Category Archives: Love

Coming Out Anniversary Post: The Need for a Relationship

Going to Hell Tee ShirtIt’s April 1st once again.  For those who have been following my blog for a while, you know that this is significant in that it’s the anniversary of my initial coming out.  Eighteen years ago, I quit denying that I was attracted to other men, quit claiming it was “just a phase,” and quit trying to change myself.  (Well, where my sexual orientation is concerned.)

I don’t commemorate or blog about the event every year (See the bottom of this post for links to older anniversary posts), though I decided I wanted to again this year.  This year, I want to consider how my attitude about dating has changed since I came out.

When I came out, dating was extremely important to me.  This is partly because part of the reason I finally came out was because I was tired of being alone.  I was tired of suffering, thinking I may never be able to find — or even allow myself to find — someone I could deeply care about and build a lasting relationship with.  So when I came out, finding someone to love was of grave importance to me.  To put it quite frankly, I was rather desperate at the time.

Consider that I was walking away from years of belief that being gay was bad and that the kind of relationship that appealed to me was strictly prohibited.  Consider that rejecting that belief required me to give up a lot of my identity (being an evangelical Christian — and most evangelicals still insisted that the phrase “gay Christian” was an oxymoron and an abomination at the time — was a huge paart of my existence and idenity) and to strain many freindships and relationships.  So the idea that I’d give all that up and still end up alone was terrifying.  So I ended up putting a lot of energy into the idea that I had to find someone.

It’s a mentality that lasted for years, over a decade and a half in fact.  In time, though, it’s a mentality that began to fade and is now more or less gone.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to find someone to build a life with.  Dating is still important to me.  Having a loving relationship is still important to me.  It’s just not my single-minded obssession anymore.  Now, it’s just something that I’d like to achieve when the time is right and I meet a great guy I’m compatible with and mutually attracted to.

I think I really began to notice this change a few months ago, when I ended my most recent relationship.  I ended it because I just couldn’t see myself being with him long-term, which was something he was definitely looking for.  In general, I’ve found myself far more picky about the guys I date and continue to invest time in, which I think is a positive thing.

I think part of this is due to the fact that once I quit spending so much time and energy figthing with myself over my sexual orientation, I was able to slowly build myself back up.  With the question of how my being gay affects my identity and worth, I was able to more fully explore my identity in all areas of my life.  I was able to build up who I saw myself as, and where I found my sense of worth and emotional strength.  As a result, that idea of a relationship quit being the life-vest I clung to out of desperation.

But that’s something that could only develop once I came out and accepted that one part of myself.

Previous Anniversary Posts

Also, be sure to check out Journey to Queerdom.

Music, Memories, and Emotions

The other day, I was listening to the radio while driving, and “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith came on.  I absolutely love that song and want to include it here.  So thanks to YouTube, enjoy a nice rendition with lyrics, no less:

I actually have an emotional history associated with this song.  The song was quite popular on the radio back in 1998, thanks to Armageddon.  At the time, I was also involved with a young man name Zech.  It was actually my first relationship, providing you don’t count the friend I experimented with in high school.  The song meant a lot to me back then.  Every time I heard it, I thought of Zech.

The other day when I heard the same song, it made me think of another guy.  I’ll call this guy D (until he tells me he’s ready for me to talk about him by name.  D and I have been talking, hanging out, and otherwise enjoying each other’s company.  We’re not actually dating, though I hope that changes some day in the not-too-distant future.

What I find interesting is that while similar, the reaction the song evokes in me regarding D now and the reaction I had back when I was involved with Zech.  In both cases, the theme of the song — the desire to be with that special someone as much as possible — resonated deeply with me.  However, the emotional undercurrents are worlds apart.

As I mentioned, Zech was my first boyfriend (though come to think of it, we never officially dated).  We were both young and immature, and I was only recently out (I had only finally accepted my sexuality two years earlier).  This meant that I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil, and tended to cling to Zech in a sense of desperation.  And that desperation came through back then as I’d listen to the song.  I didn’t want to miss a thing, because I was terrified that things would end.  Part of me wanted to squeeze as much out of the relationship before the horrible ending came, and part of me foolishly believed that simply by being ever-present, ever-vigilant, and ever-suffocating, I could actually prevent the horrible ending from coming.

I’ve grown up a great deal in the intervening twelve years, and I now listen to that song again with a new guy in mind.  And once again, I find myself nodding along with the song.  But rather than a nagging sense of desperation, my heart is filled with a sense of peace and contentment.

The funny thing is, there area  few parallels.  There’s no guarantee that things will work out between D and I.  (Is there ever really any such guarantee?)  I don’t know how long I have with him or even if we’ll ever become a couple like I’m hoping for.  I think it’s likely though.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter.  I have this time now, and I want to make the most of it.  Not out of fear or desperation, but out of hope and joy.

People often talk about how music can evoke powerful emotions and we can associate specific memories and feelings with a song.  However, I sometimes think that people forget that new connections and associations can be made with old songs that replace or overpower the old ones.  I know from personal experience that this is true, because I enjoy “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” far more today than I did back in 1998.

In fact, I think I’m going to go listen to it again.

Old Diary Entry: Tears of Gold

"Freya" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. T...

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote the following entry and posted it to Bloopdiary (when I was still there) on 19 August 2005, when I was still processing through my breakup with Mike, who I had been with for four years.  I recently mentioned this entry to someone else and realized I no longer had a copy online.  So now it’s online again.  Enjoy!

As I’m getting settled into my new apartment and finding ways to establish myself in Rochester, I find myself realizing just how little I think of Mike. In some ways, I find myself in that strange state where it just doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve cried my tears, and while I feel the slight ache of being alone once again (and not getting any younger), I have a strange peace about having lost him.

It was a rough journey getting here. I found myself emotionally distraught about the whole thing. I cried so many tears. To be honest, I never realized I could cry so much over the end of a relationship when I was the person to end it. But there you have it. And I think I learned a lot about it. I came to understand one of Freyja’s myths a bit better.

When Freyja lost Od, she cried tears of gold. Indeed, according to Snorri, this is why “Freyja’s tears” became a kenning for gold. I always found the fact that her tears were gold a mild curiosity. Now I see it as an incredibly profound mystery. And I have a much greater appreciation for the value of grief. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that true grief is a sacred act in its own right. Hence the tears of gold.

I wanted to quit being sad over the breakup. I kept wanting to “move on already.” I didn’t want to shed any more tears. I was “wasting time.” But no, the tears, the sadness, the grief kept coming. And my sweet Lady kept telling me, “No, you need this. Cry your tears. They’re my golden tears.” So I did the only thing I could do, I cried, and I explored my grief.

Then I realized why I cried so much. I was experience true grief, the kind that only comes when one loves so freely and without reservation, only to lose that love. In effect, I wept bitterly because I loved fully. And there is a certain beauty in that.

You see, I think that’s the mistake we too often make. We’re too afraid of that kind of grief, so we avoid being so vulnerable. We only love grudgingly, often holding back and never truly letting go. We do that because we think that sense of grief is bad and to be avoided.

After the past couple months, I’ve come to a different way of thinking. As painful as such sorrow and grief may be, it is in its own way a celebration. My tears were bitter, but they were born of my precious love. I came to understand that as I cherished my love, I could cherish my grief which came as a result of it. In that view, they became bittersweet, and I could see how they really were tears of gold.

I’m not sure many people would understand that. But that’s okay. I guess it’s one of those things you have to experience and come to understand yourself. Me explaining it just won’t do. But for those who do understand, I can just imagine their reaction to reading this.

Hurt

The Voice of a broken heart

Image by WolfS?ul via Flickr

I love you and I miss you. But I’m also hurt.

I understand
you’re in a difficult position. I understand that it’s frightening for
you. And I understand why you’ve made the choices you did. My heart
breaks for you that you were ever in a position that you had to face
such choices.

But you were in that position, and you made those
choices. What’s more, you made many choices that helped to leave us in
the situation we now find ourselves in. And I feel like you chose to
ignore that fact, and instead place responsibility entirely on those
around you — including me — instead of accepting your fair share of
that responsibility.

Please understand, I’m not saying it’s all
your fault, either. We both made choices, and not all of mine were the
wisest or best choices I could have made. And others have contributed
as well. There’s plenty of “blame” to go around. But it hurts that you
seem to want me to shoulder your responsibility — or at least part of
it — in addition to my own.

In some ways, I wonder if I made a
mistake in trying to make things easier for you. I sometimes steered
clear of bringing up the consequences of your choices or the painful
decisions that you might have had. I find myself wondering if in doing
so, I merely encouraged you to continue denying your own
responsibility. If so, then I suspect I did both of us a great
disservice.

So I’m hurt right now. But I still love you, and I still miss you. I think that makes the pain all the more acute.

I Miss You

The Voice of a broken heart

Image by WolfS?ul via Flickr

I miss you.

I
miss our talks. I miss your requests, even though they were often more
like demands than actual requests. I miss the way you’d get excited
about something and become completely consumed with a thought or idea
that struck your fancy.

I miss how you could be tender and
loving so much of the time. I miss how you yearned for both physical
and emotional intimacy, and I cringe at the thought that we may never
share that intimacy again.

Some people want to think it was just
about sex. I know the reasons they think that, but they’re wrong. It
was never about the sex. Yes, the sex was nice and I’ll miss that too,
but sex alone does not make a relationship.

Besides, let me be
honest. If I was just interested in sex, there are far easier avenues I
could pursue to get it. I could get a room at the spa if I just wanted
sex. I could hang out at the Home Depot if I just wanted sex. I could
have answered ads on craigslist if I just wanted sex.

Accepting
the complications, limitations, and risks of our relationship would
have been way too much foolish effort if I had merely been in it for
the sex. I’m amazed at anyone who can’t see the truth of that statement.

It’s
the memories of moments spent lying next together and talking that are
most powerful. It’s the memories of hopping into the shower and
lovingly washing each other’s bodies that make me ache for more such
tenderness. It’s the memories of your smile as you tell me about every
little detail of your life that fill me with wistfulness. The thought
that I may never have any more of these experiences with you is what
tears at my heart so much.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that some
day we might beat the odds so that we can be together gain. I hoe that
some day we might again share such moments of tender joy together.

But for now, I miss you.

Comforting Words

Be still. Hold your center. Even in your pain and disappointment, breathe deeply. Relish the emotions. For even this dark side of love — yes, you can use that word — is of me. Without the bittersweet, the joyous ecstasy could not exist.

Your feelings are a part of you, but they are not the totality of you. You are bigger than them, and they cannot consume you. So let them be. Embrace them. Love them, for they flow out of your pure, beautiful soul.

You are hurting. This is the way of love, especially unrequited love. But it will pass in time, and more joyous aspects of love with assume their place for a season.

Do not stop loving. Continue to love those who do not return it — at least no in the way you’d like. They are still precious to you. Do not lose sight of that or you will lose yourself.

I am always with you. Love is always with you, for I am love, as are you. Be true to love, me, and yourself.

Musings on Love

The topic of love has been on my mind a lot, lately. (For those who know me, that should come as no surprise.) I’ve done a great deal of thinking about what it means to love someone and what love really is. I think that one of the most profound explanations of love can be found over at Fr. Geoff’s blog today. The following is an excerpt from the wedding homily he posted:

It is true, there are very powerful feelings deeply intertwined with love; however, love is far more than merely a “feeling”. Love is a choice. A choice made in freedom. To place another human being and his/her needs on par with your own and perhaps, even above your own. A beautiful example of this can be found in the persons of your parents who are here with you today. There were many times, during your infancy, when one of them got up out of a warm bed in the middle of the night to take care of your needs. There were countless times, when the alarm clock sounded and they got up out of bed and went to work so, that you’d have a plate at the table, a roof over your head and clothes on your back. That’s love. Nothing fancy. Just ordinary people who chose to be there with and for each other. To help shoulder the burdens of life and, to share its joys and laughter. In the first letter of John (4:16) it states: God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them. In the book of Genesis (1:26) it states that God made us in his image. When we chose to love, it is at precisely that moment, that we most perfectly reflect the image of God in our world. It is at that very moment when we are at our best, our most noble. It is no small thing that causes you to speak these words here today and to enter into marriage.

While Fr. Geoff and I may disagree on many theological points (some fine and some more fundamental), there is much on the topic of love where we can find some common ground. To me, love is all about doing those little things to help, support, and bring out the best in the person I love. It’s about providing a listening ear when they need to talk, a shoulder to bury their face in when they need to cry, or some chicken noodle soup when they’re sick.

But why do we do these things? Why do we make the choice that Fr. Geoff writes about? Is that were the feelings come in? To some degree, that’s the case. The feelings I have for someone definitely contributes to my desire to support, care for, and otherwise nurture them. But I think it goes beyond that, too.

I think that we often do this for the sake of love itself. I’m not talking about some sort of enlightened self-interest where we do these things in the hopes or with the expectation that the other person will do the same for us. (Though we all have those hopes, and I don’t think they’re inherently bad.) But there is something powerful in expressing love itself. To love and care for another brings out the best in us, something we desire to see and manifest. Once we allow that kind of virtue manifest through us, there is a certain sense of joy, which encourages us to do so again.

As I think of love and its expressions, I also think of fellow blogger Pam Hogeweide and her vigilante quest to discover, explore, and celebrate the ordinary. To me, the acts that most perfectly express love are firmly rooted in the “ordinary” life she (rightfully) finds underappreciated. But the thing is, it’s that love which fills those “ordinary” acts with the extraordinary. Giving a tired and achy loved one a much-needed backrub may be an “ordinary” action, but the love behind that act is far from ordinary. It’s a gift shining from the very core of one’s soul. And that makes it incredible.

Love is truly one of the greatest myteries of life.

Remembering a family man from my past

In an entry on Mutiply, I talked about my perspective changed in regards to getting involved with a guy who has kids. It seems proper to note that while I’ve only become fully aware of this change, the actual change process has been a long time in the works. In fact, I can trace its beginnings back as early as 2001.

Back in 2001, I met Mike, who I ended up dating for four years. Mike didn’t have any children of his own, but was fiercely devoted two his sister’s two sons, especially David, who was in his mid teens at the time. In fact, he was so devoted to them, you would’ve thought they were his own kids.

Again, this level of devotion was very attractive for me, for all of the same reasons I mentioned in the previous post. And there was the fact that Mike was devoted and close to his family in general, including his mother. (To be honest, he struck me as something of a “momma’s boy” at times.) That in itself was also an attractive quality. I myself have always been close to my family, so it was nice to see that reflected in the person I was with. Of course, I also think that it was a bit of a comfort to me, as my family was becoming more distant at the time, too. So it was nice to be reminded that such closeness could still last, even if not in my family. (Fortunately, things are on the mend in my own family now.)

Of course, in the end, Mike’s closeness with his family contributed significantly to the end of our relationship. This is mainly because in the four years we dated, Mike never reached the point where he was comfortable coming out to his family. This meant that he spent that entire time leading a double life, keeping our relationship safely separated from his relationship with his parents, sister, and nephews. This also meant that when his time was limited, that time was usually spent with his family rather than me. After a while, that simply became unacceptable to me. Along with other issues, I finally confronted him and ended our relationship when he admitted he was unwilling to do anything to resolve these issues.

In retrospect, I don’t hold Mike’s devotion to his family against him, even if it did contribute to the end of our relationship. To this day, I consider that a positive quality and something I’d still find attractive. However, I do take issue with his unwillingness to integrate his devotion to me and his devotion to his family, because his failure to do so was the real problem. To this day, that fact is something of a sore spot in my life, though I’ve mostly made my peace.

Through the grapevine, I’ve come to understand that Mike’s gone back to dating girls, and has been with the same girl for at least a year now. I guess things are going quite well, at least from what I can gain from indirect sources. When I first found out about this, I was deeply hurt. In fact, I won’t say I don’t still feel a twinge of pain over it now. However, I’ve come to be more accepting of his choices, and I hpoe he can truly find happiness with this woman. After all, I don’t think he’d ever find happiness with me or any other guy. Because it’s become clear to me that he could never make that choice that would ultimately be necessary. So I hope he can find happiness in the choices he has made.

I know I have. And to be honest, I’m starting to realize that my new choices since breaking up with him have offered me more chances for happiness than I ever would’ve had with him. (I just hope that doesn’t sound too cruel.)

The Highlights of 2007

Pam over at Willful Grace created a wonderful post in which she describes the major events in her life in each of the last twelve months as well as the lessons she learned from those events. It’s a fantastic post and I encourage everyone to read it.

More importantly, Pam inspired me to do something similar. Sadly, my post won’t be nearly as organized or well thought out as Pam’s is. To be honest, I don’t think I could come up with a single even for every month since last January. And besides, there are a couple of months that I doubt I could boil down into a single event or a single lesson learned from the events of some months.

The good news is that I’m not in a competition with Pam, so I’m under neither obligation nor pressure to match her excellent post. This gives me the freedom to simply allow her to inspire me and see where the inspiration takes me. So for that, I’d like to say thank you to her. And without further ado, I devote this post to the highlights of the previous year of my life.

I think that the first major highlight of the year came in February, when I met Rob. I didn’t talk about Rob much in this blog, and there’s a good reason for it. Rob represented the first time that a potential (and real, however temporary) love interest actually read my blog. As such, I struggled with finding the balance of what I could say, knowing that I didn’t want to reveal anything I hadn’t already discussed with him. After all, reading about what another person is feeling about you in his blog rather than firsthand strikes me as a horrible thing.

Rob found me online — on Valentine’s Day no less — and contacted me to express a desire to get to know me and explore the possibility of a relationship. In many ways, we hit it off quite well. And I have to admit that I was swept off my feet. Rob was the first guy to actually pursue me. (Usually, I’ve had to chase after the other guy.) I learned just how much I could enjoy being the object of pursuit. In fact, I’d say that one of the things I learned about myself due to my encounter with Rob is that I like a slightly aggressive guy.

Sadly, things with Rob were fast-paced and terribly short lived. After a few dates and immediately after our first night together, Rob decided I wasn’t what he was looking for after all. I have to admit that after being pursued that hard and dropped just as quickly, I was stinging. Though I did learn an important lesson in that respect, too. My guides tried to tell me things were going too fast and I should slow things back down. But I allowed myself to get carried away in the heat of the moment.

Of course, I don’t think things would’ve ended any differently. After much time, I realize that Rob and I just weren’t right for each other. And that would’ve been the case no matter how slowly we took things. Though I do admit that I wonder if slowing down would’ve enabled us to realize this before we took things as far as we did, saving at least some heartache. So the lesson I learned from that is that when spirit says slow down, it’s best to listen, even if you are enjoying the heat of the moment.

March and April brought new choices with them. After the events of February, I realized that I needed to get out more and put myself in positions where I could meet more people. Before then, I had a small group of great friends, and I’m still thankful for them. But I realized that if I wanted more out of life (especially in the realms of socializing and dating), it was time to expand my circles even farther. So I began to join various groups and look for other ways to get out in the wider community. I would say I’ve seen some mixed results from those efforts, but I’d say they were positive overall. And it’s still a work in progress. And I’ve made some great friendships (especially one in particular) as a result that I think I will always cherish.

The summer months, starting with June, brought unexpected changes in me. In June, I started walking more. In fact, the weekend before my birthday, I took my first ever seven mile walk along the Erie canal. That first walks was both exciting and draining. I came away with a sunburn and some pretty serious blisters on my feet, but I also developed a passion for the trek. In fact, I loved it so much, that I repeated the walk once a month through September and am even counting down the days until the warm weather returns and I can resume the little tradition.

In addition to the canal walk, I began taking a walk after my weekly dinner with friends on Monday nights. Those walks began when I got ready to leave the restaurant one Monday night and decided it was too gorgeous an evening to just go home. So a second walking tradition was born. By the end of summer, I was up to three one-hour walks a week (except on the weekend I’d take the canal walk, in which case that trek would replace one of the regular walks). I began to see this as something I did for enjoyment.

As an aside, this is also the summer that I began to enjoy sunbathing. This is something I had considered a waste of time while growing up and would often shake my head at my sister in disgust during summer vacations when she’d sunbathe daily. In fact, when I confessed to my sister this summer that I’d started enjoying the practice myself, she immediately asked, “Who are you and what have you done with my brother?”

In August, I went with friends the Northeast Naturist Festival. I had a pleasant time while there (though I will note that I kept my clothes on 99.9% of the time I was there) and enjoyed my first real vacation (i.e. a prolonged period off where I did something other than visit family) in years. I came to appreciate again the importance of pampering myself.

The naturist retreat also marked the point in time where I’d say I really began to start coming into my own in terms of spirituality. I had a few moving experiences while there, and they initiated changes in myself that continued over the next several months, and will likely continue into the coming year.

At this point, I will also note that I started really “coming into my own” in general around this time. Or at least I began to notice it. I began building much more self-confidence and a willingness to take risks and make myself more vulnerable. In some ways, I’d say my transformation into a minor social butterfly started to become more noticeable at this point.

In September and October, I had more spiritual awakenings. It is at this time when my patroness, Freyja, began to make it more clear that the nature of our relationship was going to change significantly. (I’m still not ready to publicly discuss the nature of that change, however.) Again, I found myself in situations where my comfort zones were pushed and I was encouraged (not quite at knifepoint) to stretch as a person.

Also in October, I went to a cousin’s wedding. While making the trip with my parents and members from my father’s side of the family, Freyja also impressed upon me the fact that I’ve cut myself off from my family. She began to impress upon me the fact that I need to get closer to them. She says it’s because there are ways in which I can help various people in my family. Of course, I’m not sure how that’s going to work, considering that the kind of help I can best offer is something most of them would be opposed to. But I guess time will tell.

Then in December, the bombshell dropped. About two weeks before Yule, Freyja suggested (again, not quite at knifepoint) that I should plan the Yule ritual for a small group of friends. So I placed the necessary calls, made the commitment, and moved forward. I have to admit, I was rather nervous, especially after becoming sick for the week prior to the ritual, which I had originally hoped to better use for planning. But things turned out beautifully and everyone had a pleasant time. And fortunately, I have much more advanced noticed for the next ritual I’m expected to plan, which isn’t until the Spring Equinox.

I’d say it’s been an interesting, profound, and profitable year. Hopefully the coming one will continue in that trend.

Another wedding

This Saturday, I rode with my parents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins down to the Philadelphia area. There, we all attended my cousin Melissa’s wedding to Brian. It was a pleasant day and an enjoyable weekend.

My parents and I left their house around 8:05 that morning. Our first stop was to pick up Uncle Roger, Aunt Marlene, Rhonda, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is Rhonda’s daughter, who was not actually going to the wedding. We were just taking her to meet the family she would be spending the night with while her mother was away. After that, we swung by Sandrra’s house to pick her up, thereby completing our little entourage. After that, the meat of our four hour trip began.

The trip itself went quite well, the worst part being the horrendous traffic on Route 309 when we hit Quakerstown. Of course, there was also the minor issue where we missed our turn onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike from I-80, but we recovered from that quickly. Fortunately, no cop was around to notice our illegal U-Turn just a couple hundred yards from the exit.

I have to admit that I was a bit concerned about spending that much time with family in the van. I was particularly worried that the discussions would focus on religion and politics, two subjects in which I hold radically different views from 99% of the rest of my family, which means I either have to remain silent or risk starting a confrontation. This is certainly something I would’ve wanted to avoid, as it would’ve certainly affected everyone’s disposition at Melissa’s wedding. And I adore Melissa.

Fortunately, my concerns proved unfounded. I failed to consider that the lively religious and political discussions are mainly initiated and continued by the men in my family (particularly the husbands of a couple cousins). My aunt and two cousins (Uncle Roger was mostly silent or talked with my father) were much more interested in discussing the studies, extracurricular activities, and general well-being of their children and other family members. Of course, this also made me painfully aware of just how out-of-touch I have become with most of my family. After this weekend, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. It’s something I will have to ponder later.

Sandra did inquire about my work, and quickly rediscovered why most of the family doesn’t inquire. As a software engineer, my job is quite technical and discussion of it in any detail tends to quickly go over most people’s heads. But it was certainly nice of her to ask.

At any rate, the trip down passed without any major mishaps or strife, and we made it to the church about seventy minutes before the wedding would start. As we hadn’t eaten, we decided to go look for someplace to eat. After wandering around lost for about five minutes, we found a helpful police officer who was able to give us directions to a plaza that had a McDonald’s, a Subway, and a few other options. We decided to go with McDonald’s.

After eating, I decided to change into my clothes for the wedding. I had worn my dress pants on the drive down, but chose to wear a nice tee shirt with it, figuring it would prevent the chance of me getting something on it (like ketchup or barbecue sauce) when eating lunch. So I put on my undershirt and the blue dress shirt I had chosen for the wedding (I’ll have to see if anyone has a picture of me in the outfit and get a copy) and exchanged my sneakers for dress shoes. Sandra told me I looked nice, which made me smile. Then we made our way back to the church.

The wedding itself was simple, yet beautiful. There were certain elements in the wedding ceremony that I have only seen in one other weddings — James’s. I found myself wondering if they were specific to Methodist Weddings, as James is also a methodist. (Though I should note that he and Michelle got married in a Wesleyan church.) And Melissa looked fantastic in her wedding gown.

After the wedding was over, we had some time to kill before the reception, so a large number of us (including a few more aunts, uncles, and cousins who came by themselves) decided to go to Dairy Queen. This is the point where I also got to see my cousin, Robin. I haven’t seen her in over a decade, so it was a pleasant surprise. We both commented that we hope we see each other sooner next time.

After finishing our ice cream and chatting for a while, we decided to go to the fire hall where the reception was to be held (after running back to the church to pick up those who wanted to stick around and take photographs, of course). The reception itself consisted of a dinner served family style. The chicken was absolutely delicious. The DJ they got for entertainment played some great music (though we left before the dancing got started, so we didn’t hear much of it). At about 7:30, everyone in our group decided it was getting time to head home, so we all piled into the van for the four hour or so trip back to northern PA.

Overall, it was a fantastic day.