24 7 / 2014
23 7 / 2014
Nathan always says rain is our thing. The first time we kissed was in a tropical depression after we had suddenly ran out of a birthday party. It was a party for me and another sweet friend of ours during Peace Corps.
We seemed to burst out of the house suddenly. How did it even happen? We said some things and a moment later I grabbed his hand and we ran out of the house together. The world felt like a snow globe, the part where it’s a container filled with water. Rain came down like opened faucets overhead. The skies were dark in Cantarranas. I don’t remember if it was daytime or nighttime by then; it had been dark and stormy all day. As we ran, the water pushed up our shins with small waves crashing through the streets. I felt the the water completely fill my little red ballet flats. Each step would press the water out only to simultaneously refill again. In Honduras we quickly learned the word “aguacero,” a downpour.
At some point it was so intense we let go but kept running towards somewhere. There was no defined destination but we were pulled forward by the intensity of the moment. I ran quickly just a couple paces ahead of him. Now Nathan always says he chases me, like he did “that” time in the rain. If a sudden rainfall begins, I always dash forward, and he says he loves chasing me like he did that day, reminding us both of this particular memory.
We eventually found ourselves under a tree on the hillsides that wrapped this little Honduran town. On a sunny day, which was most days, you could climb to the ridge and look down on this beautiful place with the singing frogs. Today it was dark, though. Was it was nighttime by now? We were out of breathe and completely soaked. My little red ballet flats were filled with mud and water, my shirt clung to me and my jean skirt was weighted by the water it held. My hair whipped when I turned my head, it clung to my face and neck. I remember pausing for just a moment, looking at each other. Water slid down his matted hair and onto his face.
The water continued falling everywhere around us. The hillside we stood on was thick with saturated mud. That was the first time Nathan and I kissed.
The aguacero stayed steady that entire night, and I arrived to my host family completely soaked. Everyone at that party would have, just walking outside from one house to the next would have saturated your clothes. The water in the streets would have rushed up your legs.
That was the first time rain or water became a part of our story. Oceans around the world, rivers in Southeast Asia and Honduras, creeks in Cantarranas and DC, living by the sea in Muscat and Lima, islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and all the little stories those waters hold.
When it starts to rain and he says with a coy smile, “rain is our thing,” I smile and look at him, and we share a small moment. The outfit I’m wearing in these pictures above, for our one year wedding anniversary, they’re the same shirt and skirt I wore the day Nathan and I kissed for the first time, six years ago in late August.
I can’t say it enough, but where we ended up living has been a perfect surprise. Because of us landing in the Latino community, because of our housemates, in the house and in the basement apartment (their pets), proximity to all Columbia Heights, Petworth and Mt. Pleasant have to offer, and lastly, Rock Creek park. That’s where we decided to spend our anniversary. I could say more about why it’s so perfect for us to be so close to such an amazing piece of nature, but I’ll leave this post with just a final note that will mostly mean something to us. The water bottle in the picture was filled with wine, and Ernesto and my elephant from Kigali were with us. I wore my “M” necklace with our wedding date on the back and my Nepal earrings I wore on our wedding day. And I always wear my delicate gold “M” bracelet that I have had on since London.
23 7 / 2014
//Working at home & Rock Creek park/ ‘Yuscarán' hat & high school x-country shirt - I still can't believe the house and location we ended up in. We're feeling grateful for all those alignment of stars that landed us with built-in friends and in a community we care about. I have a couple of other garden, neighborhood and home related photos I'm debating adding in here, but I think I'll just keep this one light, like our old school weekly photo posts.
18 7 / 2014
To my wife,
Since the day we met, life has been exciting and wonderful. Our first year of marriage has been extra- extraordinary. Getting married and strolling along the Thames in London, the streets of Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, La Sagrada Familia en Barcelona, ceviche en la costa verde en Lima, historic Quito, World Urban Forum in Medellín, tejo and arepas en Bogotá, and great friends in Lima and Colombia. ¡Muchisimas gracias a todos que han sido parte de este camino nuestro!
In a parallel reflection I remember making dinner together, despite fire alarms in London student housing, while grinding out a masters degree; carrying 500 pounds of books because we were homeless in Paris; nearly missing the train in Rome; Barcelona … was perfect; vagabonding and overstaying our visa in Peru, 26 hour bus ride escape route; sleeping on the cold airport floor in Ecuador; poverty and displacement in Medellín; and living with circus performers in Bogotá.
I could not have imagined a better partner to share the highs and lows, the challenges and beauty of life. One year ago today we shared a beautiful day filled with the calm of just being together, married. Cheers to living that day, all of our memories, and all those still to come.
18 7 / 2014
17 7 / 2014
Tomorrow Nathan and I will celebrate an incredible and unique first year of marriage. Here is the story of our rings…
Spending money isn’t in my nature. If you know me, you know this is simply my practical nature. It’s something that makes me so different from the majority, specifically within a capitalist context.
Years before becoming engaged, I mostly faked my reaction when others shared their engagement rings. To me, they seemed the same, like too much - and I couldn’t imagine how something like what I was seeing would fit with my personality. How did something that most people’s aim was ‘big’ and ‘flashy’ fit on me, the tomboy who enjoyed dressing up and feeling pretty, but mostly enjoyed running around in a fitted tee, shorts and tennis (you have to read that as the Spanish shorthand for “tennis shoes.”)? I have loved wearing baseball hats since I was little, and at 30-years-old I still do. I couldn’t picture myself with an engagement ring. The diamond and the setting all looked basically the same to me, ring after ring, and I wondered what I was missing that everyone else saw when they got excited about engagement rings. Then I wondered if you could simply bypass one of the biggest traditions in the western world, because I didn’t feel like I needed or wanted a “ring.” I wasn’t trying to make statement, but it felt like I would be simply by going against tradition. I wasn’t sure how I would approach this or ultimately feel about it when the time came.
I didn’t waste much thought on it, though. I didn’t know it yet, but I still had a good half decade before meeting Nathan. Either way, I knew I had time…
During our time in Honduras Mayan jewelry was in style with the elite class. It was beautiful and I thought it’d be nice to have a Mayan piece. You really have to have some time in a country before approaching buying jewelry. You need to know ”what’s up” in order to get a fair enough price. So sometimes we looked around, but kept holding off.
Towards the end if our time in Honduras, N’s house was flooded out. All the drama tied to that, especially N needing of a new passport that only arrived hours before we flew out of the country, dominated our last two weeks in Honduras.
Flying from Honduras to San Francisco (then NOLA then DC then Oman), with all that was coming our way, and in preparation of moving to a conservative Middle Eastern country, we decided to buy “wedding rings.” At the airport in Tegucigalpa, we bought my Mayan ring, for $25. It became the piece of Mayan jewelry I had hoped for, and it was the ring I would wear on my wedding finger in Oman. Right there in the airport, as I looked at my new ring, I told Nathan, “This could be the ring we get married with. I don’t need anything more.” It was the ring I wore for three years before we married, and it was the only ring I wore the day I became Nathan’s wife.
It was one of two rings that mattered to us. Before meeting up with me in Oman, Nathan spent some time with family in Louisiana. He had planned to look for a ring that he would wear on his ring finger in Oman. If I haven’t mentioned this before, in Oman it is illegal to live together unless you are married. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but Nathan and I went six years without an incident abroad. We have always been on the conservative side of how we behave and dress outside of the US. In most of the countries where we have lived this has mattered. Out with his mom and his brother, Nathan went to the French Market where he found his ring. It’s the ring he still wears today, officially his wedding ring.
I can’t imagine not wearing these two rings. They were our “wedding” rings before we were married, and they were the rings we placed on each other’s hand in London. I can see us doing it right now, that moment in our history not so long ago, with our hands and eyes and just us; I can see us marrying each other with those rings. Those rings, probably both collectively under $100, meant more to us than any engagement ring could have. Those rings had a history that laced through our unique story.
We did consider an engagement ring in the years leading up to our actual engagement. I had sometimes seen pearls in the Mayan jewelry designs, and I thought it looked amazing together. In Oman we looked for a delicate ring with a delicate pearl that might pair with my Mayan ring.
Delicate is the one word to describe what I wanted in a ring. It could have an antique vibe, I knew I didn’t want a diamond, and before the Mayan ring (because I thought a pearl would pair nicely), I had thought about an emerald or a sapphire. Mostly though, I knew I needed the ring to be delicate. I still couldn’t imagine an engagement ring, like so many I had seen, on my hand. It needed to fit my life and personality, and a delicate -and not overly “haloed” and “decorated”- ring was the only ring I thought would fit me.
It was hard to find anything other than bulbous and polished pearls that weren’t too large for what I envisioned. For the record, I love the unique shape of ‘natural’ pearls. And again, delicate ones, i.e. not too big.
We thought about emeralds and sapphires. Sapphires, as engagement rings or rings in general, became too popular some years ago. So nice, but played out.
An emerald came on my radar because it is something truly different. I could finally “see” a difference among engagement rings when I pictured an emerald. And an emerald tied me back to a gift my mom had given me when I was a teenager. I love emeralds in gold and with some diamonds, and the ring my mom gave me was just that. That was the ring to make me notice emeralds. It was a unique choice, and still off the radar of those going the non-diamond engagement ring route.
The world’s emeralds largely come from Colombia, 55% are mined and exported to the world. The next countries to follow are in the teens and single digit percentages. If you have an emerald, it’s likely to be from a Colombian mine. Like the ring my mother gave me, an emerald also tied me to my father, to his country. Like my Honduran ring, an emerald also tied us to our current host country, a country that ties me to its roots, my roots. An emerald is beautiful, and for someone who loves history and people’s stories, an emerald would become a part of ours.
In our last days in Colombia, Nathan and I found what is now my “engagement” ring. With jewelry shops, an emerald trade center and men with white sheets of folded papers holding emeralds to sell along the roadside, Nathan and I completed my wedding set. My Honduran Mayan ring and Colombian esmeralda, and Nathan’s New Orleans French Market ring, these are our wedding rings.
It’s a delicate ring and happens to be a design I had liked years before. Brilliant Earth has a sapphire version, with the same infinity design with tiny diamonds wrapping the sides. I had hesitated in the past because I wondered if it was too fancy for my everyday life. Seeing it in person and trying it on, it looked right on my hand. Now that I’ve had it for over a month, to my surprise, the ring has slipped into my life. For a long time I had wondered if I would fit a ring, but in the end my ring fit me. I don’t understand why, but my ring, that I can envision looking beautiful on a fancy night out, turned out to work with me even when I’m in a t-shirt and shorts. It’s elegant but seems to play itself down when I need it to. //In the future, we may add a string of small emeralds placed loosely in one of the cutouts of N’s ring. We’re really into the emerald’s pretty green color.\\
On a rainy Bogotá afternoon on May 27th, 2014, two months before our 1st wedding anniversary, I started wearing an “engagement” ring, our ring. And as a bonus, we have the ultimate souvenirs to remember our time in Honduras and Colombia.
Tomorrow we celebrate one year of marriage.
17 7 / 2014
Side note, after a month in the US we finally got a phone. I hardly noticed we had passed a month here without one. If it came up and I pointed out that we didn’t have a US phone, I think it simply hadn’t crossed people’s minds, but it mostly wasn’t an issue. For the most part you just pretend it’s a world before mass cell phones and set a time and a place.This worked nearly 100% of the time. This is our first ‘reverse’ selfie on N’s new phone. He’s finally bumped out of the 3G iPhone. He said he’s excited to play games and Instagram. He’s playing Risk right next to me as I type this.
//Fourth of July in Washington, DC! I have a special love for The 4th in the Nation’s capital. It’s amazing to be living here, and being here during The 4th is one of my favorites. This year is also the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner being written. The first exhibit we saw when we arrived to the US, was the actual Star-Spangled Banner, the US flag that inspired our national anthem. This was my second time seeing it in the new permanent exhibit that opened a few months after we had moved away from the US. When I first began at the National Museum for American History in 2006, the museum had just closed down for the major renovations. My main task, among others, was the relocation of 45,000 objects with a small team of just a few people. They were temporarily relocated from the 4th to the 2nd floor, so that the new skylight could be added in. That, and the new permanent exhibit for the Star-Spangled Banner were the cause for the major renovations to the museum. It’s never left me that I love and miss being a part of that world. Anyway, The Fourth in the District will always be a favorite for me. This was my 4th time and Nathan’s 1st being here for the 4th. The first time I moved here it was July 3rd, and this time it was a month earlier. I think it’s the best time of the year to move to DC. Well… the humidity is also some of the worst I’ve been in, but still. Nathan had the near-immediate realization that as much as he said he loved the humidity and heat, as a Southern boy, he realized in Louisiana everyone has the aircon on in their homes. For some that’s true in DC, for our house it’s not. So to be clear, if it’s humid + hot, I’m in it. It’s all less charming that way. That being said, this is the easiest July I’ve ever experienced here. There are hot and humid days, but there have been a lot of nice days with heat + low humidity. It’s amazing. July and August are mostly miserable, and I have never had a Fourth of July here that you didn’t spend the entire day so sticky you didn’t even want to put your arms down because then your arms would be touching your body. This Fourth, though, it was almost chilly. It had stormed hard the afternoon before and it turned into the nicest 4th of July weather.
It was Colombia’s last game in the World Cup so I wore my Tricolorjersey with a red, white and blue ribbon in my hair and a red, white and blue stars bracelet. It was a perfect outwardly display of my connection to my roots and the many directions those raíces come from.
I also just realized it was my first time having “Nathan’s Hotdogs.” I wear my Nathan’s shirt which is a “Nathan’s Hotdogs” shirt, but until my friend Beth mentioned buying those specifically, I had never had one before. And they were really delicious. Beth also reunited me with some of my things that I left behind in DC. My favorites from this round was my saxophone, black jewelry, business clothes and high heels, a pair of white summer sandals that are so comfortable and perfect, and my white winter coat.
The weekend wrapped up at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where China and Kenya were showcased this year. One of the things I loved about Folklife in past years was that each year not only were two countries highlighted, but so was one state or region of the US, e.g. Texas or Appalachia. The countries are clearly the highlight and broader aim, but I loved to see a focus from within our country as well. I don’t know if they just no longer do that or if it was just this year, but only Kenya and China were present. That aside, Folklife is an easy favorite and I was happy to go with Nathan for his first time.
16 7 / 2014
//”My Uruguaya/Colombiana can’t lost today!” -Nathan. It finally happened that two of my teams were up against each other. It almost happened in that last World Cup between the US and Uruguay, but Ghana won that match and went out in the next round to Uruguay.
//Baleadas at Catrachitos after the Colombia/ Uruguay game :: Our friend from Honduras, who is currently in England and may end up in the District in a few months, was passing through on his way back from work in Nicaragua to finish up his grad program in Leeds. Phew, that sounded complicated. Anyway, Dan is our superhuman friend that is just a smart and all around great guy, and this was our first time seeing him since we left Honduras. He came over to watch the URU/COL match and we had Tecates and my chips and salsa and baleadas afterwards. We enjoyed some fun conversations with Hondurans from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
We also finally got to see and hold our graduate degrees! As it turns out, the UK ones are underwhelming. We laughed a bit because it seems like a normal document that anyone might print out, maybe like a transcript. I’m not sure even the word “distinction” fancied it up much. There’s a small foil-like piece that seems to be what makes it official. Then again, my undergrad degree is signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, so…
// Master of Science in Building and Urban Design in Development :: Master in Global Management / Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation Across Cultures
15 7 / 2014
Fresh off the plane from Colombia, we dove right into crawfish boils and football games and Fourth of July actually in the US. And? About two quick seconds after arriving I was having PTSD as I found myself packing another bag and consequently in another airport.
We made the most last minute trip plans ever recorded in history for a wedding we imagined we wouldn’t be going to. We spent Thursday through Sunday in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It was a complete whirlwind and I got to meet a few important family members that I had missed on previous visits, since they live outside the state. Nice things from the trip were that I attended my first fun wedding. The moment I walked in to the reception the only thing in my view were people dancing, and it stayed like that the whole night. There was a brass band and the whole thing felt like I was in a movie about how fun it is to be in New Orleans. I can’t wait for another Southern party. After the reception we all headed to Bogie’s, owned by N’s cousin and one of the biggest bar stops for LSU students. We also murdered a bunch of tacos that we had the cab driver pick up in the wee hours. We lost N’s brother at some point in the even wee-er hours when he walked out of our hotel room but the rest of us had gone to sleep. I figured he didn’t know what room we were all in since he was drunky when we arrived back. And so only a few hours after falling asleep, N’s sister and I went out to find him. As the elevator *tinged* and the doors opened to the first floor, there was Brent, no shirt and only tuxedo pants and socks. Clever of him to sit outside the elevator; we had to come out at some point.
The other highlight was Nathan being able to go to his grandfather’s grave with his siblings. Daddy Clayton had passed away last year when we were in Perú. Chandler, as they call his grandparent’s house for the street the property is on, was also about to go on the market, and after Bogie’s some of us gathered there for a few drinks, a one last time thing. The following day N’s sister had to stop back by there to pick up a box and we saw that the realtor had just put the “for sale” sign up. She offered to let us all walk through one last time. The pictures below are a few I snapped at the cemetery and at Chandler.
Nathan looked at these photos on my phone when we got in the car and then looked at me, “Thanks for getting these.” This house and property, and Bonnie and Daddy Clayton, as everyone called them, has been the nucleus of the Mahaffey family since N’s dad and uncles were little boys.
//La H in the World Cup - All of our teams played in the span of our time in NOLA and BR. We kept up with first Uruguay and Colombia, Honduras and the US. Three of our teams won this week and Honduras put in a goal against Ecuador, scoring it’s first Cup goal for the last two World Cups. Our jerseys are the two from the 2010 South Africa Cup.
//Baton Rouge and New Orleans - Thursday and Friday were in BR and Saturday and Sunday in NOLA
*Last time I tried to post this my computer did the scary shutdown
11 7 / 2014
Where did I leave off? Our second week in the U.S.A…
//Ana’s first Crawfish boil at the yearly Louisiana’s alumni DC event. It was impressively massive, and I fit right in downing Abita beers and an endless stream of crawfish, corn, potatoes and sausage. There was a live jazz band, obviously, and purple and gold and green and white and… well, those are the Louisiana school colors I know, and that’s because two of my people went to those school (Nathan and KLM). It was also Colombia’s and Uruguay’s first game in the group round. I have been living in jerseys for however many weeks it’s been now. I get lots of honks and cheers, celebratory shots at bars, and it has been so much fun. I think they’ll be some mourning when the World Cup ends this weekend.
//Nathan to work - It has become a bit of thing for me to get these “First Day of Kindergarten” photos of him. There are often more photos to show then what I actually post because I document by instinct and it gives me the option to create a broader record later. It’s one of my most prized “possessions” for us to be able to look back at this life of ours.
[[*Little note here: My computer is old and fragile at 8-years-old, and it keeps doing this scary shut-down, so I’ll be staying light with the postings. N’s computer, all fancy in it’s Macbook Pro-ness, has regularly had issues since the beginning and throughout his four years with it (he bought it after the Danlí flood swiped his laptop that he had bought not long before Peace Corps), and has been back at it in recent weeks. So, we’re being “light” with our laptops for the time being. I think my computer is tired.]]
11 7 / 2014
09 7 / 2014
07 7 / 2014
28 6 / 2014
27 6 / 2014
And it’s almost been a year. Less then a month a now.
There’s been a question in our minds since before we were married - do we need to register our marriage in the US? There were many ways in which I could anticipate this going, but I felt satisfied that it was somewhat irrelevant until we were Stateside. Now that we’re doing change-of-address forms, registering to vote in DC, officially making a political change that we’ve been wanting to do since around the last election, and sorting out health care (oh my!), it was time to settle the question. Nathan was nearby when I called. There weren’t clear answers online but I had a sense for the answer. Their tone to my inquiry signaled what I suspected, and their answers confirmed - but still, I wanted to poke a little further and be sure once and for all. “Is there somewhere else I should call?” “No, this would be it. Here, give me a second…” “Sure, thanks…”
"Yes, you’re all set. You’re married in the US, just as you are anywhere else in the world."
As I hung up the phone (by which I mean GoogleTalk on my compu because we don’t have phones yet), Nathan chimes in from nearby, "We’re married!"
I knew just what he meant. It’s done, it’s official. No lingering questions, we’re married - even in the United States.