"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Choose Your Family!

2009 "Fire of Fire"Temple via Jade Keller
At Burning Man last year, I was drawn to the temple, not only for its architectural beauty with its intricate laser cut lace patterns, but also with the immediate connection I felt to everyone there. I was surrounded by people celebrating love and releasing their sorrow, and have never felt so connected to a group of strangers in my entire life. THIS was a place where I understood we were all one, all in this together, that we all share the same histories, are experiencing the present together, and will have the same futures. With no roof, God/Allah/The Universe could see us clearly and she could see that we were good.

Whoa, right?

2010 "Temple of Flux" via
The Temple this year wasn't any different. It's not the structure itself, but what it allows us to do: grieve and celebrate, and people are able to do that because people love. We love. We wouldn't know the most intense pain or the most euphoric happiness if we didn't know how to love, how to lose, and how to be reminded that we are loved, right now, at this very instant.

You are loved.

Feels good, right?

The Love of My Life, Anthony, has a younger sister who is a year younger than me, who he is very protective of. He has to be. He's Italian. It's their thing. Her name is Marialina, and when he was four years old, he could only make out what sounded like Marilyn, and he has called her that ever since, and she loves that her older brother has a special name for her that only they share in together. A reminder that their sibling bond is different from all the others they will have in the lives.

Need I mention they're close? He even shortens the name sometimes to Mare.

Unfortunately, Anthony had to move to the opposite coast to follow his dreams, leaving his family 3,000 miles away and if we scrimp and save, we can afford to visit them at Christmas. He misses them.

At Burning Man this year, Anthony asked if I wanted to go to the Temple so we could write notes to our sisters. I have a younger one I'm fiercely protective of too and also miss her so much. I agreed, thinking how lovely he is to want to write a note to his baby sister who is also pregnant with her own baby. Soon-to-be-Uncle Anthony and I go to the Temple Sunday morning.

We arrive and there are now blocks of wood you can write on and then place on the slats that jut out, and I uncap my Sharpie and am so thankful for everything; for the Love of My Life, for my friends La La and Pear Bear who designed and made our camp possible and who have repeatedly showered us with love, for my family, for the blue sky, for the people around me, for everything.

"I'm going to go around to the back, okay?" Anthony said. "Okay," I said, writing a note to my dad:
Thank you Dad, for showing me how to receive love. Anthony trots off and I look at my note. If it wasn't for my dad, I wouldn't have known how much I was worth in this world. That I deserve someone who respects me, and know what respect is.
I write a note to my sister:
Hey Vanessa, our lives really sucked in the beginning, but I want you to know that I am super proud of you. I love and miss you. 
Then I start thinking about a conversation I had had with my friend La La/Glow/Gloria, where I had told her that I sometimes wondered how I had managed to have such incredible and amazing friends, and she held my hand as we walked and told me that she had chosen me. That sentiment was something I just loved. We chose each other. We get to do that.
I started writing:
You DO get to choose your family. 
Anthony arrived as I was writing and watched me finish the rest: Remind them you love them. 
He asked me if I'd like to see what he wrote to his sister, and reached out for my hand.

We walked to the back of the temple towards the note.
It's a little hard to read, so here it is:

 Hey Mare! It's me, Ant. I am at Burning Man and I thought of you and missed you. I can't wait to see you and the baby (and Tim of course). Hey, my future niece or nephew, I can't wait to meet you and tell you how awesome your mom and dad are and how proud I am of my baby sis. 
Love you Mare!

Isn't that sweet?

But there's also a post script:

 I finish reading and think, YAY! I can expect a proposal in maybe as soon as a month or two! I grin like a fool and turn to Anthony next to me.

He is crying. He is really crying. He's practically bawling. And when you love someone so much, their crying is like other people yawning. You have to cry too. The water was leaking out of my eyes before I even registered what was going on.

"I love you so much. You are my favorite. I want to marry you." He is hugging me now, saying more things but I can't understand him because he's sort of blubbering and he's talking into my neck. Whatever it is he's saying, though, I'm sure is pretty nice. Then he stops. We're still hugging.



"Let me get this straight," I managed, "Are you asking me?"

Anthony and I have had this joke for about the last year or so where I can't even talk about marriage, or wedding stuff or anything until he ASKS me to marry him. My thought was that it was inevitable, so why not talk about it, but he was adorably stubborn about his rule and would tease me whenever I brought something marital up.

We are still entwined, still crying, still tightly holding onto each other. "Yes." he said.

"Then, YES!" I cried. He lets me go and we are both grinning with wet salty faces. "Can I draw you a ring?"

A few weeks before we had left for our trip, I had told him, "IF you are planning on asking me anything that involves jewelry at Burning Man, don't you DARE bring it out there. Not only will it probably get lost, but it'll get really dirty." I think he had rolled his eyes at me, as I was always bringing up engagement stuff. His eyes might not have seen the floor for months.

"Of COURSE you can draw me a ring!" He gets down on one knee and draws me a Sharpie ring in my favorite color with the biggest flesh diamond I've ever seen.

We are both giddy. We are children. We are too excited to stand still! We walk this way, we walk that way, and our love and excitement conjures up three giant white out dust storms in a row! We put on our goggles and dust masks and slowly seek out shelter of a nearby art piece and sit holding hands and leaning on each other. About ten minutes after giggling and laughing and feeling happy contentment, we agree to head back to camp to tell everyone (PearBear/Perry and La La/Gloria were already in on it!) and on our way passed a camp playing some kind of European waltzing or tango music - neither of us can recollect what it was - with all the camp mates dancing together, and so we quickly parked our bikes and dashed to the dance floor where they were all couples dancing and Anthony took my hand and we danced, laughing and happy. When the song finished, we learned it was the last song the camp played to celebrate their successful week and they then started tearing down.

We walked our bikes back to camp and told everyone.

We're Getting Married!!!!

Is This Real Life?

It wasn't ironic that I wrote that you DO get to choose your family only mere minutes before Anthony asked me to start our own family together. 

We constantly remind each other with kisses and hugs and actual spoken sentiments that we love each other.

So go, tell your friends that they actually your brother, your sister, your family and constantly remind them that you chose them for a reason. They are loved.

You are loved.



  1. Hey Lira!! Its Teresa..Jon's wife!! Just wanted to stop by and say congratulations!!! YAY!

  2. Oh Lira, how absolutely wonderful!! SOOOO many congratulations to both you and Anthony. Isn't it amazing when we find someone else who just ... fits?

    And here's to love all over, in whatever form or shape it may take - we are all one. And thank goodness.

  3. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaakajsdflkajsdkfeei!!!!! This is SO FANTASTIC friend! So happy for you both!

  4. My sympathetic crying compunction kicked in when he started crying and you started crying. That was amazing. We DO choose our families and the timing was perfect. What a wonderful story to share with your children and grandchildren and all of the people that you choose as family. Congratulations. I am so happy for you both!!!

  5. Aaaawwww! So nicely told, honey! -- Dad

  6. Hi Lira,
    Long time reader, first time commenter. CONGRATS girl! you deserve it. love, light and happiness always :)

  7. There are no words....I love you both

  8. This must be one of the most beautiful ways to propose I've ever heard off! Congratulations for finding the love of your life and all the best wishes for your future together. And thank you so much for reminding me that we do get to choose our families! This reminder could not have come at a better time. I'm settled down half a world away from my family and have been missing them insanely much recently. But I have my partner, my son, my partner's family and my friends here. So, I do have a family and I have chosen them wonderfully. So, thank you again for reminding me of this. I'm also going to give another piece of your advice right back to you: Revel in this moment, in this beautiful beautiful day!

  9. Wow that is beautiful!!! Congratulations, Love and Light!

  10. That is the most unique engagement story I have ever heard!! So much has happened since your last Burning Man trip a year ago. Congratulations :)

  11. Lira and Anthony,

    I am so happy to hear the wonderful news!! The story is moving and I found myself crying while reading about the beautiful proposal. Way to go N!! Lira, you are a fantastic addition to the Diecidue family!! Congratulations!! Happy Engagement!!

    Joanne, Mike & Nicolas Bowes

  12. Very cool, congratulations you are very lucky to have found each other.

  13. Wow Lira!! Congrats! You two are very lucky and I'm sure you'll have a great future together. All my best wishes. I'm so happy for you!!

  14. *tears*tears*tears*

    Congrats on your Temple engagement, as well!!! Burning Man is magic. Thank you for sharing. Love is ALL!

  15. dude! that's a beautiful story. lira - i'm so happy for you. i love ya gurl - you snagged yourself a good one. well done, my friend. your story is beautiful - and i love how he asked you and drew your ring - that's hot. :) much love - nothing but my best for you both. :)


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