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So Monday, October 18th, 2010 marked what would have been my one year wedding anniversary. For the most part, it was a pretty typical day- classes, studying for midterms, homework. In a frustrating parallel of last year, when my faithful old Prelude decided to throw her timing belt and trash her engine on what would have been my wedding day, the S decided to develop a flat right-rear tire- probably due to the alignment being thrown off from the shitty road quality here in San Diego. I was lucky enough to have a classmate give me a ride into school, and I took the trolley and bus home after class in the evening. Another interesting parallel- and this time, I didn't flinch or feel any rush of emotions as I rode past the County Admin building (where we'd purchased the marriage license) or saw the condo in Little Italy.

Am I better? I've asked myself this a lot over the past couple of weeks. I think I'm still getting there, and I'm sure it's continuing to be an ongoing process. As for the future, I'm not really in any hurry to find a serious relationship any time soon. While I WOULD like to find a playmate for the last few months I'm here, I don't know how healthy that could be for me. As I was describing to a friend of mine yesterday, I feel like a fox that got caught in a trap but managed to escape- the wounds are still there, and I know it's making me more wary, a bit more jaded, and much less likely to trust again so easily. Not necessarily bad things by any means, but things to remember and take into account regardless.

The biggest test of how I'm doing is yet to come. A classmate of mine invited me to go see Dead Man's Party when they play here Halloween weekend, and I know for a fact that The Ex is going to be there with her new boyfriend. I don't anticipate any problems, and we're not planning on trying and talking to each other or anything, but it's still going to be unusual. I always suspected this kind of situation would eventually arise, after all.
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The last wedding I went to was in Charlotte last July, when my good friend [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower was tying the knot with his lovely bride Julie. The Ex and I had flown out for the weekend, as I've already missed way too many weddings and other events in the lives of my friends while I've been on the wrong coast.

As the happy couple walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, Gerin caught my eye, pointed at me emphatically, and with a wicked grin on his face, mouthed the words, "you're next!"

Funny the difference a few months makes, huh? Over the last eight months I've done a pretty good job avoiding most gatherings of happy couples in love. Or I've done a really damn good job keeping my mouth shut. Well, aside from that one time. It was early December, and my old neighbor Kristin was in town from the Bay Area to celebrate her birthday PB style (read: get ridiculously hammered drunk). I don't have any recollection of this, but apparently on the drunken stumble home we passed a wedding at the Zlac Rowing club on the bay, and I managed to shout out a couple of things about how horrible weddings are, how much love sucks, etc before anybody dragged me away.

Whoops. Obviously still a little bit sore about all of that. As if I'd needed another reminder. So needless to say, I've been quite gun-shy about those sorts of things since then, which I know is having a huge effect on my social life, or almost complete lack thereof. There's no guide or benchmark that I've found for "being better" and it's been an ongoing process. I'm doing better than I was even two months ago, but at the same time, I don't want to put myself into scenarios that will test just how "ok" I really am.

Fast forward to three weeks ago. An old friend of mine from the Reagan, Victoria or Vicki, called me and asked if I'd be her date for a wedding she had to go to. Great. Even better? The wedding was at the Admiral Kidd Club. This was a potential problem for several reasons:

1) Naval Recruiting District San Diego's headquarters is literally right around the corner- I was less than 200 yards from my old job.
2) The Ex and I had looked at having our ceremony and reception at the AKC.
3) The catering company that runs and provides the food for AKC is the same one that does for the OceanView Room, where we'd planned to have our ceremony.
4) Did I mention that I basically got left at the altar just a few months ago?

Vicki knew my history, and made me swear up and down that I wouldn't drink to excess, that I wouldn't go ruining the day for anybody else, and that I would be on my best behavior. As if that wasn't enough, several other of my friends, as soon as they found out I was going to a wedding, made me promise the same thing. Nice to know folks were looking out for me. So Vicki came down from LA Friday morning, and away we went to the Admiral Kidd Club for her friend's wedding.

I'd like to say the wedding was super easy to get through and I didn't feel a damn thing except happy for the bride and groom, but that would be a lie. The weather was perfect- sunny, warm without being too hot, and just enough breeze kicked up to keep the air moving without causing too much havoc. The kind of weather we'd hoped and prayed we'd have for our own wedding. Although, in a deliciously ironic twist of fate, October 18, 2009 was gray, cloudy, and decidedly cold. But I digress...

It was a beautiful ceremony- my first Jewish wedding- but for me it was just surreal. When the wireless audio for the Rabbi started cutting out, I sort of smiled to myself; our DJ had told us that he used wired mics on the military bases on Point Loma specifically because that sort of thing happens regularly. I saw the photographer walking around taking pictures, and I could JUST imagine it was Gabrielle Fox, our photographer, running around getting pictures. And wondering who was the better photographer. There ceremony was very nice, short, and fairly easy to understand- the same I would have liked my dad to do- but probably not quite like ours would have been. After all, it's no secret where I get my big mouth from. :) Seeing the happy couple, so obviously and completely in love with each other, share their first kiss was the hardest part- I had to swallow hard a few times to keep from welling up. For just the tiniest fraction of a second, I remembered what that felt like.

After surviving the ceremony, the reception was something else altogether. I thought that Roman Catholic Italians knew how to party, but I'd honestly have to say that all the Petruzzelli family gatherings I'd attended (which granted didn't include any weddings) had nothing on being at a Jewish wedding. I stuck to my promise, and aside from a taste of some rather vile Margarita punch (which we'd opted not to go for), and the obligatory glass of Champagne for the toasts, I didn't touch any more of the drinks. As an added bonus, one of my old former deppers from my time in Orange County was also at the wedding- she'd been friends with the bride for a couple of years, apparently.- so we had a good time catching up, even though I refused to talk about my breakup until after the wedding and we were back out here at the beach.

All in all it was pretty much a success- until I started drinking. Some of us at the wedding had talked about going out afterwards (including a couple of the single bridesmaids that were there), but nothing really came of it, and I ended up going out with the neighbors while Vicki and Veronica passed out here at the house, tired from the early morning drives down from LA and OC, respectively. I vaguely remember getting hit on by a trio of attractive married 40 year olds (again- I think this was the 3rd or 4th time that's happened in the last 6 months), and forgetting some girl's name that  I was talking to. And unsteadily walking back home, only to fall in bed alone, again, and sleep like the dead until I had to be up this morning to go to Balboa Park for the Golden Pyramid Award ceremony. Yep, nice to know I've still got it.
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As I write this, I'm looking across the table at my beautiful FIANCEE Tana, aka Miss [livejournal.com profile] mepeachykeen619 as she makes playlists for our New Year's Eve party tonight, the light from her monitor making her face glow softly in the muted lighting we usually keep in the condo. A year ago, we were in Charlotte, hanging out with my old high school friends Andre and Gerin (aka [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower) at some overcrowded, overpriced irish pub place in downtown Charlotte, watching in amused fascination as some ridiculously drunk UNCC student (an oxymoron, I know) prattled on and on about why she was a political science major. Had somebody told me then where I would be in my life right now, I think I'd have had a hard time believing it.

The biggest news of the year, without a doubt, is that Tana and I are now engaged. That just happened a little under two weeks ago- December 19th, to be exact, at the base of the fountain at Balboa park after taking her out to dinner at The Prado, one of the best restaurants in San Diego. I've been fortunate to hook a girl like her, and I know it's not the kind of thing that happens every day to a guy. I've been through so much this year, put her through so much, and she's never wavered, never swayed at all in her devotion to me, to us. I know I'll never be able to thank her enough or show how grateful I am, but I'm happy to spend the rest of my life trying to. We just reserved the place for the wedding along with the date- October 18th, 2009 we'll say our vows at the Ocean View Room at the Point Loma Submarine Base. I don't have the foggiest idea about anything having to do with weddings, but I know that Tana, her mom, her sister, and the rest of her family will help there. Just tell me where to show up, and make sure there's beer there and I'll be happy. In my opinion, we could be running off to Vegas and just have it done with- the important thing in my opinion is that I just want to be able to spend the rest of my life with Tana. And I know she feels the same way too. ;)

On another note, I'm less than 3 months from finishing this 3- year tour in hell that has been Recruiting. This last year has been the hardest all around- getting moved and promoted to running an office, getting cursed out, fired, and moved back to Orange County, and having a crosshair securely on my back for most of the first part of the year took its toll on me- one day at the beginning of July spent at Balboa Naval Hospital following a nervous breakdown and lots of anti- depressants later, I'm doing much better. Lord only knows where I'd be right now if it wasn't for Tana once again being by my side. I'm looking forward to spending most of the beginning of January starting my check- out process and getting ready for 60 days of paid vacation on the Navy's dime. Then, it's a simple matter of figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Easy, right?

Christmas was a different affair than usual this year as well; Tana came back to New York and Charlotte with me last year, but we both knew beforehand that she wouldn't be able to do it again this year- she's got her own family out here as well, and I knew that I didn't want to be away from her for the holidays. So, in probably one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make to my family's house, I told them I wouldn't be home for Christmas this year. In reality I kinda knew it was coming- I'm 27 years old, and it's really time for me to start doing my own thing when it comes to the holidays anyway. Spending it with Tana in our own place was a very nice plus- and this time next year we'll be married anyway, so it's been good practice.

We'll be married this time next year.

Wow. Yeah, I really just said that. Strangely enough, it feels good.

2008 has ended really well- I couldn't have asked for a better way to end it, and I'm looking forward to 2009 as a blank slate, a truly fresh start, and another year of truly momentous changes. Here's to love, luck, success to everybody else as well!

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