No matter where I’ve lived in Raleigh, I’ve been able to hear the sound of the fireworks coming from the state fair. Because I’ve lived all over the place, I have to wonder if you can hear them city-wide. Surely I haven’t managed to only pick places from which the sounds were audible.

I want to write this, but I don’t. If I don’t write about it tonight, I probably won’t have time to do so tomorrow because I’ll be knee-deep in the last minute packing my husband and I seem to be so fond of.

I was driving home today. I was driving on a road I take nearly every day. I just dropped off a load of stuff at Cause for Paws, a local thrift store benefiting local abandoned animals, and I had Bojangles in the car. I even went inside of the restaurant to guarantee the perfect amount of seasoning be placed on my fries. Maybe if I hadn’t – maybe if I just sucked it up and took the either over or underwhelming amount of seasoning they usually give – I wouldn’t be writing this. But that’s not the case.

While driving on Lake Dam road, I came across the scene of an accident. Although I didn’t know it then, I was the first person to drive by. Three college kids were standing above a body. Two of the three – a couple that saw it happen – were basically statues while one girl was in hysterics. I asked if they needed any help and they just stared at me – they didn’t know. So I pulled over right about the time the girl of the couple called 911.

When I got closer, I saw a moped/motorcycle shattered into hundreds of pieces, and I saw the front end and windshield of a white Ford Focus completely destroyed. The windshield was concave from the shape of the boy flying into it. The boy was laying on the ground, his body mangled, limbs going in directions I didn’t know possible, covered in blood and not moving a muscle. His bones were protruding from one of his legs. I stared. I became one of those college kids who didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, about a minute after getting there, the boy regained consciousness. He started flailing about, awkwardly trying to move his limbs and shouting out in agony when the pain hit. Then he started calling for God, for Jesus, for his Heavenly Father. It was primal, sounds coming from a boy who truly believed he would die. And I continued to stand there, shake and stare. Finally something in me kicked in and I joined the boy on the road, kneeling in my silk dress and patent shoes, holding his hand. I asked for his name. Cameron, he said. I introduced myself and he said, “Hi, Allie.” Then I told him that everything would be okay, that the ambulances were on their way, that the paramedics would help him. Thankfully, during the course of our short conversation, the ambulances did arrive.

All the while the girl who hit him held his other hand and sobbed. She kept repeating how sorry she was, that she didn’t see him, that she didn’t see him, that she didn’t see him. And when the paramedics cleared the way to work on Cameron, I went over to try to comfort her. She kept saying the same thing over and over – most likely in some sort of shock – and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the agony on her face. I told her I was so sorry this was all happening, and she continued to sob.

A crowd eventually formed. People stopped on the side of the road to watch, people from the apartment community (into which the girl was turning) started to gather. And someone had the gull to take pictures on her camera, which I thought was atrocious.

Once the ambulance took Cameron away, I checked with the police to see if they needed anything from me, but since I arrived after the accident, I was free to go. I checked in with the girl one more time and headed home, very slowly, very cautiously.

I can’t stop thinking about those kids. I’ve looked online and can’t find anything about the accident. I called the hospital where I assume Cameron was taken and of course, because of privacy reasons, they can’t say a word. So I’m wondering how he is and praying he’s okay. And I’m wondering about the girl. I don’t even know her name. I cannot imagine what she’s feeling right now. At least with the boy, his wounds will heal, but I think emotional wounds are much more difficult to treat. And she probably has emotional wounds too deep to imagine. So, I’ve been thinking about both of them all day, wondering about them, praying for them.

Although I know better, I took two vitamins first thing in the morning, before my Toaster’s Strudel had a chance to start to digest. And I got sick. For about an hour I was walking back and forth along the upstairs hallway, taking deep breaths and praying that I wouldn’t puke. I also ate about five Tums. Thankfully, my efforts worked and there was no riding of the vomit comet.

I’m so totally obsessed with my two Brandon Flowers songs, guys. I listen to them over and over and over, and I think the next time Allan hears one of them, he’s going to toss the computer out the window. But I can’t help it. I loveth them. I’m listening to one of them now, which is why I’m mentioning it. And after this one wraps up – Crossfire – Magdalena will start. Then I will be out of Brandon Flowers songs and have to move onto whatever my Winamp decides to pull up. With any luck, it’ll be a Killers song!

So, in the midst of the funerals and such over the past few days, it was also my birthday, which I briefly alluded to. I’m a big fan of my birthday. I love that it falls during the state fair every year, and of course, that’s where we spent it. Allan’s friend – one of our groomsmen – came into town (a recurring trend for the weekend) and joined us. It was his firs EVER trip to the state fair!! We ate unusual southern food, milked cows and people-watched. The weather was really beautiful – chilly and crisp, but not cold enough to dampen the night.

And I don’t even want to think about how much money we spent winning stupid prizes. It was my fault, actually. I wanted a mini Murphy. What? Yes, a mini Murphy. For whatever reason, one of the prizes offered this year was a series of Rottweiler animals, and Murphy gets his markings from his Rottie relatives. But, you see, the problem was that I decided I wanted one of these animals after Allan had already spent $$$$$$ to get me other ridiculous toys that were probably made for $.13. Because he knew I wanted it, he was committed to winning it – or to at least handing over five dollar bills until the carnie gave us one out of pity, which I think is actually what ended up happening.

Now, you may be asking yourself why in the world I would want a little stuffed dog that had a strong resemblance to my Murphy. Well, because I want to take him to the Bahamas… THIS WEEKEND!!!

But I digress. On Saturday, my mama-in-law came into town armed with a chocolate cake and bunches of gifts to celebrate my birthday. We went to Kanki, got Godiva truffles and froze our asses off at Allan’s soccer game.

And on Sunday, Allan’s friend was in town from Colorado – another groomsman! – and we went to dinner with him before our trip to the funeral home. And he came over last night to watch football and eat pizza – courtesy of his corporate per diem. So, having three out-of-town guests here this weekend added to the weirdness of the days, but I was happy for Allan. Most of his close friends live at least an hour away, so to have two of them here during the same weekend was great.

Yes, we leave for our honeymoon this weekend. Finally! I’m so, uber excited. Last week – on my actual birthday – a representative from the resort called and offered us a HUGE upgrade in rooms and services for $150 total. So, we took it. Duh! We now have an ocean view room (how much of the ocean we’ll actually see is TBD), concierge service, 24-hour room service and a suite! With a living room and balcony! This is seriously going to be the fanciest vacation we EVER TAKE. Sure, we may go to more exotic locations like Europe or South America (if we’re lucky), but we’ll probably go the cheap lodging route. So this is a really big deal. Eeeeeeeeeeee!

The sun is fading in the guest bedroom and my exhausted black and tan dog is stretched out on my pink and green floral duvet. I’m jealous. I wish I could be him right now, laying in bed, not a care in the world. But my mind is spinning with the weirdness of this past weekend and excitement for next week.

On Thursday, the day before I turned 31, I learned that a friend of mine died. When we met, he was on the cusp of his 90′s and I was in my early 20′s, but it didn’t much matter. A friendship was born. I loved his thick, Southern drawl, his soft hands and marshmallow disposition. He loved that I kept him company and brought him Bojangles. And although his death wasn’t sudden, and although he spent 95 long years on this planet, it was still sad. I was still sad.

So, between a birthday trip to the fair and cheesy, Japanese birthday songs being sung to me, I was surrounded by death. Not only the death of my friend, but the death of Allan’s great uncle. In a show of support for his mother and grandfather (whose sister just lost her husband), we went to his memorial lunch and funeral.

This weekend we celebrated a life still going, and two lives that just ended. It was a weird group of hours spent thinking about what I’d like to do during this upcoming year and thinking of what my husband and I might want to do if one of us met an untimely death. These are, I think, normal thoughts to have over the course of two funerals. Two funerals in two days when the last funeral I attended was nine years and 11 months ago; the funeral of my grandmother.

Deaths come in threes, I’ve always heard, and it’s making me a little nervous. My grandfather isn’t long for this world and often says that he’s ready to go. I always asked him to tough it out, to hold on a little longer, to dance with me at my wedding. And he did. He danced with me at my wedding. So it worries me a little that none of his grandchildren have any upcoming milestones. Great-grandchildren would probably give him some incentive, so my fingers are crossed that one of my brothers gives me a niece or nephew sometime soon.

While we were in a church classroom waiting for family to enter the funeral service, we were sitting in chairs lining the exterior of the room. Someone sat between Allan’s grandparents, who have been married for close to 65 years. When the person sitting between them left the room, Allan’s grandmother scooted over to the vacated chair, the one right next to her husband. They then grabbed each others’ hand. And I thought: that’s where I want to be in 65 years. I want to WANT to be physically near my husband when we’re old and wrinkly and wearing thick glasses. I want to still want to hold his hand.

So, I’m just about recovered from my whirlwind trip to Santa Barbara. I’ll break it down for you like this: 60 hours, eight airport visits, six airplanes, three weddings and two hotel televisions all rolled into one crazy trip.

From our initial takeoff to our final landing, our trip lasted about 60 hours – not even three days! We spent time in the Raleigh, Charlotte, Phoenix and Santa Barbara airports, which basically sucked – no way around it – and six flights transported us between those four airports. While in Santa Barbara we saw three weddings – were only a guest at one, though! Because it was 10.10.10, there were weddings going on in every nook and cranny of their spectacular courthouse. When we got to our cozy little Holiday Inn room, our tv was busted, and at 11pm California-time, we were hanging out with a lovely maintenance man named Enrique who stacked a good tv on top of our busted tv. He then gave us a coupon for a free breakfast the next morning. Score!

I’m not ashamed to say it: I was completely miserable on the trip out there. We had to wake up early, I was staring 12-hours of travel in the face and I was dreading all the hassles of dealing with the airlines. And there WERE hassles with the airlines. I’m generally a pretty happy gal, and I think this was the first time Allan had to deal with me in my full-on cranky mode. God bless him, he handled it with skill. Lots of soft face kisses, lots of listening and no criticism. That man deserves an award.

Although both of us have been to California on more than one occasion, it was our first trip to the Santa Barbara area, so we tried to jam pack as much into our visit as possible. It’s such a naturally beautiful part of the country and I feel like so much of the architecture reflects that; it’s like the people who developed the city thought, “Hmmm, how can we enhance the beauty of this place?” Stunning cliffs, the ocean, islands and mountains covered in beautiful, detailed Spanish architecture. It was a treat for the eyes.

Our first stop was the Santa Barbara Mission, which was especially appealing to me because that’s how I got my new last name. Allan’s grandfather – a Navajo – lost his parents in a car accident, was taken in by a Catholic Spanish mission (against his family’s will) and was given a Spanish last name. Although the mission in Santa Barbara is no doubt vastly different than the one in Arizona, I was still curious.

We also went along a scenic drive, walked along State Street, went to a museum on the pier – where I TOUCHED SHARKS – and spent time at the courthouse. Let me tell you, that courthouse is so gorgeous, it made me want to go to law school and live in Santa Barbara.

We went out there for my friend Liz’s wedding – she was at our Raleigh wedding three weeks ago, so we went across the country for hers! It was the fanciest, most swanky and gorgeous wedding I’ve ever been to. Every little detail was deeply thought out and perfect – it was obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into making sure each guest felt special. And I’m so happy for her. So, so happy that she found someone who she obviously adores, who just as obviously adores her right back.

I don’t know if I already wrote about this in here, but… in December 2008 Liz was my date to Gregory’s wedding in California. I was single, she was single and in the area, so she agreed to be my go with me. There aren’t many people who you can drop in the middle of a wedding surrounded by people they’ve never met before, and watch them flourish. But that’s Liz. And what I think is so cool is that although we were both single at that wedding, nine months later we were both engaged, and a year later we were guests at each others’ wedding.

I think one of the best parts about being married is knowing that for the rest of my life, I’m going to be learning about my husband. I already know that he’s incredibly athletic and sweet and generous… but what I learned this weekend is that he likes to DANCE AT WEDDINGS. Oh, my. After shutting him down throughout the course of the reception, I finally found him on one of the couches looking like someone stole his kitten. “I just really want to dance with my wife,” he said. And then I realized that the dude actually has an affinity for breaking it down at weddings. Thing is, though, we’re both very bad dancers. I care, but he doesn’t. So I reluctantly agreed to dance (badly) to a handful of slow AND fast songs. Oh, the things we do for love…