The car stops. I’m covered in dirt, someone wants a bribe, our engine is smoking and I think our tire is flat. Our shoulders are aching from the long car ride, someone groans about how hard they hit their head over the last bump… and yet in the midst of it all, I can’t help myself. While I know we’ve got time, anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, I feed my boredom with my latest craze: Wedding Prep.
I got engaged in May. (Yay!) It was my favorite weekend. My boyfriend planned the most romantic proposal and utterly swept me off my feet with a surprise flight to San Francisco where he was waiting at a beautiful look out point with a ring and a couple of days planned of exploring one of my favorite cities. The “love of my life” and every other cheesy cliché in the book, we’re pretty much obsessed with each other. (In a non- Swim Fan kinda way)
Though the only catch is, we got engaged and then 3 weeks later I moved back to Africa. A post conflict zone no less. The plan was to be apart for just 3 months and then come back to LA, plan the rest of the wedding and get hitched in November.
Now here though, we’re living out the non-glamorous reality of what that really looks like. The dropped calls, the busy schedules, the different time zones… Before I left, when we’d tell people our plan, most thought we were crazy. “Three months apart from your fiancé?! Isn’t that going to be horrible!?” Which I understand, but in my mind, we’re not really normal. We’re “us”, we live in active war zones, we love a good challenge, we’d be fine. (And it’s not like it hasn’t been done before!)
Everyday feels like an eternity as the separation has been much harder than we thought! There’s always such grace, no doubt about that, but see, in Congo, internet pretty much sucks. A lot. In the bush, it is 100% non-existent. So that means, Edison (my fiancé) and I, though have liberal texting for a few hours every day (when we’re awake at the same time) we only actually get a real conversation in about once a week. If we’re lucky. And unfortunately… it costs him about $40 to do so.
(I know, the drama ;)
Planning your wedding and having millions and trillions of miles between you and your fiancé, while living in a war zone, though it’s not going to kill me, definitely has it’s challenges. So over the last month, knowing I still have two more months to go, I’ve been learning how to embrace the two worlds and have come to sincerely love the contrast of it!
Sitting in our mud hut community, my girls and I take a break from war stories and pull out a wedding magazine to sort through flowers and table settings. We look at invitations and question fonts and colors… real decisions, though they feel completely abstract to my surroundings.
We come home from the jungle and though I was just eating with my hands because the rebels stole our spoons, I go to our wedding registry and make sure the right cutlery is marked down on the list.
That one was tricky at first! Oh The contrast of living with people who have nothing, and being grateful for literally everything, and then knowing if I don’t want to eat on the floor forever, I have to pick out some chairs.
I secretly love it, even though I wrestle through it. Getting to shop for pretty things that I want but can also completely justify them as things I need? Brilliant.
After much contemplation, I realized if you’re going to do contrast well, you must fully embrace the extensiveness of each entity. Mud huts and new apartments.
You have to stop working out in your head how many children you could feed if you didn’t feed your wedding guests, and you have to just accept that your wedding dress will be the most expensive outfit you’ll ever purchase.
So I take the extra seconds and choose the bed spread I want, from the store I want.
One that won’t have bugs or mystery stains.
I pick out the dishes that will serve food from every food group, and the towels that will be used after I shower with HOT, RUNNING water.
I balance “White chairs? Or natural wood chairs at the ceremony?”
with “Desks that fit three students? Or four students for the Leadership League school?”
I sit in pure torture, deciding on the menu for our reception when all I’d eaten for the last week was beans and rice. I’m convinced if my fiancé didn’t intervene our wedding food would be completely random with all the odd foods I’m currently craving.
And I plan with my team, through belly aching laughter, how many goats Edison is going to have to pay for me. Their “Congolese daughter” after all. It would be disrespectful to take me as his bride without at least leaving half a dozen livestock.
It’s my life. And I love it. Though it seems entirely crazy at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So, one month down… two months to go! Thank you for your prayers and endless support!
For more details of our November 1st wedding or how I wound up with such an amazing stud of a man, here’s the link again to our wedding website. -> http://www.theknot.com/wedding/Cassandra-and-Edison
[And please Save our Date! Our California wedding will be actually have to be quite small but please follow the journey as we SO appreciate your prayers! We’re also hoping to do other mini celebrations in Canada, Seattle, Kenya and DRC within the 2015 calendar year!]