7.5.12

Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 5

time, love. time, love.
time, love.
it's only a change of time.
josh ritter - change of time   

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part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4
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The dryer hadn't buzzed yet.  It was time to leave.  I hadn't checked in online.  I hadn't printed my boarding pass.  I hadn't finished blogging like I planned.  My clothes were still damp.  Oh well, into the carry-on they go!  I stuffed, zipped and hobble-hobble-hobbled out the door and down to my car.  There probably won't be any traffic, it's the middle of the day.  I have no idea what is in my suitcase.  Do I have my license? Oh gosh. I paused in the parking lot of my own apartment complex - where I lived on my own.  The concept was still very new to me.  I hadn't even paid my third full month of rent yet.  Life was very happy and my house still felt a little bit like a hotel or vacation home.  I invited friends (ranging in age from one year-olds to my mom's friends in their 50's!) over constantly.  My heart was so full when people enjoyed my house.  Mornings were fun, but after that being alone was stinky.  I craved seeing familiar faces by dinnertime.  
With my damp, unplanned luggage in tow, I zipped over to the airport in Baltimore.  I'd already gone to visit my parents in Florida a few weeks prior.  Now it was time to go see that funny couple I loved so much.  We had waved good-bye to them in August and it was already nearly November.  I was slightly proud of myself for being the only friend who actually made plans to visit them.  Though not much of a hugger, I wanted to give Becca a hug.  And hear some Andree humor.  And to see ALL there is to see in Oklahoma (apparently I didn't need more than 72 hours to visit everything important in the state.)  The two best friends were not Oklahoma boasters.  I had heard from them that the memorial downtown, the farmers market and a cool place called Pops on Route 66 were the only fun things in all of the area.  Oh! And Big Truck Taco.  Whoooa. Sounds like SO much fun. Woooo-eee. Rah. Rah. Can. Not. Wait.  Ha.
This would be a good trip, I decided, to focus on people.  Not everywhere has to be beautiful or inspiring.  Sometimes it's just about who you are with and nothing more.  You see, this trip was not only going to include seeing a much-missed couple but also doing a family shoot for a project I was working on.  A project about real marriage and proven love.  I'm perfectly addicted to shooting weddings, and waving good-bye to lovers on day one of their marriage.  But who photographs day 132 when they get into their first sort-of big fight? And who photographs the triumph in her eyes on day 216 when he says the meal she made tastes better than his mothers version? And who photographs day 1,824 when the couple still isn't pregnant, after wanting a baby so badly?  Or perhaps day 1,824 is filled with tears from mama and tots, who all need daddy to come home.  Now.  Who takes pictures of the husband in line at the grocery store with a little bouquet of flowers for his woman, over 2,000 days from their wedding? Who photographs day 4,991 when work is just at a dead-halt, and with bags under their eyes and fears inside their hearts, two people discuss options.  They weren't expecting to still have money issues "this far" in.  Who is there to photograph daddy mowing the lawn with his little dude following behind with a plastic toy, while mom and her quite grown-up daughter talk about what they want to do for her birthday this year?  Who is there for those long, beautiful, days that become long, beautiful years, where they "come together, fall apart, break each other's heart"?  "When the sound of little feet, is the music, they dance to week to week?"  I was (and still am) hungry to study marriages, not just wedding days.  I wanted to do photoshoots where I not only took pictures of people, but heard the whole story.  Where I asked lots of questions.  Where I took my time becoming emotional and inspired by their life and marriage.
With this desire in my heart (among other things!) I was moved to tears as I read a blog called "Joel's Journey."  A friend had showed it to me, and I spent one humid afternoon laying on a mattress in an empty house reading the story of a marriage.  Terry and Cindy Morris had a wedding day.  The had the smiling, waving, cheerful day one.  Someone was there to take pictures.  It was beautiful and good.  By day 7,331 they had become parents to 13 children on their Oklahoma farm, and one of them was getting ready to say good-bye to his family for a little while.  No one knew that little Joel wasn't going to be in their arms for 90 more days.  No one knew that the funny, root-tootin', round-headed three year old had a tumor.  But they found out.  I read from the beginning, with no ability to stop my body's response to the story, and though I knew Joel had died, I found myself cheering for him and his family.  I read about their initial doctors visits, their car rides back and forth, Joel leaving his home and farm for the last time (which, of course, they didn't know would be when it happened).  I read about his brain failure, but his little heart beating away.  I read about holidays and birthdays celebrated in his hospital room. Hours of reading and music and cuddles from mom, dad and his twelve best friends.  I read about the kind nurses and the cold nurses.  I read about the gut-wrenching search for a doctor who would continue to treat Joel (the hospital he was in refused to since his brain was dead, even though his heart was still beating and the family wanted him to be treated.)  I read about the Morris family being sued and having to go to court in the middle of caring for their son.  I read about the medical staff ignoring Joel's room, and Terry learning how to take care of him by researching online.  I read about the day that they decided to let Joel go back to the farm to let him be comfortable in his own house.  I read about little Hosanna's birthday party in his hospital room while they waited for an ambulance to take Joel home.  I read about the ambulance not making it in time.  I read about the entire Morris family surrounding Joel as he left our wearisome world and was healed forever.  


Cindy held him and wept. Terry was by her side. The children propped each other up, heartbroken.  Joel walked in a world they've never seen, but believe is more real than this earth.  He was greeted in paradise with cheers and open arms.  Joel will never hurt again, and will never die again.  He went home.  Home home.  It is very good that Joel lives in Heaven.  It is sharply sad that Joel is so missed by his family.  I read on their blog their hope in the promise of their God:  they WILL be reunited with Joel someday.  They WILL touch him and see his precious round face.  He is alive, and he is with God.  
I cried. Oh, I cried.  I could hardly make it through the next few years of blog posts.  The posts of fight and fear and questions and belief.  I was cut to the quick.  It's not often you come across such a real, vulnerable story.  I almost felt like I knew this family after I read their blog.  I wanted to know more about their story, and hear about the marriage that made it through the storm.  The marriage that is still walking through the storm.  I contacted Cindy and a shoot was planned.  Yes.  This trip would be about people.  This trip to Oklahoma would be about hugging Becca, laughing with Andree, meeting Cindy and Terry, and learning about their life and family.  Who cares if the state is boring?  It's not like I'm staying there or anything.  
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With visions of miles and miles of flat nothing, lots of cows, big trucks and more nothing, I flew.  After landing, I realized my visions weren't flat enough.  And didn't imagine enough cows, trucks and nothing.  But I didn't care, my evening was happily spent with friends, eating soup and, yes, hugging.  Friday night came to a close and I slept on the couch (like usual) in my travel clothes, with all my make-up on.  
The next morning I did not pop right off the couch.  I groaned.  Where is my phone? And are my teeth made out of cottontails? Blech.  My eyes felt like the saltine crackers I had crunched into the soup.  The rim of my hair was sweaty.  I could feel it.  Where is my phone? I thwacked and patted the couch.  I stood up and it slid down the blanket as I shook it out.  AH-ha!  I checked the time, hoping I had at least an hour to take a shower and freshen up before the shoot.  Besides, I still had airplane peanut salt in my nails. No such luck.  I had about 15 minutes to get myself out the door.  Maybe even less.  Darn it darn it darn it.  
This photoshoot needed to start on time.  Mrs. Morris made it abundantly clear to me that her oldest boys needed to get to work as soon as possible.  Our 9 am start time was already cramping their groove.  I had seen on her blog that her oldest boys (twins!) had bought 25 acres of land (with cash!) and that they spent their Saturdays and evenings building their houses.  On a normal Saturday they would be at Home Depot by 6:00 am getting supplies.  Getting to the job site at 10:00 am was down right disgraceful!  "As soon as you finish taking their pictures, they'll need to go!  I think they're a little frustrated with me, makin' em take family pictures! But you know what, they just need to deal with it!"  I laughed in agreement.  Yes, suck it up, put on a smile and deal with it.  
I was a flurry that morning.  I pulled out my favorite black skirt.  It was still damp.  At least it smelled like Lavender Fields.  But you know how damp clothes fit.  They hang "heavy" and don't quite flatter.  I had a soft red cardigan to wear with my favorite black skirt.  It too was a little damp.  The cuff of the sleeve was loose and wide.  And for some reason the cardigan was more rounded then straight.  Just bad.  I shook and snapped it, hoping to give my favorite sweater a little life in it's veins.  Nothing.  I had a tight little black tank-top to wear underneath my cardigan.  Except that I didn't.  I thought I had a slim-fitted black camisole, but I guess in my packing rush I grabbed the wrong top out of the dryer.  Instead I had a flowy, loose, butterfly-sleeved, long, semi-pleated black Gap shirt.  Darn it.  I tucked the too-big top into my skirt and tried to arrange it neatly so that it might look like a smooth tank.  Instead I looked like a breast-feeding mother smuggling hamburgers .  It bunched in the back and gave me love handles.  It bunched in the front and gave me a trapezoid shaped mid-section.  Whatever.    


At this point I still hadn't addressed my face. Oh lordy.  A few days before this trip I decided to give myself bangs.  Bangs that started at my ears.  They were bad bangs.  They weren't cute like Zooey or Carrie or Liv.  Besides the fact that they were too wide (I've since learned that bangs are supposed to start at the end of your eyebrows, not the end of your forehead), they were also too thin.  And thanks to my complete lack of self control and ability to get myself ready for bed, set an alarm, and wake up on time, I found my self arranging a greasy wheat shoot field along my scalp.  When in Rome…? The rest of my hair was no better.  Flat, half-wavy, half-straight and quite split-end-y.  I wedged two bobby-pins in the back of my head, creating one of the most unfortunate half-up half-down hair styles I've ever seen.  On to my skin.  I swirled and swirled my powder foundation, leaving puffs of the make-up all over the bathroom counter.  Make-up never goes on well without moisturizer.  The powder just perched on my face like birds on a telephone line.  Darn it.  I forgot deodorant.  And eye-liner.  And toothpaste.  With a quick mascara application, apple breakfast and squirt of Becca's perfume, I danced out the door in my boots (but not in my socks.  Because I forgot socks too.)
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The drive was quiet and calm.  Maybe the country is a little pretty in the morning.  My feet itched in my shoes.  Oh my gosh, my nails.  I was going to take this chipping polish off.  Oh well.  Before long, I found myself bumping along a gravel road, which dead-ended at a long dirt road, which led to a gravel driveway and the Morris property.  
The big red barn in the background proved that this was a farm.  Not that the little cowboy boots all over the yard, bleeting goat sounds, red-dirt soaked pick-up trucks in the driveway, playful dogs, crunchy and rolling fields, the parked dirtbike, horseshoe decor in the garden and stillness in the air wasn't enough.  Rap rap rap on the door was followed by running foot-steps, "MOoOOOOm!", muffled shutting doors, a little face in the window (that disappeared after a fast smile), and eventually the door opened by a lovely woman, dressed in black, purple and denim. "HI! Welcome! Welcome!"  There is no awkward confusion over whether you shake hands or hug here.  Cindy grinned and collected toys off the ground while walking into the cozy, country-themed living room.  Terry appeared with open arms, too.  He has story-eyes.  Good man story eyes.  And both Terry and Cindy looked much younger than I was expecting.  "We're running a little behind, I'm so sorry!  Oh, and Bethany is sick.  She was almost too sick to even get out of bed this morning.  But! She's a trooper!  She's getting ready! I'm going to help everyone get themselves fixed.  Make yourself at home!"  


I stood in front of the giant wooden table, with enough benches and chairs to seat 20 people.  To my right was a kitchen in the middle of renovation, to my left was a small TV room and an open door.  An arm stretched out past the open door and I saw the back of a tall boy putting on a black button-up shirt.  I turned away and sat down on a wooden wagon-wheel love seat.  Kids and animals slowly made their way into the living room.  The older kids introduced themselves and shook my hand.  The younger kids came in packs and would avoid eye contact as they popped out from behind walls and furniture.  I couldn't keep all the names straight.  Including Joel, the Morris' have nine sons.  There were boots-wearing, jean-clad, trimmed-hair, tan, cute boys everywhere.  All dressed in black or purple.  Some changing outfits in between viewings.  I didn't even try to remember their names!
It seemed that everybody was just about ready.  There were probably ten people in the living-room-kitchen-great-room when Daniel came down the hall and said hello.  Following right behind was Caleb.  Apparently these two put up a good ol’ fashioned stink about having to miss precious weekend time to build.  For family pictures nonetheless! They're too respectful to argue, but I’m sure there was stomping around in the bedroom, watching the clock constantly.  Muttering disappointments to each other.  Though the 23-year-old twins were tall and toned with fantastic jawlines, I was hardly impressed.  They were much too thin for my taste, and they both had matching stiff-gel-shlacked  hair-do's.  Their faces looked like chiseled statues that didn't move.  I'm not kidding.  Their facial expression was just that: an expression.  One. Singular.  They stood perfectly straight, with crisp owl-like head movements, and serious, focused looks.  I wanted to shake them and say "CHillllLLLl oooouut!"  The reader must keep in mind that I felt about as attractive as a bag of frozen bagel bites.  I was kind of crushing on a guy back home, but was mostly burnt-out with guys and trying to meet them.  


Besides, from what I could tell from the little bit I saw on their mothers blog and Facebook, it seemed that both the twins had their sights set on other girls.  Not to mention that I knew they were a part of a famously conservative homeschool program (the same one that the Duggar's of 19 Kids and Counting are in), so I knew that I would NOT be the kind of girl ANYone in this household would take seriously.  That last sentence was very judgmental of me, but also came from fairly reliable information about families in this organization.  Many have told tales of being snapped at for wearing pants and "dressing like a harlot."  Let's not even talk about crazy music choices, like Taylor Swift and Beyonce'!  All that to say, I had no mixed motives when I entered that household.  No part of me even remotely thought "I wonder if I'll meet a cute dude here! Giddyup!"  


Caleb walked over and shook my hand.  I hardly remember it. I hardly cared. I promptly began counting children and asked to get this shoot going.  


Caleb, on the other hand, felt sparks. 

19 comments:

  1. oh my goodness sakes, I love this. pretty please write the next part today? ;)

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  2. I was so overjoyed for this next post! You write so well, it is very interesting to see this story unfold :)

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  3. so. I've been loving this series like woah. and I've also been loving the fact that I've totally been to almost all of these places. including pops. it's the best, isn't it? ;)

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing about Joel so tenderly and thoughtfully!!! It was hard to hold back the tears in just remembering!! Precious!!!

    ......and then the descriptions of the day, your clothes, our "movements" made me laugh soooooo ridiculously hard!!!!! What a day!!! I will never forget it!!! If I had only known you would be my precious daughter in love.......well, i wouldn't have done anything different that day!!!! You saw "us" and thats as good as any trying of first impressions!!!

    I love you dearly!!!!!

    Mrs Morris!!!!

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  5. so, so sweet!! I can't wait to read the rest of this. xx.

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  6. Mrs. Morris' comment makes my heart smile even bigger than your post did. What a sweet family to become a part of! I can't bare knowing I have to wait for the next part of this story. Ahhh!

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  7. Javairia7.5.12

    Ahhhmazing. i have followed the Morris' blog for a while. I can so agree on feeling like you know them personally through Joel story. I tell my husband every time they update their blog and I think he things I am a little attached for not knowing them ;). What an honor for you to meet such an amazing family with such a testimony for our Savior. Would love to meet them. Love your updates.

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  8. hehe. the best part of this whole blog entry... was the last line.
    Sparks. Oh my my my.

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  9. ohhhhhh my gosh. Every part of your story gets better and better. God's written lots of love stories over the years, but I think this is one of my favoritest. maybe even more than Pride & Prejudice! ;) Mmmmmmmhhm. And I second Hannah...more soon?!

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  10. Ah so great, I am sitting on the edge of my seat!!! I double second Hannah, pleaseee tell us more soon :)

    Oh, and this post has made me now long to go to oklahoma!! Yeah, I was seeing and smelling and breathing and feeling good old okla through your words in this post.

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  11. I cried so many tears watching the movie of their story. Never put it all together even after seeing the pictures you did for them. Can't wait to hear the next part of your story!

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  12. Oh this is beautiful Kristen. Please, don't make us wait for the rest of the story.

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  13. Anonymous8.5.12

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. your writing is so beautiful! i read every word and i can't believe you left us hanging like that. i'm on hands and knees here.... PLEASE write the next part!! :)

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  15. Oh, I'm so glad guys are enjoying our story... It's very fun to sit down and write out. Thanks for your supportive words! It spurs me on to keep writing more!

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  16. erin ryan8.5.12

    Hi Kristen! I used to read your blog regularly a while back. I re-stumbled upon it recently and I'm so glad I did. You inspire me dude!!! So happy for your engagement, I too just got engaged this year. You're doing an amazing job with the writing portion of the enjoy project (and the others too, but I'm partial to the writing). Keep on keepin on! xoxo Erin

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  17. erin ryan8.5.12

    DUH, the whole reason I meant to comment before was to mention how much I also love Josh Ritter and "Change of Time." It kept popping up on my Pandora for a while and I finally bought his album. Ob-sessed. K bye forreal!

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  18. augusta13.5.12

    Freaking. Out. This is the greatest story ever.
    Mrs. Morris' comment is so great! Can't wait to read the rest!

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  19. Forgive me that I'm JUST NOW reading all of your "Oh my my my" posts (I fully read the first one when you posted it and then just skimmed the rest, mainly looking for pictures I'm ashamed to admit. lol). But one of my best friends Allix was raving the other day about the posts and how her mom was going back and reading all of them. So I thought "I should do it." So, I am :). And this post made me laugh and the ending line is precious :D.

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Oh, you've made my day! Thank you for the thoughts and words!