Salem: Part Three

As of recently, I have been experiencing an internal dilemma that I had never really felt before. The idea of being codependent and not being my own person has always been a fear of mine, but I started wondering why I stopped doing things that I have always wanted to do. I realized that if I didn’t have someone to experience certain things with then it wouldn’t be worth experiencing, and that is when I came to the conclusion that I was giving myself an injustice. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to go somewhere or do something but my husband or my best friend didn’t want to experience it with me, so I would just drop it and move on. Suddenly I realized that I have been unaware and oblivious to the fact that one of my biggest fears was coming true. I was allowing others to be in control of my happiness, and that left a pit in my stomach and soul. 

I need to come clean about something. For years I have been allowing my fear and my 

comfortability control what I do with my life. It started when I lived in Dallas. I was virtually alone the majority of the time, and I became used to that feeling. The only time I would ever leave my apartment was for work or doctor appointments, and it became so bad that the idea of going grocery shopping alone would give me an anxiety attack. Even if I needed something I would purposely try to hold off going to get it until the weekend so that my husband could go with me. I don’t think I was approaching agoraphobia or anything, I just think that I had severe social anxiety and it prevented me from doing anything alone. I still have issues with that, but it is not nearly as bad as it once had been. 

My mindset was preventing me from living the life that I so desperately desired. Doing things on my own was never really something that I accepted as a possibility. So for all this time when I could have been doing things to give my life purpose, I just have been easily dropping them when others didn’t want to do them with me. Thinking about that mindset now actually makes me kind of sick to my stomach. How could I have ever been so reliant on other people for experiences or happiness? How could I have ever thought that that was normal or okay? 

All it took was one moment for my mind to switch. It was just one teeny-tiny little moment where I thought: “What the fuck am I doing?” That singular moment in time is the moment that is responsible for changing my life. I realized that I was no longer going to accept that I can only follow through with my dreams and goals if I had someone by my side. I have said this before and I will continue to say it, I am now at a point in my life where I will no longer be placing my well-being in the hands of others. Just because I am in a marriage doesn’t mean that I am living our life. No. I am living my life and he just happens to be a great part of that. Even when it comes to my best friend. I love doing things with her, but there are things that I want to do that she doesn’t and vice versa. I will always want to experience and go through things with both my husband and my best friend, but there comes a time where you stop caring if others want to do things with you. And that time has come. I am open and ready to start living my life the way that I want to live it. I am going to do things even if others don’t want to do them or if they don’t understand them. Living your life with people can be great, but living your life for you is exhilarating. And that is one of the first lessons that Salem has taught me. 

When I had that moment of clarity I didn’t just want to think about it. I wanted to live it. I wanted to dive in and I wanted to dive deep. I wanted to push myself to test what I was capable of. Something that I always talk about is traveling, but I have never been in the financial position to be able to do it. Plus, all of the places that I wanted to experience my husband didn’t, so that put a damper on things. With that being said, things have changed. I have some money now, not a lot but enough for a small trip. And I no longer care if my husband wants to do something with me or not. If something is possible for me to do then I am going to do it. So I thought what better way to push myself than going on a trip, somewhat far away, alone, to a place that I have always wanted to go to that nobody else I knew would be interested in. That’s where Salem came into play. 

Although I wasn’t going to be in Salem for long, I still wanted to make sure that it would be okay with my husband. If I am going to be honest, I already knew that despite what he said that I was going to go, but I also wanted to have that respect for him and let him know what I was thinking. He was okay with me going, which made me happy, so I booked my ticket and hotel and planned my little heart away like the type a personality that I am. 

I am not going to lie to you guys. I was super excited all the way up to the morning of my departure. Then when my stepdad picked me up to take me to the airport I started feeling doubt. I was worried about leaving my furbabies and leaving my husband and all of that fun stuff. Luckily, that worry was short-lived. The moment I felt the plane take off all of my excitement and eagerness came rushing back, and I was so ready for this adventure. When I landed in Boston and made my way to Salem my mind was in a whirlwind. I just couldn’t believe that I actually did this. I couldn’t believe that I actually traveled to a place that I have never been to before by myself. Then that disbelief turned into something that I very rarely feel about myself. I became proud of myself and this step that I had taken. I don’t really feel like anyone should have to justify why they might be proud of something that they have accomplished whether it is a big or small thing. Accomplishing any sort of dream or goal is something one should feel pride in. So I feel like some people might think “You went on a trip by yourself. Big whoop.” But for me, this was huge. The only time that I have ever traveled alone was when I would go back and forth from Dallas to Chicago, and even then I still did stuff with people every day. With Salem, I was in charge of making all of my own decisions, getting to the places that I wanted to see, feeding myself, etc. Everything was all on me. At first, I thought that the notion of me being solely responsible for myself would be terrifying, but it was actually the complete opposite. 

I have never felt more liberated in my entire life. Being completely on my own gave me a sense of freedom and happiness that I never have experienced before. Every moment was intoxicating, and I craved it. I woke up each morning eager for the day to begin, and that is something that I don’t really ever feel. It is such a crazy feeling that not too long ago I couldn’t even go to Target alone without experiencing severe anxiety, and now here I was all alone on the other side of the country. I was talking with strangers and making new friends. I was appreciating the history and background of the beautiful city that I was in. I was self-reflecting and figuring out what self-love really meant. I truly was thriving. I was able to get to know someone a lot better. Someone who I have known for twenty-six years. Me. 

When you put yourself in a small bubble of what you think you are capable of you are doing the worst thing possible for yourself. Because of my assumptions about myself I have missed out on so much living. I have bypassed opportunities and possibilities that would have given me purpose and brought me joy. It is sad to me to know that the feeling that I felt in Salem could have been a feeling that I have felt all along, but I have decided that instead of dwelling on what could have been I am going to focus on what I am going to do about it.

I am going to make a list for myself, and I want to do everything possible to make these things happen. Salem was a dream of mine for so long and I was able to do that, so the way that I see it is that Salem was just the tip of the iceberg for me. I have realized that I am self-sufficient and capable of being the person that I want to be, and I am going to do everything in my power to continue this path of independence.

It is funny how when you have a significant other you think you have to live your life with them. I thought that for so long, and it couldn’t be farther away from the truth. I have figured out that I have dreams and goals for my marriage, but more importantly, I have them for myself. And to me, it is more important to accomplish your own individual goals and dreams rather than the ones that you share with your partner. I know that that might sound selfish, but if you think about it, is it really? If you are longing to do things for yourself that your partner doesn’t want to do then you most likely will expect to see good ole’ Uncle Resentment knocking on your door, and everyone knows we try to avoid him as much as possible. I don’t want to look at my husband one day with hatred because I never was able to live my life the way that I wanted to. What kind of partner can I be to him if I was unhappy with my life and my choices? I feel like in order to be a good enough partner to him I need to be good to myself. So I regret to inform my loved ones, including my husband, that they have all been pushed down on my priority list because I have finally placed myself at the top. 

I do have one bit of bad news that has resulted from my first ever solo trip. As much clarity as I have found, I have also found equal amounts of confusion. I am questioning if I made the right decision by getting married and being in a committed relationship so young. I went from living with my parents to living with my husband, and I never had that alone time to really learn about myself. I went from relying on my family to relying on my husband, and I never learned that I am capable of being on my own. I feel like I am needing more time for self-discovery. I am yearning for it. I miss Salem, but I miss my alone time more. This scares my husband. He thinks that I have one foot out the door. But this is not what this is. I am leaving. But I am not leaving him. I am leaving the old version of me. I am leaving that girl that was scared and dependant on others. I am leaving the girl who easily gave up on her goals and dreams. I am leaving the girl who put literally everyone else’s happiness before her own. I feel reinvented. I feel like for once in my life I am in charge of myself. I feel incredible. One of my biggest takeaways from Salem is that I can take care of myself both emotionally and physically. I can live a life alone and still feel tremendously happy and fulfilled. I don’t need my husband, my best friend or my family. If everyone was out of my life I would be fine. 

That statement is not a bad thing. I have learned that the people who are in your life shouldn’t be in your life because you need them. They should be there because you want them there. And believe me when I say, I want them all to still have a part in my life because they do bring me so much joy. But it is refreshing to know that I don’t need others to still have a beautiful and magical life. I am capable of providing that for myself. And I have never felt so empowered.

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Personal Boundaries

I have this tendency to love with everything that I have. When I genuinely and sincerely care about someone I will halt my life if they need me, I will make sure that they feel fully supported by me, and I will do anything within my power to help them smile and enjoy their life. When I love I love hard, and that has never been an issue for me until recently. 

I am starting to come to terms with a new life lesson that I am still trying to learn. As much as you might care about someone, there always is that chance that they really don’t care about you at all. And that, my friends, can be difficult to accept. 

I consider myself to be an intelligent being. I consider myself to be very intuitive, and I also feel like I could be considered empathetic. Although I don’t crave a lot of relationships with others, these traits allow me to still be good with other people. I can sit there and listen for hours to someone venting and seeking out advice, I can be a shoulder to cry on when someone is seeking out sympathy, and I can usually understand why someone may feel a certain way. I am just really good with people which is incredibly ironic since I am such an introvert at heart. The thing that I don’t understand about myself is that there are a select couple of people in my life that I am willing to do anything for even though I know that they really want nothing to do with me. Well, let’s clarify that. They don’t want anything to do with me unless it is convenient for them. And I have known this for a very, very, VERY long time, but I still hold on to that hope that one day our relationship could evolve into something that I have wanted it to be. So I keep being there for these people, I keep giving them everything that I have to ensure that they know that they matter to me, and each time that happens I am met with the same feeling that I always feel at the end: disappointment. 

Albert Einstein may have had a point with this one. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

I hate myself for this. I am a smart person, and I know that each time I am there for these people nothing will come from it, and yet I still have this need for it to be the way I have always envisioned it to be. I have always wanted a solid friendship, I have wanted trust and that feeling where I could go to them for anything. I have just wanted a friend. I have started to become resentful, which is dumb because I was the one who set myself up for disappointment. I have shown these people that they could take advantage of me because no matter what I will always be there for them in the end. They know that they don’t have to inquire about me because I will always be there for them in the end. They know that they can ask me for literally anything and I will give it to them in the end. I have taught them that. My grasp on hope for this relationship took over my common sense and my intelligence, and now I am left looking like the village fool. 

So what now? Do I keep repeating this cycle? I have spoken to my therapist multiple times about this issue and we have come up with a new challenge for myself: setting up my personal boundaries. I can still care about these people, but I am no longer going to go out of my way to be there for them. I have learned that letting go of the relationship that I have wanted for so long is not an actual loss because it never existed to begin with. If they call me because they need help with something I am allowed to say no. I can say no to whatever I want because at the end of the day they want nothing to do with me unless they need me, and that isn’t a relationship, that is one person allowing another person to take advantage of them. 

Having hope can be a beautiful thing, but holding on to hope when you know nothing will ever change can be incredibly damaging. You are allowed to have boundaries, so don’t let anyone, whether it is yourself or others, tell you otherwise.

Friendships

Do you find your self worth by the number of people who are actively involved in your life? Does the number of phone numbers in your contact list define how likable you are? I used to question this frequently, but the more I have grown as a person, the more I have realized it isn’t about the amount of people I have in my life but how special my relationships are with the people that I value. 

I have never been one to have a lot of friendships. I wouldn’t say that I am necessarily a “loner,” but I do think I enjoy solitude more than the average person. I have this tendency of feeling overwhelmed when I am with people for a large amount of time, to the point where I almost feel suffocated. I find it incredibly uncomfortable and awkward to try to maintain conversations with people who I don’t know well or strangers, or even family members who I don’t have a relationship with. I know this is going to sound terrible, but I also find it anxiety inducing and off putting when people start asking me personal questions. I have recently been informed that I come across as cold to people who I don’t see very often, and although I was slightly insulted at first, after some self-reflection I have realized that that is true. I have put myself in an internal barricade that prevents others from getting in, and boy is it industrial strength.

With that being said, there are a handful of people who I cherish with every ounce of my being. Caille, my best friend, is someone who will always be a significant part of my life. We have been close for well over a decade, and I truly feel like we will be best friends until we are grey-haired sassy old ladies just counting down the days until our eventual death. She knows every little thing about me, including the number of times I defecate in a day, and I have never felt so close to anyone in my entire life. (Other than Stephen of course.) Joel is another really good friend of mine, and he is also Caille’s fiance. I have known Joel for eight years and I am so grateful that he and Caille are together because they both bring each other so much happiness. Joel is incredibly funny, logical, and I love our debates and talks. I also can fart in front of him which brings me a lot of bliss. Then of course there is Stephen, my husband, who I love so incredibly much. Stephen is my partner, my absolute best friend, and the love of my life. We laugh so hard together, we tackle hardships together, we stare in awe at our animals together, and life is just good when I am living it with him.

My friendship “group” is minute, but words cannot describe how fulfilled I am. Caille, Joel, and Stephen all bring different things into my life that fill my heart with joy. When I think about the people in my life I am able to sigh with relief because I truly don’t know what I did in my past life to deserve the friendships that I have. With how amazing these people are I have a slight suspicion that I saved a town or even a city from destruction. If you can sit back and reflect on the relationships that you have and feel like you don’t need anything else from anyone, then you know that you are fulfilled. That is how I feel. I love my family, I love and cherish my friends, and I don’t feel lonely. All the love that I could ever need is being given to me every day, and for that I am grateful. 

Now just because I am happy and fulfilled by the few people that are in my life doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek out a large amount of acquaintances or friendships, but what I think is important is to figure out who lifts you up, who you can trust, who is genuine, because those are the people that bring value and light into your life. Friendships with people who don’t value you as much as you value them should be given a second thought, because at the end of the day we involve people in our lives who have a huge impact on us and I would rather beam with joy than sulk in sadness. 

Just remember: quality over quantity.

Mema

Grandmas are the gift that we are given at birth for whenever we want to feel true love and happiness. Some of my fondest and most treasured memories are the ones that involve my grandma, Mema, and those memories are the ones that I turn to the most.

Mema is a one of a kind woman. Her heart holds no darkness, her smile is contagious, and if you feel like your soul is riddled sadness, her hug will make that feeling disappear within seconds. I don’t recall much negativity ever leaving her mouth, and she always knew how to turn a negative situation into a positive one. She is the one that you go to for guidance, because she is one of the wisest human beings that I have ever known.

Mema has been a huge part of my life since the very beginning. I remember constantly being with her and my grandpa, Pepa, when I was younger, and every moment that I was with them became my new favorite moment. I have a few cousins and a brother who are around that same age as me, and the nights that we would spend with Mema and Pepa were always so much fun. We ran around the house having the time of our lives, we painted gourds and made birdhouses out of them, we played dress-up, and we played in the kiddy pool. Memas house was a house of joy, but joy doesn’t come from the things that are there or the activities that you are partaking in. It comes from the people who are around you.

As I have stated in the past, I grew up in northern Illinois, about a hour and a half outside of Chicago. My most favorite season has always been fall, and in northern Illinois, our falls are breathtaking. The colors of the leaves, the crisp fresh air, and the smells always sent my senses straight up into cloud nine. Fall was also a season where a lot of work had to be done to maintain the yard. My grandparents old home was on an acre or so of land, and when the leaves would fall from the trees we would have to gather them all. My Pepa would drag an old kiddy pool around, and we would rake all of the fallen leaves into the pool. After we collected the leaves, we would pile them high next to a fire pit. The pile of leaves was always so much fun. Mema and I would jump and play in the leaves for what seemed like hours, all before the leaves met their fate in the fire pit. Some of the leaves would be lucky enough to survive the harsh fires of the pit, and they would be chosen to go into the pumpkin bags. Now the pumpkin bags were only used before Halloween, and they were so cute. The bags were these large, orange bags with pumpkin faces on them, and when you filled them with leaves they looked like giant pumpkins. When Mema would get those bags out, it truly felt like fall had arrived. Playing in the leaves was always so much fun, and I can’t wait to have kids so I can recreate that memory for them.

Mema and I

Mema and I have always had a really close bond. When my parents divorced, my brother and I stayed with my grandparents and dad every Friday and every other weekend. When my parents first separated, I was in second grade, and my Mema was such a comfort to me. Every night that I was with them I would sleep next to Mema, and every night she would comfort me to sleep. She would rub my back, rub my tummy, read me story after story, make up stories for me, and teach me all about my genealogy. The stories that Mema would tell me about who we are and where our ancestors came from always fascinated me, and no matter how many times I asked about it, she would tell me with a smile on her face. That is the thing about Mema. She is willing to do anything and everything for anyone, and you never feel like a burden. I always knew I was going to have a good nights rest when I was with Mema.

Mema always knew how to keep us busy. Whenever we asked to go walk around a store she would take us, she taught us how to garden, she helped us learn how to read, she taught me how to wrap gifts, and she taught me how to cook and bake. Mema and I would often take long walks around our neighbor, and during those walks we would talk non-stop. I remember some days she would let me do her make-up, which I would even take seriously sometimes. In the summertime, she would take us swimming at either the pool or the quarry, or we would go to a nature preserve to try to catch frogs. Sometimes, she would set up a tent in the backyard, and we would all sleep outside. Those nights were always such a treat. Mema and Pepas house was always a house filled with fun, adventure, laughter, and love.

After a while of living with Mema and Pepa, my dad bought a house and we moved out. I was excited about this new adventure, but I also didn’t want to leave my Mema and Pepa. After a while it felt normal to not live in their home anymore, but I still missed living in their house. As I got older I became busier, and I saw them less and less. As a teenager, I wasn’t too focused on spending copious amounts of time with my family. I was focused on hanging out with friends and with Stephen, and it is something that I regret. It is something that I especially regret now that I live one thousand miles away from them. I wish I saw them more when I still lived at home, because there are days now where all I want is a hug from my grandma.

I am grateful for many things, but one of the things that I am mostly grateful for is my relationship with my Mema. Even now when we talk on the phone it brings me back to when I was a child and when we would talk for hours. If I could be a woman like her I would consider myself to be lucky. I admire her, I love her, and she is one hell of a woman.

Thank you for my childhood, Mema. I hope you understand the impact that you made on me. I love you.

Marriage- Part Two

When you are in a committed relationship, you are constantly learning how to compromise. Although Stephen and I have been together for a decent amount of time, we still have to work at our relationship every day. There are things that he does that bother me, and there are things that I do that bother him, so learning how to find that balance can be a little bit of work.

One of the things that we are constantly trying to work on is communication. I grew up in a family where we always spoke up about our feelings. My family is very touchy feely, and we really don’t have any boundaries. My family knows mostly everything about me, because I don’t really find it  necessary to keep anything from them. Stephen grew up a little differently than I did. It was actually pretty comical when he met my family because he was kind of taken aback by how talkative they all were. Stephen said that when he was growing up nobody really talked about feelings or opened up about much, so when it comes to communication we come from two different backgrounds. Because we grew up differently in that aspect, it has definitely made an impact on our relationship. Anytime I do something that annoys Stephen he is always reluctant to bring it up, but the thing that I am slowly trying to get him to realize is bottling up things like that is not healthy. Eventually he could start to resent me, and it will ruin our relationship. I want him to have open communication with me so that we can work on the tiny issues so that they don’t become big issues, and luckily he is starting to feel more comfortable with that. Expressing emotion doesn’t make you a weak person. A part of humanity is feeling things, and in my opinion, it is better to talk about what is on your mind rather than letting things stew.

Another thing that I want to talk about is sex. To me, sex is so important for a relationship because it brings that added connection. Sometimes in a relationship, one partner may have a higher sex drive than the other partner and that can cause an issue within the relationship. Other issues that come with life such as finances, family issues, and stress can also affect your sex life, but it is still important to try to make time for each other for that activity. Stephen and I have had talks about what we both need from our sex life, and when we have had those talks we not only worked on our sex life but also our communication. After we had those talks we understood each other better, and it allowed us to work on that aspect of our relationship.

Like I have talked about in the past, Stephen is a very calm and laid back person. He would be perfectly content with staying home and just chilling on off days, whereas I am always looking for an adventure. I don’t mind staying home for the most part, but there are times where we will be sitting on the couch and I am bored out of my mind. We usually end up doing something fun at least once a month, and I feel like that is a good compromise for the both of us. I still get to do something different with the person that I love, and Stephen can still have his free weekends to do whatever he pleases. We absolutely love going for walks. We have found one trail in particular that we tend to gravitate to, and it feels great to get out and just enjoy being outside. We also are always looking for activities to get us out of the apartment. We usually go to the Dallas Arboretum and the Dallas Zoo four or five times a year, but we recently found out that the Fort Worth Arboretum has a free admission, so we have taken advantage of that. We go to malls and walk around, and somehow we always end up browsing the aisles at Target. Just getting out and doing something together always boosts our mood.

Something that I have had to put a lot of effort in is talking to Stephen in a respectful manner when he does something to make me angry. I used to yell, I used to name call, and I would let my anger take over me. What used to upset me is how we both handle our anger. I am the type of person that pretty much knows what I am going to say and how I am going to say it immediately, but Stephen needs a little bit of time to process what he had just heard. I used to find that annoying because I would want a response right away from him, but I have learned to give him a minute or so to figure out how he wants to respond. I used to take the time that he needed to process as a gesture that he didn’t care about what I was feeling or what I had to say, but in reality he didn’t know how to respond. The longer you are with someone, the more you can learn about who they are as a person, and you can make adjustments that will be better for both of you. Now when Stephen and I have arguments, I can better control my anger to get my point across better, and it allows Stephen to have better responses so I know that I am being heard.

Marriage isn’t all fun and games. When you are combining two lives from different backgrounds, sacrifices are going to have to be made from both parties. Even though you may not always be happy with the compromises and adjustments that you have had to make with your significant other, it always ends up being worth it because you create your own beautiful life together. When I look back at my life with Stephen, we both have helped transform each other into better people, and I have come to love Stephen for all that he is, because he is pretty fucking incredible.

Furbabies

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is because I am a furmommy to three beautiful furbabies. When Stephen and I first moved into our apartment, Stephen was working third shift. So he would work from eleven at night until about eight in the morning, then he would come home and sleep until five or six. For a solid few months he had to work mandatory overtime, so he would work every single day. I was appreciative of how hard he was working, but I was lonely. I don’t really have any friends in Texas, so I spent most of my waking hours by myself. Stephen and I always talked about how we wanted to adopt a dog as soon as possible after we moved into our own place, but the fact that I felt so alone made us decide that we wanted to adopt even quicker than we had originally planned.

We spent a good month going to different shelters and adoption events looking for a dog that we had a connection with, and even though we thought that all of the dogs that we saw were adorable, we didn’t feel that instant draw. One day we saw a puppy at a shelter down the road that was as cute as could be. She was a pit-bull mix, and she still had her puppy personality. She was so happy and playful, and showered us with affection and kisses. We spent about a hour playing with her, and although I felt that connection, Stephen did not. The dog that we were going to adopt was going to be primarily for me, but it was important for both of us to feel that draw. I was crushed. In that hour that we spent with her I already felt close to her, but I knew that we had to move on. That night I was looking into more shelters near us when I came across a no kill shelter. I was looked at their list of adoptable dogs and begged Stephen for us to go the following morning. We had a couple of dogs that we had picked out from when we were looking online, and we were so excited to meet them all. When we got there, they pulled up the application that I had filled out the night before, and set us up with someone who would help us see a dog if we found one that we were interested in. She then explained to us where all of the dogs were, and then we were off. The first room that we looked at was the medium dog room. All of the dogs looked surprisingly happy and content, and we wanted to adopt them all. We found most of the dogs that we had wanted to see, but then we came across a dog that wasn’t online. Her name was Angel, and she was a Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix. She was one year and two months old, and she was gorgeous. She was shy, but she was still intrigued by Stephen and I. She kept smelling us and attempted to get closer to us, and I think instantly we both knew that she was going to be the one.

We decided that we were going to look at the small dog room as well as the big dog room, and although all of the dogs were adorable, we still had Angel on our minds. After we were done looking at all of the dogs, we told the lady that was helping us that we wanted to spend quality time with Angel. So they took her out of her kennel and put her on a leash, and off we went. We went to the back of the shelter where they had a beautiful trail as well as blocked off sections for play time. First we took her for a walk, then we went to a play section. When we were in the play section was when I officially knew that she was going to come home with us. She had a playful yet calm temperament, she was already being affectionate, and she was a really good listener. So we told the lady that we wanted to adopt her, and that was when we found out that Angel had actually just arrived at the shelter from Houston the night before. Apparently everyone who worked there all said that Angel was going to be adopted quick, and they were all sad to see her go. I guess this is one of those instances where “everything happens for a reason” becomes a true cliche. The day before when I felt that connection with the puppy and Stephen didn’t it actually worked out because Angel was on her way to us at the very same second. We knew the whole time that Angel was not going to stay her name, so while we filled out the adoption paperwork Angel became Luna. The day of Lunas adoption is still one of my favorite days in the world, and every day my love for her grows.

We adopted Luna in March of 2016, and by November 2016 we knew we wanted another furbaby. This time though it wasn’t going to be a dog, it was going to be a cat. So we knew that we wanted to adopt a kitten, but the issue was that in December we were going to go back up to Chicago to have our wedding reception with our friends and family. So we didn’t want to have a newly adopted kitten that we would have to board in Dallas while we went back home for a week. So we called the no kill shelter where we adopted Luna, and asked for information for adopting kittens. The person that Stephen ended up talking to was fostering a long haired kitten, and she was trying to find a family that would adopt him. His name was Odin, and he was about two months old. After sending us a bunch of pictures and videos of him, we knew that we just had to meet him. So a couple of days before we left for Chicago, we set up a meeting at the shelter to meet Odin. He was the cutest kitten that I have ever seen. He was so teeny tiny, had long stripped hair, and those huge kitten eyes. The moment he was in my arms, I fell in love. He was so calm, and just sat there. Eventually he fell asleep, and Stephen basically had to rip him from my arms. After spending a good amount of time with him, we told his foster mom that we wanted to adopt him. She was so ecstatic for us, and had zero issue with keeping him for an additional week. It worked out anyways because he had an appointment to be neutered three days before we officially adopted him. The following day that we got home from Chicago, we ran to Target (not literally) and purchased most of the kitten stuff that we needed. Then we went straight to the shelter and officially adopted Odin. Just like Luna, Odin did not stay Odin. Odin became Lupin. Lupin is such an incredible cat. He is still down to earth, but when he wants to play, he plays hard. He likes to be touched, but only when he wants to be. He likes to follow you around and wrap his paws around your legs, and sometimes if you’re  not paying attention he likes to jump from the counter tops onto your back. That kind of hurts because we decided against declawing our cats, but that’s okay because he is just trying to get some attention. He is beautiful and wonderful and we love him so much.

With that being said, Lupin needed another cat to play with. So in July of 2017, we adopted another kitten. I had always wanted a black cat, so I had been looking at the shelters around our area for a black kitten. I finally found a two month old black kitten at a different animal shelter from where we adopted Luna and Lupin, and the following day Stephen and I went to meet him. We weren’t able to physically touch him yet because he was a new in-take and they were giving him medicine, but they told us that if we came back in a week that we would be able to play with him. That was such a long week, but then the day arrived where we were able to go and see him. We got there right when they opened, and there he was. He had just gotten neutered a couple of day prior to then, and he looked like he was kind of out of it, so I felt really bad. We saw another cat that wasn’t there last time, so we also took sometime to play with him. This cat was super sweet, but there was something about that little black cat that we were once again just drawn to. While I was filling out the paperwork to adopt him, I was actually able to name him because he didn’t have a name. So the little black cat became Gimli. Gimli was super shy and would hiss at us when we got too close to him, so we were really worried. But as I was filling out the information, the lady that was helping me told me that Gimli had had a rough start. Apparently a little over a week before Stephen and I adopted him, he was actually adopted by another couple from a different shelter. When the couple adopted him, they put him in a box that was cut in half, and while he was in the car he escaped from the box and they weren’t able to find him. So the next day, they went to the shelter where we had adopted him to adopt a different cat, and when they were leaving with their new cat they heard some meows. That was when they found him under the hood near the engine. They decided that they no longer wanted Gimli and wanted to keep the new cat that they had just adopted, but that’s okay because their loss is our gain. After about a week, Gimli was comfortable with Stephen, Luna, Lupin and I. When I tell you that he is the sweetest cat in the world, I mean it. Gimli gives us non-stop kisses, loves to cuddle, and loves constant affection. I will make a kissy face to him and he literally bops his little mouth on to mine to give me a kiss. He is such an amazing little guy, and we are so lucky to have him.

I think every pet owner thinks this about their animals, but I am pretty convinced that Stephen and I have the three best furbabies that have ever existed. They are all so loving and happy, and every time I look at them my heart explodes with love and happiness. I am absolutely in love with our little family of five.

Caille

There is a saying that if you have been friends with someone for seven years then you most likely will remain friends forever. I would have to agree with that statement. I have known by best friend, Caille, since we were in fifth grade. We were friendly, but we weren’t super close. I remember her always being goofy and easy going, and I never had any bad things to say about her. Little did I know the girl that I was acquaintances with would become my best friend soul mate.

Throughout middle school, we never really had any conversations. I think once we were in eighth grade is when we started talking more, but still it was just basic conversation. It wasn’t until either the summer before freshman year or right in the beginning of freshman year until we became friends. I had a really close friend that Caille was also close with, and the three of us hung out a couple of times. I remember our mutual friend had a birthday party at her house, so we hung out there. The three of us also went homecoming dress shopping together, where we were involuntarily given the nickname “Three Little Dollies” by a stranger. The more and more time I spent with Caille, the more and more I really liked being around her. So one day I randomly decided to invite Caille for a sleepover, and that was the day that I think we truly became friends.

We became extremely close super fast. There is a simple test that you can participate in that will be a definite sign if you are best friends with someone or not. This test not only tests the strength of your bond, but also how comfortable you are with one another along with seeing if your sense of humor aligns. This test is called: The Flatulence Test. It really is simple. If you can fart in front of someone and not feel like a garbage person afterwards and the other person doesn’t care you know that you might just have yourself a best friend. If my memory serves me correctly, we passed that test super early into our friendship. We have been best friends for well over a decade now, and to this this day if one of us releases a gas cloud we both break out in laughter. It is a solid test.

Let me take a brief moment to describe Caille. Obviously she is one of the funniest people that I know. She is incredibly witty, clever, intelligent, organised, caring, selfless, laid back, and loving. If something comes up and you need her, she will drop everything and figure out how to be there for you. If you need advice, she is the one to go to because her advice is gold. If you need someone to boost your self-esteem, she will tell you how great you are until she is blue in the face. She will never lie to you, and you can trust her without ever doubting anything that she says or does. She’s beautiful inside and out, and she is truly one of those rare people that truly are extraordinary. That is just a couple of reasons why Caille is my best friend, but you get the idea.

In high school, we were pretty much inseparable. If I wasn’t at her house, then she was at mine. My favorite memory is that during the warmer seasons we would just walk around the block for hours, just talking and laughing and having a good time. We would even walk to the elementary school that was across the street from her neighborhood and swing on the swings and play on that spider web dome thing. Then we would also do questionable things. We would make random videos on her computer, talk to strangers on Omegle, or drive to Meijer really late at night for snacks. One of the best things about Caille and I is that we don’t need to be doing something in order to have a good time. I can’t tell you how many times we would just sit and talk or just watch movies. We have always had a very easy and natural friendship, and those kind of friendships are the best.

That’s not to say that we haven’t fought. There have been a couple of bigger fights, some arguments, some misunderstandings, etc. But the thing is, if you are mature enough you can get over that stuff pretty quickly. If Caille says or does something that bothers me, I will let her know in a respectful way, and then we can have a quick and painless talk about it and then it’s over. And it’s vice versa as well. If you care about someone, drawing out unnecessary drama can and should be avoided.

There is another perk of having a long term best friend, and that is being super close to each others families. I love Cailles family so much, and I have always felt super close to them. I can’t tell you how many times I have had deep conversations with them, and they always have just given the best advice. Cailles parents are hilarious, thoughtful, incredibly smart, welcoming, and just awesome. The times where Caille and I would hang out with them were always so much fun, and they will always remain some of my favorite memories. My family also loves Caille. My parents ask about her all of the time, and my dad and her actually have their own little inside joke where my dad calls her “Fred.” It is nice when you feel welcomed into your best friends family, because it’s more people that you get to be close with.

As we got a little older, we started to get into relationships and that was a little worrisome in the beginning. I think that we both had to learn how to balance our boyfriends with our own relationship. With Stephen it was simple because Stephen already knew how close Caille and I were before we started dating, so he was always understanding if I wanted to spend time with Caille. Cailles first relationship was a rocky one, but when she met her current boyfriend, Joel, I was so ecstatic. Joel and Stephen are a lot alike where they are both laid back, understanding, kind, etc. So whenever Caille and I want to spend time together, Joel has zero issue with that. Caille and I always talk about how lucky we are for being in relationships with our men.

So anyways, a lot of my favorite memories are the ones that include Caille. For example, there was that one time where we were driving home from Woodfield Mall and Caille almost killed both of us when she stopped on the train tracks with a train heading our way. That was super fun. Or the time that we randomly got tattoos. One of the best times was when we flew to Boston for five days and got to hang out with her sister. All of the times that we ever got drunk and made crafts were a blast. I’m telling you, every single time we are together is always amusing.

What is crazy to think about is that Caille and I have lived farther apart from each other longer than living near each other. After high school, Caille went to school five hours away from our home town, and I stayed home. After Caille graduated, she moved back home, but then Stephen and I decided that we wanted to move to Dallas. Being in a long distance friendship can be difficult and it does take more work, but with Caille and I, sometimes I forget that there are a thousand miles that separates us. We text basically every day, all day long. We Facetime, and we also will call each other and then spend hours having a conversation. I try to fly back to Chicago every three to four months where I will stay with her for a couple of days. Although we have this distance between us, nothing ever feels different. Whenever we are back together, it feels like we just saw each other the other day. We are so close that nothing will ever crush that bond.

Caille is more than a best friend to me. She is family. We have grown up together, experienced things together, gone through shitty things together, and after all of these years, I feel closer to her than ever. She truly is my best friend soul mate, and I don’t think a better best friend exists in the universe.