Monday, November 30, 2015

How Are You Supposed to Know When You've Found "The One?"

How are you supposed to know when you've found the person you're meant to marry?

It's a question I asked myself a lot when I was single. I would scroll through pages and pages of profiles, feeling skeptical. I'd sit in my car before a first date and wonder if the next few hours were supposed to change my life forever. I wanted to believe that my person was out there, but it was exhausting wondering if each bozo who sent me a message on OkCupid was him.

I was worried that I wouldn't know if it happened to me. I heard stories about love that kindled slowly, over time, and I worried that I'd get bored with my date before discovering that I actually loved him.

I didn't know, then, that love would hit me fantastically hard. When I did meet the man I was supposed to marry, it would be obvious.

Now I only wish that I'd trusted that it would be. I wouldn't have wasted so much time.

Here's how it happened.

How I Knew I'd Found The Man I Was Going to Marry

  • He took me on dates.
    Dates have become something rare and special. This is because so many men now expect women to hang out. This is often boring, and always sends a mixed message. ("Does he like me? Or are we just friends? And if we're not going anywhere, can I change into my yoga pants?")
    But not my Billy. He took me out. He made fun plans. He paid for me, he held doors open for me, and he bought me flowers. All of these things made it clear that he liked me and was working hard to win my affection.
    He won it.
  • There were no games.
    I recently learned that some people are so calculated about dating, they'll even time their responses to their text messages in order to gain the upper hand. For example, if it takes their date five minutes to reply to a text, they will then wait ten minutes before replying to them.
    WHAT? Why do you need the upper hand if you (supposedly) like each other?
    Billy did not do this. There was no upper hand. In fact, he put all his cards on the table. He never kept me waiting. He texted me all day long. He confessed everything. He blurted out "I love you." He showed me a picture of himself at his chubbiest, and also his fittest, and asked me if I could be okay with either of his two extremes. I was so charmed, I gave him an emphatic yes. 
  • He dazzles me.
    This is important, since I just told you that he texted me all day long. Billy is not the first man to ever come on strong. He's just the first man that I couldn't get enough of. He's funny, sharp, talented, a little crazy, and I never know what's going to come out of his mouth next. I love being around to witness what he's going to do next.
  • He is generous.
    There are rich men, poor men, and the best, rarest men all: generous men. Billy is the most generous man I have ever met.
    I first saw this when Billy and I went to Kennywood on an early date. We shared their legendary French fries. Billy had never had them before and I wanted to make sure he enjoyed them, so I made sure I ate all the burnt, shriveled fries and left the crispy, golden brown ones for him. Soon, we were both done eating, and only the most perfect, pristine fries remained. It turns out that he was also eating the ugly fries -- to save the best ones for me.
    Billy is not a rich man. But he'd always go without to give me the best of everything he has.
  • He is attentive.
    This one was the clincher.
    One day, before Billy and I lived together, I decided to Facetime him. He answered. Even though he was in the middle of checking out at the post office. Even though he was sublimely embarrassed when my enthused, "HEY BABY!" was heard by everyone in line. He always answers me.
    Billy lavishes me with all the attention I need, which is a lot. He checks on me. He lets me know when he misses me. I always know where he is. And he makes me feel loved, every single day.

That is why it didn't take me long to nail this thing down. It took me 33 long years to find him, and now, I promise to appreciate him every single day.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Curry, Boiling the Bathwater, and Roasted Mice: Ode to My Shitty Apartment

It was kind of charming, even though it smelled like curry.

My first apartment was smaller than many dorm rooms, but somehow, I loved it. I rented the attic of a three-story house in Squirrel Hill. 

It didn’t bother me that the ceilings sloped with the shape of the roof, meaning that you couldn’t stand up unless you were in the middle of the apartment. If you ventured too far left or right, you had to stoop or take a seat. It also meant I couldn’t have any tall furniture—like a refrigerator. I kept a mini fridge under the kitchen counter.

But the ceilings reminded me of a dollhouse, which seemed fun, so I hunkered down and enjoyed it.

I was also charmed by the antique details, like the big claw-foot bathtub. There was no shower, which worked out, since there was never any hot water. Every night, I would place my four biggest pots on the stove and boil water. If I hurried, potholders in hand, I could dump enough boiling water into my tub to take the chill off my lukewarm bath. I got used to this, even though the process took half my night.

I was, however, bothered by the heat in the summer. If you’ve ever stepped into an attic in August, you've felt how the oppressive, sauna-like heat rises. Great, nauseating waves of heat would wake me up in the middle of the night.

I worried about my cat, left to roast in her fur while I was at work, so I ran an AC unit in one of the two small windows during the day. The unit worked so hard all day that by the time I got home, it could barely cough out a stale breath. I’d turn it off so it would be ready to cool again by the time I left for work the next day. 

So it was hot. It was cramped. And then, along came a colicky baby. 

The family on the second floor had a baby that wailed every night from about 1am till dawn. This would have been bad enough in an apartment building, but we lived in a house together. This angry baby was basically my roommate.

You might have sympathy for this baby and his parents. Here is why I did not.

Any time — every time! — I tried to vacuum, those same neighbors would bang on my door and angrily inform me that I had to stop, because their baby was napping. The only time they permitted me to run the vacuum was the rare occasions when they were not home. 

They would also throw their things into the washing machine while I was doing my laundry. The shock of finding their hallway rug in with my delicates left me too speechless to ever confront them about it.

I decided that this baby, and his parents, were jerks. 

But the last straw came when I heard a strange scurry in the middle of the night. The next day, I found a mouse, brazenly out in the open and watching me from my curtain rod.

I shrieked. Then I called my mom. She came over, cornered him, caught him in a boot, and took him outside. 

But, it turned out, he’d left his entire family behind.

I found this out when I baked cookies in my oven and smelled something strange. Something very dry was burning.

I had cooked a mouse nest.

And finally, finally, but just like that -- I didn’t love my apartment anymore.

Mercifully, another apartment had just opened up a few blocks away. It was close enough for me to carry my meager belongings and tiny furniture down the street. My cat and I broke the lease and left the attic, mouse nest and all, behind. 

Today my co-worker described her first apartment, which was in a complex with cafes, a pool, and a gym. I opened my mouth to describe my first home away from home and realized I didn't even know where to start. 

Instead, I told her that it sounded really, 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekend and Worries

We did a lot of chores this weekend. 

When you are married to a gorgeous long-haired musician, you spend part of your weekend going to his gigs, and the rest of your weekend sweeping his hairs off your floors.

I'm kidding! To be fair, I shed an awful lot too. Between the two of us, the dog, and the cat, we can make a real mess, and a big chunk of our weekends are devoted to chores. But I am grateful to have this family to clean up after.

And I had a wonderful weekend. I'm glad, because I've been working so diligently to create happiness. I have a happy life, but it's a shame how sadness can take such a sinister hold anyway. You can do so many things, like yoga, or a keep gratitude journal, only to have your own mind and memories sabotage you anyway.

I really hoped our move would help me get over Porter, and the awful way we found him But the past month has actually been one of the hardest, and now I am experiencing flashbacks.

I used to think a flashback was like a memory. But now I know that it can be much worse. You can get trapped, reliving a horrific memory that's so vivid and real, it's as though it's really happening to you. You're there. It's so real that you find yourself desperately hoping it turns out differently this time -- and believing it actually might. And when it doesn't, you get to suffer the trauma all over again.

So what can I do? Just keep trying to let happiness in, I guess. This weekend I did that by loving Billy, and going to see him sing anf play guitar, and by working on our house. I hung artwork and cleaned and organized and focused on filling our home with comfort and love.

And I will keep doing that, for all of us.