I really like this video of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland! Eric is Irish, and who knows, I might be as well. He wrote two posts on moving to Ireland – 10 Reasons to Move to Ireland and 5 More Reasons to Move to Ireland – on his EricNovak.com blog. We’re not the touristy type of travelers, and I think the Cliffs of Moher strike a good balance for both types. Moving to Ireland at some point is definitely on our list.
I’ve made a point to be really upfront with my female friends about relationships. If I haven’t told you that I’m interested in you romantically, I’m not. I was painfully aware that through our communication, Hannah was becoming deeply attached to me.
I told a close friend about it and he joked that I should head to Kentucky and get married. This was the last thing on my mind! I wrote a letter to Hannah detailing how relationships changed, and citing the fact that when C.S. Lewis married, most of his female corespondents stopped writing. There was however, one woman in the states, who simply remained a friend, until Lewis passed away, and I referenced how their friendship remained the same after marriage. It was one of the only times I’ve made Hannah cry.
It’s strange to find that you’re romantically interested in someone who lives in another state, and as my internship with Mars Hill came to a close, I realized that I was being drawn back to Kentucky.
My family had moved there the year before. We were becoming more than just friends and whereas a month earlier, I had tried to send signals that we were only friends, I began to embrace our relationship in a way that I hadn’t previously recognized. It took my by surprise, really.
I was getting off work one day, and Hannah texted me, mentioning that she needed to talk to me about something really important. I immediately assumed that she was going to mention something about us becoming more than friends, and as I thought about this, I was really comfortable with it. However, just a few minutes later, she texted me again, stating that the meeting wasn’t what I thought it was about. This really confused me, as I thought I knew exactly where she was coming from. If she didn’t want to talk to me about becoming more than friends, then the only logical (not really) explanation, was that she wanted to end our friendship! I spent that Sunday at church, listening to sermons and praying, and then went out for burgers and a pint with my friends. It was horrible, and I knew that I needed to determine exactly what was going to happen in our relationship when we talked on Monday.
Hannah on the other hand, had absolutely no idea I was interested in her. Among the messages, and emails, and writing, she assumed that I was totally oblivious. We knew each others friends, but to some extent, there was a gap of communication, and while Hannah confided in her friend Olivia, and I in two of my guy friends, Paul and Trevor, the lines never crossed. At least we have good confidential friends, right?
That Monday, I rushed through my work, ate a hurried lunch and took two extremely slow buses back to my home. With time to kill, I washed some dishes, though I’m not entirely sure if they were totally clean or not. Finally, the time came, and I logged into Skype, to a beautiful woman with curled auburn hair and a pretty red dress. We made small talk. Anything and everything. Talked about my internship ending, the weather, Seattle and Kentucky. She was nervous and I could tell because of how her voice pitched a little and how she was totally skirting what she really wanted to talk about. I was nerves too.
“Hannah, you can tell me. It’s okay.” I started. We’d talked about hard things before, and we weren’t normally shy people. I swear she blushed. “It’s okay, Hannah, I have three sisters.” I’ve no idea why I thought that was reassuring, but apparently it did the job. Hannah locked down her emotions and took the plunge, “Well, I’ve been talking to Olivia (a close friend), and telling her about how I have this really big crush on you…” I took the reigns. “You know I’m moving back to Kentucky in a month, and then maybe out to the oil fields in North Dakota afterwards?” Hannah nodded. “I don’t know how things will work out, Hannah, but I’d like to pursue a relationship with you.”
I don’t think a woman has ever heard sweeter words, unaccompanied by a ring.
Hannah was joyful, but reserved and we made casual conversation about my plans after moving back to Kentucky. The conversation ended and we hung up the call. I collapsed onto my small bed, hardly believing what had just happened. I was going to start dating my best friend!
I told a dear friend, Liv (the photographer below), that I would write about the physicality of the ocean. I told her a year ago, and the thought has never left my mind.
How can the ocean draw you from so far away and sing to you it’s tale from the edge of land? It’s called to me since I left it. It’s called to me every time I left. I’ve dipped my toes in three of the seven seas, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and down to the Caribbean. The effect was the same: The ocean sang to me- sang inside of me! Somehow it spoke a deeper language than the mountains or the forests, it’s lapping waves a more legible tongue than the rolling gate of the meadow brook or the cascading falls.
This oceanus linguam, this language of the ocean has spoken to the men who felt the call of the seas and answered it in ships and boats, with their bodies and lives. Perhaps it’s the immensity of the ocean that does it. How the water spreads along the shore as far as you can see, and then out, with nothing but caps of white, seemingly forever- to those on shore, forever. The ocean does a good job of making you feel small.
It’s not a lake where you can just dip your toes in the water and look out to the other shore. It’s a tall ocean, as if the waves are second story buildings rising up to swallow the land with it’s surges. It always stops short and the boundaries are not crossed.
For those who are perceptive, the ocean calls to them to match it’s strength: It’s immensity shrinking us, it’s beauty crushing in. The human soul cannot be contained and all at once we’re straining to match the beast! Legs flex and bend and we race along the shore, salt spray and sand kicked up with the pounding of our bare feet, shoes kicked off in the dunes behind. Cartwheels, arms to the sky and shouts of laughter. How can God be so good, the ocean so big and us so small? We long to respond to the unfathomable immensity of it all. Every part of us open to our frailty and the fact of our existence within God’s story.
This note, written exactly a year ago, prompted me, “Write about the physicality of the ocean. How it makes us want to be physical.”
I know that feeling, because when I step foot onto the sand, somehow a soul-merging happens and I am cared for, though I am but a grain. How do I express that other than the physical manifestation of joy?
Sometimes stories are permanently in Heart Language, and while you can get them out into English, it’s just not the same. I don’t even know where to start. It was April 2012. I hurt and I was learning to feel all over again. My best laid plans had fallen into dusty shambles. Everything came out in ink and keyboard clicks and tears.
Letters flowed from Seattle to Kentucky and back as regularly as time would allow. He was my best person – even my journal says so. Feelings were slow, though. No switches were really tripped, but I did notice him. I flipped through an old children’s poetry book, found this, and couldn’t put down the fact that it reminded me of him.
“O, there were lights and laughterAnd motions to and froOf people as they enterAnd people as they go…And there were many voicesVying at the feast,But mostly I rememberYours-who spoke the least.”-Witter Bynner
Soon, it was May – more letters, more feelings. By this time, the switch was tripped. Cue the all-at-once. Facebook messages were rapid fire, and at some point around here, in early June, our first Skype (in over a year) took place. He says that’s when he really noticed me. I remember that the first words he spoke were, “Wow! You sound really southern.” We continued on, chatted a little bit, and had our business meeting. I journaled briefly about it, and, reading back, I can tell that I was bursting. I got to Skype Eric Novak.
Early May was the first time I had ever written about my feelings for Eric. Ever. And it was scary. I was shocked at my own words and at what I felt. I knew it was all true, so I kept on writing, but it confused me and here’s why: Most of my head told me that we were just friends, that nothing romantic was going to happen, but you see, this is Hannah Braboy, this is me, and my heart was made cinched to my head. So, the confusing part was that I thought we were just friends, but more and more, I was being moved into the direction of more-than-friends. I have had absolutely no doubts that the moving and changing was done by God who has crazy and outlandish plans.
Four days passed after our first Skype… I’m still surprised that my brand new Macbook Pro didn’t die from being soaked with tears. The brokenness that once rattled around inside of me was healing. I could feel again. I scribed journal entry after journal entry full of lines about just wanting to be his best friend, his best person. I remember journal entries turning into prayers and hours worth of tears.
A picture of the Seattle skyline flashed onto the 15 inch screen. “Eric,” I thought. I passed dressy clothes and events to wear dressy clothes to. “Eric,” again. All of life reminded me again and again: “Eric.” That name was spoken at the supper table every single night, too. You can bet that.
The first of July rolled around. The most foreign feeling I have felt up to this point in my life was one that hit around June and that hot, early July. That most foreign feeling was commitment to Eric – a commitment to wait, spoken through whispers I know only God could have breathed. If you’ve felt commitment to wait for another person like this, you are probably nodding your head right now, agreeing that it is one of the hardest, sweetest, most foreign things a human can feel, and feel it I did.
We met six years ago through unlikely circumstances – old blog newsletters and a young girl who wondered how I had ended up writing for thousands of people when I was only 16. She lost track of me for a few years, but somehow we connected again through Facebook. I asked a close friend what he thought of adding her:
“Paul, Hannah Braboy added me as a friend, should I accept the request?”
Paul nodded his agreement, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen her around. You should add her!”
She was a marketer, and I hired her to work on a large project with me. Emails went back and forth and ideas were thrown out there: conferences in Ireland, travel budgets, tweet and Facebook promotions. She started dating a friend of hers and for some reason, I felt slightly disappointed, even though she wasn’t on my radar and I was pursing a relationship with another woman at the time. We worked really well together. She was a genius and just fun to collaborate with.
We’ve gone through messages, and read emails, and tried to find out what the catalyst was exactly, but there doesn’t seem to be anything leading up to it. In January 2012, I asked Hannah if she wanted to start corresponding through letters. She agreed and the hand written pages started to flow between Seattle and Kentucky as we wrote about Jesus, life, and anything else we could put on paper.
I tried to keep boundaries- we were just good friends! I even signed one letter, “Your big brother.” It just so happened that was the letter her family read to her over the phone because she was out of state. They laughed at how oblivious we were, and her mom made a comment about how she had a feeling about me. Hannah laughed too and shrugged it off.
At this point, we were still seeing other people and just enjoying being friends. I had decided from an early age, that my relationships would be purely intentional-avoiding the stereotypical drama that accompanies non-committed dating. But as Hannah’s relationship disintegrated (he told her that God said she would marry another man), it became painfully obvious that my relationship wasn’t progressing in anyway that I had hoped for. So in late April 2012, we both found ourselves very single and very good friends, working together on numerous projects online, and writing each other extensive letters in our spare time. Working 90+ hours a week in Seattle as a graphic designer for Mars Hill Church, and a certified nursing assistant on the side, her letters, voice, and Jesus, were the only things that kept me going.
If you are reading this, it means we just got engaged!
Welcome to Anchorfolk. This is the personal blog of me and my now fiancé, Eric. (I’m writing this pre-engagement while Eric works night shift 3.5 hours away. I know it’s only a matter of days…) We have created this blog as a means to keep up with our friends and family, as well as sharing our love and enjoyment of words with the world.
I’m so thankful God has chosen to weave the story of us. It’s quite the tale and pretty lengthy at that. There are so many details that, if you asked us more than once, we would probably remember different ones than the time before.
We became good friends in January 2012 when we started writing letters. Those letters took a week to get from where he lived in Seattle to my small western Kentucky hometown. The paper scripted with heart-infused ink was always worth the wait. Fast forward to July 10th of that same year. It was evening in Kentucky and we had a Skype call planned. I had even curled my hair and dressed up for it. His face flashed on the screen and my heart raced. “You’re afraid of telling me? There’s no need to be afraid, Hannah Braboy.” “Yes…I just… I’m so nervous!” It was a somewhat drawn out conversation, but I finally got my feelings into words, his feelings matching my own. Do you know how it feels when your best friend in the entire world loves you? Accurate words have escaped us ever since, but we do love telling the story as best we can.
Here’s the ring!
Image taken by Olivia Erickson
We’ve set a date and are currently working on our wedding website with all the details.