a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Honeymoon

Never in a million years did I imagine I'd be able to go on a honeymoon on the other side of the world, but when a friend posted on Facebook about a deal for $500 roundtrip airfare from SLC to Sydney, Australia, how can you pass it up? 

Our honeymoon was an absolute dream. Ten days, a brand new sparkling city, my new husband, and absolutely no plans. The pictures will never do it justice!

On the first leg of the trip (SLC to LA) - can't say we looked as excited ten days later after traveling back to DC and never wanting to get on a plane again.

 The first of dozens of photos we took of the Sydney Opera House. This iconic building deserves all the accolades. Our first morning we dragged ourselves off the airplane and through the metro to the main square in Sydney. Coming around the corner, the Opera House filled our view and took our breath away!

Another shot of the Opera House taken from the Sydney Harbour Bridge

I mean, we had to get a photo at every angle!

One of our very favorites spots - Manly Beach. The locals favorite beach which requires a ferry ride to get to. We loved walking along the promenade, watching the surfers, eating gelato, and admiring the strolling families while sitting on a sand-side bench. Could have stayed there for days! 

The view at sunset coming back into Sydney on the Manly Ferry.

Sydney's most famous beach, Bondi Beach. It wasn't our personal favorite but nonetheless, we loved sitting on a bench overlooking the wide beach and listening to the waves hitting the cliffs. 

One of my favorite lifetime adventures! After renting a car and getting a few hours north of Sydney we arrived in Newcastle and found a company that does camel tours at sunset. I seriously had an ear-to-ear smile the entire time. My camel's name was Syd, Jeff's was Daisy, and we rode them on the nearby sand dunes while watching the sun set over the ocean. Life bucket list item complete. 

Visiting the Sydney LDS temple. It was closed that day because it was a Monday but we enjoyed walking around the extensive grounds and enjoying the Spirit that was present. 

Visiting Australia's version of the Grand Canyon - the Blue Mountains with the iconic Three Sisters rock formation in the background. We spent several hours doing a beautiful cliff walk avoiding all the Asians with selfie sticks, and taking in all the beauty of this different part of Australia. 

Our last full day in Sydney we had the most sublime weather so we decided to take a walk to Mrs. Macquerie's chair, a lookout on the opposite side of the opera house. It did not disappoint. Between the cool 70 degree breeze, the clear blue sky, and the perfect vistas from the viewpoint, we fell in love with Sydney a little more. It was a perfect ending to our trip. 

We capped off the trip with one more ferry ride to Manly Beach to stroll the promenade, get some gelato, and watch Sydney come to life on the way back in with the light show "Vivid" in full force. 

Who knows if we'll ever be able to revisit Australia so I will always cherish the incredible memories we made there. It was so special to be there with Jeff, at the start of our lifetime adventure, and explore a new city, especially one we never thought we'd get to. I would wholeheartedly recommend this part of the world to anyone who wishes to make the trek across the Pacific to get there. It was clean, bright, easy to get around, the people were uber friendly, and there was plenty to do. 

Australia, we will always love you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hannah Redford Merrell

One marriage certificate. Two hours at the Social Security Administration building. Three hours at the DMV. One new driver's license. One new name.

It's weird how you can change you name and how changing your name really does make you feel like a new person. Your name is the very first thing given to you after birth. Your parents pick something special that they think will capture your personality and minutes or even seconds after you're born you're given this name, a name that you will use to identify yourself for the first several decades of your life.

I've written Hannah Kay Redford on dozens of bubble test forms in school, hundreds of emails, all kinds of paperwork at doctor's offices, and more. My name is who I have been my entire life.

And now it has changed.

I walked out of the DMV and mourned the change. Not because I'm not excited to be Hannah Merrell but because Hannah Redford was so good to me. It represented the good life I've had and the person I've become. It represented the last 3 decades of grand adventure. It represented my single life of learning and stretching and growing. It was also a really cool name to have because of it's relation to a certain Sundance-owning movie star.

Hannah Kay Redford is the person that Jeff fell in love with and the girl he proposed to, even the girl he married. It's the name they used over the alter in our sealing ceremony. In my head I'm still that person and I'm not sure that will ever change.

Nevertheless, a couple months into this marriage thing and I'm slowly getting used to introducing myself as Hannah Merrell. It still feels weird rolling off my tongue but I'm sure soon enough it will become natural. Eventually, as life goes on and Jeff and I become "The Merrell's," there will be people we meet who will never know my maiden name, they will only know me as Hannah Merrell and never as Hannah Redford. Redford will become something that I only write on legal documents or give to one of my children as a middle name.

I'm okay with that. I love Jeffrey William Merrell and am honored to take his last name. It binds us together even more and for me, this sense of sacrifice only adds to my level of commitment to him. I just hope that I'll get to the point where I feel the same sense of identity with this new name, that I'll feel like Hannah Merrell in my soul just as I have with Hannah Redford.

We'll see.