Friday, May 25, 2012

Leap of Faith

As much as I understand how the wedding ceremony signals the beginning of our life together as husband and wife, I feel like Joey and I really became a permanent adult couple this week.  When Joey offered and I accepted that beautiful diamond ring on that beautiful Santa Monica day, we made a commitment to each other.  That proposal supposedly was the moment that we officially decided that we were sticking together no matter what, and at the wedding that contract will be sealed.

But this week I moved to Omaha.  This week I left New Orleans, the city that I have come to truly love in a way I never would have expected before that first fateful trip five years ago.  This week I said goodbye to all the wonderful people and things I have become accustomed to and familiar with and all the opportunities I had yet to explore in that crazy beautiful city with so much hidden below the beaded surface.  This week I got in my beloved little red firetruck, the car that has served me faithfully since my first frightened 6am forays behind the wheel onto the streets of Los Angeles, packed up a very confused and concerned kitten, and drove a thousand miles to live in Omaha, Nebraska with the man I love.

To me, this is the commitment.  I am taking a huge leap of faith here.  I am leaving comfort and familiarity, friends and organizations that I know how to work into my life.  I am moving to a place where I know almost nothing and almost no one.  I am moving without a job, without the majority of my belongings including furniture (and cooking utensils!), and without a built-in community into which I will fit, like a university.  I am moving 100% to be with Joey, who has chosen the University of Nebraska Medical Center as his overlord for the next several years of his life.

There is hope, though; Omaha streets appear to have been laid out by sober city planners and Joey has introduced me to a wonderful new group of friends over the course of the last year of visits.  We picked out a great apartment in a safe part of town.  My car and my relationship survived the trip from New Orleans through Mississippi (lots of Mississippi), Arkansas, St Louis (where we were able to take advantage of the everlasting HGM family and stay with the inimitable Dean Tambling), Kansas City, lots more Missouri, Iowa, and finally to Omaha.  I have job interviews lined up all week, and plan to apply for more, so at least I've got that process started.  Joey and I have done a lot of shopping these last two days and now have what I am calling a "minimally functional household".  We have a place to sleep, minimal kitchen utensils, and two chairs.  Our first night here I made midnight pasta which we ate standing up in the kitchen before collapsing on a sheet on the floor of our bedroom.  Our second night, I made miso-glazed salmon from Trader Joe's, brown rice, and steamed green beans, which we ate on newly-purchased dishes with my grandparents' silverware, sitting on newly-purchased patio chairs (thank you, craigslist) on our private balcony before going to sleep on our brand-new mattress in our newly-purchased antique bed.  We are definitely moving in a positive direction, and fast.

Last month I was focused on finals and finishing school (turns out, my last semester was the one in which I finally learned to get things done early and earn consistently good grades).  Three weeks ago I was focused on packing up and downsizing my New Orleans life.  Last week I was hosting my family for graduation while finalizing packing and coordinating my move.  Just a few days ago I was putting all my energy into driving (and worrying about the cat, who was nonplussed about the whole thing).  This week I am setting up my new home and worrying about things like "where do these bowls go?" and "did we buy a sponge?".  Today is my first job interview, for a family looking for a once-a-week babysitter.  It's not a long-term career, but it will give me something to do and some new people to meet for at least a little while.

Next week is when the reality of my new life will really sink in.  Joey is going off to work in a lab for the summer, and it will be up to me to figure out what I'm doing here.  Fortunately, I have the love and support of Joey and, to a lesser extent, Boudreaux.  I have a safe place to live and wonderful friends I can turn to, even if they're far away.  We're moving forward, and the road ahead may be scary, but it's leading somewhere good.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Addressing the Dress

Today I made a big step in the road towards bridehood.  I put down a deposit on my wedding dress.  "But (Ari)Ella," I hear you cry in protest, "How could you possibly have put down a deposit on a dress that has not even been whispered about yet?  Did you not bring 18 friends and acquaintances to Kleinfelds to tell you how beautiful you look in a pink tutu and laugh at the dress of your dreams until that sassy gay man tells them to cut it out and guide you through the path of self-actualization until you shout 'YES!' to your dress through a veil of tears?"  "No," says I, "I did not.  That show scares me."  (and plus, Max hasn't let me watch it in years).

The calm and ease surrounding the acquisition of my wedding dress is a gift from my mother, whose creativity and brainstorm method allows her to come up with the strangest solutions that actually make the most sense.  In this case, her idea was getting a custom gown made.  "But (Ari)Ella," I hear you interrupt again, "Won't that cost an infinite number of dollars?  Why would you do that?"  Well, as it turns out, no. Getting a dress custom-made is shockingly cost-effective, especially considering, you know, it's custom, so I can get exactly what I want and have it love my body like nothing I've ever owned.

When you buy a wedding dress through the usual route, you shop through dresses until you find the perfect one, or until you get fed up and just choose one.  For some people, like my friends Chelsea and Monica, this can be an incredibly easy process.  I think it took Chelsea a week from proposal to purchase, and Monica fell in love with the first dress she tried on.  Other girls just really enjoy the shopping process, so don't care how long it takes them to find their dress.  Those of you who have been shopping with me know this is not me.  My process is usually to go to Target, find three things I like, and then pick the best color or pattern (or two or three) and get out of there.  Alternatively, I fly through Marshall's flipping through dresses and tops like they're pages of a 300-page book I forgot to read for the paper I have to write due tomorrow, grab my allotted seven items, try them, and then toss them or buy them.  Sarah admonishes me when I refuse to try things on because I just want to get to the kitchen aisle.  Joey has even admitted that shopping with me is an unpainful experience. This ruthless efficiency, while good for Joey when I need a new skirt, makes the prospect of appointment upon appointment to try on sample-size wedding dresses fills me with dread.  Make that filled me with dread.  With a custom wedding dress, I just sit down and talk to them about what I want, then go in for a few fittings.  No shopping required.

The other thing is the cost.  Wedding dresses are expensive, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone.  The average cost of a wedding dress before tailoring and veiling and embellishments and all those extras is upwards of a thousand dollars.  Part of what you are paying for is the name on the label. Vera Wang, Panina... that's all I know.  Also, you want your dress to fit perfectly so you're going to pay for alterations and tailoring on top of that. And even then, you end up with an edited original.  With a custom dress, I get something that is designed to work best with my body.  The woman at the shop pointed out things that would make me look good and steered me away from things that wouldn't work with my shape.  The alterations as we go through the fittings will be made by the original seamstress so she'll know exactly how best to work with the dress to achieve the desired result.  And, because it's being made by Han in Metairie, it's a lot less needlessly expensive than something made by Panina (well, Panina's minions) in Manhattan.  Also, making the dress fit perfectly is part of the process, not a paid extra.  

A few weeks ago, I got the name of a workshop from the lovely Kim Coleman, beautiful fashionista and Maid of Mid-City (to those of you not from New Orleans, that means she rode in a Mardi Gras parade).  I knew she'd know the best places.  I went in for a consultation with them that basically consisted of flipping through Brides magazine and talking about what I liked and didn't like, and what would and would not look good on me.  We sketched out a basic dress and talked about fabric and that was about it.  I sent the sketch and inspiration dresses to my bridesmaid and maid of honor and they approved and gave a couple helpful suggestions.

Today, I went back in for measurements and to put down my deposit.  I'll go in once more for to make a muslin rough draft of what the dress will look like before I leave New Orleans, and then twice more for additional fittings before it's ready for me to bring home.  As my mom pointed out, having to go to New Orleans is not the worst thing in the world.  Also, it will make me happy to have a little NOLA with me as I walk down the aisle.