What was it like for you when you found out that Santa Claus didn’t exist? Did you cry? Did it make you angry? Did it feel like you lost something precious that you could never get back? I’m right there with you. Only I’m not talking about Santa Claus.
So far, the Christmas season has been a time of serious ambivalence, especially considering that I’m going through a bit of a faith crisis. 2017 has been a year of sorrow-filled enlightenment. I finally decided to fully reject literalism in scripture, embrace progressive/LGBT-affirming theology, and even more seriously, only serve at churches that allow me to be open and honest about my beliefs. It’s been a very dramatic journey, filled with tales of abandonment, conflict, and deep loneliness.
It’s okay, though. We shouldn’t let these things get us down, right? After all, Christmas can still be a time of peace, joy, and Mariah Carey, right? It’s also a holiday that allows us to reflect on all that Jesus has done in our lives, right? Who cares that this somehow translates into evangelicals getting really hostile about Starbucks coffee cups and throwing Jesus outrageous Sweet Sixteen parties where (for whatever reason) we get to pocket all the gifts? God bless us, everyone!
I have stopped telling strangers I’m getting my MFA in fiction writing.
“Your MFA in fiction writing?” they say, “What can you do with that?”
“Write books,” I tell them, “Maybe a novel?”
“A novel!” they say, “So you’re going to be famous?”
I kick the dirt and mumble, “Um, well, sure.”
When it comes to ambition, Jack and I are kindred spirits. I remember on our first date, sitting on a hill together in Saxapahaw, NC and drinking wine out of plastic cups, we told each other about our dreams. We each had a vision for how we wanted our lives to go. We told each other about our passions--music, writing, art. We ate mediterranean food, talked and talked. We found each other fascinating, electric. We were equally matched in our aspirations. We both wanted to be great. We liked this about each other.
They say that people are at their most attractive when they do something they love--something they’re good at. We’re our best selves when we live out our passions. Before we met, this was what Jack and I did, fiercely.
And now, I worry that our passions are bringing out the worst in us.
So it wasn’t a gluten intolerance after all, you tell me. And now you have filled our kitchen with real bread, with pita chips, with French’s crispy onions. You say, Let’s get pizza, and you get the real kind, with the real crust, the kind that holds together when you pick it up. I am jealous of you and your newfound freedom, your ability to “go big” at bakeries. I am jealous of your cake. I am jealous of your biscuits. I am jealous of the crumbs delicately clinging to the surface of your chicken.
We used to be in this together.
It seems Jack and I tend to make major life decisions at the top of mountains, usually with little to no water. This time, we were on Camelback in Phoenix, doing an unexpected amount of climbing in an unexpected level of heat. We had a one large water bottle between the two of us, and drank it fast. When we got to the top of the mountain, I was bleeding from the leg and Jack was sweating out his breakfast. The view though, the view was glorious.
After months of work, and with the help of some amazingly talented friends, we now have a wedding video to show the world! We hope you enjoy reliving this day with us <3
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Friends, Family, Perfect Strangers…
Jack here. This blog post has been a long time coming, but please know that we haven’t stopped thinking about you. Married life has been wonderful so far and we currently have no plans on terminating the relationship anytime soon #squadgoals Charlotte has been an amazing town for our marriage. It’s kind of like if a big city and Durham had a baby (if you can picture that). We live pretty close to the downtown area, so we often take long walks into the city together. Annie just left for Tempe, AZ a few days ago and will be starting her MFA program at ASU soon. It is an exciting time!
But enough about us, let’s talk about you. Annie and I just wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank all of you for supporting this blog and celebrating our wedding with us. Whether you’re a family member who was at our wedding or a fan of the blog who we’ve never met before--please know that we love you dearly and that you matter to us.
People know me by Jack. But one could say that they’re living a lie. Or maybe I’m living a lie? We both are. A little more than 28 years ago, my parents proudly named me Jezekiel Sonn Bodeta Vitaliz. I’m not kidding. That’s my actual legal name. And yes, I’ve wanted to change it for as long as I can remember. Well guess what? When I got married, that wish finally came true. But first, let me give you a little bit of backstory.
“But think about the moment when I get on that airplane,” I said, sitting on the couch, staring at Jack, by this time a bit teary. “Won’t it just be too sad?”
Then Jack laughed. “Good Lord, you’re so dramatic. We’re not dying."
Recently, Jack and I have made some choices about our future. We’ve stopped thinking so much about bouquet tosses and started wrestling with what our married life is going to look like. We’ve spent a lot of late nights talking about how to weave our dreams together into one family. It’s been hard.
A long-held, quietly-kept dream of mine has been to get my master’s degree (MFA) in creative writing. I’ve been boiling on the inside for time, for connection, and for new adventure. Last fall, I decided that this was my year to go for it. Jack and I, already knowing we wanted to get married, decided I would pick seven schools, and Jack would look for jobs around those seven. Since Jack works in student affairs, and I would be attending a university, we thought we’d have a fairly good chance of finding something new. And boy (or girl) were we right! #inclusivity
My Dearly Beloved Friends and Family,
It's been another great year. After every birthday, I like writing a very pensive and reflective note to thank everyone in the past year for blessing me beyond measure [that's code for this blog is super long-winded]. I really take time to think about all that's happened in my life since April 12, 2015. I look at my Facebook timeline, reminisce with friends, highlight some significant life moments, and examine my personal growth. It's one of my favorite things to do every year (this year it's coming a little bit late, sorry I've been busy!) I'd love nothing more than to celebrate all that we've done together in the last 365 days. It's been a big year! I got engaged to the most fantastically beautiful human on the planet, I went places and saw things, gained new skills, and learned so much about who I am. Believe me, God has been good to me since turning 27.
Now that I've turned 28, let's shake it up a little bit. I'd hate to think that I'm getting too predictable in my old age. Instead of giving you the play by play of everything I've been up to since my last birthday, I want to tell you about a story that really resonates with me upon adding another year to my life. It's a story about a time in my life that I really hold dear. In so many ways, it's shaped who I am as a person. I love telling this story more than I love telling people the story of my potato tattoo-- and that says a lot. It's a great tattoo. You should ask me about it sometime if you already haven't (just kidding, I'm sure you already have).
It’s easy to believe that your best memories are your most perfect ones. After becoming engaged, we’ve discovered that quite often, the opposite is true. Imperfections have an interesting way of leaving footprints in your memory that make a richer story. When we look back on our engagement, there were a lot of perfect things. The leaves were immaculately fall-colored, the weather was pristine, and the excitement was palpable. But who cares, right? We don’t really look back on those details. It’s the imperfections that make our story worth telling and uniquely ours.
I (Jack) still remember the first time I saw Crabtree Falls on a hiking trip with friends. As we got to the top, I saw the most breath-taking view of mountains and trees that I had ever seen. My initial thought was, “This view will be incredible in the fall.” My second thought was, “This is where I’ll propose to Annie.”
Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.