Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exclamation Points and Smiley Faces

It's hard to put into words; sometimes it just creeps up on me. I realized it this week when I downloaded that TimeHop app. It's supposed to be fun! And show you all of the interesting things you did three years ago! But instead, it made me realize how many more exclamation points and smiley faces I used to use in my status updates, which started me thinking about how long I've really been feeling down for. Which is about three years, if I'm being honest.

I'm not going to call it depression. Because there are people who have experience this on a debilitating level and can't get out of bed in the morning. It's not that bad.

I'd call it more of a cloud that follows me around most days. Like that Skittles commercial, where that old lady gets random candy showers on an hourly basis. Only way less fun and delicious.

I'm not fully sure why I feel the way I do, but the reason I'm sharing it is in hopes that someone else has felt the same way. Maybe by verbalizing it, I can let it go a little bit.

I turned 30 in February, and it was honestly the worst birthday. Not the birthday celebration itself, just the sudden existentialist hurricane it threw me into. I'm not married or pregnant. I don't have a fun new important job with a VP title, and I'm not running any marathons. But it seems like everyone around me IS.

I quit Facebook for awhile; that seemed to help. I just couldn't take the status updates anymore. It was all brag brag brag, and nobody else seems to be dealing with any type of hardships. Just smiling faces and engagement rings and kissing brides and blossoming bellies.

This year, we had "bring your child to work day." I worked from home. It just made me so sad to be around them. I actually cried that morning, which was the first time I realized I felt so empty. I'm not always that sad around babies, but I am sometimes. It varies from day to day.

Don't get me wrong, I know babies aren't bandaids. And we don't even NEED a bandaid. My relationship with K is great, save for the turtle-like pace he's been keeping with putting a ring on my finger. We've talked about it openly a few times since the Montana trip, and I know we're heading there. We've even talked about how we're getting ready to have kids in the next few years. All good stuff. Tonight he's sewing my Halloween costume for our party this weekend. Our day-to-day is good.

So I don't mean to put this on him as if the reason for my melancholy is solely tied to his reluctance to engage. Also, I'd like to think of myself as the kind of person who takes charge of her own happiness and doesn't put it in someone else's hands. Anyone's hands, including that of my future children. It's up to me to make myself happy.

Not all days are bad. Some are exceptionally good. I just feel like I don't smile as bright as I used to these days. And I'd like to fix that. So I think I'll go back to yoga, and read more. And hope that by putting my feelings into words and sending them out into cyberspace, I'll be able to let it go a little bit.

The good news is turning forty should be a BREEZE.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Free Porn

There I was, hiding from my neighbor behind the oranges in the grocery store. That sonofabitch was right in front of the tofu, but I had to leave it behind for the sake of my pride. 

Be careful in a small town, they said. Don't piss off your neighbors, they said.

Rewind three weeks earlier to the town-wide yard sale, where K and I were unabashedly selling our belongings on the front lawn: purses, dishes, and X-Box games included. We decided to make a day of it and drank beer while we were doing it. 

Neighbors came and went, huffing at three dollars for unused aerobic stairs. After a few hours, we marked almost everything "FREE" and were resigned to leaving it at the curb. So we were more than thrilled when the minister, his wife, and their five children stopped by, exuberant over the video games. They wanted one each, and K generously offered for them to only pay for one and take the others. 

After all, it pays to be kind to your neighbors. 

Fifteen minutes later, we were swigging down the last of our beers and dragging the rest of the unsold items to the curb, when we saw the minister's wife coming across the lawn, game in hand. 

Immediately, I had a bad feeling. 

"We got a bonus disc!" She remarked amusedly. I couldn't read her expression. 

"Oh no." I exclaimed in disbelief. "Bad? Or good? What is it?" 

She proudly handed over a Hustler DVD that I had never seen before. My face blanched. Now, I am no prude--to each their own in the boudoir. But this disc was new to me. I was rendered speechless. I looked over at K, who looked as shocked as I felt. In the five years that we've been together, I've NEVER once seen him embarrassed. He is generally cool as a cucumber, calm in every situation, dryly sarcastic. But there was nothing funny about this situation.

"My son popped in the disc to play the game, and luckily we caught it in time!" She said, in good humor. "Kids these days, you never know what they know about! Did you know there's even a thing called PONY PORN?" 

Still speechless, I pushed my glass of beer behind the box of unsold books, in an effort to appear somewhat responsible. I shook my head silently. 

"Well I just had to come over and tell you guys--good thing it was US, and not somebody else!" She walked away, laughing, and we did our best to join in her amusement. When she was gone, we just looked at each other. I asked K where it had come from, and he said he had no idea. Which I believe, because if we had known we'd had it, we would have watched it. I mean... it was from the 80s! Fun for the whole family. But alas, K had snapped the disk in half in a show of defiance and pride. 

Which lead me to my current position in the produce aisle, in the ONE grocery store in town, hiding behind the navel oranges, gazing longingly for the tofu that would have to wait for another shopping trip. I'm sure he saw me, but I couldn't even bring myself to give a courtesy wave. 

I guess what they say is true... be careful what you do in a small town. There's no escape, everyone knows everyone and everyTHING. We've been working SO hard for the last four years to gain some street cred in a town where people have lived their entire lives. I guess we gained more than we anticipated. 

I may have to invest in a nose-and-glasses disguise. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rotting Eggs

I sat on the table this morning, paper rustling beneath me, awaiting the doctor with my hands clasped in my lap. My hands were clammy, and my heart was beating quickly. 

It was time I faced what I had been fearing so intently for the past year. The reason my eyes well up when I realize that I'm turning 30 in five months: I'm afraid that I'm running out of time to have children. 

I didn't even know I wanted them, to be honest. It wasn't until I realized that all of my friends are getting married and having babies that I really started to look at my own life and think about what I wanted. 

K and I have talked about getting married and having kids, quite seriously actually. But we're not ready YET. 

But here I was, having to ask the question that I feared getting the answer to: how long do I have left? 

She answered me with a straight face, while I fidgeted and avoided eye contact. Many women are having children from 35 into their forties these days, she told me. You have plenty of time. And while 35 is considered a high risk pregnancy, it basically just means you have to go in for more tests than younger women.

My shoulders sank as I breathed a huge sigh of relief. All of the fears that I had built up over the past year left my body, as I realized that I still could have everything that I wanted: my career, a wedding, and to plan my family with K when WE are ready, not based on some biological clock race. Because eff that shiz. We have plenty of time to embrace growing up, but today? Today is Friday, and I have a 12-pack of Shipyard Pumpkinhead to drink while we watch the series finale of Boston Legal on Netflix.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Keg Kicker

We kicked the keg in a day and a half. Drinking out of solo cups in sweatshirts and rain-soaked shoes. We played Cards Against Humanity until 1am and got a nice visit from the (very cute) forest ranger, who politely asked us to quiet down. 

We got 5 complaints from neighboring campsites, sang Mariah Carey songs at the top of our lungs, and found out the sex of our soon-to-be godchildren (twins!) 

It was the best weekend ever. And it reminded me that I've been taking everything WAY too seriously lately. I may be almost thirty, but we can still have fun. And act like high school kids. And eat s'mores for breakfast.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Conversation

We went on vacation to Montana last week, for the wedding of one of my best friends. It was the last wedding we have in the lineup for awhile, which, to be honest is a bit of a relief. 

The wedding was incredibly beautiful; we had such an awesome time with all of my high school friends. Then we drove up to Glacier for the remainder of the week, just the two of us. It was incredibly therapeutic taking an entire week for just the two of us. We didn't turn on the radio once for the 3.5 hour drive up to Glacier. Just took photos out the window, talked about life, and absorbed the amazing scenery. 

On our last night, we had a serious talk. It involved many beers and some crying, unsurprisingly. I've been afraid to talk, in all honesty. I thought by being honest about my feelings on marriage and the timeline I have in my head, I'd freak him out. I was afraid to put extra pressure on him and make him stress out. But it turns out, we're not so far off base as I thought. And he is just as excited as I am to get married. Possibly more so, because it seems he already has the shoes for the groomsmen picked out. Really, it comes down to money. We just need to save for a wedding, now. Because 1) we live in New York where everything is "spendy". And 2) we're old, and are planning on paying for the entire thing ourselves.

But it reminded me how important it is to have honest conversations. And how much it reconnects you. I was so terrified to bring up anything wedding-related, and I wound up driving myself into a depression over assumptions. That he wasn't ready. That he was scared. That he felt pressured. That I would be too old to have babies, by the time we got married. Turns out, I was wrong. And I really should have just asked in the first place. I guess I was just scared. Terrified, really.

On our first day back to work after vacation, I was gathering my multiple bags, lunch, and coffee and struggling to close the door on my way to the car. K grabbed my laptop bag and asked what else he could take. He said he sees me every day trying to take everything at once, and just wanted to help. He was already running late, just as I was, which made the gesture all the more special. I think, in the midst of my downward spiral, I forgot to be thankful for everything I have. God, I love that guy. 

Now excuse me while I continue to post on my secret wedding Pinterest board...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Salon Date

Going to the salon is about more than just getting your nails and hair done. It's paying for an hour to spend with a stranger who asks you about YOU. They know you, and your life story, if you go often enough. And sometimes, you feel like they really care. 

And so, on Tuesday, after getting the news that my regular stylist had quit, I found myself in the black leather spinning chair in front of a stranger. Cape tied around my neck, hair parted in the middle and dripping wet, I stared at my blind date--the one wielding the scissors--and tried to read her. She was young, a few years younger than me, a long, thick braid down her back. We started with banal, meaningless conversation, but quickly diverted into serious life-talk. We have similar life situations. I've been with K for 4 years now, she's been with her boyfriend for 3. Both of us want to get married. Both of us want kids, (she has a 14 month old, but advised me to wait until we were really, REALLY ready. Which I took very seriously, since the girl clearly knows what she's talking about.) I opened up about my third-life crisis, and found myself pouring my heart out to the stranger cutting my hair. It felt like a real connection. And when I left, I found myself as excited to make this new friend as I would have been in my dating days to meet a new boyfriend. We were kindred spirits, she and I.

On Thursday, I got my nails done (I'm not usually this diligent about my salon visits, but we're heading to a wedding next weekend). And though I had met this girl before, my visit felt different. Again, we started with nonsense conversation, and gradually diverged into life stories, her painful divorce, dealing with being far from parents, and having to call your partner "boyfriend" at 44 and 29, respectively, though it feels like an inadequate term. We sat talking long after my session ended (I was her last client of the day). When I finally got up to leave, I felt such a high from an honest human connection that I could have cried. 

There is just something to be said about being able to sit across from someone and talk about your life in an open, honest way. It makes you feel like everything in your life is meant to be, and that you're not alone, no matter what it is you're going through. I guess I've just been in dire need to spill my heart out to someone, and though I was paying these two ladies for services, I came away feeling like I had attended a therapy session. 

Going to the salon is about more than beauty treatments. It's about human connection. And sometimes, when you're feeling sad or lonely, just having someone pay attention to you can mean the world. It's all starting to piece back together for me, bit by bit. I can feel myself coming back to life. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beer pong to baby bottles

On Saturday, I stood in the middle of the backyard, watching my friends chase tiny humans around the swingset, down the slide. Five years ago, this same group of people and I played rowdy games of beer pong, discussed drama, and drank until we couldn't stand up. 

Now, at my favorite little 4-year-old cousin's birthday party, I smiled as I realized how surreal it was to instead see all of these former keg stand champions with tiny versions of themselves, holding baby bottles instead of beer bottles. 

As painful as it is sometimes for me to be around babies, I can't seem to get enough lately. Five years ago, I would have rather been playing flip cup. Saturday, I delighted in feeding my new little buddy baby Cheetos (that tasted alarmingly like grown-up Cheetos) and marveling over his tiny polo shirt. 

Standing around the buffet, I gracefully dodged inquiries as to why I did not as of yet have a ring on my left finger, with abstract jokes and forced laughter. It's getting harder to joke about. 

I responsibly drank Coke instead of beer, so I could drive, and helped put tiny water guns into gift bags for the kids to take home. 

And as I knelt on the floor of my cousin's bedroom and helped my favorite little 4-year-old into her purple princess bathing suit, I smiled and mulled over how crazy life can be. How you slowly but surely find yourself growing up and getting used to the idea of marriage and babies. One day you're sloshing beer around a frat party, and the next, you're watching your friends chase tiny versions of themselves around. How funny, beautiful, sometimes painful, and seemingly natural this evolution of life can be.