How do you spend the majority of your free time?

Right now, at this very second in time, I am at the bottom of a dog pile. Batman, my four-year old dachshund and constant companion, is in his spot of choice, which is nestled in the nook of my knee. Starsky, our rescued baby, who has not been with us a full year yet, is on my feet. We are on the couch in our basement. This couch was one of the few pieces of furniture that I picked out myself – everything else my husband purchased prior to our wedding. In fact, we have another sofa that he chose in the same room – a sixties-style orange affair with low, square arms – that was our only sofa for two years. Then our basement flooded, we got an insurance pay-out, and Momma went shopping for something comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to have good taste, but I also like something comfortable and easy to live in. This is why I like jeggings, messenger-bags, and those hair tie things that can pass as jewelry if you squint a bit. So when I went shopping, comfort was my primary objectives, after all – I told myself – we spend a lot of time on the sofa.

This is an unfortunate fact of my life: the long evenings on the sofa. And not in some newly-wedded “sofa time” kind of way. I’m a two-blanket, yoga-pants, cup of tea kind of sofa girl. I find the sofa is a place where I can really relax. Partly because of the reassuring coolness of our basement, partly because it’s close to a lot of my reminders of home (artwork, books, the leather club chair my mum bought me), and partly because I feel tucked away here.

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Starksy and I chillaxing on the couch

For the last few years I have spent a lot of time having to work in the evenings, being enslaved to a job that kept expecting more and more hours. I broke that routine (see pretty much all of my blog posts from july to November of last year) finally, but not before I sustained a massive knee injury running a half-marathon and spent the majority of my summer having to elevate one of my legs. If that wasn’t reason enough to claim the sofa as my primary residence, I also have several minor but chronic pain syndromes, and find an unordinary amount of comfort in a hot water bottle on whichever bit of me is in pain.

Yes, I know I sound lazy, but the honest truth is that I’m actually not. Naturally, I’m an active person, but I have found I am the type of person that attracts injury and illness. Therefore, right now, in my late twenties, I find myself steadily working towards the sofa each day. Of course, there are days when I don’t have any sofa time at all – days when my knees or back and stomach doesn’t hurt and I can walk the dogs, or days when I don’t find myself reaching for the work laptop (a habit that is no longer necessary, but still hard to break), and those days are good too. But I would say that, at least for the last few years, the sofa has been my sanctuary from stress, from homesickness, and from injury. And because I spend most of my time stressed, homesick, or injured, it’s become a “go-to” place for me.

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Getting loves from my Batman!!

And don’t think I spend all my time watching TV (although I am partial to Netflix): I read books, work on my novels, skype with my family, and read world news from my spot stretched our on the chaise. I know that one day, maybe soon, I am going to have to overcome some of the things that send me sofa-wards, and I’ll tackle those when I need to, but right now I am glad to have my (very large and very green) chenille sectional from Macys, my Wal-Mart heated blanket, and two very snuggly puppies.

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The husband joins in for sofa-fun!!

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Why must you love someone enough to let them go?

Oh sweet, dear blog, how totally adorable of you to think that I MUST do anythibg. You see, Internet, I have learner over the last ten months that there is nothing that I must do other than provide for, and care for, my beloved family.

For this reason I deem your question false. Nothing dictates that I absolutely must let my loved ones goes. I suppose I have always taken the expression to be aggressive : one forcing ones loves ones out due to some intrinsic belief that they will eventually be better off.

Tonight I lay awake half insomniac, half anxiety ridden fiend, listening to my lovely husbands breathing. Over the last few weeks I would have been a mess without him and his support ; a complete mess. As a result of this I take offence that I would assumedly “let him go “. I hate to be contrary but there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keel this man beside me right now…

What is the difference between falling in love and being in love?

Love is a difficult topic to write about. It’s hard because it’s nearly impossible to verbalize, and almost certainly different for every single person. Also, I personally feel that people that write about love as though they know what’s best sound conceited, self-important, and invariably detached from the reality of other people.

That being said, several questions on this list revolve around the topic of love, and so it is time to tackle the topic head on. And so I am writing with an obvious focus on what is true for my life, my marriage, and the limited knowledge that I have of other people’s relationships.

Falling in love, for me, is infuriatingly easy. I am a product of the 1990’s, of the Richard Curtis generation of Romantic Comedies, and the generation where paupers become princesses. I also grew up knowing a great deal of love: love from my family, love from my friends, and love from the community that I grew up in. Love was a constant in my life, I never felt the absence of it, nor the need to seek it out. I also saw many young girls in my high school getting pregnant, but never really talk about “love”. Sex was the appeal in my high school class, not romance, but I always felt connected with the notion of recreating some epic, literature-worthy affair of the heart. I easily found out that teenage boys are easy to create romance around, they are blank canvases that allow themselves to become pictures of whatever we girls want them to be.

It’s easy to love as a teenager, because falling in love is about hope, and need, and fear. As an eighteen year old setting off for college I was full of hope and full of fear, I was also in need of comfort and security – so I took my high school boyfriend with me and he was my transition, and I his. Once we settled into a “new life” we gave each other up amicably: there was never any question about ever trying to retain anything past the hope and fear and need.

Fast forward ten years and I’m married – just past our four year anniversary – and I think that I fell in love with my husband for the same reasons as that first boyfriend: I was in a period of huge change, and he represented all of the hope, he calmed all of the fears, and he fulfilled all of my needs . He was a constant. In fact, the period of change that I was going through lasted several years, through our courtship, engagement, and marriage. I believe that however much we protested we were already “an old married couple”, we were still falling in love past our first anniversary.

In fact, in the years we have been married there have been periods when I have felt that we have fallen even more in love – we are currently going through one of those periods – and they all hinge around a trying time, a moment when one of us is scared, hopeful, or in need. I think that falling in love doesn’t happen once, I think that it happens cyclically, and that being in love is the quiet and patience between the “falling”, and the trust and faith that the cycle will repeat.

Of course, I have explained this theory to my friends in the past, and I don’t know that anyone has ever 100% agreed with me. I think my theory scares people as it suggests that marriage is only made strong through challenges – I know a lot of people feel as though the best marriages are a calm and tideless sea. Like I said – love is such a personal thing, and I have no business speaking on behalf of other people or trying to counsel them to my way of thinking. But for me, and for my marriage, I think that this is how I would define the difference between falling in love and being in love.

What are you Uncertain About?

Uncertainty: the birthright of my generation. I could probably start a list of the things that I’m uncertain about, and never finish it because I’m forever adding things. I’m generation Y – as in “why does everybody seem so calm, can’t they see the sky is falling?”. We’re neurotic. I blame the fact we we raised watching 90’s TV shows where everything was colorful and everyone got along – I’m currently watching Ally McBeal on Netflix – and then we graduated into this “real world” and, frankly, it terrifies us. We’re delicate and unprepared: I mean, did anyone ever get murdered on friends? Now every time I turn on the TV there’s someone dead in a dumpster and some gravelly voiced woman muttering terrible philosophies on life.

I digress from my point. Another hazard of our generation. Digression, procrastination, and confusion. My actual subject matter today is about children, and whether or not I want children, and all of the complexities that go along with it. As most people have gathered from my blog, my “babies” are my two dogs – I don’t have any of hairless, squawking kind. But I challenge any 27 year old married woman to deny the fact that no matter how resolved you are in every aspect of your life, if you don’t have children there is an unspoken judgement from the rest of the world.

I can hear people laughing – mainly men – stop it! My husband thinks I’m crazy. That’s because when people meet him for the first time the most in depth their conversation gets is “so what car do you drive”, or on very rare and intimate moments “seen any bands lately”. When I meet someone for the first time I am immediately “scanned”. I have developed this term to define the process in which a woman views another woman. Imagine the full body scanner that caused so much panic earlier this year (FYI – been through it and it’s not a big deal, I expected them to shower me off with radioactive waste or something), only this body scanner is done with one long gaze. These women scan you for wedding rings (check), baby weight (I could be confusing in that area) and diaper bags. My small leather clutch is a ten foot billboard declaring my lack of offspring. And then come the questions, normally posed in the following way: “how long have you been married?” “Oh really, and you don’t have children yet?” (I can feel the smugness radiating from their Sherlock Holmes like deduction of my attire). And then they wait for my response.

I used to shy away from answering these questions, or at least squirm uncomfortably in my shoes. Now I say “Well, we have two dogs that are our babies, I don’t know if we’ll have children”. And I promise that the unanimous response to this question is: “well, if you have dogs then you’ll have children eventually”. Like it’s a fact. Even when I wail that I’ll probably be a terrible mother (I have actually dropped a baby in my life), my friends console me with “no you won’t, look at how much you love your dogs”.

Yes, I love my dogs. I really love my dogs. I love my dogs almost too much – last night I actually slept without my required three pillows because Batman had nested on top of them and I didn’t want to wake him. But that doesn’t mean I’m mother material. I have run out in front of traffic for my dogs, I have extracted things from their bottoms, I have cleaned up literally gallons of hound-emissions. My dogs ate my favorite pair of shoes, and when I replaced them they ate the replacements, and I wasn’t even that angry. Yes, I dress them up in sweaters when it’s cold, and there may be special halloween outfits in our closet; and, yes, I let them sleep in the bed with me; and, yes, I carry them around in my arms and tell them I love them ALL of the time. This makes a crazy dog person, it’s doesn’t mean I am practicing at parenthood.

I love my dogs because they are dogs. They aren’t going to grow up and call me names and say they wished they’d never been born, or get some pregnant by some guy with a lip ring and a fake phone number. They’re definitely not going to run up a credit card bill, or get arrested trying to buy alcohol underage. I’m not going to have to endure seeing them start their own lives without me. I admire anyone that has the courage to bring another life into this world, and is strong enough to go through the rollercoaster of crazy that having children brings into your life. I especially admire people that are so certain of their decision at such a young age – but that’s not me.

The “children” debate is one that has been on the table for a long time, and I’m still not sure of the answer to it. Truthfully, I wish I had more clarity on the situation, so that I least I could start working towards that end goal, but I don’t. Some of my friends have advised me to force the issue and make a decision and try and “grow into it”, but I think it should be an organic thing.

So, other than questioning my hair color, my favorite food, the maximum justifiable amount to spend on shoes, and whether or not to paint my dining room, I would say this is the biggest uncertainty in my life at the moment. But one thing I’m certain of is this: getting asked if you’re “next” when someone get’s pregnant is actually kind of creepy – stop it, people, I’m more than a uterus. I also have really good hair.

So today I am going to tackle the following questions in one response: Are you holding onto something you need to let go of? When you are 80 years old, what will matter most to you? And, when is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards and just do what you know is right?

Well. I have been in the unique position of having to address all of these questions at one time on two separate occasions in my life. The first was making the decision to follow my heart and allow myself to be with the man that is now my husband, and the second occasion is my present day life.

The first time I had to weigh up these turmoils in my mind I had to wrestle the idea of having trans-atlantic relationship with a man I, realistically, didn’t know that well; leaving my family and my homeland; making myself employable and desirable in a foreign country; the impossible large idea (especially for a 20 year old) that this might be my biggest regret if I didn’t go for it, and maybe this person was the person for me. I was much more romantic back them, with my notions of soul mates and such. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good decision and I love the hubs, but nothing is ever as clear cut as a twenty-year-old literature lover can dream it to be.

And so now I’m on the flip side, faced with a familiar dilemma. I love Kansas City, I have friends here. I don’t love the crime, and I don’t love the distances between places, and I don’t love the work ethic. I don’t love the idea of raising children miles away from their only potential cousins, or in an environment where I’d have to hand them over to daycare at eight weeks. I’m not fortunate enough to afford the luxury of staying at home when the time comes. And, seven years later, I’ve never adjusted to being so far away from my home. So you see, dear internet, I’m in a predicament.

What do I do?

What I would like to do is pack up my husband and my hound and board a plane. Our friends have passports, they can travel. I don’t want to cause pain and upset to my inlaws my stealing their only son and, after all, these people have been my family for the last five years, I’d miss them too. But without them we have nothing here, and that’s the realization it has taken me years to reach.

I miss the sea. I don’t want to wake up at seventy years old and realise I’ve only seen the ocean a handful of times since I was in my twenties. I’m used to seeing it every day. I think it’s soulful – it’s a part of me.

I know all the arguments for staying, and all the arguments for going back to front and inside out. I know what my heart wants to do. Strangely, and probably something most people would doubt about me, I actuallywanted to come here and find it enough, and to be able to allow my husband to be the only thing that mattered to me. But I’m not a Victorian, my post-feminism, liberated backside has dreams and preferences and loves of it’s own, and signing them away with my marriage license didn’t happen.

And the hubs really isn’t set against moving; at least not most of the time. Really, he’s been very flexible in his opinions on subject, other than the occasional “Dammit, woman, I’m American and I need steak and beer every day” moment. His main fears are for his family.

This post isn’t really to seek answers to declare a resolution – I know that these questions are going to be conversations that we have for a LONG time – I just know it’s the only honest answer to these three questions, even if the answers aren’t really answers, but more questions.

Do you celebrate the things you do have?

Today I would like to make a list of the things I am grateful for:

1) The fact that, by some strange mercy, it was 64 degrees in Kansas City today. And sunny.

2) My husband, who is one of the kindest and funniest people that I know. Watching him chase my puppy around the house is a highlight of my life.

3) My puppy, Batman, who has taught me that I am a “Dog person”. No matter how bad my day, how sick I feel, or how loud I yell; he always follows me around with a happy face and a wagging tail. His love is unconditional.

4) My job. In this economy it is rare to have a job, let alone a job I enjoy as much as the one I have. I take an immense amount of pride in my work, and am thankful that I am in a career I want to be in.

5) My house. I’m fortunate to be able to afford a home, and all the luxuries that I really need or want. It’s easy to always want more in a country that puts so much emphasis on commodities; however, today I am thankful for what I already have.

6) My family. Even though I am so far away from them, I contact my family every day. I wish that I could be with them, but we are lucky to live in such a technological world where it is possible to be in constant contact with the people I love. I have always been close to them, and they are my constant companions on everything that I do.

7) My friends. I love my friends, both on this side of the world and the other. Today I was able to talk to my oldest friend; Donna and I have been friends since we were three, and I was blessed enough to be maid of honour at her wedding. This afternoon we skyped for the first time, I was able to show her my house, my dog, my new haircut. It didn’t feel as though we were 3000 miles and 6 hours apart. I am thankful for her.

8) My lucky number is 8. I am thankful for knowing my own mind, and for being strong enough to live the life I want to lead. At the end of all things, the most important thing I have is my own mind and my own personality.