You have played, (I think) And broke the toys you were fondest of, And are a little tired now; Tired of things that break, and— Just tired. So am I. – e.e. cummings
A few weeks ago I began writing a blog post to detail the recent developments and setbacks regarding my legs. This summer I started seeing a new physical therapist — my ninth in eight years. I needed to write about it, both to update my friends and to make sense of it myself. I've sat down to work on that post nearly a dozen times since then, but I end each typing session without hitting publish. I just save draft and close my computer because none of what I write about it makes any sense.
I pasted the draft into a Word document earlier this week in hopes that I'd be able to compose better in another program. It was nine pages. Single-spaced.
And then last night I remembered those lines from an e.e. cummings poem. I think he said in 30 words what I hadn't managed to say in nine pages: I am tired of things that break.
My legs had been doing so much better. I had started running again. But I was hitting snags — new minor injuries — along the way. So I started PT again. It brought back too many memories and emotions from the hours and weeks and months and years that I'd spent in and out of physical therapy and doctors' offices before. And it made me realize that I'm not as far along as I thought I was. I am so prone to injury. I have typical flexibility and strength problems, but they're coupled with tricky biomechanical issues, some of which I must have been born with and some of which I assume resulted from the years that I spent moving incorrectly to compensate for pain.
It's so disheartening to be in pain again. My brain may know that it's different pain, that it has already been diagnosed, that it can't possibly last as long as my old problems. But my heart doesn't. I'm so scared and discouraged and frustrated.
I still remember a conversation I had with my friends early in college. We were talking about our fears. And I said, "I'm scared my legs won't get better — or that they'll get better and then I'll get hurt again."
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . . Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
– 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18
Andrew and I have been rewatching The Office lately in the evenings, and I’d somehow forgotten how genius it is. We recently finished Booze Cruise, arguably one of the most memorable episodes of all time. It’s the one in which Michael takes the employees on an evening cruise for a camaraderie event and spends the whole night trying to find an opportunity to give them a motivational speech (about leaderSHIP, of course). But self-appointed party captain Michael keeps being thwarted by the more charismatic and authoritative actual captain, Jack, whom people would rather listen to.
The past week has been CRAZY BUSY with wedding stuff. Andrew and I went apartment hunting, got our engagement pictures taken, AND crossed an item off my bucket list: creating a wedding registry at Target. Oh, and NO BIG DEAL—today I also said yes to a dress! But back to the topic at hand.
Pretty much every time we’ve ever gone to Target, I’ve turned to Andrew at least once and said swooningly, “Wouldn’t it be fun to create a wedding registry!?” (To which he was always like, “Yes, Kate.”) But until this past Saturday, I never actually got to do it.
It should be known, of course, that even though I’d never created a registry before, I did have excessive experience in walking through Target, admiring items, envisioning how they'd look in the imaginary future home I might one day share with my imaginary future husband.
This is what Target does so well—because it is run by veritable marketing geniuses (notice I didn’t say PR geniuses): It gives you a glimpse of the life you could have. You could be the type of hostess who has gold bakeware exclusively for the fall season or the type of homemaker who puts her feet up on a crocheted pouf while a robot vacuum cleans her floors. This is all available to you at Target. And on Saturday, it was all available to me.
I got engaged.
I know most of you already know, but it also seems like an excellent reason to dust off ye olde blog and regale you with my thoughts about things. (Seriously though, sorry for my absence. I've been dealing with cubital tunnel in both of my hands, and it makes my keyboard feel like a medieval torture device. Writers gotta write though, so I'm penning this by hand, and I'm going to make Andrew type it like Tertius typed Romans for Paul. Actually scratch that. Andrew did not end up typing this for me because I took too long to write it. So now I am using the dictate tool on my computer to type it, and my roommates can probably hear me in here and think I'm super weird.)
ANYWAY, I know I owe you a thoughtful recap of our engagement, and I'm working on it. I want to write a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at our past two years if only because Facebook makes things look so much easier than they actually are, and there's something to be said for sharing your relationship without the filter. (The Instagram filter, people. I will still have the other kind of filter.) But for now I'll answer the question people keep asking: Were you surprised?
YES! Yes, I was surprised! Andrew literally had to convince me to change out of running clothes to join him for the walk on which he proposed, and I still didn't see it coming—but more on that in the next post.
For now, I want to talk about wedding planning.
You may remember hearing that the Seine River flooded a few months ago. Because of this, the Musée de Louvre was closed during our first few days in Paris, which meant we couldn’t visit it until our last full day in the city.
Before hitting the museum, Marie and Taylor and I started the day with pastries again because Paris. (White bread is basically protein there.) We took the metro to the Louvre and met up with our friend James at an adjacent Starbucks. (This would be our real fuel for the day.) James was one of our good friends from Asbury and just happened to be in Paris briefly after touring Turkey and Iraq and Italy and I can’t even remember where else. (Let’s just say he got questioned at U.S. Customs when he returned.) It was perfect timing to meet up with him.
Not six hours after we’d crawled into bed following a day in Versailles, we rose again to continue exploring Europe. My sadness over our abbreviated night of sleep was lessened by the fact that we were GOING TO LONDON, the city I’d always most wanted to see. We got ready groggily and walked through mental and literal fog to the metro, which we took to the train station. For some reason I’d been worried, yet again, that we would be stopped attempting to move from country to country (because we look so menacing and everything). But after getting our passports stamped without a hitch, we arrived at our Chunnel train with seven minutes to spare.
Our first stop Monday morning was Rue Crémieux, which is a whole road lined with pastel houses. We went just to marvel at its cuteness. It looks like Instagram and Anthropologie had a street together. I imagine its homes are inhabited by life-size Polly Pockets who keep My Little Ponies as pets.
After admiring (and maybe envying) the colorful homes, we made our way to Place des Vosges, which is cute but in a different way. It is the oldest planned square in Europe and was also once the home of Victor Hugo. (Going to France really made me want to re-watch — maybe even read!?!? — Les Mis.) Place des Vosges, as far as I can tell, is like the 17th-century version of a subdivision. Not only were the houses perfectly symmetrical, but the trees were trimmed into rectangles. There was something very Alice-in-Wonderland about it.
Paris, I was surprised to find, is much like the cartoons portray it. For instance, in the week we were there, I repeatedly saw men playing accordions on street corners. (I know, right?) In these moments, it felt as though Paris was caricaturing itself.
If you thought (like I did) that the cute little Parisian pastry shops were just a cartoon stereotype of the city, you’d be wrong. There’s a boulangerie (bakery) and a pâtisserie (pastry shop) on practically every block of the city. Pastry shops are to Paris what Walgreens are to Chicago.