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Archive for the ‘love thursday’ Category

Last weekend, J and I hopped in my car and took off for a third anniversary weekend getaway on the Cape – which we’ve been meaning to visit since we moved here. And, well, it wasn’t quite what we expected.

First of all, we got a super late start on Friday, due to too many errands left undone till the last minute. Planning to leave mid-morning and not getting off till 1:30 does not make my clock-watching husband a happy traveler. (Even if, as I reminded him several times, we are not on a schedule.)

Second, as we drove, the weather threatened rain – gray, misty, grim skies – and kept threatening until mid-afternoon Saturday (when it finally decided to shape up and clear up).

Third, who knew you had to pay to go to the beach at Cape Cod? (Clearly we didn’t.) Since it wasn’t beach weather (see above), we didn’t want to shell out $15 for a day pass, so we didn’t actually set foot on a beach the whole weekend.

However, here’s what we did do:

-watched the Orleans Firebirds play baseball on Friday night (on the mistiest field I’ve ever seen)


-ate delicious pizza at Zia’s in East Orleans


-browsed at the delightful Main Street Books in Orleans


-drank hot chocolate at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow


-fell asleep in a little peach-colored room tucked up under the eaves at the lovely Inn at the Oaks, and played Frisbee in the backyard


-toured the Cape Cod Light, and gazed openmouthed at the views of beach and hill and ocean


-quizzed each other on Trivial Pursuit questions and drew on the butcher-paper tablecloth with crayons, while waiting for our dinner at the Saltwater Grille


-played miniature golf at the Gift Barn


-enjoyed exploring and laughing and being together – and rolling with it when a few doses of the unexpected came our way. Because that’s really what marriage is about, isn’t it?

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you have an adventure this week with someone you love.

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Since my beloved Bethany, college roommate and friend extraordinaire, got engaged in December, I’d been anticipating her wedding weekend in Nashville. I bought a dress, booked a plane ticket and hotel room, found her some pretty lingerie and a custom cake server, and packed a suitcase with warm-weather clothes (and, ahem, four books). We woke up waaay before dawn on Thursday to catch a 5:15 flight out of Boston. And the next three days were pure friendship and fun and giggles.

(Bridesmaids. Yes, I know we’re cool. Don’t be jealous.)

Of course, the ceremony was beautiful; they’re so much in love; I’m thrilled for them; etc. But what makes these wedding weekends so much fun is being there for your friends – decorating, chauffeuring, helping make decisions and fix makeup and set up tables and straighten veils and reassuring the bride’s sister that, no, the cake is not going to fall. (It didn’t. Though it did lean.)

(I don’t know what Abi is saying. But I love these faces.)

I loved all of it. All of it. Walking down the aisle to “Africa” (which is, for some unknown reason, Chad’s theme song) and taking goofy pictures before and after the ceremony and making sure the garter stayed where it was supposed to and calling the groom from the bride’s cell phone after she left it at the church. (Fortunately, they were only a few miles down the road, so they circled back for it, still with birdseed in their hair and lipstick on their car windows.)

The other best part of these weekends is being there with your friends. Namely, five of us squishing into a hotel room and quoting Friends all weekend; relaxing with the girlies as we all sat side by side getting spa pedicures on Friday; catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in six months or a year or three years; grabbing frozen yogurt with a newly-returned-to-Nashville friend and her husband, who grew up in a town 50 miles from mine. It felt so good, all weekend, to be with old friends, and to relax into being known.

(Amanda and her daughter Virginia came up from Abilene, to hug the bride. Abi, Kelsey and I, on the right, were all bridesmaids.)

(Stealing kisses from the bride, who has called my husband her “roommate-in-law” for years.)

Happy Love Thursday. May you spend at least part of this day with people who love you.

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Last week, our friends Katherine and Andrew came to visit. This trip was Katherine’s graduation gift to herself – she’d been to Boston before, loved it, and wanted to come back and show Andrew around. So they spent several days walking the Freedom Trail and going to museums, browsing the stacks at the Brattle and watching the penguins at the aquarium, and slogging through the most miserably damp weather we’d had in a while.

Fortunately, on Friday afternoon, the weather cleared – enough for a lovely walk along the wharves of Boston Harbor, with sailboats and puffy clouds and early-evening sunshine.

And then, as J and I discreetly hung back (me with my camera at the ready), Andrew pulled out a compass, in which was hidden a lovely sapphire ring, and asked Katherine to marry him.

As you might have guessed already, she said yes.

Happy Love Thursday, all. There’s a whole lot of love in the world.

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(quote mug from Brookish on Etsy)

Last night, after a long, gray, mind-numbing day at work and a long, wet walk through the North End and back (for some admittedly delicious Italian food), we walked home from the subway stop hand in hand, grabbing the mail on our way in. We shucked off damp coats, and I changed from my smart work skirt and leggings into worn-in, comfortable jeans.

We turned on the twinkle lights and I lit a vanilla candle, and we listened to a Belgian girls’ choir singing covers of popular songs (odd, but beautiful), and to the patter of rain outside. And I could feel my entire body and spirit exhaling. Ahhhhh.

In my yearlong quest for comfort, it’s nice sometimes to find it right here at home, waiting for me.

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Spotted on Boston Common, where I walk every weekday.

It’s nice to know love is all around us. Happy Love Thursday.

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One of the best things about living in Boston? It’s a place people actually want to visit. Moreover, people just end up here sometimes, for conferences or other events. Which works out well for J and me, since the sight of a familiar face these days is manna from heaven.

Our friend Matt, who works with Teach for America in Washington, D.C., recently landed in Cambridge for a conference. Before coming, he sent J and me a message: did we want to meet up, walk around Harvard, have lunch? We did. And despite the fact that the Hyatt Regency is completely, absurdly inaccessible to public transport, resulting in a lot more walking than we’d planned on (and we’d planned on some), we had a rich, wonderful afternoon.

We had not seen Matt in well over two years, since he graduated from ACU and began teaching middle schoolers in D.C., but we’ve kept up through the miracle (and, at its best, I believe it is a miracle) of Facebook. And even though we were more peripheral, always-glad-to-see-you-but-we-never-hung-out-often friends than close friends in Abilene, we still savored every moment of our long, looping walk around Cambridge.

We strolled up Memorial Drive along the river (already dotted with a few sailboats), into the busy, colorful chaos of Harvard Square. We had lunch at John Harvard’s Brew House, followed by a stroll around the Yard, a stop at Ben & Jerry’s, and a trip to the Coop for the requisite T-shirt buying. And the whole time, we talked.

About goofy stuff and real stuff. About moving, about cities, what it’s like to live somewhere so totally different from Abilene or Texas or the South. About churches and community and friends; about long-distance relationships (we’ve done it; he’s doing it). About sports and food and people we all know; about Matt’s students and J’s therapy work and my writing/editing/blogging gigs.

We shared the stuff of our lives, the stuff you don’t get to share over Facebook or via email, and enjoyed the real, tangible, irreplaceable experience of being in each other’s presence. Much as I treasure all the ways of keeping in touch with far-away friends, you absolutely can’t beat a solid few hours to walk and talk and just be together.

The gab-fest continued that evening, when Matt hopped on the Red Line and joined us for a game night in Quincy (which entailed the longest, craziest game of Pictionary I’ve ever played). And amid all the laughter and jokes and haphazard sketches, I was conscious of a deep sense of gratitude.

Gratitude for old friends who care enough to keep in touch, who listen when you tell them about your life, and are willing to share theirs with you. Gratitude for the hand of fate or God or whatever it is, whatever puts people in the same place for a while and then causes their paths to re-cross later. Gratitude for crisp spring days, for laughter that makes your eyes crinkle up at the corners, for deep, funny, heartfelt conversations and equally deep listening. Grateful for the gift of time with people I love.

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We had another stint entertaining strangers last week – a group of 15 students came from our beloved university in Abilene, Texas, to spend their Spring Break sightseeing and doing service projects in Boston. On the day they arrived, they’d been up since 3:30 a.m., to catch a bus to Dallas, a flight to Boston and a long T ride from the airport all the way out to Brookline, where a group of us were waiting for them, with pizza.

Despite their exhaustion, we all ate pizza and chatted, and then J and I took our two guys, Zach and Lucas, home via the T. I expected them to fall straight into bed, but instead we poured ourselves glasses of water and stood in the kitchen and talked. And then moved into the living room and talked. For hours.

It went on like that all week – chitchat over coffee and breakfast in the mornings, or sometimes just greetings on our way out the door, and a nightly catch-up in the kitchen after each day’s work and play. J and I were usually in our pajamas when they came in, but we’d stand there asking them about what they did, and the schedule for the next day. J even took a rare Friday off to tour Fenway and wander around Cambridge with the group. And on Friday night, five students and their hosts came back to our place for cookies and a hilarious, hours-long game of Catchphrase. I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

Most of us at Brookline didn’t know any of these students before – though Daniel was friends with one of the group leaders, and one of them was a former student of Shanna’s, to her surprise. But we had the common bonds of faith and ACU, and – as Zach put it – “the Texas approach to Boston.” We know what it’s like to be strangers here, so we could nod along with the guys’ first impressions of a city both foreign and fascinating to them. And we fell easily into talking about our common ground – professors, chapel, Abilene, Sing Song.

We speak the same language in so many ways, which is perhaps why I’m missing our guys this week. We’d never met them before and only spent a week with them, but we learned to love them pretty quickly. And should they ever decide to come back to Boston, our door is always open.

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This year, Valentine’s Day coincided with my first day at a new job. We hadn’t planned a big splash, anyway, since it fell on a Monday, and we’d celebrated early with a yummy dinner date in the North End at the weekend (the best lasagna I’ve ever had, finished off with cannoli from – where else? – Mike’s.)

However, I’d been hankering to make Jen’s Valentine sugar cookies, and I was also brain-tired and longing to do something tactile when I got home on Monday. So I tied on my favorite striped apron and began pulling ingredients out of the pantry.

The first thing I noticed? We had no powdered sugar. So I shed the apron, pulled on my coat, and dashed to Walgreen’s, just up the street. No dice. They had regular sugar, but no powdered. I headed home, and discovered via the Internet that if you don’t have powdered sugar, you can in fact make your own – by whizzing regular sugar and a little cornstarch in the blender. Excellent.

When I opened the flour canister, I realized there was no way I had enough flour to make a whole batch of cookies. So I halved the recipe. (The hubs doesn’t have a raging sweet tooth anyway, although I do.)

Problem #3: Not enough shortening. So I substituted butter, hoping it would work. (It did.) And started to wonder if I should have even bothered – but by then, of course, I’d poured half the ingredients into a bowl. So I pressed on, mixing, chilling, whisking up some pink icing (no sprinkles, but the pink looked properly festive), rolling and baking.

And when J walked in, as I was putting the cookies onto sheets, his face lit up. And – bonus! – he had brought me a Valentine cupcake from their office potluck.

I could have given up on the cookies for lack of flour, sugar, shortening, sprinkles, energy or the will to fuss with it. But I’m so glad I didn’t. Because even with limited, imperfect ingredients, I was still able to make something special for my love. And – true to form – he walked out of the kitchen later, munching on a cookie, and declared, “These are delicious.”

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you find some sweetness today.

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Today I have to tell you about my friend Serenity.

We’ve never actually met in real life, though I hope to remedy that someday. She fought cancer a few years ago, while pregnant with her third son, and won – by which I mean, she was declared cancer-free, and Jake was born healthy (and has remained so, I’m happy to say). Serenity has been fighting the cancer again this winter, first with surgery and then with a few rounds of chemo. And through it all, she has remained her honest, brilliant, loving, optimistic, thoroughly plucky self. The woman’s got spunk. And she can write.

If you are the kind of person who prays, please join me (and others) in praying that her cancer goes away and never comes back. And if you enjoy thoughtful, funny, sparkling, well-written posts about books, Hollywood, family, travel, the writing life and “trying to matter,” head on over and check out her site. And drop her a comment. And let her know that you’re thinking of her, as she fights her way through this journey.

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you treasure those you love today – and from me to you, here’s a midwinter bouquet.

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This is my Bethany.

We lived together for two years in college, in a little red-brick house on 16th Street in Abilene. We took lots of classes together (after I and several other friends finally convinced her to become an English major). We stayed up late at night talking and laughing and writing papers, and we watched Pirates of the Caribbean and The Emperor’s New Groove and You’ve Got Mail repeatedly (and we still quote them copiously). We also wound up living together the summer after college, in my sister’s little house a few blocks away, while we both job-hunted and worked our student jobs and tried to figure out what the heck we were going to do with our lives. We called that our “borrowed time,” and oh, it was sweet and fun and generally wonderful, if a little stressful at times.

Bethany lives in Nashville now, for the second time, after moving back to Abilene in ’08 and living near the rest of our little crew for a blissful year and a half. (More “borrowed time” – how many people are lucky enough to have their best friends right down the street?) We stopped in and stayed with her on our way to Boston this summer, and we keep up on Facebook and Twitter and by phone, though I do miss her keenly.

A few weeks ago, Bethany (who has been dating Chad seriously for a while now) called both Abi and me on a Sunday night, and when we called her back (because we suspected something was up), she exclaimed over the speakerphone, “I’m engaged!” And there was much squealing and congratulations and bubbly joy from all three of us.

Then, this week, she called me, and we talked for an hour and a half, about Christmas and families and weddings and all sorts of lovely things. And in the middle of it all, she asked me to be her maid of honor when she marries Chad in June.

Of course I said yes.

I am so honored to stand next to this lovely girl who has gone through all sorts of things with me, and who stood up with me at my own wedding, two summers ago. It will be a day to remember. And one more lovely milestone in a friendship that has changed my life.

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you find love wherever you look today.

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