Tag Archives: Love

Eleven days and counting…

Nineteen months have passed since I proposed to Marta. Nineteen months… Wow.

We met six years ago during a turbulent time in my life. My brother, Matthew, and a mutual friend, Jeremy (who’s since crafted our engagement ring and wedding bands), used to work together at a neighborhood restaurant where Marta and I would occasionally bump into one another. I could never, for the life of me, remember her name, but always enjoyed talking with her. It’s Marta, after all. How could you not enjoy talking to her?

One gorgeous day in late June, Marta, Jeremy, and I spent the afternoon at Montrose Beach (by this time, I’m happy to report, I’d learned her name, though I’d soon realize that my “Mar-ta” pronunciation was unique). We played Frisbee. We lay in the sun. We even looked after a youngster whose dad told him to “stay and play with these people” as he disappeared for several minutes (a favorite memory of the day). And after packing up our camp and heading home, we reconvened some time later at Marta’s apartment for dinner. While Jeremy expertly grilled our steak on the deck, Marta and I cooked together indoors. She made risotto, I sauteed asparagus and portabellas. I’m pretty sure we were both stealing glances at one another, thinking, “This girl/guy is pretty cool.”

And so it began.

Marta was very patient with me those first few months. I was still gun shy after exiting a six-year relationship with my college girlfriend, and it took me a while to feel comfortable opening myself up again. I wanted to be sure, but when in life do we ever have that luxury? Marta endured several months of my waffling before I finally realized that everything was okay. That we didn’t need to know how things would work out down the road in order to enjoy the journey today.

A year after we met, we moved into our first apartment together. It was great. Marta has learned to deal with my pickiness (okay, my borderline OCD, but you didn’t hear that from me!), and I’ve gotten better at compromising. And we’ve both learned that while we absolutely love spending time with one another, some things are just better done solo. I shop for groceries while Marta cleans. And when we fly, we meet at the gate now. Hey, when you recognize flash points, why not avoid them? (Did I mention I’m fussy?)

We loved our first apartment and met two of our (now) best friends, Caitlin and Keith, when they moved in across the hall. One of our favorite jokes was to tell each other “Get home safely,” when we’d say goodbye. Yeah, those three steps across the landing can be risky… We’d probably still be living there if it hadn’t been for the herd of elephants – er, family – that moved in upstairs. Good grief. Reluctantly, we packed up and moved – two blocks away on the same street! I’ve never lived at two different addresses on the same street before, but there’s a first time for everything. Our new apartment became home even though we sure do miss living across the hall from C&K!

Two years ago, Marta began traveling more regularly for work. Overnights to Minneapolis, longer trips to Seattle, Tennessee, Las Vegas, and Miami. I’ve gotten used to these trips now, but at first it was difficult. I missed her a lot when she was gone, and that’s when I realized that I really couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life without her. I didn’t want to imagine it. Things had never been perfect for us, but I knew then that Marta was the woman for me. I wanted to be her partner, to commit not only to relishing the good times, but to working through the difficult ones. I wanted to continue this journey with her.

I reached out to Jeremy, now a metalsmith and GG (graduate gemologist) based in Seattle, and together we began working on ideas for a ring. At first I told no one, figuring that if I couldn’t keep my own mouth shut, I couldn’t very well expect anyone else to. Then, when we visited Marta’s parents for Father’s Day, I stole a moment with Bob, her step-father, and told him my intentions. He was thrilled, but made me promise that I would tell Sherri, too, before we left. “You have to tell her when Marta’s not around, though,” he said. “She will start crying.” So I concocted a plan to run back into the house as we were leaving on Sunday, and sure enough, the waterworks started when I told her. She gave me a huge hug. I’d always felt like part of the family, but this made it official.

That summer, Jeremy and I must have exchanged zillions of e-mails and phone calls, reviewing CAD renderings of the ring, talking about tweaks, organizing wire transfers of funds so that he could source the stones and metal. Finally I got the call the last week of August: “Done!” A week later we were in Seattle for a planned visit, and when I saw the ring for the first time, I was blown away. Absolutely stunning.

The thing practically burned a hole in my pocket. I managed to wait a whopping four days, then planned a dinner out at Caro Mio, our favorite Italian joint, and a walk through our neighborhood park afterwards. With the moon shining down, standing together in a place important to us both, I asked Marta to marry me. She said, “Shut up!” followed quickly by “Yes!”

And now, nineteen months later, our wedding is right around the corner. I couldn’t be more excited to marry this woman – my best friend and partner – and begin our next chapter together. I know how lucky I am to have her in my life, just as I’m lucky to have such wonderful family and friends. You all make life worth living, and I cannot wait to celebrate with you on April 27th as I put the “ring of ownership” on Marta’s finger. =P

Sure do love you, sweetie!


Gee but it’s great to be back home…

For nearly eight and a half years, I’ve lived 1,000 miles from home.

After all that time, New Hampshire is still home in my mind and heart, as I imagine it will always be in many ways. I often wonder what other people think and feel when they reflect on the meaning of home, for I believe my family and I have had a unique and wonderful opportunity to experience a deep sense of connection and belonging to the place we call home by virtue of our tradition and longevity. The farm is not just a place, but rather a member of our family, replete with 380 years of history and memories. It shares its story with me every time I visit, not through spoken language, but by subtler means: a breeze whispering through rows of corn, the smell of freshly harrowed earth, or the crunch of frost beneath my boots as I traverse the pasture below my grandparents’ house.


Now, I experience the strongest connection to the place and all its history on my late-night (or early-morning, as the case may be) walks from my grandparents’ to my mom’s, and this always reminds me of Grandpa once saying: “I get my religion watching the sun come up in the cornfield.” I imagine him cutting lettuce or digging carrots early in the morning, dew clinging to the tender leaves, the silence broken only by sparrows and crows taking flight, as he continues along the path that nine generations of Tuttles blazed before him. And in my own way, as I walk alone through the delicate early-morning silence on the farm, I find a religion of sorts as I marvel at the sheer magnitude of all that came before me and that which, even now, allows me to revel in these moments of joy and wonder.

When I left NH to “head west young man, head west,” I reached Grinnell with equal parts excitement and trepidation. My application essay (which I lament has been lost) told the story of a boy who loved his home, but who now hoped to bloom into a man by exploring the world in the newer, larger cornfields of Iowa. Indeed, my years at Grinnell altered my trajectory in ways which will, no doubt, continue to manifest themselves throughout my life (If in no other way, at least by allowing me the small pleasure of facetiously responding, “Childhood dream” to the query: “How did you end up at school in Iowa?”). Though my intention always was to return to NH and become involved in the farm and business, it was important for me to find my own place and purpose in the world, to test myself.

The ink still wet on my Anthropology degree, I moved to Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders, land of deepdish pizza and those “loveable losers” the Cubs, in August of 2002. What an adventure! Lucy and I found a small apartment, I got a job selling cars, and I imagined that living in Chicago would be exciting for a year or two before I returned home to begin building a life for myself on the farm. Of course, a year or two turned into a few years, which turned into five, which now has turned into the better part of a decade. I’m currently working my 5th job, living in my 5th apartment, and (phew!) only on my 2nd girlfriend, but Chicago has, over the years, become a familiar and comfortable place to me. It’s become my adoptive home as I’ve built a relationship with Marta, cultivated many close friendships, and started a career.

In October, 2009, I learned what I might have suspected for at least a year or two: that Mom and Uncle Will would, born of necessity, be listing the farm and store for sale within 6-12 months if business didn’t stage a dramatic about-face. We had all known, I think, that a tipping point was approaching, but this notion only became “real” to me when Mom and Will sat me down one afternoon in the tractor shed to tell me just how bad things had gotten. My mind churned constantly for the next few months trying to think of something – anything – that would forestall the loss of the farm and the traditions our family has built upon it. No small amount of that time was spent second-guessing myself, asking myself what might have been different if I had returned or even if I had never left. Would I have been able to prevent this? Could I have saved the farm? There are some questions life puts to us that may never be answered – questions like these. I will never know if I could have made a difference, but I will always wonder.

As I sat at Grandpa’s bedside on a cold December evening in 2002, looking upon the shell of a man who had always been a hero to me, I spoke to him privately of how important the farm was to me, how fortunate I felt to be part of something so meaningful, and how proud I was to be his grandson. That night, I promised him I’d return one day and find my place as part of our family’s nearly four-century tradition. This was not a commitment I took lightly, but I knew then, as I’d always known, that my purpose and future were intertwined with the ancestors my grandfather would soon join. Grandpa died later that night, and now that the sale of the farm is inevitable, I will never have the opportunity to fulfill the promise I made to him. I am certain, though, that Grandpa will forgive me, because in spite of the concern he undoubtedly felt about the farm’s future, I know that his children and grandchildren’s happiness was more important to him than the continuation of a tradition which was already fading when he passed.


A yellowed newspaper clipping on my old bedroom door reads: “Gee but it’s great to be back home…home is where I want to be,” a snippet from an old Simon and Garfunkel song hung there by Mom when I returned from St. Paul’s in 1993, a scared and homesick high school freshman. I’ve lived 1,000 miles from home for eight and a half years, but the farm will always be my home whether the name “Tuttle” is on the deed or if, after this incredible run, a new name is signed on the dotted line. We have all made lives, some on the farm, some far from it, but because of our shared origins – our home – we will always be a part of something much larger than ourselves. And that can never be taken from us.