Like it was just yesterday. I still remember you on one knee at Manchester Airport (if you want me to say yes to something, asking when I’m jet-lagged and just getting off an 8 hr flight is a good time to ask), and I remember Louise looking concerned that I might have said no when we got to the car. I can still feel the loose buckle on my left shoe that made my leg wobble throughout the ceremony. I can still taste that first sip of Yorks Tea at the reception. 
How are we ten years older in the picture on the right than we were in the one on the left? How have we had ten Christmases and Easters and moved house twice and country twice? How has our house been home to seven dogs and a cat in that space of time? Didn’t I just arrive at Heathrow and have my visa stamped? Wasn’t it just a few minutes ago when we drove to Atlanta to get my biometrics done, or to Berea to sort out your social security? I’m certain it was only a week or so ago, maybe a month, that I picked you up at Hartsfield right after you collected me at Manchester when we were basically living at various airports and train stations. Wasn’t it?
I’m so grateful for the macaroni and cheese, the shared nerdiness, the willingness to put up with my shenanigans, the flashlights bought for me to take to faire, the resolve to get up when the girls are howling so that I can lie in, the whispered, “love you, bye” when I think I’ve managed to get out the door without waking you, the love of travel and history, the debates over whatever has just been said on telly, the ability not to laugh in my face when I think I’m speaking Yorkshire, the shared love of Greenville, the support and encouragement to be a writer, the shared – and different – expat experience, and all the other things that I have been given over the past ten years that I most certainly did not and do not deserve. 
Ten years done and dusted, and as many more as I can get to come. Love you to absolute bits, Simon.

Three Years and Counting

At Last... by Nancy Dunne
At Last…, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

So it was the third of January, 2009, and I was getting married. Simon had been in the US for about two weeks already, and we had done the rounds with family and friends, had wedding showers, Christmas parties, and New Years Eve had been rung in properly. I had spent the night with my sister and brother in law the night before, and that morning I remember waking up and thinking “FINALLY!”

Everything was as normal there, and to be honest it didn’t seem like anything exciting was happening. My friend Leah and her son had stayed there as well, and we all got up, had coffee and breakfast, and went about our morning. I hadn’t made an appointment to have my hair done or makeup done at all, having chosen instead to just do it myself. Susan was my matron of honour and she couldn’t go have that stuff done because she was dealing with a perfect little daughter of her own who was just two days past turning a month old.

The last minute preparations were going on when we realised we didn’t have any Yorkshire Tea. It was important to me that we have it as it is Simon’s favourite and instead of toasting with alcohol (since we were having the reception in a church) he and I had special mugs and would toast with tea. But we had no tea.

Mom and Dad couldn’t go get it (I can’t remember why). Susan and Dave couldn’t go get it (see above month old baby Joy) so Leah and I set out to find the store and get some tea. We had to go what seemed like a million miles away to find this little British Import Shop to get some…a fact that I still laugh about now as I walk into Whole Foods and there’s m’tea, on the shelf.

We got back and I discovered that I was not as proficient at putting on makeup as I thought I was. No worries, Liz helped me tremendously. There was no plug in the bride’s room for my straighteners so I went to the bathrooms off the fellowship hall of the church and tried any number of ways to get the wild brush on top of my head to behave. Nothing doing. Finally I pulled it back into the messy bun I wear most of the time, pinned my veil on, and here we go.

Liz was helping me into my shoes when the call came that we had to go SOON so she scampered off to make sure her daughter, our flower girl, was ready to go. Unfortunately, I discovered too late the buckle on my left shoe was too loose. I hadn’t had a chance to stand in it and tell her it needed tightening as I had the right shoe, and I couldn’t bend over to do it myself. At least my right shoe was on properly, I told myself. I can always try to keep my weight shifted over to my right. I won’t look too much like I should be shimmying up a ladder and ringing the bells and shouting Sanctuary!!  Well, I hoped I wouldn’t anyway…

I remember standing in the narthex and Andrew, Simon’s brother, giving Mary Catherine (his and Liz’s daughter and our flower girl) some last minute instructions and then winking at me. I remember that because he had looked so very uncomfortable the rest of the time that the wink seemed incongruous to the point of being funny. Maybe he was trying to help himself relax as well as make me smile?

Wedding March started…”How do you solve a problem like Maria?” from The Sound of Music, natch…and in Susan went, followed by Andrew. They shut the doors and Daddy and I got ready and then suddenly there we went, me reminding him not to let me fall and holding his arm for dear life.

And then I saw Simon look at me and smile, and I know it’s trite to say but everything else was gone. I barely heard anything Daddy said during the ceremony. I almost didn’t answer when it was my turn. Didn’t matter. I was marrying Simon, my best friend and the most wonderful soul I know.

Remember the loose shoe? That could have been a real problem if I hadn’t been powering through the unsteadiness and pain in my foot.  Halfway through the ceremony, for example, because I hadn’t asked anyone to tighten it I could SEE the skirt of my gown wiggling because my leg was shaking uncontrollably on that side due to that darned shoe.  Thankfully after the ceremony Leah came to the rescue and we took both the shoes off.  I had said from the start I was going to get married barefoot so at least I got to go to my reception that way.  I can remember my god-daughters Tai and Kaya picking up the flower petals from the aisle and Mary Catherine telling them to put them back, puzzled when they didn’t respond because she didn’t know they were deaf.  I remember my cousin Sandy telling Simon that if he hurt me Sandy would come after him.  I remember Brian and Courtney’s Finn being recommended to a 12-step program for cheese after being caught a few times too many at the cheese plate.  I remember laughing and family, and just generally being overjoyed.  That doesn’t happen much in my life, so when it does I hang on to the memory with all ferocity.

Three years and his smile can still stop me in my tracks…and make me smile right back. Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. Here’s to a thousand more.

See ya later, autumn…roll on January.

Gradient by Nancy Dunne
Gradient, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

Well, that’s one down, five to go in the 2011-2012 Anti-Holiday season. Thanksgiving 2011 is in the history books now.

Oh, sorry Lettuce readers, I guess you didn’t get the memo because I’ve been trying to be a bit more positive around here…I suppose the end result is that I haven’t been posting much at all and that’s why you may not have known about the Anti Holiday Proclamation of 2011.

Let me recap: There will be no holidays recognized until I’m in the same country with my husband. I’m not out to tell anyone how to behave in their own homes, mind. If you want to celebrate then I hope you have all the blessings and happiness the season can bestow. But as for me and my house, we will pass, thanks.

I’ve been told on loads of occasions and by scores of people that I need to get over it. Simon will be here soon enough. We can celebrate everything that we’ve missed once Simon has moved. Um, no thanks. I’d rather just skip it and try again next year.

And no, for those who have hinted both subtly and otherwise, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ll be 40 years old in a day and half. Nothing at all. It has everything to do with the thing I love the most being four thousand miles away.

So that’s what’s up at the Lettuce…basically a whole lot of purposeful nothing, until our birthdays, Christmas, New Year and our 3rd wedding anniversary are over. If that’s difficult for you to accept, and you feel the need to try to convince me otherwise, can I please invite you to focus on your own holiday season? I promise, I’ll be just fine here when you get back in January. Just. Fine.


Just wanted to share this great photo that my father in law took of my two sisters in law, Sarah (L) and Louise (R), at our UK reception last Saturday. These two went above and beyond to throw us a fantastic “do!” Thanks so much y’all…I’m so proud to have you as my new sisters!!


Last night, or rather, this morning I had a dream. I dreamed that I wasn’t with Simon anymore, due to some action on my part, and I’d gotten back together with an old college boyfriend called Charles. We were at some big religious thing, which is appropriate since we met while working at Camp Glisson (a United Methodist summer camp in Georgia and the closest place to Heaven on this earth…but I digress…). I slipped away at some point to ring Simon and make sure he was okay. He was angry on the phone and got even more surly when I suggested that since the ticket was already purchased I might just come on to England on Tuesday. I asked if he’d be around, or if I’d just be wandering around Manchester and Leeds on my own for two weeks (funny that I never thought, in my dream, to head to London and see Liz and Andrew)? He said he didn’t know because some of us have to work for a living…

I woke up feeling just AWFUL. Of course nothing of the sort has happened…Charles is apparently married and has kids, for pete’s sake! Anxiety is a funny thing…it sneaks up on you and pounces when you’re defenseless…like when you’re asleep.

Anyway, off to work. Less anxious somewhat for having talked to Simon. Somewhat.