Friday, August 31, 2007

Jay's Got Duty... Time For a New Blog

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life the other night. Jay and I went to see Nickleback in concert and while snuggled up under Jay's arm, I heard him sing for the first time. Now granted no matter how good of a singer you are no one sounds good when they are singing along at one of those outdoor concerts. The cigarette smoke coupled with all the screaming and woo-hoo'ing is not exactly the best for the vocal chords. However, even with all that, hearing Jay's voice rumble in his chest as he smiled and sang along was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard and almost brought me to tears. On the surface this reactions seems kind of random, so I'll back up a little (well a lot) and see if I can fill you in.

I've known for a long time that I love family birthdays. It didn't matter if it were mine or one of my brother's, but I love gathering around the kitchen table with my pyro's for brothers lighting a million candles and singing Happy Birthday. It took me a long time to realize that it was hearing my dad sing that made these moments so special. Now my dad has one of the worst voices in the world and birthdays are about the only time you can get him to sing. I processed this a lot during high school and finally realized that it hearkened back to one of the last times in my life where I felt truly safe.

When I was really young my entire family was very religious. We were at the church every time the doors opened and as homeschooled kids we looked forward to snow on Sundays so we could stay home from church and play. What I remember distinctly, though, is being 5 or 6 and my dad holding me in his arms while he bounced me and sang during the worship time. I remember snuggling against his chest and hearing his rumbling voice mix with his strong heart beat. The feeling that elicited, a feeling of being truly safe and completely cared for was soon lost, but for a moment it was very real and firmly planted itself in my psyche.

What I have realized since then is that those feelings were in fact an illusion. I felt safe due to naivety and not reality. Just like teenagers have a sense of invincibility not because it is true but because they haven't seen the brutality that life can deal. It would be many years before I realized that the man who I had drawn such comfort from was actually emotionally and verbally abusive (and physically abusive to my brothers). That same man has now (due to an illness called bipolar disorder) rewritten history in his own head and truly believes himself to be the victim of a large conspiracy instead of the abuser of his family. This caused a secondary wound. The wound caused by not being able to acknowledge the wound of abuse.

So... how did a blog that started out about the most amazing moment of my life get so heavy and depressing? Because if you don't understand the difficult part then the good part isn't as meaningful.

So... fast forward again to the other night. During one of the slower songs, I found myself snuggled in against Jay's chest, and I realized that I could hear HIS voice mixing with HIS strong heart beat, and for the first time in over 20 years, I felt that same sense of safety I felt at age 5... except this time it was a reality. Jay would give his life for mine if needed (as I would for him) but way beyond that he shows his love in a million tiny ways. He shows it in the way he parks across at the next apartment building so that I can have the close parking spot; in the way he reminds me to bring a sweater to Cracker Barrel because he knows I always get cold; in the way he knows what day of the week my favorite restaurant serves the dish I love so much; in the way he can sense when I have the antys and need to get out of the house and when I want to just stay home; in the way he can sense when I'm fighting an anxiety episode and can give me the space and reasurance to overcome it; in the way he sprayed down my khaki's with stain remover after I got them all dirty on the family day cruise; in the way he intently listened to me whether I'm talking about something very important or completely trivial (note that this was one of the traits I feel so in love with over 10 years ago); and simply in general how we always wants me to have the best even if that means that he gets second best.

So, I guess, with my brothers spread out all over the Carolinas, that soon I'll be looking forward to gathering around my kitchen table and hearing Jay sing Happy Birthday to our children (who given our family backgrounds will most likely be pyro's too!) But at least I will know that just like I am, in his arms they will always be truly safe.

Thanks for reading, y'all!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Tux Blog

Well, wedding plans are in full swing at the Sluder-Schultz house. As Jay likes to say, "It's all wedding all the time!" But don't let him fool you, he loves it!

This week/weekend, I'm a lonely Navy fiance (hence the blog), but last weekend I had him all to myself! Among many wonderful things we got to do together, some of the time was spent at After Hours formal wear picking out tuxes for the wedding. I find it interesting that he's banned from seeing me in my wedding attire, but I have no such restriction. In fact not only did I get to go, but the store owner directed almost the entire conversation at me and gave me all the final paperwork. I guess it really IS all about the Bride! Hehe! :-)

When I grabbed my camera on the way out the door, Jay groaned and assured me that he would not be required nor able to try on the actual tux, just some standard jackets for sizing purposes. But in anticipation of this blog, I brought my camera anyway figuring I'd at least get some cool shots of the store and Jay talking with the store employees.

When we got there we spent some time looking around and talking about the wedding colors. Jay picked out a gorgeous long jacket that he really liked,


(The middle one.)

And a beautiful vest/tie combo that will look wonderful with out color scheme, and decided to put the guys in a black version of the same thing with Jay in the green so he stands out.


We introduced ourselves to the associate working in the store and told him we had an appointment to get registered for the wedding. It was such a thrill to say for the first time with confidence the date of our wedding! Then the associate started asking Jay about a million and one questions! 4 pleats for 6 on the shirts? Full collar or half pointy thingy? Square toe shoe or regular? Silver cuff links or gold? Good grief! Who knew renting a standard monkey suit required so many decisions! Hehe!

About the time the associate started measuring Jay, the store owner came out. When he saw me there snapping pictures of Jay in his t-shirt, he insisted that they could do much better than that. Within 5-10 minutes he had pulled the jacket, vest and tie off the mannequin and grabbed an extra shirt and pants out of the back. Within 15 minutes, Jay come out of the dressing room in full regalia! And OH DID HE LOOK HANDSOME! I've never actually seen Jay or any other guy I've ever dated in a full tuxedo. I was so impressed! Not that he doesn't normally look good, because he does, but oh man he looked so gorgeous! I was about to pop! I felt like a parent at the school play wanting to yell, "That's my baby! He's marrying ME!"

He stood there for a few minutes and let me oooh and aaah over him while taking pictures.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Note: we decided later to go with the striped green tie instead of the black one he's wearing in the pictures.

Then the store owner showed us all the ways the one measured for Jay would fit better, and then to my chagrin, Jay changed back into regular clothes.

They told us all the in's and out's that we and the groomsmen needed to know, and the we walked out hand in hand for the rest of our weekend together.

I'm constantly amazing at how quickly life can change. This time last year, I was making packing lists for my trip to see Jay after over 5 1/2 years. I was scared to death, knowing that I had just ended a difficult relationship and moved out on my own for the first time in my life, that there was the possibility that Jay and I would see each other and the chemistry wouldn't be there, that even if we did work out that I had an 8 month deployment and a cross country move ahead of me. I truthfully wasn't sure I had the strength! And this time two years ago, I was preparing to fly to North Carolina for a wedding of my sister-in-law who hated me along with her entire family, a husband who wouldn't take up for me, and a relationship I was slowly realizing might never work. The only thing I felt then was trapped.

So, as I walked out of the mall, holding the hand of my soul mate and best friend, I realized once again that sometimes the most wonderful times of your life only come about because of the hardest.

212 days to go! WooHoo!

Thanks for reading y'all,