Gratitude and gourds

Pumpkins

We know I’m a crazy fall nut.

It’s one of my defining characteristics, I’d say — this obsession with changing leaves, apple cider and my beloved pumpkin spice lattes. When this love affair with autumn began, I really couldn’t say . . . but it only seems to intensify from year to year.

But this year? For as excited as I am about the months to come (read: very excited), this is the first time bidding adieu to summer feels bittersweet. I’ll miss my flip-flops and ice cream, gardening and running out in tank tops, but most of all? I’ll miss the farmers’ markets.

We have quite a few nearby, and our favorite is filled with Amish produce and goods that takes over a library parking lot on Saturday mornings. Spencer and I have driven out for tomatoes, zucchini, onions and breads (delicious, delicious breads) many times since late spring, and I felt the changing tide last weekend.

Gone were the colorful hanging baskets filled with flowers, the watermelon, the cantaloupe . . . in their place were gourds and Indian corn, fat pots of mums and sunflowers. It was a cool, misty morning, and I saw summer slipping away like sand between tanned fingers.

It makes me happy — and it makes me sad. It feels traitorous to autumn to admit that, but here we are.


Corn


This morning it was cool enough to need a jacket — bringing to mind all those early school days when I could finally dig out the sweaters and boots I’d lovingly selected back in the summer. Given it often stays hot here through the end of September, all the back-to-school duds my sister and I would pick out in August couldn’t be worn until October.

We waited and waited, gazing longingly at our cute cardigans and corduroys with their tags in the closet — hoping the temperatures would dip enough to unveil our fall wardrobe. There was nothing as disappointing as wearing old summer tops in a fresh new year — back when each September was a chance to reinvent yourself, begin anew.

September still feels that way for many of us, I think. Though my budget doesn’t allow for a reinvention of the ol’ wardrobe these days, I am looking forward to reorganizing my closet to find beloved pieces packed away since last year.

I want to focus more on what I have instead of seeking more — a feeling I’ve toyed with often since January, when I resolved to use up and make do instead of investing in additional stuff.

Gratitude and gourds . . . that’s what I want fall to be about.

Well, that and corn mazes. And cider. And ghost stories . . .

Who says we can’t have it all?


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What we talk about in our twenties

Sunset

Over the weekend, I had an interesting chat about chatting.

What we talk about with others.

How we handle social situations.

I’ll admit to getting a little anxious in big groups, and sometimes I feel like I have “nothing to say” — or nothing interesting to say, anyway. Because I write a personal newspaper column, most of my “good” stories become fodder for my work. It may not seem tough to write a measly 450 words twice a week, y’all, but trust me: it gets challenging.

Sometimes I sit around in my pajamas and eat cookie butter out of a jar. Other times Spencer and I watch “Manhattan” and surf eBay and hang around drinking coffee, then do some laundry or pull weeds or whatever. All necessary tasks — but not exactly compelling.

When my sister and I had the chaos of planning two weddings last year, we always had something to talk about. Joint bridal planning is a unique brand of chaos that provided constant conversation with everyone we knew for a solid year, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t milk that for all it was worth.

(I did. I know I did.)

Regarding social occasions, I find that so much we want to share with others — IRL, if you will — has already been “shared” elsewhere. We post photos of vacations on Facebook; share milestones on Twitter; Instagram the heck out of an awesome meal. By the time we actually see someone, they’re well aware of what we’ve been doing and eating and thinking about.

For me, there’s another component: because I blog. And beyond that, friends may read my column and have already “heard” everything cool going on in my world.

I’ve gotten kind of used to this. It is what it is. The fact of the matter is, you know, I’m kind of boring; I only do so many “interesting” things in a day. And when I get together with folks I haven’t seen in a while, there aren’t always that many fascinating anecdotes to relay.

And that’s okay. It doesn’t matter.

Because sometimes? It’s enough to just be together. Without iPhones, without Facebook, without Gchat. It’s enough to sit and drink a cold beer on a friend’s new deck and blow bubbles with a 3-year-old and all watch the sun go down. To brush mosquitoes away from each other’s legs, hold up a beer and mouth “Another?” and laugh about silliness from five years ago — because we can.

Sunset II

I haven’t had a large crew of friends since high school, back when we bonded through theatre in the way that only in-the-trenches teens can. As an adult, I was folded into a large group of friends via my brother-in-law and sister — and my husband was been welcomed, too. I’m so grateful for all of them.

Maybe our conversations are about work, or houses, or children . . . maybe a little travel, if we’re lucky, or movies we’ve seen. Plans we have. Food we’ve made. Or money because, you know, we all only have so much of it; budgeting has become a common talking point.

I’ve learned from them. Been comforted by them. And even if it’s not all groundbreaking stuff, it’s more than enough for a group of twenty-somethings who have ushered in many life phases together. Though I didn’t meet the crew until we were all out of college and making our young way into the world, I’ve known them all longer than I’ve known my own husband.

It’s good, really — to look out at a porch now filled with newborns and toddlers, friends who have moved away and come back, those of us who have coupled up and married and now throw bashes in new spaces. We can’t all get together without mentioning how “things have changed,” often jokingly and innocently . . . because they have. Change is everywhere. It fills the cracks of every conversation.

But that change feels good, too — solid, real, reassuring. As we enter different phases at different times, we lend support and camaraderie. One couple actually bought their house the day before we did, and we’ve bonded over unpacking and adulthood in new ways.

Things change. Things stay the same.

And when we talk, we make the words matter.


Stormy breeze, hope

Rainbow

I had a breakthrough last night.

After all the worry and planning and anxiety and uncertainty, I finally felt my burden lift. I felt calm.

Should have known I’d have the sky to thank.

The weather has fascinated me since I was a kid — back in the days when I fancied myself a future storm-chaser (I blame “Twister,” though I’d been watching the Weather Channel religiously for a while already). At some point I realized tornadoes are actually scary and maybe I wouldn’t want to drive into or near one, so I curbed my dreams of becoming a meteorologist and pursued other hobbies.

Also, I’m terrible at math.

My passions have evolved over the years, but I always come back to clouds. The sky. Weather. Hurricane season was once my prime time, and I scoured the news every morning to hear how storms had developed overnight. I distinctly remember waking up at my grandparents’ house in the summer and running into the living room to click on the news, desperate for updates on tropical storms brewing over the Atlantic.

I was a weird kid. Kinda cute, though.

As an adult, the weather still fascinates me — but more in a curious or “red alert danger” kind of way. Various iPhone apps keep me informed on what’s happening out there, and I’m known to friends as the Weather Cop — a title I wear rather proudly. If a storm is on the horizon, I’ll tell you all about it. And probably show you the radar map, ’cause that’s how I roll.

When Spencer bought the condo in 2011, we immediately fell in love with the large windows overlooking town with an unobstructed view of the skyline. High up on the second floor, everything looks beautiful — and the sunsets we’ve enjoyed from our apartment have been incredible. I’ve taken countless pictures, and my weather-loving self has rejoiced at the unparalleled views right from our couch.


La Plata sunset


Spence had little when he first moved in. Coming from a house shared with roommates (and their furniture), the living room held only fold-out camp chairs and a tiny, cable-less television for months. We entertained ourselves through sky-watching. One of my earliest memories there is of the two of us peering up at the encroaching dusk through opened windows, the warm summer air ruffling our hair. We used to lay on the carpet and talk, looking up at the stars. We didn’t need more than that.

Three years later, we’re boxing up the last of our belongings to leave our first marital nest this weekend. We got word that potential buyers were coming to look at our condo last evening (!!!), so Spence and I hurried home to tidy up and move more boxes to the new house. I was in shorts and flip-flops, sweating and tired — but suddenly so buoyed and hopeful that someone was coming to see the apartment. The one we’ve loved so much.

Things are in motion. After several long months, the end is in sight.

At the new house, Spence and I walked around cleaning in advance of the crew coming today to cover our bare plank floors with carpet. Real carpet. And last night was the first time I looked around and thought, This is our house. Though we had, you know, signed our lives away a month ago (terrifying) and spent nearly every weekend and most weeknights slaving away in there, it hasn’t felt real. Transitioning from “construction zone” to “moving in” has been . . . an adventure.

But we’re getting there.

We’re almost there.

Upstairs, we heard rumbles of thunder as we jimmied the washer and dryer out of the guest room. It was warm, both of us sweating. After we managed to get the appliances off the to-be-carpeted floor, a flash of lightning lit up the hall. “Storm,” we said. Spencer and I moved to the large glass windows above the garage and stared out, quiet. Waiting.

Our view at the new house isn’t as expansive. We don’t have the clear views to the west, and the twinkling lights of town don’t beckon us. It’s wilder out there, deep and thick; the woods behind our house are impenetrable in summer, and a little scary at night. We’re much farther off the highway. It’s quiet, too.

But standing there with Spencer, both of us looking up at the night sky, I felt just as I always have. Like I’m home. It called me back to those early days at the condo — back when we had nothing but an empty room and daydreams. Those memories will always taste so sweet to me.

Heat lightning streaked the sky, illuminating the newly-cleaned corners of the room. Lightning bugs buzzed on the lawn.

I put my hand on his back. And we watched.


When I got gutsy — and finally lost that weight

I wasn’t sure I could do it.

And I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

I’d grown used to being the curvy girl — the one with the “pretty face.” Even as my dress size climbed through my teens and twenties, I refused to give in to self-doubt. I didn’t want to focus on my weight — even though, in reality, I already was.

When I needed larger jeans, I bought them.

When I wanted to have a second cupcake, I did.


Christmas cupcake


I’d gotten listless, cranky, easily tired or sick. But I wasn’t a woman accustomed to depriving herself or scaling back. I was afraid to address the issue of my climbing weight because I “didn’t want to obsess about it,” as I told my fiancé. The idea of a weight loss program where I’d have to track points — and be held accountable for everything that passed through my lips — intimidated the heck out of me. I played it off as an annoyance, but the truth?

The truth was that I was scared.

The idea of joining Weight Watchers* had entered my mind years before, mostly as a method of control, but I shunned it because I was afraid my “last-ditch effort” to get healthy with the program wouldn’t work . . . and where would I be then?

I’d tried the gym, sweating miserably on a treadmill and bored out of my skull. I’d briefly embraced Zumba classes, trekking out on weeknights to dance with coworkers until an injury sidelined a friend . . . and I used her absence as an excuse to bail.

I went through a phase where I upped my veggie intake, tried to scale back on eating out, stepped away from my favorite hobby — baking — so we wouldn’t have so many goodies hanging around.

Nothing worked. After a while, I always slipped back into my old routines.

I just didn’t have the right tools.

Though I’m probably going to come across as a Weight Watchers disciple, I really feel passionate about the program — because it changed my life. WW became my new home-away-from-home in mid-January 2013, the day after a minor car crash rocked my world. No one was hurt, thankfully, but it was my first real accident — and it shook me to my core. Plagued by sudden “what ifs?” and anxiety, I suddenly knew it was time to get serious . . . about my life.

I’d been engaged for less than a month, heavier than I’d ever been, and suddenly dealing with two weddings to plan — mine and my sister’s. As I talked with insurance companies about my car accident and tried not to imagine what would have happened if the truck that hit me had been going just a little faster on a dark night, I began to process my impending move from my parents’ house while my fiancé and I simultaneously discussed guest lists and wedding venues.

I was overwhelmed. When Spencer started talking about weight loss, I felt emotionally exhausted — and not ready to even try. I almost let those little fires, those anxieties, keep me from ever stepping foot into Weight Watchers. But when my fiancé suggested going to a meeting “just to try it out,” something told me to go.

It took guts for me to walk into that first meeting — to finally admit I wanted to change. I was so afraid of losing confidence, of “admitting defeat” about my physical self, that I resisted the idea of needing to get healthy.

But I’d seen family members and friends felled by illness. I had my own health scare a month earlier — at a time when I should have been celebrating my engagement. At 28, I knew my body wasn’t going to simply “bounce back” from poor decisions.

It was time.

To everyone’s shock — especially my own — I embraced Weight Watchers with a vigor typically reserved for religion. From the moment I was handed the tools to make better decisions about my food and my life, I gained a sense of confidence. Instead of deprived, I felt empowered.

Tracking my food came naturally, lending a sense of control to an area of my life that had felt haphazard for so long. I rediscovered my love for fruit and vegetables, especially apples, and learned new ways to prepare them. I started (healthy) snacking.


Apple


I’d been worried I’d become “obsessed” with what I was eating, tracking everything to a T . . . and I did.

But it’s been awesome.

Where once I’d eat a sleeve of cookies and feel guilty all night, I learned to have two, track them and move on with my day. I hadn’t realized all the negative self-talk I’d been foisting upon myself, making less-healthy decisions and then berating myself for them.

Portion control became my best friend. I educated myself on smarter choices, on the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables, on all the little choices I thought were good for me that were actually a form of self-sabotage. In short, I’d been eating way too much — and out of emotion. Food was love, and food was comfort. I ate until I felt full to bursting because . . . that was just what I did.

I had to retrain myself. Retrain my body, retrain my brain.

It hasn’t been easy. It took patience, dedication, discipline. Food had been my drug—my crutch—for so long, and there were times it took a Herculean effort (and literally sitting on my hands) to resist reaching for the bread basket.

But I kept with it, never missing a Wednesday weigh-in, because I knew I was working toward the best possible goal: getting healthy for myself, my family and my soon-to-be husband.

When I took a step back (and I did), I learned to be gentle with myself. To be patient.

When I gained some weeks, I chose to remember I was in this for a lifetime — and that rises and falls were inevitable.

That’s the beauty of Weight Watchers — and why it worked for me: I’m not on a diet. I didn’t start the program with a stopping point in mind, figuring at some mystical point I’d be “done.” Being healthy means you’re never “done” . . . but I didn’t realize that the tiny changes I was making were adding up to a complete reboot of my relationship with food.

Some folks assumed I was losing weight for the wedding, a natural thought in our “Say Yes to the Dress” culture. It was easier to let them think I was another image-conscious bride than to explain the truth: that my engagement was merely the wake-up call I needed to realize the rest of my life was waiting, and I didn’t need to bring all those extra pounds into it. It was about so much more than a white gown.


Hands and dress


I dropped 4 lbs. in the first month, amazed to see the number on the scale sliding down. I’d grown so used to cringing at the doctor’s office, the only time I ever weighed myself, that wanting to peer at those digits was a new feeling.

I tried on and bought a wedding dress in March, already 10 pounds lighter than when I’d started — but I’d have to leave it for alterations in August after losing three dress sizes.

On Dec. 11, almost exactly 11 months since I started the program, I officially hit my goal weight: a number that placed me below the overweight zone for the first time in my adult life. I’ve lost 34 lbs. since Jan. 16, which makes my fingers tingle as I type.

But that’s really just a number.


Weight loss grid

View More: http://birdsofafeatherphotos.pass.us/megan-and-spencer-wedding


What have I really lost? My guilt. My awkwardness. My fear of having my photo taken and pasted on Facebook for all the world to see, wondering how much old friends and acquaintances are judging my appearance. Never one obsessed with looks, it pains me to admit how much I worried about what others thought of my body . . . but I did.

And what did I gain? Confidence. Swagger. Comfort. Peace. A sense of control that was so lacking in my everyday life—the idea that I’m not ruled by food, though I can still enjoy it (and do). If anything, I enjoy food more now — because I’m making better choices, ones that make me happy. Because I don’t eat pumpkin pie twice a week, my rare indulgence tastes sweeter than the sweetest thing in the world.

I feared weight loss would be all about deprivation. That I’d have to starve myself, get angry with myself, berate myself. That I’d feel so much worse before I’d feel better.

But I feel awesome. I’ve felt motivated and empowered from the beginning. For finally doing something instead of just talking, talking, and for committing to my health.

For committing to myself.

Standing here at the “finish line,” I know my journey is really just beginning — and I feel far more than 34 lbs. lighter. A weight has been lifted from my shoulders, literally and metaphorically, and if I’d known I could feel this good? Well, I would have done this years ago.

It started with a single step: acknowledging that I wanted to change. And with the encouragement and support of my husband, family and friends, I just kept taking tiny steps toward one happy Megan.

But it was a solitary journey, too: one I began for myself.

And I am proud. Very proud.

If you’re thinking about tackling a challenge and getting gutsy in 2014, remember that the time is now. Every cliché you’ve ever heard about committing to yourself and being worth it is absolutely true. You are worth it, and you can do it. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

Be your own biggest fan . . .

. . . and if you’re looking for a sign, as they say?


This is it


Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals. This is my entry in Jessica Lawlor’s #GetGutsy Essay Contest.
To get involved and share your own gutsy story,
check out this post for contest details.


*This post was not sponsored by Weight Watchers — I’m just very passionate about the program. All opinions are my own. Though I was not asked to nor compensated for sharing my thoughts, clicking on a Weight Watchers link and signing up for the program may grant me a referral credit.


Life without WiFi

Leaves
I’d rather be out here instead.


In the weeks and months leading up to the Big Move-In with Spencer, we talked endlessly about two facets of life in our new place: the fact that he does not have cable (the horror) and, worse, the stunning truth that he also does not have Internet.

I’ll repeat that again, lest the crushing weight of this truth didn’t settle heavily onto your chest the first time: Spencer does not have Internet. We do not have Internet at home.

Look, we all know I’m addicted to technology. From Instagram and Facebook to Flickr and Etsy, I am online all the time. Like most twenty-somethings who remember life without social media, however, I often think about the toll it takes on my everyday relationships . . . you know, the ones with people waiting for me to stop snapping pictures of my wine slushie and just drink it. Not long after I got my first iPhone, I remember Spencer literally getting up to put it on a shelf on the other side of the room (“for my own good,” he joked. Or should I say “joked.”)

I felt anxious. Genuinely anxious. Like, upset and itchy and freaked out not to have that little portal connecting me to the outside world. When we visited the UK for two weeks in 2011 and I was totally sans online access (save the times I broke down to put a few pounds in the hotel lobby’s computer), I honestly felt like a crack addict itching for her fix. It was even hard to concentrate.

It’s been more than a week since I moved into a place without Internet — or cable. And though I’ve been endlessly busy with unpacking and organizing the upcoming wedding (less than three weeks!), I have to share words I never thought would leave my lips: I only kind of miss it.

Cell phoneNow, let’s be frank here: I’m definitely not without online connections. It is not at all the same as going abroad for two weeks with literally no access to anything digital. I didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on my phone for everything from weather reports and maps to keeping in touch with my friends and boyfriend, and how dependent I’d become on that stream of communication.

So no, I’m not stranded in a digital desert without any water. I realize this. There’s my iPhone, for one — still ever-present in my little paws. And, you know, I’m online for eight hours a day at work — albeit not doing personal projects, so it is different. But still. I’m not disconnected, and I’m not pretending to be. But as someone who routinely spent all day on a desktop followed by all night on a laptop at my parents’ house, this is . . . unusual.

But not unwelcome.

I’m writing this at Mom and Dad’s on Sunday, popping onto the family computer to touch base with a few folks I didn’t reach during the week. I reported a non-paying bidder on eBay (why, why do people do that?); I put my beloved Etsy shop on vacation because I can’t keep up with “Harry Potter” scarf orders beyond the current fill (which is an awesome problem to have). Just, you know, putzing around online while I wait for Mom to get ready so we can run errands and do whatever nonsense we feel like doing on a beautiful fall day.

And I don’t need the Internet to do any of it.

After a few weeks of no WiFi at our apartment, I’m sure that familiar ache for online access will return — and I’m sure that, down the road, we’ll break down and sell our souls for some sort of monthly service plan. I know I will really miss the Internet when I want to work on pictures after the wedding, because how will I upload all of them? That’s when I get a little itchy and weird: when I think about getting my pictures online.

But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. For now, there’s a whole big world out here just waiting for us.

And I’ll only Instagram some of it.


Slipping into the bookstore

books


I love getting lost in a bookstore.

Okay, so I don’t really get “lost.” That would require me not really knowing the lay of the land, so to speak, and goodness knows I have plenty of experience wandering among the stacks.

The truth is that, like so many, I’ve started relying on alternate sources for my literature fix. Reviewing books frequently means novels arrive in packages and boxes, mailers and envelopes. I go to the library. I shop online. And, of course, there’s the whole issue of digital books — those electronic ones that pop up in a digital library with the swipe of a finger. My Kindle doesn’t get as much love as my physical books, but I do enjoy having lots of options at once in the palm of my hand.

I can’t quit bookstores, though. When our local Borders closed in 2011, I went into a period of mourning. The local bookstore was more than just a place that sold books, of course: it was a community hub, a hotspot, a place for friends to meet and mingle. In its heyday, Borders buzzed with people and music and life, pure and simple . . . and yes, they sold books. Lots of them. But books, though important, sometimes seemed beside the point.

After Borders liquidated and closed that summer, Spencer drove over to purchase some of the bookshelves which currently take up a quarter of the living room in our apartment (but that’s totally worth it). Word spread that Books-a-Million was planning to purchase and re-open our location in Southern Maryland, rumors that proved true a year ago. When I first popped into the store last summer, I felt anxious that a place I’d loved so well — and spent years as both employee and patron — would be forever changed. You can’t go home again, you know?

But maybe you can. I just re-read my post from last summer, one spilling over with sadness and uncertainty. When BAM! first opened, it didn’t feel like “my bookstore” anymore. The exterior was the same, yes, and the interior resembles the old Borders as well. But it obviously wasn’t Borders, and that hurt. I was deeply emotionally attached to the old place and just couldn’t. let. go.

Life marches forward, though. Much has changed in a year. As I get closer to the wedding and am prepping to move both my personal belongings and offices at work (more change.), I’m growing accustomed to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s one of my single greatest challenges: adapting. Allowing something new to enter my life without mourning deeply for the old.

I’m getting stronger. I’m getting excited.

I went into Books-a-Million with my parents for the first time in a while last Friday. Where once the store seemed quiet, empty, there were plenty of people padding down the aisles with stacks of books in their hands. We waited in line at the register. It wasn’t as crazy as the old days, sure — but what is? There was a John Mayer playing overhead as soon as we walked in, just like those fall days in 2006, and I thought about the college student who once wandered the same aisles with the latest Harry Potter and a walkie-talkie clipped to her hip. Life was an oyster, and I’m busy finding the pearl.

Seven years later, I still love getting lost in a bookstore — and was thinking about how fortunate I am to be able to slip inside the same bookstore where I spent so many happy days.

Things have changed, but some things stay the same.

And I definitely came home with a book.


The story we’re painting together

Paint samples


Buying paint is such a grown-up thing to do.

And six months from being a married woman, I’m starting to feel like one.

I don’t know why it’s taken so long for us to slap some color on the walls. Spencer became a homeowner almost two years ago, and we were both pumped to decorate his space. It was a blank canvas — literally. White walls, beige carpet. Nothing but empty space to fill, fill, fill.

But the options were overwhelming. Since we could do anything with the kitchen and living room and hallways, the options were too much. And I have no real clue about interior design. For years I was actually afraid to really make any bold moves in the house, nervous about stepping on Spence’s toes as The Girlfriend who didn’t, you know, live there. How could I decide what he should have to look at when I was only there half the time? It didn’t seem fair.

That being said, that was all firmly in my head. Spencer never gave me anything but free reign to help design and decorate his home into a very “us” space — even before we were engaged. But now that we’re six months out from the wedding, I feel the earth shifting. I’m moving in soon. And we’re trying to get things organized before that happens.

In addition to redesigning the master closet to accommodate my avalanche of clothes and shoes and bags (that should be nice and scary), we’re finally sprucing things up. Hanging prints and photos. Dusting. Vacuuming the nooks and crannies. Going through old boxes. We went through the bedroom and closet on Sunday, getting rid of the detritus that tends to accumulate, and it felt so nice and productive. We opened the windows, got a trash bag and began sorting and throwing out and organizing.

I do like to be organized.

So that’s one little corner down. After procuring the Borders bookcases two years ago, our work around the living room came to a stop. We did quite a bit of reorganization after Christmas, moving decorations and ornaments to a hall closet, but haven’t done much of a purge since then.

Spence jokes I’m moving in one garbage bag at a time, and that’s not entirely untrue. I bring something with me every time I come over. Lately I’ve been sorting through my clothes at home, donating older items to charity and bagging up the out-of-season clothes to bring to Spencer’s. I’ve already moved several trash bags full of sweaters and hoodies, plus all of my work-out clothes (Lord knows I barely use them). I’ve also dragged all of my winter coats and jackets over and hung them with Spence’s in the hall closet.

Moving is weird. I still live at home. I never moved out, not even for college, and as a 27-year-old woman with a lifetime of memories in one childhood bedroom? Well, it’s strange. It’s hard. I’ve moved beyond fear at the idea of leaving to excitement at the prospect of sharing a home with my guy, but it’s still going to be odd to live full-time in another town.

Hmm.

But not going to dwell on that. Let’s talk about paint! After years of staring at white walls, Spence and I finally made a plunge last weekend. We decided the living room was in need of an accent wall — and since we were juuuuust getting started with this whole color thing, it seemed like the logical place to begin.

We motored over to check out paint at a home improvement store, the first time I’ve ever been excited to hang out in one, and grabbed swatches in varying hues. We finally narrowed our choices down to three and bought samples, which came in cute little containers. Our living room is mostly green, brown and taupe, so we were looking for something earthy but bold to complement the palette we have going on right now.

So we chose red, naturally!


Spencer painting


It sounds weird, I know, but stick with me. Though Spence and I may not have identical tastes in decor, we’re both suckers for red (our primary wedding color, in fact). We brought home samples in deep purple, an olive-toned brown and this unusual, bold red hue . . . and after Spence painted swatches on the wall, we agreed immediately that red was it.

Plus, as an added bonus? The red will totally complement our postcard pillows. Visiting Spence’s family in New York last summer, I stumbled upon fabric featuring vintage postcards in a quilting shop. I fell in love instantly, of course, but had no clue what I would do with said fabric. My lovely soon-to-be mother-in-law is a talented quilter and certainly no slouch with a sewing machine, so she kindly made pillows out of the fabric when she came to visit at Thanksgiving. I am in love with them. And they’re beige, green . . . and red!


Postcard pillows


Are we strange enough to match an accent wall to a collection of pillows? Maybe. But in all honesty, I just think the red looks really cool. We’ll officially convert the wall to red later this week, and I’m enjoying the little splash of color in the meantime.

You know, I was terrified when Spence first dipped his brush into the paint — afraid of the enormity of bright red on a white wall. It was so permanent. And scary. But once it was done, decided and begun, it was invigorating. It’s the second life of his home — our home. We’re ushering in a new chapter, scrawling the rest of the story . . . the one we’re writing together.

Or painting together.