And Kyle’s Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

I’ve never identified with the American South, although many who were raised with me in Central Kentucky did. To be fair, I didn’t identify much as a Kentuckian, though I had very little reason not to. I had taken the rare trip through the deep south, but more for leisure than cultural experiences. Perhaps it was my father, from Central Pennsylvania who kept us from ever embracing anything known as Southern Culture, or perhaps many throughout the geographic Southeast don’t often claim the cultural traits of the region.

Growing up we would take the occasional trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and while there would take excursions to Lancaster, Hershey and of course Gettysburg. I have vivid memories from when I was young visiting Gettysburg and walking the battlefield where the Union soldiers finally were able to stop the rebel advance and begin to end the Confederacy. Tragedy marks otherwise common ground sacred, and the spirit of sacrifice weighs heavy on the fields of Gettysburg. After 150 years the grass cries with the pain and death of that great Union victory – And thank God for the victors!  With the Emancipation Proclamation came the end of American Slavery and the final battles of the civil war placed the final punctuation on one of the darkest chapters of American History. If only the last shots of the war were closing the book on racism in America and the sin of centuries of slavery could be absolved by Executive Order.

The truth is far more painful, horrible and beautiful than my simple wishes. A conquered South further resented Northern occupiers and carpet-baggers. A people stolen from their homeland now had no place to go. In a short-sighted and brutally inhumane attempt at maintaining the status quo the white establishment worked to keep black families from work, education, political representation and integration for another 100 years. The stories of abuses to minorities in the south painted the region as backwards, racist and openly hostile toward progressive ideas. Any who would stand to defend the South received the same label. I am quick to harbor those feelings against the South myself, with little tolerance for those who would dare be represented by the rebel flag and disdain for those who can’t see the realities of white privilege or who think the weak and marginal policies now known as “affirmative action  constitute an attack on white men. My hate and prejudice prevented me from seeing the reality of history.

My work required me to take a trip to Birmingham, Alabama recently and, if you can’t tell by the content of this post, I was not thrilled. What value could be found in Birmingham? After an uneventful few days working I returned home, but not before stopping in Downtown Birmingham at the behest of a colleague.

While downtown I visited 16th St. Baptist Church, the site of one of many terrorist attacks which would earn the region the name “Bombingham.” On September 15, 1963 four young girls were preparing for a church program when a bomb placed near the rear wall of the church took their lives. 22 other children were injured. Though the bomb may have been physically set by 4 cowardly men targeting black children, there were many societal forces which did all but light the fuse. In fact, the governor of Alabama just the week before the attack stated that integration could be stopped with a few “first-class funerals.” This is the same governor Lynyrd Skynyrd would praise singing “In Birmingham they love the Governor” in their pop-defense  Sweet Home Alabama.

I touched the bricks which had withstood the blast and wondered what my reaction to an attack on my family and friends might be. Surely I would respond in anger, hate and violence. I walked across the street looking for a place to rest in a nearby park but found myself at ground zero of the “Birmingham Campaign” – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s public effort to relieve the plight of southern black families. The park now has a statue of notoriously racist Safety Commissioner Bull Connor, with his dogs ready to attack. A water gun sits on a pedestal, bars representing jail cover a statue of children and in the middle of it all, 3 men on their knees in prayer. These statues were constructed to help us remember the remarkable events before and after the 16th Street Bombing. After countless violence, threats to their family and jobs, arrests, beatings, attacks and murders; men, women and children unencumbered by fear gathered at 16th Street Baptist Church and walked together across the park. When the lines of Bull Connor’s thugs of a police force were met, these foot-soldiers of the civil rights movement would sit, sing and kneel, praying as their families were attacked and taken off to jail. Tragedy marks otherwise common ground sacred and as I stood in the heart of the Civil Rights movement I saw the beauty, power and strength of these southern Christians. You must go to Pennsylvania and D.C. to stand where Lincoln stood, but you must go to Alabama to walk the steps of Dr. King.

As we continue to struggle for equality for all, I will do my best to remember that there is more honor in affecting change than being removed from the campaign  judging the establishment from the distance.

We’ve been married 3 years!

When we posted our last update, we didn’t expect it to be over three years since we’d update again. The site was a way we could organize our thoughts around our wedding, get feedback on plans, and keep people updated on our lives during our engagement. Apparently, we had little plans for this place after our wedding day. New degrees, new jobs, new address, why not a new website? After sitting on the domain for a few years we’ve decided to do something with it again, although what that actually looks like is yet to be seen. We have thoughts, and perhaps those thoughts will make it here. Caitlan does a fair amount of local economic research, and maybe that research will show up on this site. I have ideas on how the world should operate, and maybe those ideas will be on this blog. This may sound non-committal but it has been 3 years since the last writing and there’s no sense in raising expectations now.

Bachelorette Party

Kyle and I had our “single” parties a couple weekends ago. Kyle went on some bourbon tours and then things didn’t go exactly as planned. He might write about it later. They’re going to try again in January and go skiing all night one night. My party was a lot of fun, though I was nervous going into it.

I went to Lexington and met up with Holly at the mall. We went to MAC and I got a makeover, with fake eyelashes. The guy made me quite pale, so afterward, we added some bronzer. Rita came during the makeover, and then we went shopping for a bit. We found a red dress on sale that we got for me to wear that night. Holly had told me it was a black and white party, but forgot to mention that we were having red accents. So I had no red. So instead, all the girls were black and white and I was red with my new dress. We all headed back to Holly and Alyx’s house to get ready, including me putting on a tiara with a veil attached and a sash that said bachelorette and all of us putting big flowers in our hair. Melissa showed up, so it was just five of us, which turned out to be the perfect number.

After getting ready and drinking some champagne, we were picked up by a taxi van and went to Baker’s 360, a restaurant on the top of the Chase Building downtown. We had a very nice dinner, getting to sit at table in the middle of the restaurant that was higher up than the other tables. My feet didn’t touch the floor from my chair! The place was set up with a restaurant on one side and club/bar on the other side, so after dinner we went over to the bar. It turned out there had been a national cross-country race that morning, and all the runners were at the club celebrating. It was great because most of them were married (no threat to me and not creepy), and a lot of them even had their wives with them. They were really nice and danced and hung out with us. I was the only bachelorette there, so I drew a bit of attention.

I think a lot of people thought I was much younger than I was. One woman said congratulations, then later came back up to me and said she and her friend decided I shouldn’t do it. I said, “I shouldn’t get married?” And she said yes, and asked how old I was. I said 25. And then she said, “Oh, well okay, then it’s okay if you get married.” And I got asked many other times how old I was with the same reaction to me saying 25: “Oh, well that’s okay then.” The other girls also got asked and got the same reaction. We all apparently look much younger than 25 and too young to be getting married. There was a little stage in the club that only girls could get up on. And the woman pulled all of us up there so we could dance. Later, another woman pulled me up there, and there was no one else up there. So it was just me and an old lady dancing on this stage. Finally, the rest of the girls came up and rescued me.

Basically we danced the whole night and tried to accomplish a list of things for a bachelorette party, which included getting asked for ID (which all of us accomplished quite quickly), asking a guy to marry you, dancing with 10 guys, and wearing a toilet paper veil, among other things. Melissa said the list was quite tame compared to some she had seen, which I was thankful for. We got all but two accomplished for me (so I won).

After a while, we went to another club called Two Keys. There weren’t very many people there, so it was pretty much just us on the dance floor, though two runners did follow us over there. We stayed out until 1:45 a.m. (pretty impressive for me). And then we got a taxi back to Holly and Alyx’s house. We stayed up and chatted a bit, and then all went to bed. It was a lot of fun, dancing and laughing and just spending time with some of my best girl friends. Thanks so much for putting it all together, girls!!

Shower Number 5

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I had my fifth and final shower.  It was our family shower.  Since there are so many aunts and cousins, we always have a shower with the family.  Kyle’s mom (Dana) and grandma (Myrna) also got to come and meet a lot of the family.

My aunt Janet (and everyone who helped) really outdid herself in the decorations and the food.  We had tables with white tablecloths, china, and glasses.  Each table had its own napkin holders.  The dining room table was special with gold-rimmed glasses and gold-tipped silverware.  There were pretty flower arrangements of white and green, and we got to take home a couple of those.  The whole kitchen counter was also covered in white with lots of different delicious food.  I got a little bit of each thing, so I could try it all.  Aunt Janet also got us a cake, with a beautiful top part, and then lots of little individual ones with different flavors, chocolate, raspberry, and lemon.  We’ll have to put pictures up because everything was so beautiful.

After eating and drinking and socializing, we had a couple fun things that Holly and Rita put together.  First, Rita had a video of the girl (gril) cousins on one of our girls nights when she had just gotten her new video camera.  It also happened soon after Kyle had asked me to prom, and our relationship was just starting, so there was lots of talk of Kyle.  At one point, I even said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I ended up marrying Kyle and we had all of this on tape?”  There were quite a few embarrassing moments, and Dana and Myrna now know a little more about me.  I hope they still want me for a daughter/granddaughter-in-law.  Though embarrassing, the video was a lot of fun and brought back great memories.  Kyle will get to watch it later, too.

Then Holly had e-mailed Kyle a few questions, trying to not make them the typical shower game questions, and Kyle answered.  Then I sort of tried to guess the answers, but some were quite long answers, so Holly just read Kyle’s answers.  They were sweet and funny.

Then I opened gifts.  It was around the clock, so I opened them by time of day, starting in the morning.  I got lots of great gifts that Kyle and I are very excited about.  Everyone wrapped their presents in paper rather than bags (after an e-mail reminder from Rita) so that they would have plenty of paper to make the traditional wrapping paper wedding dress with ribbon and bow bouquet (which will be used at the rehearsal).  We think this was the poofiest dress yet.  I’ll have to put up pictures at some point.  We were trying to remember when this tradition started, but we’re not sure.  We know we did it for Aunt Janet.  Kyle was coming to pick me up, so he had arrived, so we had the first unwrapping of the bride.  It was pretty hot in there, so after pictures were taken, Kyle got to unwrap his present of me. 🙂

The shower was a lot of fun.  It was great to spend time with family, and have Kyle’s mom and grandma get to meet a lot of my family.  Thanks to my wonderful family for throwing it!

Tomorrow’s the last day for the hotel

Everyone should have received invitations by now, we hope.  We just wanted to put up a friendly reminder to please RSVP by Monday, December 14, a week from today.  We’re not assuming anyone is coming, so please RSVP in some form or fashion so that we can get an accurate headcount for our caterer.  If the online RSVP doesn’t work for you, please e-mail us at kyleandcaitlan@gmail.com.

Also, if you don’t live around here, and you want to take advantage of the group rate at the downtown Hampton Inn in Louisville for New Year’s Eve (or the day before or the day after), you need to make your reservations by tomorrow, Tuesday, December 8.  That is the last day they said they could hold a block of rooms for us.  The number is 502-585-2200, and you just say you’re with the Adkins-Miller wedding.  All the info is also on the Wedding Details page of this website.

Please let us know if you have any questions about anything.  We check our e-mail a lot, or you can call either one of us.  Thanks!

Shower Number 4

Two weekends ago, Kyle’s mom’s (Dana) friends had a shower for us in Richmond at the Telford house, and Kyle came to it too.  Since he knew all the people that would be there (and I didn’t), it made sense for him to come.  He introduced me to a lot of women who have been and are important to him in his life, especially when he was younger.  It was nice to match faces to names of people I’ve always heard him talk about.

The house was decorated with pictures of Kyle and me when we were younger and then the two of us together when we got older.  Some of the pictures were grouped with us doing the same things separately when we were younger: both of us playing the piano and in lifejackets in a boat.  It was fun to see young pictures of each other, and a neat way to decorate.

We also had wonderful food.  Dana’s friends made four different kinds of soup, including taco soup, chili, vegetable soup, and pumpkin chicken soup.  They were all very good.  I had a small bowl of each because I couldn’t decide between them.  There was also little snacky things like cheeseballs and crackers.  Then there were desserts, mini brownies and two different kinds of cookies.

We got to sit around and eat and chat with the people there, which was really nice.  We also got some really nice gifts, some sentimental and some very useful.  We’re very excited about them, though we haven’t found a place to put them away yet.  We will get to get rid of a lot of old stuff to make room though.  Kyle’s very happy about that.

Our Latin teachers, Mrs. Bayer and Bari, both came.  They were two of the only people I knew before the shower, so it was great to see them and catch up and chat.  The shower was really relaxed, and I really enjoyed it.  It was fun to have Kyle be at one of the showers and help open gifts too.  Thanks so much to everyone who helped host it!