Aurora Paleface

pale-sickPeople need some serious help with their commentary on my attire.

On Monday, I woke up late and only had time to brush on some mascara before dashing out the door for a meeting. When my (female!) boss saw me that morning, she asked, “Are you feeling alright?”

Knowing exactly where this was going, I remarked heartily, “Yep, I feel great!” I gave her a pointed look, warning her not to say what I knew was coming, but it came anyway:

“You look kind of pale.”

Ugh. Come on! I groaned inwardly. Why do women always make comments like this to other women?! We should really know better. (Actually, knowing my boss, I should know better than to think that she knows better.)

What I wanted to say was, “Actually, this is just my face. Like, naturally. Without makeup on. And comments like yours are the reason women feel like they can’t leave the house without makeup. So thanks for that.” But instead, I just forced a sort of grimacing smile and went back to work.

annoyedfaceThen today, I was walking to the bathroom and ran into another female colleague who remarked cheerfully, “Aw, you’re wearing the company colors! That’s so cute!”

“It was unintentional, I assure you,” I replied dryly. Great. Now I’m going to hate my outfit all day.

Just call me Aurora Paleface, company mascot.

Authentically Aurora (Paleface)

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Meeting the Families

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“Athletic” is not a word I would use to describe myself. Ridiculously attractive and outrageously brilliant? Naturally. But athletic? Not so much. 

When Seth and I played Ultimate Frisbee with some friends a couple of months ago, my first two throws hooked far right and into the parking lot rather than into his wide-open hands. I quickly relegated myself to guarding the purses on a nearby picnic table.

And when I met Seth’s family for the first time on the Fourth of July, I was horrified to discover that their family pool party included tossing around a volleyball. The first time the ball came my way, I jabbed out an arm, inwardly cheering when I felt my hand make contact. Maybe there’s some athletic ability in me, after all!

Unfortunately, my cheering was short-lived when I realized that the spiked volleyball had flown directly into the face of an 18-month-old girl playing in the shallow end of the pool with her mother. The silence around the pool party was instantaneous, broken only by the sound of the little girl’s crying and Seth’s jovial quip, “It’s only a game, Focker!”

A few weeks later when Seth and I joined my older brother and his wife for dinner, Seth knocked a full glass of red wine off the table, shattering glass in every direction and spilling wine across the floor.

A couple of weeks ago when I accompanied Seth, his sister and his two nephews to a water park, Seth insisted that he and I go on the scariest water slide possible: a body slide so steep that you stand upright at the top, and the floor drops out from under you. 

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I am not an adrenaline junkie, and I also happen to be afraid of heights, so going on this body slide sounded about as fun as playing leapfrog with unicorns, but Seth really wanted to go, so we did. I managed to play it cool until the very last instant. When the floor opened up from under me, I instinctively shot out my arms and legs like a starfish, trying to hold myself up rather than plummeting to the depths below. I was unsuccessful in holding myself up, but I was successful in earning myself some serious ribbing from Seth once I made it to the bottom.

Our cumulative time with one other’s families has been a comedy of errors, but fortunately, everyone’s had a great sense of humor about it all. When it comes to dating, my mom has always reminded me, “Aurora, you don’t just marry the person. You marry the family.” I am so thankful for how welcoming and fun-loving Seth’s family has been – and similarly, how well my family has received Seth.

After an evening of smoking cigars with Seth, my older brother gave his approval, and after a night of talking pyrotechnics together, my younger brother declared that Seth is his favorite of any guy I’ve ever brought home. Seth concurred that he could really see himself spending quality time with my brothers.

I recently asked Seth what his sister thought of me after our day together at the water park. Apparently she said, “I like Aurora. And I like her for you – I think she’s good for you. But I’m not letting myself get attached until you put a ring on it.”

Smart woman! I’d be wise to do the same. 😉

Authentically Aurora

Sense & Sensitivity

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Seth and I have been dating for a few months now, so we are entering that season of trying to find our groove; to figure out the new norm for our relationship now that the “getting to know you” season is coming to a close.

Over the past three months, we’ve learned each other’s backstories as well as one another’s hopes and dreams for the future. We’ve experienced one another’s hobbies and have explored our (thankfully shared) political and religious views. We’ve met each other’s families, friends, coworkers and have started double-dating with now mutual friends.

There aren’t a lot of “softball” questions left to ask (“What do you like to do for fun?”), so conversation tends to either be about the present (“How was your day today?”), the near future (“What are you up to this weekend?”), or a topic that is deeper, more intense, and suggestive of the longer-term future (“What are your thoughts on adoption?”). We try to keep that last one to a minimum for now. After all, Seth’s longest relationship ever is only 4 months, and I am all too aware we are creeping up on that timeline.

Seth has become a student of me, and I of him. We are still learning each other, but we have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. He has moments of being indescribably sweet and moments of being a stereotypical man. I’m sure he feels the same about me in all my womanliness.

Just yesterday, we were talking after work on our way to meet some friends for dinner. Seth had spent the weekend in the pasture, and his time in the sun had dotted his tanned face with a sprinkling of freckles. Enjoying the look of them, I smiled at him suddenly and said with a soft smile, “I really like your freckles.”

He looked back at me and said with a straight face, “I really like your pimple,” nodding to a new blemish that just showed up on my left cheek. About five minutes earlier, I’d been telling him about the rough day I’d had at work and had confessed I was feeling a bit defeated and insecure. So I laughed, but I also added through the laughter, “Uh, didn’t I just get finished telling you how insecure I’m feeling today? Please tell me more about how ugly I am.” He took the hint and wrapped me in a hug, saying, “Oh, Aurora… you know I’m just teasin’ with ya.”

Two hours later, driving back from dinner, I got a (perhaps needed) reminder of what a great guy Seth is. We were at a red light and got stuck behind a beat-up, old car that wouldn’t start when the light turned green. Rather than honking and veering angrily around the stalled car like some of my exes would have done, Seth turned on his hazard lights, told me to sit tight, and hopped out of the truck to knock on the door and see how he could help.

The driver ended up being an elderly woman, and Seth got her to put the car in neutral while he pushed her to a corner gas station. Meanwhile, I slid across the bench seat to Seth’s driver seat and followed behind the stalled car in his truck, shielding them from traffic.

That is the kind of man he is. That is the kind of team we make. So when he teases me about my acne or ogles at the number of brownies I eat or tells me my laugh sounds like a turkey, I just remind myself about his kind heart and stalwart character.

He is a typical, occasionally oblivious man, and I am a typical, occasionally sensitive woman. So as I tell Seth all the time, I am learning to hear the words of his heart and not his mouth. And he is learning not to say stupid things.

Authentically Aurora

Dancing Around Dating

Cinderella Story DanceOn the evening before my birthday, my best girls took me out for dinner and drinks. Laughing about work and boys and life, we enjoyed the night air, strolling around an outdoor shopping mall before stopping into a quaint chocolate shop for dessert.

Over brownie-and-nut chocolate ice cream, my friend Cindy suggested we all go out dancing. It was nearly ten o’clock by that point, and now that I’m pushing 30, I was ready to call it a night. Like me, Ashley and most of the other girls were planning to head home, but Rachel’s blue eyes sparkled as she suggested I invite Seth and his friends to come dancing.

Cindy and Rachel are roommates and two of the girls I’ve gotten closest to in my bible study, although they are as different as can be. Cindy is a tall, curvy blonde with a bold spirit and an independent streak to match my own. We’ve had similar life experiences and only recently discovered we attended sister high schools, which just adds to our joke that we are twins separated at birth. Fraternal twins. Rachel is short and petite like I am, but her porcelain skin is dotted with freckles, and the red lipstick she loves to wear stands in strong juxtaposition to her shy, quiet demeanor.

“I don’t know…” I told the girls in response to their suggestion. Cindy and Rachel both knew I’d been disappointed that Seth’d had to work late on Wednesday and so missed our group that week. “I’m trying to let him lead, and I want him to be the one to ask me out if he decides that he’s interested.”

The girls exchanged a glance. “Oh, he’s interested!” they teased with knowing giggles. “He just needs a little encouragement,” Cindy added with a shrug.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to invite him and a group of his friends,” I agreed, mentally trying to frame up the conversation in my mind before I called him. Ten minutes later, Seth and his buddy Brent were on their way to meet us at Stampede, a local two-stepping bar and dance hall.

Seth, Brent, Cindy, Rachel and I gathered around a pool table once everyone arrived. Seth and I played on a team against Brent, all of us battling for who was worst at billiards. After Brent accidentally knocked in the eight ball, we relinquished the table to another group and migrated over to the dance floor. Seth bought me a beer, and we all sipped and talked, laughed and danced. I was glad to have him there for my birthday celebration.

After Seth and I danced three songs in a row together, he took Cindy and then Rachel for turns on the dance floor. I appreciated that he was mindful of the other girls. I’ve discovered that Seth is both perceptive and thoughtful; a true gentleman.

At one point, I found myself alone with Brent, so I asked him a bit about himself; then about his relationship with Seth. “Is he the real deal?” I asked. “Is he a solid, godly man?”

Brent was all too happy to tell me about his impressions of Seth, and he had nothing but respect for the man, describing him as wise, grounded and genuinely humble. “I don’t think he knows what a man he is,” Brent told me with a laugh. “Sometimes he tells stories about life on the ranch – cutting down trees or branding cattle – like it’s no big deal. He doesn’t seem to realize that’s not normal for us city boys.”

I was struck, later, by how differently Seth responded to my inquiries than Bryan did. When – this time last year – I asked Bryan’s friends about his character, Bryan had turned irate, screaming at me that I had broken his trust. But Seth commented to me later, with admiration on his face, that Brent had been impressed with the questions I’d asked. Seth appreciated that I took the time to understand how he was perceived by his friends. He saw the wisdom in it. The differences in reaction between Bryan and Seth were telling in their extreme contrast. Seth is a solid man of character, secure in who he is and confident in his friends’ mutual care and respect for him. The more I get to know him, the more I admire him.

When Parmalee’s “Already Callin’ You Mine” came over the speakers, Seth grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the floor for one more dance. This time, instead of two-stepping around the perimeter of the dance floor like all the other couples, Seth kept us spinning as one unit in our own little corner of the floor.

I felt like we were in a movie scene with the camera panning around us in a circle, twinkling lights blurred out in the background as we spun around one another. We locked eyes and turned eight, nine, ten times before I dropped my gaze, suddenly shy and feeling dizzy, only partially from the dancing.

As the song ended, Seth whispered in my ear, “Do you trust me?”

I nodded, so he eased me into a low dip. The dip required me to trust him with my weight, but as we’ve continued getting to know each other, the same question – Do you trust me? – has come up in ways that have nothing to do with dancing. And my answer is still, “Yes.”

I barely know you, you barely know me,
We ain’t but two slow dances into this thing.
Come on and sit down, I’ll order us a round.
I want to know everything. Girl, where’s your hometown?
Are those your momma’s eyes?
What are you doing for the rest of your life?
…’ Cause I’m already calling, I’m already calling you mine. ❤

Authentically Aurora

A Dying Whale

People are the worst.

Okay, I don’t really mean that. I love people. I really do. But some days (like today), it just really feels like people are the worst, everything hurts, and I’m dying.

everything hurts

I was just walking down the hallway at work (apparently looking dejected), and some young man (stranger danger!) called out to me in an overly perky voice: “Cheer up! Life ain’t so bad!”

April Ludgate bonding

Do I know you? No.

Was I talking to you? No.

Do you know anything that’s going on in my life? No.

Do you actually know that anything is wrong? Do you know that this isn’t just how my face looks?!?! The answer is still NO!

Grumpy Cat No

I just moaned at him. Like a dying person. Or a whale. Or a dying whale.

It was a beautiful sound. And although I didn’t win any Academy Awards for it, at least I didn’t make any new friendships.

April-ludgate

Authentically Aurora

Reconciliation

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I talked with Grant today.

He apologized sincerely. He was afraid to call, unsure how angry I would still be. He didn’t sleep well last night and felt horrible about what he said and did after the concert.

Of his own volition, he acknowledged that he is selfish, immature, and has unrealistic expectations for the woman he dates and ultimately marries. He has never been able to make a relationship last, and he told me that he knows he has some growing up to do.

He wants to seek the Lord and get his life in order so that he can be ready for a legitimate relationship. “I have a lot of growing up to do before I’m ready to be a spiritual leader.” He wants to learn how to date seriously and with intentionality. Not with me; we established that. But with someone. Someday.

And he wanted to affirm me. Admitting that he spoke too harshly, he wanted me to hear that I am:

Encouraging, Supportive, Uplifting

Sweet, Kind, Thoughtful

Honest, Authentic, Real

Smart, Savvy, Successful

My encouraging nature is his favorite thing about me. “You believe in me in ways no one else does. You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” Yes, I do. That’s because I believe you are teachable, self-reflective, and genuinely want to be a godly  man. And when we align our desires with God’s, we can be sure that we have what we have asked of Him (1 John 5).

I’m glad we reconciled. His friendship is one I did not want to lose.

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. -Matthew 5:23-24

Authentically Aurora

MamaMorphosis

Yesterday on the drive home from work, I was thinking about all the things I’d have to change if I were a mommy.

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While driving in rush hour traffic, I could not scream at the top of my lungs things like, “PEOPLE ARE SO DUMB! I HATE EVERYONE!!!” I would have to learn to use my inside voice. And by that, I mean my inside-the-head voice.

 

Cookie Binge

After a long day of work, I wouldn’t be able to wallow by baking cookies and eating them fresh from the oven while binge watching Netflix. I’d have to cook real food like green beans and chicken. And then serve said real food to children and help with homework and things.

 

Unikitty transformation

I wouldn’t be able to wear my Grumpy Cat shirts around the house – shirts that say things like, “NO” and “I didn’t choose the grumpy life; the grumpy life chose me.” I know this because my niece Lily saw my Grumpy Cat shirt once, looked very upset, and asked me in a trembly voice, “Auntie Aurora, why is your kitty so angry?” At that time, I realized I would have to start buying Unikitty shirts instead. At least then my inner rage could be masked by a sparkly pink and fictitiously cheerful exterior.

 

Eating Cookies

And then, as I was parking in my garage, I realized that even if I never find a man who is willing to commit to marry me and subsequently impregnate me, I probably should still change these behaviors. Even if I never morph into momminess. Which sounds like nom-iness. Like nom, nom, nom… cookies…  mmm, forget that whole #adulting thing. After all, there are freshly baked cookies at stake!

Authentically Aurora