Like sunshine itself

I had a dream that spring arrived overnight, bringing with it clusters of flowers pushing up from their beds and warmth spreading across the crown of my head.

Then I woke up Monday morning to that, shed an icy little tear and shoved my growing girth into some maternity pants. The day must go on.

It’s gotten old, all this cold and dampness, the slush and mess, but I know we’re approaching the bend in the road. It’s almost over. And just a hint of spring can get me through some ugly days.

Fall has historically been my most favorite of all seasons, but something about spring — the melting snow; the freshness; the warm breezes hinting at something more — has really captured my winter-battered heart.

Spencer and I met in March on the first warm day of the season; later this month, we’ll celebrate five years together. We’d arranged our first date through OkCupid — the modern way, you know — and wanted to meet somewhere outside, taking in the first delightful peeks of the summer to come.

We wound up sharing a wrought-iron table at Panera. Though it wasn’t quite warm enough to sit comfortably outdoors, especially with the wind, we were determined. Persistent. And as we started talking, I stopped thinking about the goosebumps on my arms. I’ll never forget sipping a smoothie while this funny, cute guy pushed curls from his eyes in that ridiculous breeze.

Maybe that’s when spring transformed for me: that new sense of change, of excitement; this sudden belief that anything was possible. I fell in love in the spring. After a long stretch of winter, Spencer marched in like sunshine itself.

And we’re almost there again. Almost. Soon the days will grow longer, cherry blossoms will burst open, the salt and brine will slip away from our cars.

Life will bloom again. And in three months, we’ll welcome a new life ourselves.

Bring on the sunshine.


Pink trees


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A springtime stroll

Blue skies

Gray skies are gonna clear up . . .


Walking everywhere sounded so romantic.

As a suburban girl who grew up riding everywhere in the back of her parents’ minivan, I’ve never been one to entertain the idea of hoofing it anywhere. We have no real public transportation here in Southern Maryland; sidewalks are often a joke. I grew up on the side of a major highway just outside the Beltway in D.C., and walking? Yeah, no one walks. Not unless you have a death wish . . . or your car broke down.

When Spencer moved into his condo — our home, now — in town three years ago, we were so excited at the idea of being able to walk to things. I had visions of us stepping out for coffee on Saturday mornings, strolling the busy streets or walking to the town’s summer concerts when the weather gets warm. There are so many amenities within walking distance: restaurants, a theater, the post office, stores.

But do we walk there?

Rarely.

I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’m really the one at fault. Despite my get-healthy routines and life revamp in 2013, I’m . . . pretty lazy. And for most of the year, the weather in Maryland is humid or sticky or ugly or rainy or HOT, and I don’t play that. I was a woman made to wander the great indoors, and that’s generally how I like it.

But it’s spring. We’ve all been so cooped up for so long, the idea of spending another second in a dry, dark room is unbearable. It was so gorgeous last weekend, and the trees have finally begun to blossom. I guess I’m feeling nostalgic, too, because I know we won’t be here much longer. We won’t live in town past the spring, and I’m already feeling the twinges of that change.

Typical. Feeling sad before I need to, before I must.

So we walked to dinner last Wednesday, dodging cars and potholes in our journey to a local bar. We thought about eating outside, but the air was just a touch on the too-cool side for comfort. Groups of friends perched on wrought-iron tables on the patio, though, chatting and laughing and smoking the occasional cigarette. We watched the sunset through dusty windows, then stopped to capture the first buds of spring on our jaunt home.

We walked on Sunday, too — all the way to lunch with family and our local theater for a show. That was our farthest walk yet, and I thought about how good it felt to be footloose and fancy free in the sunshine. No worrying about parking lots or meters or tickets in town; no stress over getting “the right spot” at the busy matinee. Just the two of us in our light jackets, holding hands next to the train tracks.

Happy.

It figures I’d come around to the idea of taking my own two feet wherever we needed to be just in time for us to move on. Though our house will only be about a 10-minute drive away, it won’t be pedestrian-friendly.

But that’s okay. New times, new adventures.

And I know we’ll stroll again.


Lilac and spring daydreams

Lilac


It’s spring!

I know, I know . . . another post about winter being over. But seriously: this one was one for the record books, and I’m just so thrilled it’s over. As temperatures reached (and have stayed) above the 60-degree mark since Monday, I’m prepared to declare the cold vanquished and prepare for some sunshine, sandals and ice cream.

(By the way, these photos are totally of my mother-in-law’s stunning lilac from last year . . . but let’s pretend, shall we? The buds of trees are only just starting to open now, and I have absolutely zero photogenic shots to share.)

In less than two weeks, Spence and I will be taking our first non-honeymoon trip as Mr. and Mrs. — up to spend time with his parents in Western New York! And to pop up to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a few days of walking, talking, eating, hanging and photographing. I am so excited to be spending time with them, and so happy to be on the move. As the cold held us all captive in our own homes, I’ve felt caged and listless and suffocated by winter.

Must go.

I also just bought a really cute, barely-used suitcase in an all-over London-themed print from a coworker for $30, so. Bargain and a new bag . . . win/win.

Nothing renews the spirit like travel. Even with the impending home purchase and floating $$$$ signs following us everywhere we go, we’re going to get away twice before summer — and I’m so ready to get out of dodge. Maryland, I love ya, but I need a change of scenery.

In a big way.


Lilac 3


Have you noticed the lack of Wordless Wednesday posts around here? It’s pitiful, I know. I feel guilty every time we reach midweek, desperately wishing I had something — anything! — to share. I like consistency, organization, routines. And WW has absolutely been a routine through the years. But if I’m being honest, I just haven’t been out doing anything worth photographing. I have nothing new. I haven’t been creative enough in our tiny apartment to branch out, and Spence and I have basically just been hibernating and signing paperwork.

Paperwork is kind of our thing.

On the home front, there’s not much to report as yet. Our closing date got pushed back, which is not a bad thing; it gives me more time to emotionally prepare, for one! And . . . well, I’ll need that. I think we’re both alternating between wanting to just move and get it over with and wanting to soak up the vibes in our first shared place together as long as we can. I love being in the center of town, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to go on a few evening walks before we go.

But with the first bursts of sunshine, the first warm breaths of spring, I feel so revitalized and ready for a new challenge. I’m still scared, still worried, but I know this is a good thing. A grown-up thing. A family thing.

And I’ll find plenty to photograph very soon.


Lilac 2


Necessary blooms

Flowers in vase


I’ve needed fresh flowers to get through this interminable winter.

Months ago I stumbled across a bulging bouquet of carnations for $2 at Safeway; they were perkily peeking from my shopping cart before you could count to three. The pink blooms wound up in my mail organizer and in vases around the living room; there were so many — an embarrassment of flowers — that I crafted arrangements for many spots in our apartment.

I loved them. They were so happy, so joyful. But like all blossoms, well . . . they withered, shedding all over the carpet. They died.

Our place has been far less welcoming since then.

The days of my $2 flowers are long gone, especially in the cold. It snowed again yesterday. Every time we stop by the grocery store, I peek at the bundles of colorful stems in pots near the entrance — but they’re $12 or $15 or $20 apiece. As we get closer to closing on our new home, budgeting takes on greater importance. I clip lots of coupons. We’ve cut out (most) frivolous spending, and I couldn’t justify spending $10 on something that was going to wilt in less than a week. Better to buy meat and bread, you know?

But I’m learning that beauty is worth a little investment. Some splurges are simply good for the soul. After checking the flowers at Giant for the fourth straight week to learn the prices had finally dropped to $6, I cracked. Caved. Was all too happy to give in.

Everything is brown and gray and covered in the lingering vestiges of this cold, but I can see it turning around again. We placed bouquets of royal purple in our windowsill and the hallway, and I smile at the blooms every morning.

Winter’s thaw at last.


Flowers


I feel happy


Walking out of work last night, I looked up at that more-vivid-than-life tree and thought: I feel so happy.

The low-lying fog wrapped around my brain seems to have dissipated. I’m thinking it’s thanks to the real-deal explosion of spring: everything is so bright and fresh and colorful, it seems I’ve left the sepia-toned world and stepped straight into Technicolor. The world feels good again. It felt rough for so long.

Spencer is home again! He was out west for almost two weeks for work, and I don’t believe we’ve ever been separated that long. I missed his smile and very presence, for sure — but more than anything, I missed the little emails we exchange throughout the day. I didn’t realize how important it is for me to share the tedious details of my afternoons — random stuff only a fiance would care about, like what Weight Watchers-approved item I had for lunch. And for me to know all the random, silly stuff he’s up to. Our life is an ongoing, run-on sentence. Not hearing from him too often was . . . strange. He’s my biggest fan, supporter, confidante. Sometimes I still get that “pinch me” feeling . . . you know, pinch me and I’ll wake up, still wandering aimlessly in my own life.

Thank goodness I’m not.

My sister got a job! Oh, my sweet sister: the hardest-working twenty-something I know. She’s now working for a production company in Washington, D.C., which means she gets to go downtown every day . . . and I get to bug her for the haps on what’s going on in the city. She’s still working in her field, which seemed up in the air — and on just her second day of work (!), she attended a press conference at the White House . . . where she totally saw the president. Wow. As her own wedding day approaches, this job has brought such relief, I can’t even tell you. I hadn’t discussed that situation here or elsewhere because it wasn’t my story to share, but it weighed heavily on all of us. Thank God.

Wedding planning is coming along! Most of the major items are in place, and Spence and I are working on the details of flowers, tuxes, etc. I’m getting ready to order our invitations, which is so exciting and scary . . . I am a stationery freak, so making a final decision is hard for me. I guess I was waiting for a “This is The One” moment with my invites? I don’t know. Like, this is The Man. And this is The Dress. And this is The Venue. But I’m so undecided about paper, of all things, but I think it’s time to just make a decision. I’m sure they’ll be lovely. (And yep, ordering from Wedding Paper Divas. Everything else I’ve looked at has been EX-PEN-SIVE. Like all things bridal.)

Hanson is coming in concert! After they released information on their world tour, a D.C. area concert was conspicuously absent from the schedule. Thankfully we got word that a local show on June 15 had been added, so I’ll be nabbing tickets for Kate and me. This will be our tenth or eleventh show? I don’t know. I lost track long ago. But if Hanson’s comin’, we’ll be attendin’. Laws of physics and such.

Our friends are getting married tomorrow! I haven’t attended a wedding in years, and the weather here in Maryland is supposed to be perfect this weekend. We’ll be outdoors at a restored barn, and I am just so ridiculously happy for Bethany and Mike. They’re such a sweet couple, and it’s so exciting for the first of our three weddings to arrive! Bethany got engaged two months before Katie and me, and we’ve been doing lots of planning together. Time to find a fun dress and get out there!

I’m back on a reading kick! After working through a slump in the winter, I managed to read six books in April (and all good ones). I’m halfway through Jen Lancaster’s The Tao of Martha right now, and Jen is just my hero. I doubt it’ll be on par with Such a Pretty Fat or Bitter is the New Black, but it’s definitely a fun read.

I’m still losing weight! Down 16.6 lbs and going strong. Another .4 lbs. and I’m officially at my 10 percent weight loss goal for Weight Watchers. I want to lose another 7 lbs. to be at my personal goal, and then I’m going to start maintaining before the wedding. Feels so great.

Hope everyone has a very pleasant weekend!