadly, I woke up at that point in my dream. Though I forced myself back to sleep, I wasn’t able to pick up where that dream had left off.

Sometimes it is hard for me to accept that he’s gone. I’m not ready to allow reality to sink in, though it’s flooding me. I know he’s gone. I don’t want him to be, but he is. My heart is forever going to miss him. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

20 years

I'm in a weird stage of life.

20 years ago I was probably watching Barney on PBS, clutching onto my favorite blankie, and letting my mom braid my hair in lots of tiny braids so my hair would be curly the next day.

20 years from now I will probably be parenting a teenager or two, cleaning up my kitchen, and balancing the checkbook with my husband.

20 years ago I was reliant on someone.

20 years from now someone will be reliant on me.

I know that people always talk about wishing they were in their 20s again. To be honest, it is a pretty nice phase of life. I am completely independent. I can support myself financially. I have a good job that I enjoy very much. I have responsibilities, but not as many stressful ones as I'd have as a wife and mother. I still have energy. I'm not experiencing side effects of aging. I'm not tied down to anything quite yet. I have ample opportunities and roads ahead of me.

I guess that lately I've been thinking about what I want to do with my life. More specifically, what I want to do with my life while in this stage. There are so many possibilities.

Of course there is the obvious one that I've toyed with on and off for the past year - moving out of state and experiencing something totally new. Part of me is terrified to break away from familiarity, but at the same time that kind of change seems exciting and enticing. There is the option of going back to school. There is the option of working on a teaching certificate. There is the option of applying for Teach For America. There is the option of staying here and doing exactly what I'm doing. There is the option of serving a mission. There is the option of doing some sort of humanitarian project. There is the option of moving closer to home. There is the option of traveling. There is the option of developing a talent or giving more attention to a hobby. Point being, there are endless options.

However, the biggest problem I face is not knowing what I want. Does anybody ever know though? Does a career woman question her choice 10 years down the road and think, "I'm not sure this is for me. I want to do something else"? Does anyone feel 100% satisfied with a path they chose in their twenties? Don't people look back? Don't people have regrets? Don't people change their mind as they grow older? Maybe they don't. Maybe they are perfectly happy with their decisions made at an early age.

Sometimes I just wonder how long I will be in this stage of life. To give myself credit, I haven't stayed completely stagnant. I'm moved up in my job. I've grown and progressed. But there's something about staying in a college town when you're no longer a student. Something feels off. I feel like a little kid who hit a growth spurt without realizing it until I look down at my feet and realize my pants have turned into high-waters. Feeling as if it is apparent to everyone else it's time for me to move on and adjust to change.

Am I insecure? Maybe so.

I do love my job. The thing keeping me is that it's more than "just a job". It's doing something that I love and am pretty good at. It's doing something I could see myself doing and enjoying my whole life. I really do love teaching and helping students succeed. I think I'm insecure because a lot of people don't appreciate the value in that. They see the following facts: college grad, still living in Provo, working full time, not married, not going back to school. I'm insecure because people are judgmental. I'd say when talking to people about those facts I mentioned, 10% ask me about my job and what I do and why I love it. 90% ask me how the dating life is going and ask me when I'm getting married. It really bothers me. A lot.

Sometimes I wish I could go back 20 years where I didn't have to worry about anything except making sure my shoes were on the correct feet.

Sometimes I wish I could fast forward 20 years so that I'd be settled into my "grown up" stage of life and not have to worry about as many life changing decisions.

I know I should enjoy the current stage I'm in because I recognize it's a unique time, but sometimes (like today) I just don't want to deal with it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I miss my friend.

About a month and a half ago I went home to California for a visit. The morning I left to head back to Utah I was talking with my dad. I don't remember exactly, but somehow the conversation lead to my friend Trevor. My dad told me it was okay to miss him and that I probably wouldn't ever be able to completely fill the hole in my heart. He told me that when I settle down and get married that it's okay for me to express that I miss my friend. I don't have to pretend that my heart is over him. 

His birthday is coming up. October 4th. I remember being invited to his birthday party when I was 14. I think that's about the time when we were starting to become friends. I remember for his 16th birthday I made him a package with some fake money and a little toy Hotwheels car. I thought I was clever because when you're 16 you can start working and making money, and you're also old enough to start driving. We didn't really give each other gifts though. Mostly we'd just write cards or poems or draw pictures for each other or make CDs for eachother. Living miles apart (he in Washington and I in California) made the whole gift giving thing a bit of a challenge and rather pricey. I remember the year that we were boyfriend/girlfriend (still living apart). I went to Homecoming. With a different guy. I remembering feeling pretty bad about that, but he said it was okay and it would have been awkward to say no. 

I feel like my anxiety has increased over the last few months when I'm driving. Whether I'm the driver's seat or in the passenger's seat, it doesn't matter. I feel nervous and anxious and I can't help but wonder if my anxiety has peaked because he died in a car accident.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I called him. Or sent him a text message. Or messaged him on Facebook. It's hard to believe that he won't answer. I know he won't though, and I don't think my heart could handle reaching out to him and realizing he won't be there. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still picture him perfectly. I can picture the sound of his voice. I can picture the way he sighs when something is on his mind and he's trying to decide if he should vocalize the thought. I picture him sitting at my kitchen table when he visited me last summer. I picture his laugh. I can picture him saying my name. I can picture the way our eyes would meet and he'd give a half smile and I'd know that even though we weren't romantically in love, we did genuinely love each other. He was my best friend.

I think that lately I've struggled with the term "best friend". To be honest, I'm not sure I have one. Yes, I have friends I talk to and open up to, but I don't have a best friend who knows me exactly. I think Zachary got pretty close, but nobody will know me the way that Trevor knew me. There are so many times that I lay in bed, tears forming for reasons I don't quite understand, and I find my heart yearning and longing for him. I really do miss him and I can't believe it has been almost 6 months since he passed away.

Part of me wonders if it will ever get easier. When I catch myself thinking about him a minute too long, I feel my heart break a little and I want to scream how unfair it is that he is gone. 23 is way too young to die. He wasn't supposed to leave. How is that even allowed? I wince when I think about how we never got to say goodbye. I try to remember the last conversation we had. I try to think of the last words I heard him say. I try to remember the last thing I said to him. The last time I saw him was last summer, July 2013. He was taking the greyhound back to wherever the heck he lived at the time (I couldn't keep up with him). It picked him up at a gas station near the Center Street exit in Provo. Every time I pass that gas station my heart aches a little. 

I'm not sure why he's been on my mind so much this past week, but he has been. And I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just really, really miss him. I'm not sure how to express that or what to do about it. But my heart is not healed, nor do I think it ever will be completely. I miss my friend. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

BYU Days

I have good news.

James moved back to Provo!

Part of me feels like I'll wake up one morning and realize that it was all a dream and that he's still back in Washington. But BYU started up on Tuesday and I'm starting to see large quantities of people wearing backpacks, so reality is slowly sinking in.

Typically I don't work Fridays, so today I thought it would be interesting to follow James to school. Not in a creepy-stalkerish way (though that could have been interesting), but more in a "day in the life of James" way. Here are the things I thought whilst back on BYU campus:

1. College students aren't scary.
I used to be very intimidated by college students. They seemed so old, so big, and so mature. Today I realized that they aren't very intimidating at all. I'm older than at least half of the students there, I'm sure. I might not be large in stature, but most of the college students don't feel big to me (perhaps I'm just used to them?). And as far as maturity goes, there are a lot of immature college students. They aren't immature in the same way high schoolers are immature (ehh...that's a debatable statement), but it's obvious that a lot of students have quite a bit of growing up to do still.

2. The beehives are freshmen.
I recognize that statement sounds odd. Let me elaborate. When I was a freshman at BYU, I remember seeing a couple of girls from my home ward that were on campus attending EFY. The fact they were at EFY meant they were at least 14 years old, and I remember being shocked they were old enough to be there (in my head they were still 12 years old. 12 year old girls were known as "beehives" in Young Womens. In case you've forgotten.) Now I didn't see any of those girls on campus today, but I do know for a fact that those girls live in Provo now and are starting their freshman year at BYU. It's blowing my mind how quickly time is going by!

3. I don't know how to take notes.
I sat in on two of James' classes. One was a physics class and I realized that the last time I took a physics class was my junior year of high school (let's that would have been 6 or 7 years ago). I remember liking physics a lot, but his class was a type of class that had a couple prerequisites (which I obviously have not taken). I didn't know what the professor was talking about. I tried to understand. I had intended to take notes - note the term 'intended'. I wrote a whole lot of nothing on account of it was all over my head. The second class was a stats class and almost bore me because of how easy it was. My major wasn't statistics, but I took a few stats classes and dealt with a lot of research papers throughout my major, so I was very familiar with statistics terms and concepts. I had planned on taking notes for that class too, but didn't feel the need because it all seemed to easy. My conclusion is this: I can't take notes if I find something to bee too easy or too hard. Is there such a things as something being a medium difficulty level? Does this mean I can only take notes if I partly understand something?

4. Holding hands on campus while wearing a backpack is a strange phenomenon.
This might be a silly point, but I'm going to address it because it was a thought that went through my head today. When I was a BYU student, I obviously had crushes on boys. Some of those crushes were mutual. None of those crushes lasted. There was one small period of time when I was at school though where I was willing to commit to being somebody's girlfriend. My point is this: the majority of my college student days I was a single woman. This meant I didn't hold hands with boys on campus. Being on campus wearing my backpack (which I did today so I could fit in) made me feel like I was back to my old self - the self that tried not to get trampled and who focused on getting to class on time. Holding hands with James on campus and being introduced to his friends as his girlfriend was weird. Not a bad weird. Just...foreign. It was mixing two different sides of myself. For some reason, in my head I can't be a student and in a serious, committed relationship with someone. Those are two separate stages of life. At least for me.

5. I could have lived in the math lab.
The summer after my freshman year I lived in the math lab. But then I changed my major and didn't have much reason to be in there anymore. James had a break between his classes and today he went to the math lab to work on homework. Remember, I was experiencing a day in the life of James, so I went to the math lab too. I looked around and had the thought, "What if I hadn't changed my major?" I would have been in the math lab a lot more. I will admit that sometimes I feel really insecure about my major when people asked what I studied. People either assume it is an easy major, a joke of a major, or they don't really know what to say so they just nod and say, "cool." 75% of the time they'll ask me what I want to do with it and then I feel all kinds of annoyed and flustered. Nobody likes that question. Apparently we can't think of anything else to say though, because we all ask it anyway.

In summary, being back on BYU campus posing as a student was odd. I can't believe I graduated almost two and a half years ago. Some aspects of it I miss, yes. But mostly I feel like I've accomplished that stage of life and I'm satisfied with the stage I'm in now - a working woman. (I almost used the term professional, but that feels too grown up to me.) To be honest, I'm ready to continue the stage of being a working woman outside of a college town...but that would mean James and I would be apart, and I quite enjoy his company, so I guess he makes staying here worth it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trip to the Evergreen State - Day 4

Sunday morning was pretty low key. Church wasn't until 1, so we had a few hours to relax. It had been awhile since I had the opportunity to play a family piano, and so I had brought some sheet music so I could play a little bit while I was there. I took Sunday morning as my opportunity. It felt nice to play, but their dog was barking throughout the second half of the song and I got scared. If you know me well enough, then you know I'm not a dog person and am actually a little bit afraid of dogs. Having a dog staring me down and barking scared me a bit and I remember thinking, "I'm sorry you hate my playing." Maybe she was singing along...but I'm convinced she just wasn't okay with me being there and playing their piano.

James's parents had church at 11, and so they left before we did. James and I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood and I kept thinking about how much I was going to miss the state of Washington and how much I was going to miss being able to hold James's hand. You don't appreciate small things like that until you're forced to go without them. The walk didn't last too terribly long. We went back in the house and played a game on the Nintendo 64 (oh how I missed the N64). Unfortunately I was really, really bad at the game. But I don't think he judged me too much for it.haha Besides, he knows what I'm capable of when it comes to video games. He's seen me play Super Smash Bros, and let's be honest, that's the best video game ever anyway!

Next we went to the kitchen and made chocolate chip cookies. And can we all just pause and take a second to agree that cookie dough is way better than baked cookies? It was so tasty! So we made those, and then we had to finish getting ready for church. Church was in an actual church building, which is especially refreshing when you've been meeting for church in classrooms on BYU campus. I felt really awkward when we first got to church because James is the Executive Secretary and he got whisked away almost immediately after we walked in the building. I stood around awkwardly waiting for him. He had to schedule a bunch of appointments, so he spent a good chunk of Sacrament meeting doing that. Part of me was hoping we could be sitting closer, or be holding hands, or that he'd put his arm around me, but I recognized he was busy with his calling. I'm not that into PDA anyway and I know that it can be obnoxious to see other couples during church being too lovey-dovey. So I suppose it was for the best that he was busy; we didn't do anything that would make other people the least bit annoyed or jealous.

We only stayed for Sacrament meeting. We drove back to his house and came home to the smell of wonderful food that his parents had been preparing. There wasn't a ton of time before we needed to leave for the airport, so we ate, chatted for a little bit, and then printed off my boarding pass. The drive to the airport was about an hour and James and I talked about what some of our favorite parts of the trip were. As I'm reflecting back on the trip, I will tell you what my favorite things were: cuddling with him at the end of the day, hearing him give me a tour in an Australian accent, and I think if I had to only pick one more thing it would be hiking at Deception Pass. Although, I enjoyed just about every part of the trip. :)

Now I'm going to add for you some some James's thought. I asked him to tell me what he was nervous about in me coming, what he was most excited about, and what he learned about me while I was there. Here is his response:

"The thing I was most nervous about was how you were going to interact with my parents. I was hoping that everything was going to be well and it did. :) I was most excited about you being here physically, to be able to hold your hand and hold you! And something that I learned about you is that you can be more spontaneous and I liked that a lot. I hope that as we spend more time together we can be more spontaneous and open with each other. I also learned that you are a naturally good shot!"

There you go. Now James is famous!

When we got to the airport, he parked in the parking garage again and walked me inside. This is also something that nobody has ever done with/for me before. He even walked with me all the way to security! And while he didn't walk through the line, he walked beside it and it secretly melted my heart. I loved that he stayed close to me for as long as he possibly could.

The trip was better than I could have imagined. I had such a great time and I hated that I had to come back to Utah to real life. I'm ready for the fall to be here so that he and I will be living in the same city! Having the distance has been good for one thing though: it is allowing for us to get to know each other really well. Since we can't do anything except for talk to each other, I'm learning so much about him, and he is learning much about me. I really don't want to be annoying and mushy, but I will end by saying that I seriously feel so incredibly lucky and blessed. James treats me so well - better than I feel I deserve, actually. He is so sweet, and kind, and thoughtful, and considerate, and gentle, and polite, and aware, and courteous, and patient, and a million other things! I have never met a guy quite like him before and I just can't believe that I get to call him mine. I love him! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Trip to the Evergreen State - Day 3

On Saturday the plan was to go hike to the Ice Caves. I think the drive was about an hour away from James's house (James' house? Uh-oh. English confuses me... Let's try it this way - the drive was about an hour away from Marysville.) We went hiking with his parents and their family dog, Idun. I was kind of excited to spend time doing things with his family, because as much as I loved spending time one on one with James, I was excited to be in Washington so I can see where he grew up. I wanted to see how he is with his family. I wanted to interact with them and get to know them a little better. Unfortunately for me, I tend to have more introverted tendencies than extroverted ones. And although I wish I could have been more social and talkative, the truth is that I wasn't as outgoing as I could have been.

The drive to the Ice Caves hike was pretty. The hike itself was pretty too. It wasn't a very strenuous hike at all, and it was cool seeing so many families on the hike. There were a lot of little kids on the hike, and probably just as many pet dogs as there were little kids. The trail reminded me of a place called Muir Woods in California that my family and I went to a few summer ago. The trail was short and easy, but not boring. It's one of those hikes that is worth doing. We stayed close by his parents and dog at the beginning, but then we went ahead at a slightly quicker pace. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I love hiking!

We met up with his parents again and I'm pretty sure we all walked back together at the same pace. His parents were very nice. I liked them a lot! They were very friendly. And they were normal.haha They didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all and I remember thinking, "I wouldn't mind doing another outing with them again in the future." 

We stopped at a diner in the middle of nowhere for lunch. If I'm being 100% honest with you, dearest reader, then you might want to know I was not feeling the greatest at this point in the trip. I was feeling a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen. I pressed my fingers against the spot and asked James if he knew what organ was located there. He told me that he was pretty sure that's where the appendix is located, and asked me if it was hurting. I admitted that it was hurting, but also told him that I'd be fine - I'd felt this pain before. He seemed rather concerned for me, which was sweet, but it also made me secretly panic. Appendicitis runs in my dad's family. Three of his brothers have had it. What you should know is that as much as I love my dad, I have unfortunately seemed to inherit many of the not-so-favorable genes from that side. Don't appendix is fine. It didn't rupture. There was no emergency rush to the hospital (although I played the scene out in my head as we were all eating our food. I pictured being in a hospital bed and extremely embarrassed. Asking James to forgive me. James's mom being sweet and taking care of me. My parents rushing up to Washington. Calling my boss and telling him how sorry I was that I'd have to take time off work to recover.) I didn't have much of an appetite at lunch, but I ate anyway. I was pretty sure my pain wasn't a big deal, and so I didn't want to make it out to be. But now that a few weeks have passed, I thought I would finally admit that I was secretly a little bit panicked on Saturday because that pain persisted for a few hours and drained my energy. 

When we got back to their house, we uploaded pictures from my camera onto James's laptop. We looked through them for a bit, and then he showed me pictures from his mission. He told me a few stories and it was nice to relax and listen and be in an actual home instead of an apartment. After a little bit of that we decided it was time for me to finally get my tour of Marysville!

I was excited for this part. He grew up in Marysville, and I wanted to see all of places that had a significant meaning to him. First we went to the community college where James took classes in high school. Then we went to a trading card shop. I really had no idea what to expect. Part of me pictured that we'd open an old wooden door and then walk down a staircase to a poorly lit basement. I pictured to see a bunch of nerds in cloaks hovered around a table look up at us puzzled. And a socially awkward store owner come up in our faces and ask us a million questions. Instead what happened was we opened a regular store door and climbed zero stairs. The lighting was better than I assumed. There were some nerds around a table, but I don't think anyone had a cloak on. The employee left us alone, and I spent the entire time wondering if there were Pokemon cards there. We didn't stay long.

The next location was a park! I really liked this part of the tour, because James and I walked around hand in hand and talked about lots of fun things. I was feeling a little bit better, and I was feeling more comfortable. We walked around the park and he showed me where he did his Eagle Scout project. We were there for longer than I thought we would be, but I really didn't mind at all. I enjoy parks. :) And we were having good conversation. We continued our journey and he showed me the theater that he worked at in high school, then we walked around the outlet mall (maybe the outlets are their finest attraction? I'm actually not so sure why we It was fun walking around with him. He tried to show me what a real jacket looks like. Turns out my little cotton jackets are a joke in rainy Washington. Other things I saw: his elementary school, the Marysville Marina, and a taco truck he goes to all the time for lunch. He also showed me B/E Aerospace - the place where he works. One of my favorite parts of the tour (and my trip to Marysville), was when James turned on some epic background music and started to talk in an Australian accent. It made the tour more exciting. It put me in a better mood. And it also gave me a case of the giggles. He is so goofy! 

After the tour, we went back to his house and met up with one of his buddies from high school, Chris. James hadn't seen Chris since before his mission, because Chris is serving in the navy and only recently was he stationed in Washington. I was really glad that James had the opportunity to visit with his friend. And it was interesting to hear Chris talk about his life and his job. I don't have any relatives that have served in the military, and I don't really know any military families. It's a completely foreign concept to me. Anyway, so it was cool to visit. It was the three of us, as well as James's parents. 

Once Chris left, we all played a few rounds of the game Boggle. (Shout out to Melissa! I totally thought of you while we played!) I really, really loved playing with his family because my family likes playing games too. I loved that I kept finding similar interests that we share! I thought about how James would fit in well with my family, and how I could picture our families playing games together (I don't know when or how that would ever happen It would be interesting to have a joint family game night though, because apparently his dad always wins. And my mom always wins. If we played any team games, they'd definitely need to be on different teams, or their team would destroy us all. 

After Boggle we decided we'd all end the night by watching a movie. The movie of choice was called, Red. I had never heard of it. Maybe you have. Apparently it is one of their favorite movies. However, they kept trying to warn me about it - and how if I was feeling uncomfortable or offended, to please say something and they'd turn it off. When we started the movie, I was expecting it to be some horrible movie that would emotionally scar me and give me nightmares. But now I understand that they were just trying to be considerate and sensitive. I made it through the whole movie, in case you were wondering. It was much, much better than I had anticipated. No nightmares that night either! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trip to the Evergreen State - Day 2

When I woke up Friday morning I remember thinking, 'I am very tired.' But I also remember thinking, 'I am very happy that I get to spend an entire day with James.' I came out of the guest room and he told me good morning and he just held me. Something that you may or may not know about me is that I absolutely love to be held. Kissing is fun, yes, but being held is more meaningful to me. And so it warmed my heart that holding me was his go-to form of affection. Yet another reason why he is perfect for me! :)

We made French toast. By 'we', I really mean that he did all the work and I just watched. I got the eggs out of the fridge, and I got to sprinkle cinnamon on the toast. As I admit this, I'm realizing that I did about the equivalent of what a 6 year old would do when helping mommy or daddy cook. Strange as it may sound though, I found it very attractive that James not only knew how to cook, but that he willingly did it for the whole family (and me) to enjoy.

After breakfast we got ready. Here is the part where I confess something: I don't really like getting ready at other people's homes. I feel pressured to get ready fast. So what happened on Friday was that I didn't do my hair. I just blow dried it straight and then called it good. I told myself I wouldn't think about it. And you know what? I realized that it didn't even matter.

The first place we went to was Boom City. I'm not really sure how to explain Boom City except to say that it was on an Indian Reservation and I saw more firework stands than I've ever seen in one place. It was like a grocery store for fireworks! There were multiple aisles and just thousands of dollars worth of stuff that would blow up and look pretty for maybe 4 seconds each. I have a really hard time swallowing the fact that all of us Americans are burning our money. I don't even want to think about the millions of dollars that were exploded in the sky on July 4th. So I'm going to not think about it and move on to the next activity.

SHOOTING! I had never been before! We drove up to the gun range and I had no idea what to expect. I got handed some very fashionable protective eye-wear and then James helped me put on some protective ear-wear. We looked stunning. The first gun I got to shoot was a rifle. James taught me how to load the gun, how to hold it, what to do, etc. I looked through the scope and tried my best to keep my hands and arms steady. I've always heard about guns having, 'kick'. I didn't really know what this meant. And since my imaginative brain does a very good job at exaggerating things, I anticipated shooting a gun to be this huge ordeal. I expected bruises. I expected a sore arm. I expected to lose my balance. And I expected to have really bad aim. What really happened was I didn't feel much of a kick at all. (Probably because James is a kind soul who started me off easy). Also, I discovered I wasn't that bad at shooting either. That was a real shocker.

I don't have much of an opinion on guns, because I've never sat down and thought about it before. What I do know is that I always associated shooting with three things: bad guys, good guys, and hunting. I never thought about it as a sport. It was actually kind of fun shooting at the targets and seeing if I could get the bullseye every time. I started wishing that I had discovered shooting earlier in my life, and I was excited to be dating someone who had guns already and who could take me shooting again sometime! The next gun I learned about and shot was a pistol. I felt pretty legit, although I'm sure I looked rather silly. It was soooo fun though. I can't wait to go again!

After we went shooting, we drove up to a place called Deception Pass. I didn't realize this till later, but we were very close to Canada! Deception Pass was really pretty. We went driving through the woods (everywhere we went felt like we were driving through the woods and found a lovely parking spot and walked across the bridge. See below.

And then we wandered a little bit and went on a short little hike. I love hiking so much! I like getting out of the city, away from the noise and people and distractions. I feel less stressed out and just feel happier being surrounded by the beauty of nature. It was fun getting to do that with James. He makes me feel really happy as well. When we got to the top of the little mountain we were climbing, I turned to him and told him that I loved him. I knew that I wanted to tell him that, but I wasn't sure when or how. It felt like a good moment though. He told me he loved me too. It was precious. :) 

I feel like I need to take a moment to explain something though. Generally I am not a fan of throwing out the 'L' word. I don't want to say it prematurely. Once you say it the first time to someone, there is no other "first time". You have to be careful. You don't want to accidentally toss it into a makeout session while sitting in the car. In my mind, things like saying, "I love you" need to be special, and they need to be meaningful. I don't want to tell a boy I love him unless I really mean it. And while some may argue that James and I haven't been dating for very long, so how could I possibly know I love him? To them I say, "I've dated around enough that I know exactly what I'm looking for in someone. And he already fills all those things and more." The thing I like about James is that he is very genuine. I don't feel like we're playing games. And I don't feel like we're hiding anything from each other. It's kind of hard to explain I suppose. But the fact that I don't say it easily, yet felt like I could say it so quickly to James, is a big deal. To me at least. 

There we are on top of the mountain. I'm sorry it's not a very good picture of the view. But my mom would approve of this picture, because it has people in it. She doesn't like pictures of just nature by itself. haha

Anyway, after Deception Pass we drove back to Marysville. If my memory serves me correctly, I think it started raining a little bit. Washington rain was nice. It smells a lot better than Utah rain. When we got back to his house, I mustered up the courage to play and sing him a song I wrote for him on the piano. And then he gave me a pair of earrings he got me. I definitely wore them every day of the week when I got back to Provo. :)

Next we went to a BBQ. It was at their family friends' house. I didn't know anyone, and I'm not a very social person, but I think it went okay. It reminded me of 4th of Julys back home and doing BBQs with family friends in Folsom. But I think the part I liked the most was I felt welcomed, and I felt like I was getting a good taste of what James grew up with. It was fun being a part of things! We actually watched fireworks there, so we all went out to sit on the driveway (similar to what we've done back home). It was unlike firework shows I've experienced in driveways before though. People were lighting off aerial fireworks in the street. You definitely aren't allowed to do that in California. After further research I discovered that almost half of the states allow aerial fireworks though. I guess I never knew what I was missing! It was really exciting watching the fireworks. Especially the part where the firework tipped over sideways and practically killed us. Alright, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it really did tip over and shoot at us. Another part of the experience was watching the sky fill up with smoke and seeing remnants of exploded firework rain from the sky. I'm sure we all smelt of gunpowder and sulfur by the end of the night. It was crazy to look out and see (and hear) all the fireworks going off around us. It was intense!

We left and went back to his house. We showered, got ready for bed, and then watched an episode or two of Community again. It was a very eventful day (and pretty tiring too, to say the least), but it was likely one of the best days of 2014 I'd experienced!