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Published: September 1st 2018
The Ice Cream Dream again. I wake up in a puddle of drool, salivating, I had just sampled some sort of mint-chip and was going for a sample of the orange sorbet. Not so, my brain reminds me as the sweet cream reveals its true form- alas, the taste of morning breath and the sounds of livestock.
I don’t actually need any ice cream, or sweets for that matter. I packed a fifty-pound bag full of them when I left Spain, and that was after having stuffed myself with raspberry, marscapone, and butter croissants that I could swear were baked by God himself. Not to mention the serious damage we inflicted on French Rose’ and Barcelona’s cheapest Cava. (I swear I didn’t mean to post a nip-slip on social media!) What an adventure! Serving in Peace Corps makes it almost embarrassing to experience such luxury elsewhere, but I wouldn’t have traded those Mediterraenean hikes or that market-squeezed orange juice for anything.
Coming back to Tanzania, of course, was an adjustment. Not because I don’t like it here- on the contrary, I adore my tiny mountain cottage and sitting on my porch,
eye level with the banana trees below me. It was leaving Loren again that tore into me. Surely, our love is a bomb-shelter, having survived the Marine Corps and now Peace Corps. Suffice it to say, our engagement shouldn’t come as a surprise!
While there were so many opportunities for him to take a knee (paella cooking class, hikes to cathedrals, treks to white cliffs over the ocean, bottles of bubbly by the cat park), he chose a moment most true to our relationship.
We had arrived in Marseille two days before and had a difficult time deciding what to do on our first venture out. Finally, we had found a short but beautiful climb to a cathedral over-looking the Old Port. We donned our headbands and chacos for the walk and followed the views with lemon cheesecake and coffee at a tiny bake-shop down the hill. Sweaty but exhilarated, we explored the French ally-ways, eventually arriving at the Cours Julienne district. Here, incredible graffiti art lines the walkways, giving a cultural experience better than any stuffy museum. We bargained at street markets, taking in the aromas of sweet soaps and fingering tiny antique
boxes and figurines. Coming down from our post-hike coffee, we decided it was time for a cold one. The options came down to over-priced pints or tall-boys from the convenient store. We’d already made it a habit to booze in the street, so the romantic soiree continued with two Heinikens, a few wandering pigeons, and an unknown tenant’s front stoop. If the old men outside our AirBnB could establish a set of recliners and broken office chairs on our stoop, surely we could pop a squat for a beer here. Expectedly, we jumped up several times to let people in and out of their own front door, but we had established our post and were sticking to it.
So, there it was.. our sweaty, cultural, boozy afternoon coming off of a hike and into an evening of fun when Loren dropped to one knee and asked me to devout my life to him. Devout. Words sometimes forsake him when he’s nervous. The thought of it, the casualness, the authenticity, the realness in his face when he untied the little silicone band from his shorts-strings and slipped it on my finger- there wasn’t an ounce of
It wasn’t that I was whisked away to France and offered exotic royalty as we sailed into a sunset. There wasn’t a flash-mob or a big, fat, blood-diamond. What he offered me- what the Universe offered us when it brought us together from California to Carolina- is a partner. A battle buddy, an adventure squad, a person to drive me absolutely mad and simultaneously make life whole. I don’t see this being easy. In fact, I see it being an extremely difficult, gut-wrenching, tiresome effort. Take it out of our cultural context and marriage sounds insane! Two vibrant, pulsing, independent lives tying themselves together for eternity and expecting to find romance. HA! This great love is a gift, yes. The joys, the adventures, the endless laughter and steadfast support we provide each other are invaluable and, obviously important, but to think that the Universe offers such a gift without the expectation of something in return… that would be a mistake. Having found the One my soul loves, I feel the reason lies in a sense of purpose and great responsibility. I feel that the incredible gift of each other was a reminder of what we have to offer
the world and a binding contract to bring it to the table together. I feel, with Loren, that our love is not about him, or me, or romance or emotions. Our love is about purpose. As if the Universe would chuckle at our believing we’d chosen someone. “Oh no, My Sweets, it was chosen long ago.”
So here it is. This thing. This big, beautiful, overwhelming responsibility that simultaneously terrifies and excites me. I sometimes think of the prospect of a successful marriage the way I think about Peace Corps. You could never know what to expect, how it will floor you, and how it will raise you up. No matter the conviction, getting on that plane and diving in to the unknown will petrify you. You are vulnerable, naïve, and anxious. But... would you forsake such a gift and succumb to fear? Not in this
“The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love” – funny how that applies to all things worth doing.
Future Mrs. Fox
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Can't lie, you don't look too sure about that ;-)
Yeeaaah, you look a little skeptical about the lamb and octopus, ha, ha. Also, we see you all posing "casually" with your ring ;-) xoxoxo <3
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Very cool. Love conquers! Plus nice looking Paella.
...and may there always be peace in the corps that is Kate and Loren!