The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart
“Sounds like blah blah blah searching for himself, blah blah blah roots have grown, same ol same ol pay phones, telephones, lonely days, yep what everybody sings about these days. Show me something new, velvet voice. Blah blah blah.”
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
“I haven’t understood a single word he’s said. Not one.”
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
[pretends to fall asleep at the wheel, veers wildly into neighboring lanes]
The Decemberists - The King is Dead
“I didn’t wanna like it cause of some of your past musical debacles, but I love this. I’m just as surprised as you are.”
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
“…can we switch it back to Glee Christmas now?”
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
“Sounds sort of like a ghost. Maybe several ghosts.”
Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me
[begins strumming imaginary guitar and singing “wah wah wah” with exaggerated crying noises until I switch the song]
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
“Lane,” she says gently, like she’s talking to a baby or violent criminal. “This isn’t music.”
Tennis - Cape Dory
“Is this Selena Gomez? I think your sister has this CD.”
Young the Giant - Young the Giant
“Listen Lane. We, as a family, have taken a vote and regret to inform you that your iPod privileges have been revoked for the duration of this car trip. And probably every one after this, as well. Thank you for understanding.”
In Which Passion and Promise Meet
This summer, Thomas and I somehow found our way into a group of wonderful people in Waco for a supper-and-book club on The Meaning of Marriage. We break bread together, share life, and discuss the concept of marriage, romance, faithfulness and the Gospel. Keller talks about how the promise made in marriage—to stay and serve and sacrifice—enhances romantic love. It provides a sanctuary of trust and stability that allows love to become what it was intended to be. It transforms the ego-driven attraction of liking the way someone makes you feel to a love that is characterized by a humble, amazed reception and appreciation of another person. You have never before been known, Keller says, in the intimate, beautiful, vulnerable way that your spouse will grow to know you.
“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
I remember telling my friends on the night of our engagement that, before he proposed, I thought I had loved Thomas then as much as I could love someone. I thought I’d hit my max capacity for love with the way I felt about him after two years of facing life with him. But then, when he got down on one knee, I felt some deeper than I ever had before and my definition of love grew.
On our wedding day, after six months of a long-distance engagement and all the perils that come along with it, it seemed like we had come so far. What I felt for Thomas when he tapped so quietly on my hotel room door at 5 a.m. that morning was unlike any love I’d known so far. We stood there in the dark hallway, briefly discussing the superstition that we shouldn’t see each other on our wedding day and agreed that it should only really apply once I was in my wedding day finery. We decided it was a safe bet since, right then, I was running on four hours of sleep with no makeup and tangled hair. We went for coffee in the sweet silence of early morning. I jumped in the passenger’s seat and thought that there was no where better to be on the morning of my wedding. At the coffee shop, there were a handful of other people who were too excited to sleep: his dad, who would marry us later that day, his best friend and groomsman and his wife.
It was such a strange space, at 5:30 in the morning, in an empty Starbucks beside the interstate. The light was gold and pink, like it would be after the ceremony was finished that night and we were finally man and wife. I felt impatient, thinking of the 12 hours and curling irons and makeup brushes that stood between being with him forever. We sipped our hot drinks and laughed quietly in the morning light until I thought my sister might start to stir and wonder if I’d fled during the night. That morning, we had our last single kiss and said goodbye until the altar.
Most wedding days seems to flash by in a blur of anxiety and hairspray, but not ours. We got to the salon early: a little white house on Samford with an orange door and matching flowers on the front. I spent all morning with my dearest and weirdest friends, joking and talking and trying to get the wings of our eyeliner even (a seemingly impossible task). At three, we wandered out to the garden, took some photos, and headed to the venue. I rode there with my two best friends from high school and we dealt with the nerves the only way we knew how: by screaming at the top of our lungs while speeding down the road to my future. My groom and his men were ushered into the warehouse next door so I could take a look at the finished venue and even though I’d spent months mapping it out in my head and on paper, I was still floored. It had been raining all week but the thunderstorms had cleared and left sunshine and a cold front in their place. Like an apology for my weather-related anxiety, our outdoor ceremony would be a bright and crisp 76 degrees instead of the 90+ temperatures expected of an Alabama summer.
Then, incredibly, it was almost time. My bridesmaids and parents and I waited in the distillery, a flurry of bouquets and white dresses. At 4:50, we whisper-screamed to subdue the nerves again. Then April lined us up. I waited with my dad at my side, watching pairs of the most important people in our lives walk toward where Thomas was waiting. And then my dad and I were the last pair and we began to walk. On cello and piano, a song that Thomas had composed began to play. My dad and I walked through the white picket fence, my hand on his arm and my eyes fixed ahead. When I caught my first sight of Thomas, craning his neck to see me and grinning like a fool all the while, the tears threatened. Seeing him there, I felt more at home than I had all day. We reached the altar and he took my hand from my father. We prayed with our parents. We promised our lives to each other, exchanged our rings, kissed, and nearly collapsed into one another with joy and emotional exhaustion as we walked back down the aisle.
We took photos with our perfectly ridiculous best friends and family. Then Thomas and I snuck away, with our photographer, to climb the rooftop we’d gotten engaged on. We reached the top of the spiral staircase and rose above the rest of the town right at golden hour. The spot seemed like it exactly where we needed to be in our first hour as husband and wife.
After the shoot wrapped, we had what seemed like our first moment alone together since the hotel hallway at 5 that morning. We got quesadillas from our favorite food truck (chicken with pineapple, the bride-and-groom special), downed iced brown sugar lattes, licked frosting off each other’s noses and feasted at a table dripping with white flowers and greenery hovering overhead. We danced for hours without stopping under string lights on a miraculously beautiful evening in May. Then, at the stroke of 10, I changed into a short dress and leather jacket and hopped on the back of a flower-laden motorcycle with my husband. Leaving a trail of sparklers in our wake, we took a leisurely ride down the dark country roads that Auburn is rife with. In the middle of one of these dark country roads, our motorcycle sputtered to a stop: out of gas. Thomas and I just burst into a fit of laughter, stepped out in the road and waved down at pick-up truck (another thing Auburn is rife with) and coasted to the nearest gas station. It was, unequivocally, the best night of my life.
All this to say, what I felt for Thomas on that day was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. But it’s nothing compared to how I feel for him now, just six weeks into the promise we made on May 17th. It’s been a month and a half of barefaced rejoicing. What I called love on that sunny Saturday in May was real, but it doesn’t compare to the richness and depth that six weeks of laughter, grace, and profound joy that comes from being fully loved and fully known. I know I will look back on our first month of marriage one year from now and say the same thing. And to me, that’s the most exciting part.
I could write for hours on the two weeks I’ve spent in my new job writing for a non-profit called Talitha Koum (“my child, rise” in Aramaic). I have heard stories of heartbreak and healing. But for now, I’ll just share this quote that the founder sent me today with the message, Lane, this is essentially your mission at Talitha Koum. It has been mine for a long time. I am happy to have you to share in it.
"The artist helps us to interpret, understand and communicate feeling. When the artist is successful we are led into communion with ourselves and with the world, and the solitary work becomes a communal work. For want of this we walk on parched land."
I am so lucky to be involved with an organization that believes down to its roots in the power of writing, art, and storytelling to effect real change for the good of the community and the glory of God.
I remember when I walked into the finished space for the first time, just an hour before I would get married there. It had been transformed — and not by me, but by the abundant talents and time of the people I love. I’d been getting ready all morning, but that was when the full emotional weight of it hit me for the first time. I was wearing a wedding dress in the small town where we first met. On the other side of that brick wall was the man that would be my husband. And all around me were the people who loved both of us enough to make it possible.
The wedding itself was pure magic. The wedding video might be able to explain better than I can the dizzying experience of being surrounded by everyone you’ve ever loved while you promise your life, in all its messiness and joy and sorrow and beauty, to the one you love the most. And then celebrating in an old cotton warehouse, catered by your favorite taco truck, dancing under string lights on a miraculously beautiful evening in May. I always thought that there would be something (even a small something) that I would want to change about my wedding when it was all said and done. But at ours, there wasn’t a single thing else that I could ask for. Except, maybe, to experience it again.
But, in lieu of time travel, Thomas and I have settled on putting the wedding video on our Apple TV and watching it on endless loop.
I wrote this love letter at the end of my freshman year. That year was a parade of dorm room windows, traveling to concerts, Alabama backroads, strangers turning into friends, and friends turning into strangers. I love that I have this letter, from the end of the year, when I emerged scraped and bruised and beaming and (as you can tell in the tone of this letter) profoundly awestruck by the world that had sprung up so far from home.
It’s funny to compare Freshman Lane and Senior Lane: how they said goodbye and what they were saying goodbye to. The end of my senior year (and beginning of an entirely new adventure) warrants its own goodbye, but I think the first one puts the last one in context. Plus, this one comes with its very own downloadable mix-CD circa 2011!
Freshman year is over and I’m woozy with nostalgia. I’m remembering how I dug my roots deep into the Auburn soil and how beautifully my life here has blossomed over the past nine months. Looking back makes my heart simmer with affection and I’ve finally managed to pin down the source: this is a love letter to music.
When music pulled me to Atlanta with my best friend, when it nudged us into conversations with strangers, when it picked me up and dropped me into the middle of a reveling crowd — it occurred to me that music has become a more powerful force than I ever expected.
Music led me into the lives of those I love most and to places I’d never been before — and may have never seen. My most beautiful moments of the year have that same golden thread running through them: cold winter nights were spent with coffee and crackling vinyls and crossword puzzles, warm evenings we dashed down dark country roads with the windows down and music blasting.
And it wasn’t just that music accompanied me in a routine of madness, and misadventures. Music was the reason I was there — like I’d uncovered a compass pointing me to the people and places and passion hiding all over this tiny city. It put me on rooftops and fire escapes. Music pulled me deep into underground tunnels and up onto bright stages. It set me down on one hundred back porches. Music shuttled me from town to town and across state lines. It coaxed me through hard conversations; it spurred straight-talk about souls. It propelled me down endless ribbons of highway. Music introduced me to some of the weirdest folks I know, and some of the most wonderful.
My year was colored, charted, and marked by music and I loved that. Share in my awe and gratitude with this playlist: a soundtrack for your countless adventures. Summer starts now!
Download: Summer Starts Now Mixtape – Mediafire
In the wedding details, you may notice a couple strange motifs turning up over and over: pineapples, paper airplanes, tiny silverware, twitter birds, and various alternative modes of transportation. In the time Thomas and I have been dating, we have made some memories that have morphed, over time, into our own little mythology. I decided to provide a key that decodes some of these symbols so you’ll understand when you see us cutting a pineapple instead of a cake (decision pending) or riding off into married life on a Harley (decision confirmed).
The Pineapple: Thomas and I fell in love over a pineapple. In college, we had a tradition called Late Night Fruit Night. The concept was simple: we would get together late at night and we would eat fruit. It started spontaneously, one night at 2 a.m. Thomas and his roommate had been up late studying and decided to take a break to cut open the whole pineapple they’d inexplicably purchased earlier in the day. Thomas put out the call on Twitter and I was dragged along by that night’s only other attendee. And so a legend was born. Late Night Fruit Night eventually grew to pack his apartment with friends and strangers alike. It spanned every kind of fruit imaginable and morphed through several different spin-off themes: black tie, 90s, prom, Late Night Float Night, etc. And it all started with a pineapple at 2 in the morning.
The Tiny Spoon: Our second date started with dinner. I’d pinned a tiny silver spoon to the collar of my sweater on the way out the door, as an afterthought. At dinner, I slipped it into line with the rest of my silverware and proceeded to try to eat with it with a deadpan expression on my face. Some guys might have stared at me blankly, but Thomas joked along with me seamlessly. It impressed me. We split a calzone and hurled ourselves against a trampoline attached to the side of a building next to the restaurant. We ended the night on a wooden bridge over a river. It was in disrepair but apparently still fully functional, as we found out when a stream of oncoming vehicles interrupted our revelry. We leapt up and sprinted off the bridge, to the shoulder of the road, barely hearing the horns of the cars over our own hysterical laughter. A couple days later, Thomas and I were in his car. I reached down for the CD case on the floorboard of the passenger’s seat and noticed a small gift box. I looked at him in surprise and then opened it. Inside was a tiny silver fork.
The Twitter Bird: Thomas asked me on our first date by leaving a secret message in my room. I was at a Girl Talk concert wearing a pair of harem pants when Thomas snuck into our suite and left a note on my desk. It was in a sealed envelope labeled “1 new message” with the outline of a blue bird. Inside was a note addressed to @lanescotch and signed @thomasharbin, asking me on a date for Monday night. His impressive subterfuge in getting the message to me demanded a similar level of conspiring in my response. It was a Thursday night when I got the envelope. On Friday at noon, Melody and were supposed to leave for a music festival Atlanta, so I commissioned my roommate Victoria’s help in carrying out the plan. With the help of Thomas’ roommate, she slipped into his bedroom while he was in class and hung my response—a construction paper Twitter bird that said #yes—from his ceiling fan. She had arranged it perfectly and was just about to head home when Thomas got back from class. She couldn’t leave without him seeing her, so she made a crunch-time decision and sprinted into Taylor’s bathroom to hide. After the better part of an hour had passed, Thomas still showed no sign of retreating to his room so Victoria could escape. Victoria, knowing she either had to make a break for it, or die in that bathtub, made another crunch-time decision. She brushed herself off and strolled out of Taylor’s bathroom into the living room where the boys were talking. As she passed a gaping Thomas, she gave him a real casual, “Oh, hey!” and walked right out the front door.
The Motorcycle: I was waiting for Thomas to come pick me up for my first date. He was 3 minutes late, and I was standing outside in the courtyard waiting for him to arrive. Victoria was watching for him with her binoculars from our second-story window. I heard her pounding on the window before I even heard the purr of the engine. When I looked out at the street, I saw Thomas pulling up on a motorcycle. I didn’t know Thomas had a motorcycle. I didn’t even know he could ride one. He walked up to me with a grin on his face and handed me a pink helmet. He helped me onto the back of the bike and revved the engine. At the stoplight, I leaned forward and whispered, “You know you need a license for this, right?” He just shrugged playfully. We pulled up to a park, where he whipped out a blanket, picnic dinner, and a dozen misshapen cookies he’d made himself. We sat under a tree in the middle of a circular trail where people were walking their dogs. I had always enjoyed being around Thomas. Usually first dates put a stranglehold on my nerves but our conversation was easy. I was in the middle of telling him a story when a dog came running up to us. Delighted, and also wanting to demonstrate the chemistry I had with children and small animals, I opened my arms to let it adore me, but instead, it swallowed my sandwich in one gulp and ran away.
The Paper Airplane: This one might be spotted tangled in the branches of our wedding invitation. After our first two dates, I came home to a brown paper-wrapped package sitting on my bed. I opened it and, inside, was a calendar with a single date circled in red: September 26th at 9 in the morning. It was marked “Third Date with Thomas.” Our tradition of trading messages back and forth led me to create a collage: a little boy giving a little girl a bouquet of flowers, with a paper airplane flying overhead. It didn’t have any significance to me — it was just an old girl scout patch I had been saving to use for something like this — but, to Thomas, it looked like his big secret had been exposed. He was perplexed, but he didn’t say anything. When he picked me up on the morning of our third date, he handed me a paper airplane. I unfolded it and on the inside it said ‘Close your eyes.’ He drove me, blindfolded, to another undisclosed location and I wondered just how well I knew this guy or if there would be a way to tell my last known coordinates from the text message I sent my mom before we left. He stopped the car, led me through a labyrinth, and help me up and onto something. He took off my blindfold. We were in an airplane.On a day between our first date and our second, we had driven out to the landing strip at night, lay on the still-warm hood of his car and watched airplanes take off. We plotted ways to sneak aboard, charted out the places we’d go, promised that we wouldn’t pack anything but a warm jacket but we never managed to get over the barbed wire fence. He told me he’d been planning our airplane ride since that night on the landing strip.
I promised Southern Weddings that I would be blogging through this wedding planning process. And almost immediately after I made that promise, I forgot it (ironically, a symptom of wedding planning itself). There was so much else going on! A venue to find. Food to taste. A photographer to book. Musicians to interrogate. Wedding planning arrived at my doorstep, not in neatly-outlined tasks, but in one heaping pile. For the first two weeks, I did nothing but cower in corners, alternating between staring at my to-do list and staring at my engagement ring.
Cornering me there was something that I would begin to refer to as the “huddled masses.” They were a faceless, torch and pitchfork-wielding mob that like to shout indistinguishable judgement and opinions and skepticism into every decision I made. After all, this wasn’t just a dress, it was THE dress. It couldn’t just be a good song, it had to be the BEST song. That kind of pressure becomes too much to handle and I soon found myself entering into panic headstands — an unexpected but not entirely unpleasant reaction to the cascade of anxiety.
Worst of all, I felt my heart moving away from what really mattered. I was preparing for a wedding, not a marriage. So, two weeks in, I stopped. I shut out the hum of the huddled masses and sat down with a blank notebook marked ‘HITCHED’ to get my bearings. Every decision, cost, and project would seem aimless until I figured out where I was going. I sat down and I wrote. Pages and pages of cramped notes and tiny illustrations on what I thought the purpose and picture of a wedding should be. After I spilled everything onto the page, I condensed them down to a couple cohesive points. And then, I did what seemed like the next logical step: I wrote a mission statement.
Mission statement: To rejoice in the love that Thomas & I share now and promise forever, to glorify the Father that lavished that love upon us through His son, and to celebrate with a community that is ready to say, “We will” when we say, “I do.”
Somehow, it brought everything into focus. It was the standard against which I measured every decision. Even the small ones. Will spending thousands of dollars on table linens accomplish our vision for the wedding? Probably not. Should we elope? Nope, tempting as it might be at times, because a huge part of this marriage means making our promises in front of people that know and love us enough to hold us to them. Should I spend dozens of hours hand-crafting invitations when it would be so much simpler to order them? Weirdly, yeah. Because making art is a celebration of the beauty and joy and creation that Thomas and I want our marriage to be filled with. It’s easy to let candleholders and cocktail napkins cloud your mind and distract you from the terrifying, beautiful, profound thing that’s happening.
After two weeks of worrying, my heart was finally calm. I can let things go wrong. I can delight when they go right. I can proclaim the profound joy of having someone who will face life’s joys and sorrows with me. I can sing praises to the God that loved me first. I can bask in the company of friends and family who spend their time and talents to help this day come together. I can swell with affection and disbelief when I see how we are so loved, so well, by so many. That’s what I want my wedding to be about.
When we started planning the wedding, we knew we wanted it to be a creative expression of who were are as a couple now, and who we will be as husband and wife. For us, that meant being hands on with all the wedding projects. With the food trucks and overgrown loading dock venue, I wanted to capture the feeling of an outdoor music festival. Thomas and I have an amazing collection of posters from all the shows we’ve been to in Auburn, Opelika, and Waverly and we wanted to make something inspired by those. When our guests open up our wedding invitation, we want to give them the same feeling of excitement and appreciation we get unwrapping a print for the first time.
But, even more than the aesthetic value, we wanted these invitations to communicate something about what marriage means to us. The phrase “At Last” comes from Genesis 2:23, where the Bible begins with a wedding. In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes: “There’s no relationship between human beings that is greater or more important than marriage. In the Bible’s account, God himself officiates the first wedding. And when the man sees the woman, he breaks into poetry and exclaims, ‘At last!’ Everything in the text proclaims that marriage, next to our relationship to God, is the most profound relationship there is.” With each other, we feel like we have found the thing that we were designed to long for, the thing that makes us want to break out in verses of poetry and song and shouts of joy. That’s something worth celebrating.
I really wanted to find a way to make every invitation feel personal and handmade while maintaining the ability to crank out dozens at a time. Although I love handlettering, I knew there was no way I could produce as many as we needed in a realistic time frame.
Luckily, that January, I just started taking a screen printing class through Auburn’s art department. I realized that screen printing offered the perfect solution: each layer of ink is hand-pulled, giving each invitation a handmade feel, but the stenciled screen means you can print as many as you want very quickly. I was able to create two detailed stencil with the lettering and branches. Those two stencils were then exposed on a screen — true to its name, screen printing is done with a very fine silk screen — using a light box and a photosensitive coating. Victoria, a bridesmaid and devoted friend, helped me tear down the paper for eight hours straight (we were allowed two meal breaks). The talented Alex Lazarri helped mix the ink and printed the invites one layer at a time: foliage first, followed by the gold text. In just a few hours, I was holding a bundle of freshly-printed invites in my arms like a newborn baby.
Three months of designing, planning, creating, re-creating, tearing, printing, and multiple trips to the post office resulted in a set of invitations that we were proud to share with our guests. The experience of creating something I love to send to the people that we love really was an incredible one! We hope you like them as much as we do (although we’ll understand if you don’t keep a framed copy of yours by the bedside table like we’re going to).