First Date Disaster Part II {Personal}

{continued from part I)
This time of night, the Metro station was much more still and slow.  I slid my card through the gate, and just like every other time, it worked perfectly.  Brennan used the gate next to me, but his didn't work.  In a fattened fury of guy rage, he took my card from me and went to the booth to put more money on both cards.  "Okay, I put $20 on each card.  They really should BOTH work just fine."  After he added the money, his card worked and he was obviously pretty proud of himself.  I just followed him onto the train, adding the $40 to Night's Tab.  Eek.

On the Metro we stood and stared at the ground.  We didn't sit because we were too full and we didn't talk because there really was nothing to talk about.  Then, in a moment of absurdity, two guys started hitting on me.  Not in a flattering way, or not even in a sick-o way… in a very challenging-to-Brennan way.  "Well hi there.  You are very pretty.  And you have a beautiful smile…" "Oh. Thanks." "…does he tell you that you have a beautiful smile" "Uuuuuh…"  It was just a bizarre awkward 30 seconds as the Smile Guy stood right in front of me looked me up and down. Brennan didn't say a word.  He just stood up straighter.  

Thankfully the men got off at the next stop.  When they had exited and the doors had closed, Brennan blew up.  "Oooooh, I did NOT like that at all.  I did not like that.  I'm sorry, I didn't know what to do.  I didn't want to overstep my bounds and say something that would make you feel uncomfortable… I mean, we just went on one date… But I really, really didn't like that.  I wanted to pop him in the shins.  I should have said something.  I'm sorry."  No worries, Brennan.  No worries.

Our train arrived at our station and we quietly walked off.  I slid my card through the gates.  And walked through.  Brennan did the same, and his didn't work.  He was not a happy Metro traveler.  "This is ree-DIC-u-lus. I just can't win. Gracious."  As he went from gate to gate, trying to get his card to work, a police officer came over.  Then the police officer started writing him a ticket.  Apparently, there was some technical-name-billing issue with the cards, and he couldn't use both of them at the same time, because it was "stealing" from the Metro.  

Brennan went from bright red to pale.  I was on the other side trying to explain.  "He wasn't trying to cheat the system!  He was just paying for me!  He was being nice!  He put a lot of money on those!  I saw him!"  The officer just gave him a warning, praise the Lord, and let him through the gates.  I don't think Brennan will ever ride the Metro again.

The little boy tucked his defeated tail between his legs and walked back to his car.  There still wasn't much to talk about, and I think he was getting the "vibes" that I wouldn't be going on a second-date with him.  Once in his car I plugged in my ipod and put on some upbeat (but NOT sweet or romantic!) music to try to lighten the mood.  Or at least to break the silence.

Rain still spit down from on high.  And I leaned back in my seat, bopping my head to the music. "Almost home. I'm glad this guy is so nice. But I just want to be home." Brennan drove onto the curved highway ramp.  Unfortunately, he did that a bit too fast.  We hit a slick part of wet road which sent us sliding towards the concrete barriers on the drivers-side of the car.  He obviously has better driving skills then I do, because Brennan actually got control of the out-of-control car before we hit anything.  My heart continued to beat and I blinked again.  Before I opened my eyes from my blink, we hit another bad spot (we were moving pretty fast) and this time, instead of getting in control of the car, the car spun ALL the way around - complete 180.  We were now facing oncoming highway traffic, sliding back towards the concrete barriers - only now they were on MY side of the car.  I braced my body and put my head in my lap and held it real tight with my hands.  It was the slowest, fastest second of my life as we slammed into the rock walls.

By the way, concrete is really really REALLY hard.  The car came to an instant, dead, eerie halt.  Other cars flew by.  "Are you okay?!? Are you hurt? Are you alright?!"  I sat up straight.  Why yes! I was okay!  Praise God!  My heart was in my knees and the beats from it echoed to my fingertips, but I was definitely okay!

Brennan was too, so he jumped out to assess the damages.  And damages they were.  His car was totaled.  I could elaborate on this, but honestly, the point will be made:  he called the tow-truck, we waited on hour, it never came, he called again, they apologized for forgetting to dispatch it, I sat in the back of the car listening to old Michael Jackson, my shoulder started to hurt, but I didn't dare tell him, he paced outside in the drizzle, I lamented my newly-cracked iPhone screen (which I also didn't tell him about), the tow-truck came, took us to Brennan's house, he took his roommates car and drove me to Target, I said a worn-out "good night" and drove home.

The next day my shoulder and neck were quite sore (but probably not as bad as Brennan's ego).  Brennan wanted to pay for the doctors appointment.  I argued, but he insisted.  He also had to pay $1500 to insurance to total his car.  He only owed about $250 on it.  And he had to buy a new car.  "Good luck with your whole no-debt thing! Glad I could help!
 And when he met up to pay me for my doctor's appointment he had just gotten his eyes dilated at the Eye Doctor, so he was all blinky and bobble-head-y and bumble-bee-eye-y.  

Poor Brennan.  He's a very nice boy.  
Bless his heart. And his debt-free plans.


First Date Disaster Part I {Personal}

If you think there are no new frontiers, 
watch a boy ring the front doorbell on his first date.
olin miller  

To quote one of my favorite movies, 500 Days of Summer:

"This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, 
this is not a love story."

Maybe someday I'll tell this blog an actual love story from my own life
(in fact, I'm very hopeful that I will... soon)
but that is not what today is.
Today is a first date story. An only date story.

The time? Early September in 2010.
The characters? Brennan and me.
Let the equal parts sad and funny story begin:

Brennan was skinny, nerdy, kind of big ear-ed, 
brown haired, brown eyed, brown wire glasses-ed, southern gentleman
He was as born and raised in North Carolina as his twangy accent proved.
After taking a chef military job, he was relocated to the Washington DC area,
rude, traffic-jammed, busy DC.

Brennan + I first met at Target.  I was looking for power tools.
(Yeah, at Target.  I need help.)
He assisted me.  Conversation was friendly.
Nice, Christian military guy.  I could roll with that!

We texted some, enjoyed talking about food, he would ask to call every now and again.  All was pleasant and I thought he was a very nice guy.  (And that he is.)
Then the inevitable happened.  He asked if he could take me to dinner.  I wasn't REALLY sure if I wanted to, but I figured, at the least, it would give me a basis to have some clarity.   I agreed.  Only problem was that I was headed out of town for a week.  When I returned I had plans every night for the next four nights.

But, yes, he could take me to dinner 11 days from now.  Sure.
I really didn't think about him very much, and I was never particularly excited to hear from him.  But I always enjoyed the conversation.  He teased me when I tried to talk in a southern accent, and I teased him for having a completely un-dangerous military job.  "You're basically the kicker on a football team."  

After those 11 days of waiting-for-the-date, I came to the point where I knew I wasn't interested in anything "more."  Nice guy, absolutely. Yeah, nice nice guy.  I'd already agreed to the date, so as any elegant lady would, I kept my word and didn't cancel.  

The dear kid had planned it out all.  He knew where we were going, he had reservations, he even had a special menu item picked out that he thought I would enjoy.  At some point pre-date he mentioned not knowing where parking was downtown.  "Oh," I helpfully saved the day, "let's just take the Metro!  It'll be so much easier that way."  He didn't like my save.  He wanted me to feel like a lady.  Special.  He didn't want to take a public transit train and make me walk.  "I love the Metro.  Please, I WANT to take the Metro."  He gave in.  We made plans to meet at the local Target (charming, huh?) at 6:30 to make our 8:00 dinner reservations downtown.  

I didn't use my favorite eye-shadow.  And I didn't fuss with my hair.  My skinny jeans were sort of dirty and wrinkled.  But, hey, at night who can really tell anyway?
My new navy heels + favorite black Banana Republic shirt completed my half-hearted outfit, and I arrived at Target right on time. Two minutes early to be exact.

15 minutes later Brennan wasn't there.  "If he's standing me up, that's totally cool because I really would rather go home."  I called, and his phone didn't even ring. RIght to a "ding-ding-ding! I'm sorry.  The AT&T customer you are trying to reach, is not available.  Ding-ding-ding!"  Um.  Now what?  Within seconds I got a call.  "Hey Kristen!  Hey! It's Brennan.  I'm so sorry I'm late.  I stopped at the Apple Store on the way home from work and got a new phone.  But it's taking forever to sync.  And I got stuck in traffic before I tried to sync it and I don't even have any of the contacts on my phone anymore so I had to go find your phone number from your business card.  I literally just got home and haven't even showered, but I'm on my way!  I'm coming!"  I felt bad for the sweet, flustered thing.  He was trying so hard.  I assured him I would wait.  He showed up within 10 minutes and we were on our way.

"I'm sorry my car is such a mess," (it wasn't) "I was going to get it cleaned."  No worries, Brennan.  Looks great to me!  

Making surprisingly good time, we rolled into the Metro station and I headed towards the booths to buy a ticket.  But Southern Brennan was already on it.  He had purchased two SmartCards for our evening - one for me, one for him.  "Aw, you didn't have to do that!  Thanks so much!"  I really was impressed that he already had paid for tickets and gotten us EACH one, especially since he's not from this crazy area and doesn't usually ride the Metro!  

We headed to the little-gates-where-you-slide-your-card and, of course, since he's a gentleman, Brennan let me go ahead of him.  I slid right through, no problem.  When he tried, however, his card spit back out at him and a red light flashed.  He tried again.  "Is it upside down?" I offered.  He didn't answer, just tried another gate.  Same thing.  We stood there for a second, on opposite sides of the barriers, looking at each other.  "Try one more time?"  Luckily, fourth try was the charm! And we headed to the train together.  But this incident didn't come without taking a man-toll on the poor guy.  "I just can't win tonight, can I!"

I "haha"-ed and told him not to worry about it.  The train took a while to get moving, and Brennan sat in his seat, checking the time constantly.  Once we finally got moving he was noticeably more calm.  We small-talked about our days, and my mind was mostly on the food I was about to eat.  I'd heard great things about the restaurant.  But after only a few minutes of conversation, I realized we weren't moving.  The other passengers on the train started fidgeting and head-turning out the windows and murmuring about the stopped train, too.

Moments later the overhead announcement came on: "Passengers, we are sorry for the delay.  The Medical Center Station has caught on fire.  All trains are sharing one track to pass through.  Thank you for your patience."  I started to laugh.  Brennan did not.

The Medical Center Station was one stop before ours and only a few stops away, but on a nice summer evening, during rush hour, this wait could take a loooong time.  Brennan decided to call the restaurant and ask if we could move our reservation back.  But we were in a tunnel.  So there was no service.  His hands were fidgety.  Once we made it out of a tunnel, he pulled out his brand spankin' new iPhone to call, only to to be reminded that his phone hadn't synced all the way and he had no contacts on his phone.  

"It's okay!  I'm sure it'll be alright if we are a few minutes late.  Don't worry about it."  He was worried about it.  He sat there, with low reception, googling the restaurant, getting their number off-line, and changing the reservation time.  I sat their admiring my heels.  When we FINALLY arrived at our station, we ran off, ready to book it to dinner.  I slid my SmartCard through the gate and started jogging towards the escalator.  Quickly looking over my shoulder, I saw Brennan stuck on the other side.  Again.  He was not a happy Metro traveler.  After bumping into pregnant ladies, kicking a stroller and backing everyone else up, he just snuck through the gates with someone else.  "I don't know what the matter is!  I don't know why this isn't working!"  

I was out of "it'll be okay's" because I was so hungry, so I just smiled and kept walking.  The escalators took us from the depths of the underground station, to the corner of a bustling, dark, humid and rainy city street.  We walked downhill, in the rain, I in heels, he in shiny black shoes for three whole blocks.  I started running.  So did my mascara.  Then I started to smell.  So I stopped running.  My shoe got stuck in a grate.  Brennan's glasses were all foggy.  It wasn't the most shining moment of history.

After we arrived at the restaurant, and after I spent some time flipping my hair and rubbing hand-lotion under my armpits in the bathroom, we ordered dinner.  And I will say this:  the food was amamamzing.  We ordered a lot.  And we ate a lot.  The waitress and staff at the restaurant actually gave us a round of applause.  "I've NEVER seen two people eat so much!"  Thaaaat's embarrassing.  

The actual conversation over dinner was 90-percent about the food.  I was definitely being kind of difficult - well, not difficult… I just wasn't trying to make conversation too enjoyable?  I can fake it pretty well.  And I didn't want him to get vibes that I was really feeling it.  I don't know.  I just ate my food, talked about the food and was reserved yet hopefully polite?  We did speak about Brennan's newfound debt-free living approach.  He was really excited about it, so I let him talk.  Seemed to make him happy?  He was only one month away from paying that car off in cash, and his plan was to sell it, buy a "new" used car for less then he sold his current car, and start from scratch being debt-free.  His car was a cute little white two-door - and that's about all I could tell you about it.  Well, that and that it was just a few weeks away from being all paid for which made Brennan talkative.  At the end of the meal, the $130 bill came and I almost rolled off my chair.  (At the point it definitely would have been a "roll" too… not a "fall."  I was filled.  And very circular.)

In my head I started mentally adding up his costs for the day: new iPhone + two SmartCards during rush hour + $130 dinner.  Yikes.  I felt bad.  He REALLY was a nice guy.  At least he has a good job?  And he's not 19.  He's an adult.  He can afford this.  He hasn't gone on a first date in three years.  His car is almost paid off.  He has roommates who help pay rent.  Yeah, this is no big deal.

Once he paid, we left and walked back to the Metro.  This time, however, we were so full we couldn't stand straight.  We wobbled UP the hill, in the rain.  I finally took my shoes off.  My breath was short and smelly.  I was so so so excited to get on the Metro and go home.  One of my friends was having a movie night at her house, and if everything went smoothly, I might even be able to change and make it there in time.  Yay!

[part II to be continued tomorrow...]


CS Lewis + Boyfriend Pillows {Personal}

Happy Monday, one and all!

It's hard to not become almost unnecessarily sentimental when seasons change.
It's hard to read CS Lewis and not be left thinking deep and admiring his talent for arranging words.
I'm such an ordinary egg.  Sometimes I'm decent and other times I'm... ew.
Elaborating on Lewis' quotes seem kind of pointless; he says it too well himself.
But it sure makes me think.
Both healthy, challenging thoughts and those unnecessarily sentimental thoughts.
I think about how we all want to "fly."  We - I - want to be happy, soaring and strong.
And yet, when those promised changes come along that take me out of my oh-so-talked about "comfort-zone," and my warm little egg is cracking, and I'm a slimy mess on a dry, stickly nest,
I would so often prefer to go back into my ordinary, decent, comfortable, safe egg.
How is it so possible to want "the best" and also want "the safe" so simultaneously?
Yup. You do.
Funny AND hopeful, scary, exhilarating, lovely, dreary and weird... oh yes.
One day you wake up and you're 21.  And the next day you wake up and you're 21. And the day after you are 21.  Days and days and days.  Until one day you wake up and you are 22.
One day you wake up and meet a stranger. 
The next day when you wake up you tell someone about the stranger you met. 
And then the next day you don't think twice about the stranger. 
But one day, 53 wake-ups later, the stranger has started to become your friend.  Or did they start to become your friend that very first day when you met? When did they go from "stranger" to "friend"?
Then you look back and the stranger is almost more a part of your life then you are.
In the meantime, a lovely friend you had when you were 21 has become a stranger.
And your car has 21,901 more miles on it, chauffeuring you around little and big life destinations.
And maybe you weigh three more pounds then you did when you were 21.
And you don't really think flag-bunting is as charming as it used to be.
And you realize that you actually love sour-cream, even though you didn't when you were 21.
Perhaps you even like hugging much more then you did when you were 21.
But now you are 22, and everything is different, though you woke up just the same every day. Photobucket
That is sometime a very hard thing to remember.
Especially when you think you are the artist. 
But the Artist does such a perfect job with His pictures. 
I can't wait to see it.

Enjoy your sentimental-ordinary-(or-not)-experience-gaining-picture-painting Monday where you woke up and lived.

Ps.  Someone worked really hard and spent a lot of hours and money on this.
People are so special ;) And I love them.


Jay + Eva {Clifton, VA Engagement Photography}

all that i never knew, can you see me now?
all that i never said, can you see me now?
he makes me crazy
he makes me cruel
he makes me anything but a fool
my love | sarah bareilles
In a cozy warm sandwich shop, Eva and Jay rocked from side to side in their booth.
I saw them from outside the window as I walked in.
Smiling, chatting, laughing and clearly happy -
I would have felt like I was interrupting if they hadn't been so sweet.

Eva is a gorgeous, tiny, Italian bombshell.
Jay is an hysterical, big, loyal, manly-man.
These two met at the beach ("He was just different then other guys."),
they got engaged at the beach ("It was the best day of my life."),
and in a few weeks they will be married at the beach ("I hope it's just plan romantic and fun.")
I've been thrilled to work with these amazing couple.
I think when they booked me they were thrilled to book me.
And then we did their engagement shoot and they discovered I'm crazy.
Not like "oh, haha, I'm a teenage girl and it's cute to say I'm crazy. BLAH! I'M CRAZY!"
More along the lines of taking your clean, make-up-ed, beautifully hair-ed, paying clients,
who are here for a normal engagement shoot like every other client gets,
and then getting them soaking wet, ruining their hair and make-up,
and pretty much not even asking them if it's okay.
"No! We are not going under cover! Stay there!"
"But... it's raining."  
And rain it did.
In what I expected to be "probably a few sprinkles" a heavenly waterfall fell.
We were SOAKED. Wring your clothes out soaked.
And praise the good Lord for Eva and Jay's flexibility and fun-loving-nature.
They just went right along with me.
Kissing and loving and playing in the rain.
I told them that we could do a "real" engagement shoot later.
I basically got to fulfill a dream of mine by shooting in this rain,
and I don't think these two could have been more wonderful.
Guys, thanks for trusting me.  I owe ya ;)
Gotta hand it to you though,
you brought your romantic glam and nailed this.
I was giddy for days over this shoot.

I'm so happy we met in that sandwich shop.
Working with you has been a highlight of the year,
and we haven't even gotten to the wedding yet!

Much, much love!


I Love People {Personal}

"so the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. 
now remain in my love."  
Author ND Wilson wrote:
"You have been given your body. 
You have been given your ancestors,
 your natural strengths,
 and your natural weaknesses. 
 The backstory is all in place.  
You have been drawn, described and placed on a stage unlike any other - 
the Globe."

I love people.
People are incredible, even the crazy ones.
I love old people, and new people.
I love stories about people,
I love people related to me by blood,
I love people who died long before I was ever born.
I love that this world is filled with people.
I love babies.
And grandmas.
I love my friends having babies and making their mothers grandmas.

Today I'm baby-sitting my friend Heather's little girls while she has her fifth person.
I live with one of my best friends Becca and she's all round and pregnant with her first person.
Highschool bud Elizabeth is gorgeously and happily carrying her first little person in her belly.

Loving people is strange.
You live and love and lose and live.
You love your wife-person for a lifetime, and eventually she dies.
Or you love your best friend with all your heart and somehow they aren't in your life anymore.
You love a little person that doesn't exist yet, and it's heart-breaking to wonder 
"Will I ever have a baby person?"
Angry kid persons push away broken parent persons.
And yet you can't help but love.

Selah, the five year old I'm watching today, was on a walk with me and her not-quite-two-year-old sister, Addie.
Addie's chubby cheeks jiggle when she "runs."
I was loving it. Couldn't stop commenting on it.
It was seriously so cute.
Selah piped up "Oh Miss Kristen!
Just like it's soOoo cute when YOUR cheeks jiggle when YOU walk!"

My mom texted me the other day after church. She had a story about my little sister:
"I asked Shannon what she learned in church today. She said 'pride and humidity.'"

"You clothed me with skin and flesh,
   and knit me together with bones.
You have granted me life and love."
job 10:12

People aren't bodies.  People are wrapped in bodies.
They are held together by bodies.
A person is more then a body.
I love knowing people.
I love learning and hurting and dreaming and being with people.

Lydia made a joke about extinct bluebirds from Whales. It made me laugh.
My brother filled me in on fantasy football. It made me smile.
Caleb discovered ghosts. It made me giddy giggle.
My dad came up with baby names for me and my future children. It made me burst.
Jamie laughed at something I said. It made grin.
My mom called to say hi while she was driving and just wanted to talk. It made me happy.
It's so easy to love at those times.

But I don't love those times, I love those people.
I love times with those people.
I know life will bring about times with other people;
other new people and other old people.
Hopefully I will have many more years of loving and living.
But when times hurt and are hard and I'm mad,
I still love the people, not the times.  

Babies have a particular way of revealing the brevity of time.
Babies are people.
Most of us are adult people, we will always be adult people. 
We will never go back to being baby people.
We may go back to being as needy as a baby person,
but never a tiny, fresh, unknown baby person.

Newborn babies have no stories, yet.
They are on page one.
"Once upon a time..."
Their cue to enter the stage just has started.
Who will they be? Who will they love?
Who will they hurt? What flavor ice cream will they like most?
Will they be allergic to ice cream?
How will they be strong? And how will they be weak?
I love baby people.

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."
jeremiah 1:4-5

Go love on some people while you live today.
Remain in love. Remain in HIS love.
Play your part on this stage.
Sing or dance or change the set or direct or pull the curtain.
And love being loved and love loving and just...

(and if there is any way you can snuggle a baby, go for it.)


Josh + Samantha {SugarLoaf Mountain Engagement}

it's yours to take wherever you go
through the years you'll always know
it's yours to keep
we are man + wife | michelle featherstone

"I decided to only do the 3-day free Match.com trial,
and had told myself that it would be entertaining if nothing else, 
I would see who else I know is on the site have some laughs and be done. 

The emails started coming in and of all of them, I responded to Joshua. 
His message was short and sweet. 
He wasn't over-flattering, 
wasn't suggesting we meet, 
wasn't calling me 'sexy',
he just wrote to introduce himself. 
I remember he made a joke about how he lived in West Virginia but he wasn't from West Virginia 
which I thought was funny."
"He signed his message, saying 'It's all about taking that first step, which is always the toughest.'
I thought to myself, 'he's right', and so I wrote back. 
That started a chain of emails, several from Joshua and several from me each day, 
all of which left me feeling like a kid with a crush."
"Three days later, I told him my trial was over,
but I had created an email account just for him.
I'm so happy I did that because now
I have an email account with nothing but our messages.
We still go back and read some of them from time to time and laugh. 
I hope to print them one day and share them with our children as we tell our story."
Have you fallen in love with Josh and Sam yet?
I have.
I love this happy, friendly, nerdy, child-like, beautiful couple.
"She is the biggest 80’s music fan and it cracks me up seeing her sing every song.
She loves to dance and its fun catching her when she’s doesn’t think anyone is looking."

I love that Joshua doesn't get embarrassed by me.
When an 80's song comes on in the grocery store and I start to dance and sing, he doesn't get embarrassed.
In fact, he encourages me, because he knows I'm having fun and he doesn't care who sees."
"I love making her smile because seeing her happy is very important to me."

"His laugh, his jokes, and his light-heart is contagious in the best way.
Everyone who meets Joshua likes him
I love love love that my friends genuinely like Joshua."
"Samantha loves Christmas with a passion that is child-like.
When I hear Christmas music, all I can think of is her."

"He plays online video games. Such a nerdy quality, I know.
And yes, I harass him about this, but I have my own nerdy qualities too, so I support his."
"We love going to the grocery store (Is that weird?).
We have so much fun at the grocery store together that now we hate going alone."

"The first year we were together we saw eight live music shows together."
They go on and on about how he packs her lunch for night-shift,
(she's a NICU nurse.)
Or how he loves Dunkin Donuts
(especially the Manager's Special.)
Or how she makes the best Sunday eggs in the world,
while she thinks it's pretty dang hot how much he loves to read.
With only a handful of interactions with these two,
I feel like I know them.
They talk long, lovingly and unhurriedly about each other.
They are quick to say something sweet or uplifting about the other -
to the person's face, to me, or to anyone else who will listen!
Josh and Sam seem like real people,
with real personalities and quirks,
who really fell in love.
They love the odd little parts of each other,
and don't take for granted dynamic aspect of the other person.
"She has such a passion for life and anyone that is part of hers is blessed.
She is beautiful, smart, honest and always tells me how she feels.
I love Samantha for being a down-to- earth person."

"He's totally, 100% himself, all the time.
He's loving and silly, and makes no apologies.
He has never ever curtailed who he really is when he's around different people to impress them.
I'm so happy for this, because I think who he really is is really great!"
They are who they are.
And they love who they are.
They have given their hearts to another,
with the complete trust and security of knowing it will be loved forever.
No gimmicks, acts or games. Just real love.
In the real, loving, somewhat cheesy, but fully genuine and meaningful words of Josh:
"Our love has no boundaries...
... to the moon and back."