The TREEHOUSE FREEHOUSE STORY
Oh, Hello! My name is Kara.
...I'm so sorry I forgot to introduce myself as "Kara Leigh" again. That's the name I prefer, so please call me that. (Since we're replicating a real life introduction, I figured I'd confuse you the same way I confuse meet everyone I meet in person.)
Pleased to meet you!
My mom named me Kara Leigh with the intention that I go by my first and middle name. And we shall respect dear mother by obliging her wishes! Truly, I went through a phase when I decided Kara Leigh was far to "country" and I needed a single name so my education wouldn't be in doubt. I went by a solo "Kara" for around eight years, until I got over thinking about other people's thoughts. By introducing myself as Kara Leigh, I feel a twinkle of self-love. I'm happy to be me.
"Me" started in the 90s - a real winner of a decade to be human on earth. My childhood was defined by a lot of changes and a few constants. Our family moved from place to place instinctually. I think it might be genetic. We got restless, uprooted and replanted often. New schools, new homes, new cultures. The constants are still burrowing their roots long and deep: family. My three younger sisters, ma and pa. We always had each other. That and the religion we belonged to - kept us grounded.
The question "where are you from?" has always overloaded my brain's circuit board. What does that even mean? Where were you born? Where have you lived longest? Where is your home? Where is your family? For a lot of people those are the same answer, and as for the rest, well maybe they don't make it as complicated as I do. Often, I answer this question with the socially acceptable "single place name." However, I feel more integrity in the satisfyingly vague answer "here."
I'll stop the runaround and give you the rundown: born in Provo, Utah -> Denver, Colorado -> Gaston, South Carolina -> Helena, Montana -> Austin, Texas -> Versailles, Kentucky -> back to the birth land Provo, Utah for college @ BYU -> Tacoma, Washington -> Jerusalem, Israel -> Park City, Utah -> and finally where I hang my hat today: Brooklyn, New York.
I will be forever grateful for the pattern of movement my life has wrought. Though, at times it can make me restless and impatient for the next horizon, it has grown in me an understanding of what is most important and lasting. I keep my past experiences close to my heart and cherish the person I was. All while I push the me of today towards even better tomorrows.
I was raised in a devout Mormon home. Not just a "sunday religion," Mormonism is an all encompassing belief system. My life followed an orthodox path of primary, sunday school, seminary, college at Brigham Young University, and even serving a year and a half long mission to spread the gospel I loved.
Tyler and I met while serving our missions in Washington State. At the time we were just acquaintances, but we reunited at BYU and began dating. We dated for a few months and began planning our traditional Mormon wedding. After a study abroad in Jerusalem together, the "perfect" future we were weaving began to unravel. As a result of a few conversations with family, Tyler dove into researching the church's history and truth claims. After a few months I joined him on this journey. We began to look at our faith differently, and see new paths open up. Though these were the hardest times of my life, I emerged with less "church" to fill my time, and a whole lot more personal spirituality and morality to ponder.
Tyler and I stepped off the only path we knew and onto a new one, where the end wasn't so certain and most questions stay unanswered. Suddenly I felt the weight of choice and responsibility to none other than myself. With each step I am challenged in ways I never was before. My self view and world view feels wider. Through the biggest change of my life, Tyler remained my constant. We intertwined our roots into the deep soil of heartbreak and loss, that we somehow managed to experience before even being married. I feel like I could easily say too much, and also not say enough about this huge change of our lives. (If any one reading has any further questions please feel free to reach out).
Tyler proposed in Central Park in the Fall, on my first ever trip to New York. We climbed a tree and sat across from one another on two branches. The look in his ice blue eyes is frozen in my memory when he told me he wanted to climb trees with me forever. We planned our wedding while traveling the world through Africa, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary. We had relationship-cementing conversations as we walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain for three weeks. At the end of each days hike, we sat on the grass outside the hostel and picked engagement photos and ordered catering.
Tyler Vale Alden and I were married July 25, 2015 on the top of a Park City mountain.
It was perfect.
Our honeymoon was two nights in PC followed by a week of packing, and a week of driving + flying to Brooklyn, New York. We picked New York City, and then found a reason to stay. Tyler transferred to NYU, I started teaching at Success Academy Charter Schools. Currently, we are settling into our Crown Heights two bedroom apartment, exploring our new city, and trying not to decipher the most true-to-self paths our life can take. We make new friends, we try new things, we see new places, and we hold fast to the things we know ground us. Love seems like the most true thing I can find in the world so far, so for now, that seems like it will do.
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I define myself by my ability to make "home" happen wherever I go. Home isn't found in things or even the address where your bed is. Home is a mindset. Home is knowing you have a right to be happy. Home is knowing you deserve love. Home is peace with yourself. I dedicate this blog journal to finding home near and far, being at peace with the unknown, and finding beauty in every day.
Thank you for visiting The Treehouse. Climb on up and stay a while, friend. For more frequently asked questions, please visit my FAQ page.
Wedding photos by our talented friend Megan Robinson. Other photos on this page by our amazing friend, Chelsie Starley. All other photos (unless otherwise noted) are our own, and property of The Alden Treehouse.
Below: Our Wedding Day Film: July 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. Made for us by the fantastic Kyle Smith at Amore Films.