I haeb a coud.
It’s particularly frustrating right now, because I went to bed (like a good boy) at a very decent hour last night, carefully propped up on one side to let all the fluids drain to the other side of my head. I woke up this morning at 4:00 from one of those awful dreams where you discover you have to cram for an exam in a class you didn’t know you were registered for, and which you have skipped for almost an entire semester. (My recurring nightmares are always so much more detailed and resonant than they’re supposed to be. This one was the third or fourth chapter in the same missed class. If I bothered, I could relate to you the entire imaginary school layout, describe the faces and personality of my teacher and fellow students, and the incidents of the *last* time I had to explain to this particular professor why I had missed a complete month of class.) This cold is a particularly nasty cold which has affected not only my ability to maintain good hygiene in public, but has also given me vertigo, queasiness, and a general feeling of unwellness. It has also, no doubt, affected my lucidity, which you can probably clearly see. Just last year, I was well for a full 11 months without interruption. I had a cold sometime in July, and another one the next June. Since then, I think I’ve had three or four colds. As you can see, marriage is already starting to affect my health.
Needless to say, I wasn’t able to go immediately back to sleep, and by the time it occurred to me to take some Nyquil, it was 6:00 in the morning, and I had been catching up on my blog reading for over 2 hours. The sun was on; my cause was hopeless. So now I’m blogging.
* * *
As we drove off into the sunset on our wedding day (it was late afternoon, but the sun sets early on wedding days), I’ll confess that the first thing we did was pull over. I’m sure they forgive you things on your wedding day, but even I knew that littering the highway with party streamers at 70 miles per hour will probably get you a ticket. Have you seen the fines for littering these days? We would have bankrolled the entire Knoxville City Police for a year! So we drove clear across the street and removed any physical objects attached to the outside of the car. This consisted mainly of party streamers (they had fastened a whole roll to the tailpipe, I think) and slogans scribed in duct tape. They had also taken a part of one of those swimming noodles and attached it to our antenna. (Swimming noodles are in thick supply at the Evans house. Valerie’s brothers use them for an activity called “Amp guard,” which consists of preparing for renaissance festivals by covering cardboard piping with foam and duct tape and beating one another senseless with them. The theory, I think, is that having received and delivered a few velvet concussions, one can think as well as act like a medieval swordsman.)
Valerie had been issuing warnings against wedding car vandalism, but the threats were pretty empty, and I think Valerie knew it. I on the other hand have always liked the tradition. It takes lots of careful planning and forethought, which means that people are only willing to invest the effort to razz somebody they really feel close to. The more they mess up your car at your wedding, the more they like you. Of course, I always thought that, if they **really** liked you, they’d take the time to clean your car and fill up the gas tank before covering it in silly string and duct tape. Apparently, we’re not **that** popular.
Nevertheless, because I felt good about it, and because we were probably never going to get our car defaced at a wedding again, we left most of the mess up. This included slogans like “Just Married!!” and “Honk if you feel the love!” and as a result, we felt like we were constantly being watched by every third car and we stayed on our best behavior.
The second thing that we did was to go through the cards. My mom had gone out of her way to sift through all the wedding gifts and pull out any cards unattached to presents, and let me tell you: we were amazed. Maybe it’s impolite to talk about money in connection with all things newlywed, but it’s really necessary to properly express our gratitude. Getting married in modern western culture is extremely expensive (inappropriately so, in my opinion). Valerie’s parents were covering the costs of the actual ceremony, but that didn’t exactly leave us “heirs of two millions and nothing to do.” I was hired to my first full-time job out of college about a year and a half before we got married. In that time we had to save up and pay for three rings (one engagement and two wedding), various auto repairs, seven cavities, four wisdom teeth to be removed, a honeymoon, and a cross-country move, plus the various expenses of, you know, living. Just before the wedding, the plan was that I would quit my job, thoroughly severing any chances of a regular income. That means it all had to be cash. Can’t have a massive bill from Master Card when you don’t have a job to make payments.
The day I received my last payment as a bona-fide employee of the Billy Graham Association, I wrote up a budget of the finances we had in tow and the expenses we expected to incur in the next two months. We were in the black. Barely. So long as the school loans dispersed before rent was due in September, we wouldn’t get evicted. That alone was pretty close to a miracle, since the rent in Massachusetts is about double what it is in Charlotte, and the lease we signed required that we make four rent payments in the first 2 months. Even prior to the wedding people had been generous to us beyond all imaginings, but as it was, we were just barely going to make it – as long as there were no unexpected expenses.
Then we started opening cards.
Wow. I happen to know some of the people who gave us money. They don’t have any. Yet here they were, writing checks to us. I won’t say numbers, but the total increased our savings by about a month of income at my old job. There’s no way I could have saved up as much as I was given.
I’m driving down the road and I look over at Valerie, who’s trying to figure out where to hide all this stuff until we can find a bank. “Well,” I said. “There goes the budget!” We quickly agreed that, due to recent turns in our circumstances, we could now comfortably afford to spend however much we wanted on whatever we chose during our honeymoon. I think this one fact made our trip one of the most enjoyable vacations either one of us has ever had. We got to do all sorts of things we never imagined.
To our benefactors, those of you who so generously contributed to the Kyle and Valerie Fund, thank you. Thank you very much. I have no way to sufficiently express our gratitude. You made everything so much nicer than it would have been.
We had a three night stay booked in a cabin on a mountain just outside a little town in North Carolina by the name of Hot Springs. (Never heard of it? That’s the point!) It was a tiny little cabin, with the bedroom, dining area, living room, and kitchen all merging around to each other through a single open space. We arrived an hour or two before sunset and quickly moved in.
Now, had this been just me “moving in” for a three day stay in a cabin, this would have consisted of trolling my bags in, kicking off my shoes, and lying down, either to read or maybe watch something on TV. With Valerie, “moving in” is a completely different process: We brought in *everything* from the car, including bags, hang-up clothes for church the next day, wedding gifts and cards that had been placed in the car, as well as any trash that had been dropped during the trip. By the time we had everything in, the inside of the car was virtually spotless. Then we *unpacked*. Valerie found a dresser and moved into it all the folding clothes. Toiletries were placed in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, or in the shower. Then she decorated (I kid you not). We had a basket of things my mom had packed for us: cutesy wedding themed snacks and trinkets. Valerie took everything out and artfully arranged them on the coffee table. By the time we had finished moving in, all we needed was a change of address form to set up permanent residence. We were **moved in.** By the time Valerie was done, **I** was tired.
One of the really cool features of our cabin is that the owners of it had decided to use it as the storage place for their old Victrola record player. They had a stack of ancient records to go with it – not the light, thin LP albums of the 70’s and 80’s, but the old 1/4 inch thick records from the 30’s and 40’s. Old jazz albums, marimba bands. Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. We spent a few minutes figuring out the record player, and picking out records, played one or two and went to bed.
(*Nota Bene: Sorry this is taking so long. Partly that’s because I’m trying to recollect in detail events that happened some time ago, and partly that’s because I’m trying to condense into what’s really important to talk about. But mostly, it’s because I’m trying to put too dang much into a single post. The cold I had was last week some time. I’m going to try to break these into smaller pieces still.*)