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2002-12-13 7:22 p.m.

Since my return, I have felt a bit out of touch—ungrounded. My schedule has been relatively wide open. For the last year I have devoted all my extra energy to working on my record. Now that it is near completion, I am stunned from the available time and energy at my disposal.

But, even with all this extra time, I am not sure what to do with myself. I spend a lot of nights at the house in Woodside doing nothing extraordinary. I eat food. I talk with Andie. I have a glass or two of wine. Having a "few drinks" never ceases to make me feel terrible all night long and into the next morning. I keep doing it anyway. I feel as if maybe I am just not doing it right. Maybe practice makes perfect? But, I digress—this is not a discussion of the failures of America's popular legal drugs.

The point is that, in spite of my startling amount of free time, I have seen my friends less than I would have expected. I better get out that phone and start pushing buttons on it.

I have a strange itch. I want to make something, build something, be part of something—a project. I am in a holding pattern on the record until I fly back in February. And, after a year of writing songs on my acoustic guitar, I am ready for something else. I would like to get back in the swing of things with my band, Spitkiss. Also, my friend Zack Stewart messaged me today and asked me to help to develop his songs—work with him to find the best keys, tempos, and arrangements. I should work on both of those projects, even though each one would easily balloon into a full–time affair if given the opportunity. I always bite off more than I can chew, but I am happiest this way. I am a juggler.

Lots of people have been IMing and emailing me about my recent proposal from Andie. I feel like I should have a press release prepared so that way I won't have to describe this complex situation 20 times each day. I have an IM thread between her and I which I feel summarizes it best:

Justin: Tollef said something brilliant (duh)

Justin: Tollef Biggs: is this a "lets show our love for eachother now, and get cool bennies and have fun" marriage or is this a "lets grow old together marriage, and be together for the next 60 years"

Tollef Biggs: and is you and andies vision of it aligned?

spitkiss chicken: For me, the first one is all that I can say anything about. I don't know what tomorrow will hold. I mean, if we are together and it is working great, then excellent if we are together in 10 or 20 or however many years. I don't know what will happen. We can only do our best and try our hardest.

spitkiss chicken: I will ask her about it. I think that is the best thing someone has asked me so far. That makes my brain crank.

Andie: intent is as it has been: to stay with you for my life if i can.

Andie: i have always envisioned that one day i would find a partner and be with him or her until i died. put in the work and keep it alive and be one another's real family (as in, you can't un-family your family.)

Andie: However, I am realistic and if in ten years we are looking at each other like, "Who are you? I don't enjoy my time with you any more,"...well, I know that could happen and does. I would like to think that by getting married we make it so that when that point comes we have to sit with ourselves and say "But do I really want to give this up, or am I just going through a phase and need to make some changes in OTHER areas of my life? Is being with the same person forever important enough to me to stick it out?"

Andie: It makes it so you really really really have to think before you split.

Justin: I don't like the pressure you put on the future. It makes me feel bad and pressured. I can only promise to do my best each day and try my hardest to keep me happy and you happy. If this marriage is a way for you to feel comfortable about the future, then I will not be ok with that. You need to feel ok to BEGIN with.

Andie: It is only that I would like to think I am taking it seriously. And not being like, "Oh, it's a big fun party, but I still feel like I could leave you tomorrow." It is not really about what I expect out of YOU though, Justin. It is about what I want to expect out of myself. I am realizing that the person I need to learn to trust and believe in is not you, not really. I trust and believe in you.

Andie: I do not feel that we have any control over the future—none. Only that i can express my intent with how i might deal with future things, if they come up. Does that make sense?

Justin: Actions should reflect your faith. But, I sense that you have some amount of your faith balanced upon this marriage thing. I think that is an unsafe way to build a structure which I will live under.

Andie: That is something I will think about. Really, the truth is that I agree -- the commitment has already been made, hasn't it?

Andie: Justin

Justin: ?

Andie: I feel like I am being challenged for believing that marriage (or rather, committing to a lifetime together) is a powerful and possible thing to do. If we had already done it, what difference does this make? Why are my motivations under such scrutiny?

Justin: Your motivations should be considered whether we do it or not. You learn about yourself better. I learn about you and me. And, we grow. Be happy about scrutiny, even though it can feel unpleasant. That is the feeling of growth and expansion.

Andie: I guess it just makes me fearful, a little.

Justin: If you look deep and find out that it is all good, then great. If stuff needs fixing, then we work it out together. The only thing to fear is probably the weightless state of being which you know exists after we release our grips on our own suffering and attachments. Free falling is scary. But, your feet are already on the ground, sweetest friend.

Andie: The thing it makes me fearful of is of not being trusted, of being left alone because I took a leap of faith

Justin: well, it does breach my trust somewhat. Here is what I wrote to Tollef: The other thing is that I have given Andie 100% of my love. And, she said that there is some heightened amount of commitment that she thinks will come in her mind if we are married. I feel hurt by that because I have sure as heck not been holding back in the last 20 months.

Andie: Well, I guess there has been some confusion in my mind because in the way you would sometimes speak about OTHER relationships, I often felt you were referring to ALL relationships

Justin: Erase the thought in your mind that involves me leaving you alone.

Andie: "I don't think people stay together." Hearing you say that weighed heavy on me for a long time and "Just because it's finite doesn't mean it's bad." As though painting a door into the set to escape through. that is what my mind made of those statements.

Justin: I don't drop hints. I am a boy. Not a girl.

Andie: But we were talking about relationships. We have one. I guess I didn't hear anything about "except us. I think we're the exception." coming from you then. Or I wasn't listening for it. Or perhaps -- and this is where I have been for about two weeks -- perhaps I just didn't really believe in MY commitment. I am not sure, but that could be a factor.

Andie: Not my commitment...I guess, my worthiness?

Justin: I wonder why?

Andie: The point is that I felt like it was how I was supposed to be learning what you thought was possible about love and relationships. "Things don't last." "I don't believe people stay together." and "Marriage is something I would never do." essentially.

Andie: And I thought "Well, if he feels that way, then I can only be glad for today and have the best of hopes for tomorrow."

Justin: And? How does that make you feel?

Andie: That's really still the case, is the thing...except that I think with intent, my chances for tomorrow are better. it is like going to college, or entering a nunnery, or something. trying to complete a goal. And, I like how expressing intent makes me feel i am on the right path gives me a daily reminder of how to have right thought and right action. When you would say those things it would give me pangs of sadness. i knew what you were saying was essentially quite true for most, but i wanted to belive it was not true of us.

Andie: so, that's what I believed. but i felt like i might be alone in it. I think by asking you to marry me, I was asking you to let me know that you felt we were the exception too and that we could do something really epic together. i guess if we stayed together forever and looked back on it, the same goal would be accomplished.

Justin: I don't think it has to be true for anyone -- if they have a conscious life. I am sure that we are the exception, or, an exception. But, to remain an exception will require dedication -- personal dedication -- to healthy spiritual lives and faith and love. It is not something that happens on one day. It must happen each day.

Andie: No it is not. It is definitely a series of actions every day, not just a big statement "this is so." But I wanted to celebrate the intent. It really has a lot to do with me, you know. What I believe I can do to make it work. What I believe I can have faith in in myself.

Andie: I do not think it will change much about our relationship in that I think things would probably turn out the same way without it. But I think it's a beautiful thing to do. Is there a folly in believing in romance? Somewhere between utter romanticism and utter intellectual realism there is a middle ground. I know we can find it.

Justin: I don't think it is a middle ground. I think it is a strong sense of both at once. That is what it needs.

Andie: Yeah, that is true. I dont' think that those two things are binary opposites. I think they're parts of the whole. You are right.

Andie: Justin, what would make you the happiest right now? For you to go unhappily into this to make me happy would end in misery. I can guarantee that.

Justin: Happiest? I would be happier if you had more faith. When your faith is shaky, it affects my life -- you cling to me. I would be happier if I had to work a little less. As for my relationship? I was already happy. Very happy.

Andie: So in all honesty, the thing that would probably make you happiest is for this proposal to not have happened?

Justin: I am not sure. I think a lot of good is coming from it. I am learning a lot about my feelings and about yours. But, part of me wishes we could just not be focusing on this issue right now. In my mind, everything was excellent before. I don't have any more to give. Being propsed to makes me feel like maybe you expect more, which makes me feel inadequate.

Andie: I'm not being defeatist, I'm asking because it seems like I have done something WRONG. And all I wanted to do was celebrate and share with our community and get the rights we should have as a couple.

Andie: And make a romantic gesture...and do something brave for the sake of itself. Girls don't usually propose, you know. People view it as desperate.

Andie: And that's the response i am sensing and I am really disappointed. I would think it would be flattering and romantic and not be seen as a request for MORE.

Justin: Your intentions and how I feel are not necesarily (or ever) the same. That is why we talk it out.

Andie: Yes.

Justin: It is OK that I feel this way. I am glad that you continue to explain yourself. I need that.

Andie: When I think of marrying you, I think of your face and your smarts and the way your lips taste. I don't think of guarantees or promises or controlling the future

Justin: Hm...that does sound pretty good when you explain it all like that

Andie: I think of how proud I will be to tell the world I have chosen you for my partner in crime for life. And however that pans out is not really their concern. We will have to work that out on our own.

Justin: But, I already chose you.

Andie: Being married is surely an easier shorthand than explaining it all out. See, you have already been telling people it's like we're married. You already feel that it is there. Tomorrow the sun might not come up. Nuclear war could start. I can't control tomorrow. But if those things, or lesser catastrophes, make tomorrow impossible, I think I would feel pretty good knowing that I at least told the world that what I HOPED I would accomplish was a rad lifetime with you. Even if it doesn't work out that way.

Justin: So, it is like saying, I *want* to have the perfect life with this person, together, for as long as possible.

Andie: Until it doesn't make sense any more, or we both fall to the earth and become dust.

Justin: Excellent