Thursday, July 28, 2011

the story of us, chapter 14.

Ok, so if I was more technological, I am sure I would know a better way of doing this. And, I can think of other ways--but they involve way more time than I want to invest. So, here's my next best idea: Go to this video and click "play". This was the song I entered the wedding to... Now you can feel like you were there! ;) 

At our rehearsal dinner:


The big day!




"I now pronounce you man & wife"!!

Just so happy to finally be together... forever!


August 25, 2007

Thank you to all of you who made this journey down memory lane even more fun
by taking it with me. It means a lot to me!

the story of us. chapter 13

While my mom and I were enroute, Rey had found a nice, colonial hotel built around a quaint plaza with a fountain in its center. It was late, and our following day was to start early--so, we weren't afforded many moments together before saying goodbye until the next morning.

The system at the consulate was rather confusing. Rey had an appointment for 2 in the afternoon, but he had been warned that it was a first-come-first-served operation and that the line could start forming as early as 5:30 am (even though the consulate opened at 8). So, Rey and I arrived to the consulate promptly at 6 while my mom slept in. Sure enough, there were probably around 50 people already in line when we took our place. Soon the line snaked out behind us, down the sidewalk and around the block. Strangely enough, the 2 hour wait went by really quickly. Wink, wink.

When we finely made our way to the entrance gate of the consulate, the guard would not let me in. He said witnesses were not allowed in unless summoned. He told me I could wait outside. Which I did. I waited right outside the gate for about an hour. I was all dressed up in nice clothes and heels. Dressed to impress. That and the direct sunlight were not helping make the wait a comfortable one. There was not one place nearby to sit. After a couple hours in front of the consulate, I decided to move across the street. To the shady side.

I was in a group of probably around 80 people who were also waiting on people inside the consulate. We all shifted around as the day went on and the sun moved positions. All friends for a little shade. But, at noon, there was no shade and we just sweltered. We hunkered down near the side of some buses parked there on the side of the road. Several busloads had come over 12 hours for their interview. With babies and small children. And now we were a small community. Camped out on the street and waiting.

By around 2, I was hoping Rey was getting interviewed and really regretting my decision to wear heels. Have you ever tried to squat in a little section of shade in a gutter next to a heels? Bad, I tell you. Bad.

People started coming out of the consulate across the street. Each time the gate would open, I'd crane my neck to see if it was Rey. Nope. An elderly woman came out with a walker, escorted by a granddaughter who was waving a visa. Grandma was approved. A young man came out, dejected. Sobbing when he told his family that the work visa was a no go. A family of 5 came out--beaming. "America, here we come!" And so it went.

4 o'clock came and went. I'd now been sitting on a curb for 8 hours. I tried to distract myself by people-watching and chatting... but, my distractions were leaving by the second. Was Rey the last to be interviewed or what?

And then, around 5 pm, Rey came out of that swinging gate. I jumped to my feet anxiously. He didn't make eye contact with me as he waited for a break in the traffic so that he could cross the street. My heart was thumping. What would I do if he was denied again? We'd already been through somewhere around five denials, and I didn't know what I'd do if this one had been turned down too. Rey came over to me, his face grim.

I got myself ready to be okay with a no. We'd gotten through it before. We could do it again.

And then, he pulled something out of the folder of paperwork that he'd taken in with him. His visa!!!! Excited isn't quite the word to describe how we felt--but it is a pretty close relative.

We zipped to the hotel as fast as we could to tell my mom the exciting news. Being crazy, as we were, we decided to just drive back to Illinois in our rental car that very night! Why not? Save us a hotel rental! So, off we went.

I remember the trip going down in a haze of glory--even though we were all completely exhausted.

We arrived back in Peoria on July 27, 2007... almost exactly 3 years after Rey had left. And, a little less than a month before our wedding!

As you can imagine, those weeks were a flurry of last minute planning, parties and preperation. About a week and a half before the wedding, Rey and I suddenly realized we hadn't bought wedding rings yet! Oops! So, we ran over to the mall and compared prices between the stores there. We ended buying them from a kiosk out in the middle of the mall from an Indian woman with a low, heavily-accented voice. She assured us we were getting, "16-carat gold for 14-carat gold price. Ver-dee, ver-dee gude price." We believed her.

There was also a fiasco with my wedding dress that I was having made. A week before the wedding, the seamstress showed me the finished product--it was all I could do to keep from crying. I took it home--and 3 days later, my sister-in-law lent me her wedding dress to use, which was absolutely beautiful.

Friends lent me all kinds of gorgeous things to decorate the wedding place with. Friends pitched in and all brought different elements of the wedding meal. Friends put on parties for the groom and bride. Friends paid for our rehersal dinner. A friend did the photography. Friends sang. These two young kids with no money were able to have the most beautiful wedding of all time--thanks to those who loved us!

Prepare yourselves--wedding pictures next time! :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the story of us, chapter 12.

So, we were engaged! A fine evening, the 6 of April, 2007, had changed my life forever. The bus we took went through the night and got us to Rey's hometown around 9 am. We waited in the rain at the bus stop for Rey's brother to come pick us up. After running him back home, we turned around to go back to church. It was Easter weekend, and we wanted to catch the service.

We brushed our teeth out in the front parking lot, spitting into the gravel. We smoothed down our hair in the window, re-adjusted our travel-rumpled clothes and went into church. Of course, the church was packed, and the only seats open were all the way in the front...

Upon returning to Rey's house, we found his mom was very ill. She suffers from osteoporosis and it seems that perhaps the weather made her sick with horrible body aches. We ran her to the Red Cross in town and sat in the office for a couple hours. After getting her back home and making sure she was ok, Rey took me over to the deaf school so I could shower before the evening church service. Problem was, the shower didn't work. So, we boiled some huge pots of water on the cafeteria stoves and I took a tepid bucket bath.

Outside the deaf school: Post bucket bath, pre church

From the church service, Rey took me to the bus station. And here it was--goodbye again. One of the last, we hoped. I got onto a Greyhound bus departing around 9pm, hoping things would go better than on the way down. I was completly exhausted from all the travel and excitement of the last few days and fell asleep in probably 20 minutes.

I was awakened by a flashlight shining in my eyes, and a burly man shouting at me in Spanish. My groggy mind was not translating fast enough--and I realized I was in an empty bus. "Get out!" the man shouting, gesturing the way to the door with his flashlight. I looked out the window and saw a line of people snaking from the bus to a terminal. Oh! We were on the bridge. We had to get off for customs. I stumbled out and managed to find my suitcase to haul it through inspections.

It felt so cruel to have just slipped into blissful sleep and then be tossed back into line in a brightly lit office. After about 30 minutes, we were back on the bus and getting settled back in. I kept hoping that I would continue to experience good fortune and have an empty seat next to me. The luxury!

As I was just being lulled to sleep again by the rocking of the bus, we pulled into another blindingly bright terminal. A man jumped aboard and walked through the bus, counting empty seats. Uh-oh, I groaned.

Completing his count, he returned to the front of the bus and grabbed the microphone: "Ok, people. This bus is going to fill completely. Clear all the seats and make room." I wasn't the only one groaning.

The man stepped off, giving entrance to a seeming mob of people all rushing for spots. And then I saw her. My soon-to-be seatmate. She was large, very large. I kept my eyes on the ground, hoping she would see a seat far more suitable than the one next to me. She didn't. She kind of hefted herself into my row and sank down into her chair. And mine. I am not exaggerating. She literally took half of my seat and was taking up much of the aisle to her right.

I can easily get claustrophobic, and when guy in front of me reclined his seat--I was near panic. I was sitting on half of a seat, a backpack on my legs, squished under a reclined seat and against a window. The woman next to me ripped open a bag of chips and commenced crunching. I leaned my head down against the crack at the bottom of the window, taking in whatever cold air was coming in there... and prayed that the woman would get off at the next stop. Or the next. I felt horrible. I knew Mother Teresa would never have entertained the thoughts I was entertaining, but I was exhausted. That excuses all, right?

But, since this trip was one to remember, the woman stayed on the bus. All the way back to Houston. About 8 hours.

I was so glad--although I don't know if that word is emphatic enough--to unfurl my crunched up body and clamber off the bus around 6 am the next morning. I called a cab from the bus station. I started getting nervous that I was going to miss my flight when the taxi didn't show up.. but then it did. And I made my flight. Just barely.

We now had to get the paperwork together for Rey to be able to come up for the wedding. It's always nice for the groom to be there. ;)

God was smiling on us, because the process went along at a good speed and Rey was called in for his interview at the end of July. This was good, since we'd tentively set up the wedding for August 25. Thinking that I may be needed as testimony for Rey's petition for a Fiancee Visa, my mom and I flew down.

Hmm. Should I tell you that we actually missed our original flight out of Bloomington because someone missread the itinerary? Cough. I had read what was our arrival time as our departure time. We ended up waiting for another flight. Good thing there was an IHOP nearby, and that the following flights pretty much worked themselves out--although it did require some speedy connection runs through the terminals.

We flew into El Paso, Tx and then took a rental car across the border into Juarez where Rey was to be interviewed. Thank goodness that Juarez was not quite as dangerous as it is now--although it has long been a city where one needs to know where he is and not be out after dark.

When we saw Rey walking along the sidewalk just across the bridge--it was so surreal to pull up next to the curb and yell out the window. "Hey, good-looking! Need a ride?" And to think it had only been about 3 1/2 months since we'd seen each other last!

the story of us, chapter 11

Rey led me into a nice restaurant and the waiter sat us at a table that happened to be exactly in front of the swinging kitchen doors. So, quiet the spot was not--but I didn't mind. We sat across from each other at a tiny table for two. I chattered on about whatever was going on. Rey was very encumbered with the menu, so I waited for him to order. The waiter came and went 4 times before Rey was able to decide on what he was going to eat. The same thing he always gets at a restaurant: steak tacos.

After the menus were taken away, we held hands across the table. Since my date seemed to be very concerned about the design choice of the curtains hanging from the windows, I became the only conversation of the night. I wondered if he was tired, or upset about something.

Then, I noticed his knee had not stopped bouncing up and down since we'd sat down. And when he began absently rubbing my ring finger between his finger and thumb--my heart began thumping stormily. Suddenly I knew. This was the night. You know--the night. That one you dream about from the time you began thinking about boys and white dresses.

My chattering went into super speed as my nerves took off; his silence became more deafening as his nerves shut him down.

The meal ended and I nervously sipped at the last of my limeade. And then it happened. A ring box appeared on the table. Rey took my hands and told me all the reasons he loved me, and asked me if I would be his wife. Of course I said yes!

Then, he popped open the box, and there was a perfect ring twinkling back at me. A round stone, just like I'd secretly hoped for. I slipped it on. It fit perfectly.

Rey threw down some money and then literally dragged me out of the restaurant, weaving around tables and waiters. He dragged me outside and around the side of the building, to a quiet part of the plaza. We sat together on a metal bench, light shining from a lamppost about 20 feet away, the stars smiling down. Rey held me in his arms, crying, and saying, "Thank you! Thank you for choosing me! Thank you for saying yes even with all we've had to go through..." All the while I am thinking, Was there ever a doubt?

And now, the details came out. How this whole night had been a conspiracy. How my cousin's "ice cream date" had actually been her guiding him to all the jewelry stores in town. I had once mentioned my preference for white gold over yellow gold. He hadn't been able to find that in his hometown and had hoped he'd find it in my aunt's town. So, the whole afternoon had been spent in frantic search for the perfect ring. Alas, he had found no white gold anywhere and was terrified that I wouldn't like it. Good thing he didn't show it to me until he already had the yes! I am completly joking--since I was in love with the ring from the first moment I saw it.

That night, as I was going to bed--I couldn't sleep for excitement. Every few minutes, I'd jump up and run to the window so that the light of the moon could iluminate my ring. Is this really happening? I wondered to myself, as I twisted and turned the glittery stone back and forth.

The next day was began by much winking and knowing eye-brow raising. We went to the baptism in the afternoon, and then went to the park so my cousin could take some engagement pictures.

That night, we got right back on the bus and headed north again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

the story of us, chapter 10

That night, we attended the evening service at Rey's church, and then he put me on the 8 pm bus heading south for the state of Queretaro, where my aunt and uncle lived. Let me just tell you here, Mexican buses are a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Roomy comfortable seats, snacks and a movie! I had the seat next to me open and was able to really zonk nearly the entire 12-hour ride.

I woke up around 6 am, and then dozed the remaining 2 hours. At the bus station, I got into one of the taxi's waiting outside and handed him the piece of paper with my aunt's address scribbled on it. I remember thinking that if this guy didn't know where that address was, we were in big trouble.

He did, and I soon found myself knocking on my aunt's gate. The 2 weeks at my aunt's drug by--not because of the girls. Because I was counting the moments before I'd be able to see Rey again! We had planned for me to stay a nearly at the deaf school again, before heading back to Illinois.

When my relatives got back from their anniversary trip, they mentioned that they were having a baptism that weekend and would love it if Rey and I would want to come. We were crazy and young, so we did the following:

On Monday, I took the ride back up to the border to "get" Rey. I took it during the day, and-- thanks to many comlications which it seems I was attracting on this trip--it ended up being more like a 15-16 hour trip, which left poor Rey waiting for me at the bus stop on his end until about 11 pm. I was unable to contact him, so he was very worried by the time I arrived.

Again, I was starving, because I'd only eaten a bag of sunflower seeds on the way, and Rey took me to the only 24-hour restaurant in town. I ordered some huge sandwich and he asked me if I really was going to be able to eat all of that. I didn't even leave a crumb.

Rey had to work Tuesday-Thursday, so during the days I would spend time with his family. We had a good ole time goofing around and generally trying to keep our minds off the fact that we were sweating our brains out.

Typical day at the farm:

1. Run around and get really sweaty.

2. Come inside to cool off and have some giggles...

...because we happen to be watching a show put on by Rey's crazy sister who looks like this (for the moment):

3. Decide it is still too hot and go cool off in a canal that runs near the farm.

I do have to tell you about Wednesday. The infamously "LONGEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF US".

Here's how it began:
Rey wanted to leave us his car during the day (since I know how to drive) so that if his family wanted to go out somewhere, we could. So, I would take him to work in the morning and go pick him up in the afternoon.

Tuesday night, Rey told me to be at his house by 5:25 am. No later. So, I pulled in front of his house about 5:20. Everything was pitch black. The minutes ticked by, and I waited. I had no idea which part of the house he slept in, so the idea of tossing a rock at a window wasn't a good one. I didn't want to start honking and wake everyone else up. And so, I sat. And sat.

Finally, at about 6, a crazed figure emerged from the darkness--dashing for the car and jumping into the driver's seat.

"Oh, man!" gasped Rey, "I can't believe I overslept. We are going to be so late."

By this time, the sun had popped up over the horizen and was painting the skies pastel pinks and yellows, bathing the corn fields in soft light. The road connecting Rey's house to the main road is a long, rutted dirt road. As we were bouncing over the bone-jarring pot holes, Rey reached over to give me a good-morning squeeze.

And then, we heard--or maybe felt--a crash. My harried and distracted honey had drove the car into the ditch running along the side of the road. The headlight was busted and the bumper bent in. After checking Rey's reaction from the corner of my eye, I couldn't help but laugh at the craziness of this "all-wrong" morning.

Rey managed to pull the car back onto the road, completely filling every crevice with dirt and mud from the spinning tires. On the way to work, Rey asked me to tell his brother to work on the headlight and get the car washed.

Well, during the day, Rey's brother found a headlight laying around their farm that he could use to replace Rey's. His sisters and I got 5 gallon buckets and scrubbed that baby 'till she shone. At one point, we literally had a semi-circle of 4 guys telling us how we could get the hubcabs a little shinier or buff out the hood a bit more. We also went to the grocery store, and I picked up some things to surprise Rey by making a candle-lit dinner for two at the deaf school cafeteria.

Rey had told me that while in the US, he'd come to like Chicken Parmesan, so I decided to make that along with rolls and a salad. Most of the afternoon went into making the food and setting the table in the prettiest way possible with plastic luncheon plates and cups. I did find something to prop up the candle I had bought and grabbed wildflowers from around the school.

Then, it was time to go for Rey. One of his sisters and I hopped in the car and headed off. I giggled to myself as I passed the spot of road where our little "oops" had left a mark on the ditch. Ah, well, I thought to myself, At least we'll have a nice quiet evening.

Rey got out of work a little late, so his sister and I waited out front in the car. He came out and hopped behind the wheel to drive. Just about as soon as he pulled onto the highway, it began to rain. Rey said he hoped it wouldn't rain hard, because he didn't have any lights on his vehicle. Just in case, he decided to pull off the highway and get on a back farm road through the fields, so as not to be in danger of being hit by someone who couldn't see us.

As soon as we were about a mile down this dirt farmer's trail, it became nearly pitch black and the heavens opened up on us. I have not often seen such a torrential rain--mud was leaping up from the fields onto our windshields. And we are slipping around on this elevated field road with no lights. Rey decides to turn the car around and head back for the cement road.

We were all clenching our hands and chanting, "Come on, come on" to the old car, but then--slide, slide, slide, thunk. We were stuck. So, Rey and I got out to push while his sister sat behind the wheel. We weren't really making any progress. Then his sister got out and Rey just stuck his arm in the window to stear while the 3 of us pushed.

Once we got the car pushed back up onto the one-lane trail, Rey told me to get behind the wheel and stear while he and his sister pushed. "You are lighter."

It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever--because the windshield was entirely covered with mud and it was dark and the rain was still coming down in curtains. I remember being tensed into a C-shape around the steering wheel, making constant one-inch adjustments and we slipped and sloshed back up the path towards the highway.

I was also keeping my eye on the temperature gage, and about every 15 feet we'd have to stop because the car was overheating. Rey would slip down to a canal on the side of the road, fill up a soda bottle and use that to pour water over the radiator. We'd wait about 5 minutes and then go again.

It probably took about 40 minutes to go back the mile or so that we had come. Rey pulled the mud-filled vehicle back onto the road and we limped down the shoulder of the highway with our hazards on the rest of the way. About half-way home, the rain turned light and the skies began to brighten. Of course. And then, the irony of the attention to detail that we girls gave the car while we washed it came to me. Mud was literally caked onto every inch of this car, inside and out.

So, we dropped Rey's sister off at home and went over to the deaf school. Damp, muddy and completly exhausted. I felt kind of embaressed about my plan and Rey said, "Aww, that's so sweet! No, no! We'll do it now! Just let me go wash up in this back room while you get everything ready."

So, I heated up the food. Lit the candles. Rearranged the flowers. Sat. Waited. After about 45 minutes, I just had to go see what he was doing!

I went back to the room he had said he was going to wash up in and knocked on the door. I knocked quite a few times. I finally opened it. Rey was sprawled out on a bed, completely asleep.

2 Lovebirds on the Bus

We returned to my aunt and uncle's on the Thursday night bus, after Rey got off work. We arrived at 8 am on Friday and went to my aunt's house. We spent the morning catching up with them, and then my aunt pulled me aside.

She hoped I didn't think it was weird, but one of her daughters was really sweet on Rey and wondered and her and he could go out for ice cream. My aunt thought it would mean alot to her daughter if she would be able to spend some time getting wisdom from an "older guy".

We giggled together at how cute that was and I said of course I didn't care. My aunt and I went out for some dessert and chats at the same time. While we were at our little restaurant in the downtown area of the old colonial town, we happened to see my cousin and Rey walking very quickly past the front of the restaurant. Rey looked rather stressed and I wondered if he hadn't liked the idea as much as my aunt and I had.

Later on that evening, Rey wondered if I wouldn't want to go out to eat? The city my aunt and uncle lived in is really beautiful and romantic and we both loved strolling around the plaza together. I, of course, said yes--let's go.

My aunt wondered if I wouldn't want to put on something nicer. She said Rey had been asking her about nice restaurants in town and she didn't want me to feel underdressed. I felt mildly offended that my interior beauty wouldn't radiate through a sweaty t-shirt and shorts but humored her as she gave me one of her daughter's dresses to wear. Little did I know.