People Change

The comedian John Mulaney has this great quote: “Fourteen years ago, I smoked cocaine the night before my college graduation. Now I’m afraid to get a flu shot. People change.”

And so on my 15 year anniversary dating my husband (married for 2) and because we’ve now been together more than half our lives, I want to detail some ways that I’ve changed:

Since 15 years ago, I am indeed older, but not therefore, wiser

15 years ago, I was incredibly shy, now I’m just shy with a talking streak

15 years ago, I wanted to be a nun and now I have a husband (who isn’t Jesus but takes care of me all the same)

15 years ago, I wanted to be a poet and wait tables to earn a living, now I don’t write poems anymore and I’m not so sure what kind of life I want to live

15 years ago, I thought nothing will ever change, now I think nothing will ever stay the same

And that’s okay. Because people change all the time. Our cells change every 7 years. So, if you don’t like this reality, just start over. Change for the good, or change for the bad. Just don’t stay stagnant.

Oh. Also, I love you Tim.

Love,

Bailey

10 Things I Learned from Being in a 10 Year Relationship

This is starting to become an annual tradition. (If you didn’t see last year’s post, click here.)

Let me catch you up. My boyfriend and I started dating 10 years ago. Today, we celebrate a decade of being together. And now that our relationship is the same age as a child, I am going to impart some gems of wisdom (which are probably just like fool’s gold).

Of course, I am going to give you fair warning before you move forward. By no means should you adhere to my relationship advice. Everyone is different, and what is true for me may not be true for you. But I think we’ll have fun talking about what is my truth, and hopefully, you can relate on some level to the zaniness that we all call love.

#10 

Find someone who will eat your pickles. 

Listen, it’s great to have someone who shares your passions and who will have an adventure with you. Of course you always know that one couple that’s like, We run, bike, garden, and cook together. We’re inseparable, and we haven’t slept for weeks. But it’s also wonderful to have someone who has completely different interests than you. This way, you get to share your likes and help them to discover something new. For example, my boyfriend and I have this perfect arrangement where he absolutely despises pickles, and they are my favorite food. So, he just plops them down on my plate, and I gobble them up. He could buy my love for pickles, and yet he gives them to me for free.

#9

Communicate creatively.

At the beginning of our ten years, we talked on my sister’s phone (there were only two landlines in my house) and on AOL instant messaging. (I bet the words “away message” just flashed before your eyes.) Since then, we have skyped, texted, DMed on Twitter, telegrammed, snail mailed, passed notes, etc. I’m sure we would have talked through a can on a string if we felt that it would have given us better reception than our pay-as-you-go phones. (It probably would have.) Our relationship has truly experienced plenty of technological advances, but our own communication has not. Sure, there are days that we don’t get to talk to each other nearly as much as we want. But the point is that the other one knows that he or she has someone in his or her corner, no matter what. I may not have texted back in the last hour, but I’m always a phone call away. (Well, maybe a voicemail message away…)

#8

Difficult doesn’t even cover it.

I think sometimes The Notebook comes the closest to reality when it comes to relationships, which is why it is such a favorite among chick flickers. The reason I think it is so accurate is because Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling fight. They don’t just bicker about whose turn it is to take out the trash or whether Zooey Deschanel is the cutest thing on Earth or what, they actually have knock down, drag out arguments. And yes, that’s accurate for us, too. I don’t think there is anyone on Earth that has faced the full brunt of my anger, the screaming and the insults, like my boyfriend. I’m surprised he still has eyebrows because my fury could burn them off if he got too close. Which is why it’s always important to take a step back and start over because it is absolutely never easy to be with someone you love. They know how to push you, and that’s good, but then again, they know how to push you. So, tread carefully, and practice the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

#7 

Flowers and battles should be picked carefully.

Which brings me to my next point: try not to take your anger out on each other. #8 makes it sound like most couples are fighting all of the time. That’s probably not true for most healthy relationships, but you will surely feel moments of acute irritation. Like, oh my god, he just double-dipped. That is so disgusting. He literally only thinks about himself and that bowl of guacamole. Now, are you going to go nuclear over such a little transgression? Probably not, but there will be times when you will feel like you should burn the bridge that connects you to your shared apartment. This is also a good time to step back. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to lose this person over something, anything. If you truly love them, the answer will be no, until he double-dips again.

#6 

Be you.

This is just general advice for life, but I cannot stress how important this one is. I met my boyfriend when I was just 14 years old. (I’ll let that sink in for a moment. You can keep reading once it does.) I don’t pretend that this isn’t completely weird. But I owe our success to the fact that I have always been the person that I am, and so has he. We are a bit mature for our age, but we are comfortable with ourselves. Sure, I’ve changed. But not in ways that matter. Not in ways that detract from the person I am at the core. And neither has he. So, to attract your life partner, don’t do anything but be yourself. The right person will find you. (Maybe a little later than 14, but better late than never.)

#5 

Surprise!

It should come as no surprise that I am not generally a fan of surprises. I avoid horror movies and perfume stalls in the mall because I don’t like when people jump out at me. However, my boyfriend is a master at listening to what I’m saying and then surprising me much later with the exact thing that I was describing. Baby stuffed penguin? Found it on Amazon. Trip to your favorite restaurant? Let’s go tonight. Need to unwind? Here’s some chocolate I bought on the way over. Those little unexpected treats are so pleasant for me because even after 10 years, I can’t really predict when they will pop up next. (Especially the chocolate. Just sayin’.)

#4

Trust that the other person knows where he or she is going.

I could probably write an entire book on the importance of trust in a relationship. Truly, it is the only thing that will help you move forward in life. But it’s hard, right? Giving up that control and possibly allowing yourself to get hurt goes against our survival instincts. But even when we know the person is reading the map wrong and has a malfunctioning GPS, both literally and metaphorically, you have to let them figure it out first. Trust can sometimes be the only thing that the both of you are able to fall back on, and so you need to build it up, brick by brick, by not pulling over to ask for directions immediately when your partner has gotten you lost.

#3

Help! 

As a strong, independent woman, I am often faced with the choice of hiding my emotions and figuring it all out on my own or asking for help. It’s actually hard to call it a choice because I almost never end up picking the latter. However, in a relationship, it is critical to admit that you’re not really sure how to proceed when you really don’t know. Again, it can be difficult to give the reins over, but you’re in this together. If you’re going to share your successes, you will also have to share your pains. And most of your food.

#2

You’re dating a village.

When you have been together this long, there are a lot of people involved in your relationship. Whether they simply hang out with the two of you, or were the ones to set you up once upon a time, or have eavesdropped on your arguments, there are a lot of people who have an investment in your love. This is why it’s incredibly important to make an effort with the people that your partner enjoys the most in life. You may be dating a village, so make sure that you surround yourself with support.

#1

Get mad, get over it.

I have a heady heritage of Irish/Scottish/German. I have a short fuse and a long cooling off period. And, don’t forget, I am incredibly stubborn. So, when we are bickering or I am not choosing my battles wisely, things can go downhill very quickly. For example, this past weekend my boyfriend and I were out to dinner. We were arguing about something very trivial when we suddenly got so irritated that we refused to speak. I stared moodily off into space, and he went to the bathroom. When he got back, I tried my best to soften myself, but I was having trouble working up the nerve to apologize. I looked over at him briefly, and even in that moment, I could see that I was forgiven because he reached up to wipe away some of the food on my mouth. He even licked his finger to rub it off. And it was all at once the most mundane and caring response. It said, I may be mad, but I will always love you. Having someone who wants the best for you even when he or she is seeing red is the best gift a person can give. It is the gift of true acceptance.

And so, 10 years has passed. I knew I had someone special all those years ago, but I didn’t know how important you would be, Tim. Thank you for this adventure. I can’t wait to see where life brings us.

And thank you to everyone who has ever stood by us, listened to our arguments over the phone, encouraged us to be with each other, or simply hung out with us. Your importance cannot be overrated.

The Best Friend Test

Do you ever roll your eyes when you see those quizzes online or in a magazine that ask you to evaluate your relationship with your best friend? Based on the answers you give, you are suddenly rating your friendship on a scale of “frenemie” to “BFF” and spiraling into a neurotic musing of whether you should have a “talk” about where you want your friendship to be in the next five years.

The point is, those quizzes only scratch the surface of your deeply complex and incredibly fulfilling friendship. Yes, the same one where you eat a a jar of Nutella, and lounge in your underwear together. Those “would you rather spend a lifetime with your best friend on a deserted island or on top of the mountain” questions don’t really cut it. So, I’ve made up a few of my own. I hope that you silently question your own friendship after reading these, too. Nothing would make me feel better than people reading my blog and wondering if they have been completely wasting their time…with the people in their lives.

5. If it is someone’s birthday, can you successfully choose a card on behalf of them?

-Everyone has had to pick out a card for someone. But have you ever had to pick out a card for someone on behalf of someone else? So. much. responsibility. Does my best friend want to be funny or serious? What if they don’t agree with the sentiment inside? I mean, really, who knew there would be so much drama in a Hallmark? So, ask your friend ahead of time what kind of cards they like, so you won’t be caught off-card. (C’mon, that was a gem!)

4. Do you know what kind of animal they would be?

-Forget being able to predict their wardrobe or their reaction to news. You need to be able to forecast what kind of animal they want to be in case you suddenly develop superpowers. You know, wonder twin status. Plus, the person who wants to be a duck and the person who wants to be a tiger are going to reveal some very different personality traits.

3. How do they eat their pizza?

-Are you a cat person or a dog person? Do you like the beach or the mountains? YAWN. Boring. Let’s get to the life-changing stuff, the deal breakers. How do they eat their pizza? And I don’t mean toppings. I mean, do they eat it with a knife and fork? Crust first? Do they roll it up like a burrito? Do you have to order two pizzas for the both of you? This is stuff you need to know ahead of time. I’m not saying your friendship should live and die on this. But it’s nice to know, so you can have a second pizza ready if needed, you know?

2. Do they separate their darks from their whites in the laundry?

We should all know what kind of person we are dealing with here. Is your best friend someone who will throw caution to the wind and let their balled up socks enter the washing machine with their denim? Or do they carefully make piles on the floor to ensure that every garment does not permanently stain another? Let’s be real here. Laundry is a gateway chore. This could lead to other habits (they stop mixing their food on their plate, for example). Let’s all just be up front with our dirty laundry, and no one will get hurt.

1. If you go to the hospital, will your best friend hold your IV while you go to the bathroom?

-This comes from experience. Just answer the question, and pick some poor sap out now. Just in case it comes up in the future. And if you are a good friend, you will give them something else in return, down the road for holding your fluids so you can pee. Like a really expensive gift because that is friendship on an entirely other level.

So, that’s it. Of course, I’m not sure if you noticed, but these questions are absolutely ridiculous. I know sarcasm is hard to read over the Internet, but I was trying to be a bit heavy-handed (like Paula Deen and butter, heavy-handed). That’s because there is no true test for friendship.

Some opposites attract, but also like likes like. Just do what’s best for you. When you need someone, they should be there. And when it stops being fun, put the “end” in “friend.” As always, what you give is what you get. No quiz can measure that.

RoadMate

There can be a lot of roadblocks in a relationship.

Meeting the parents. Learning about the exes. Finding out what way your partner puts the toilet paper on the roll. There can be many times in a relationship that you are testing someone to find out what they are all about without even realizing it.

Yet, if you’re in a relationship, and you need to know if the one you’re with is the “one,” all you have to do is take a road trip with them.

Think about it. A tight, confined space with just the open road in front of you, as you pass mile after mile. (I mean, really just going to a rest stop together can be a good test of wills.)

So, ask yourself. Does your partner turn the music up and refuse to turn it down when you try to have a conversation? Do you even like the music he is listening to? Or, on the other hand, is there silence for hours? Do you fight to keep the silence because you don’t know how else you would fill it?

And how is your partner as a co-pilot? Does he or she have the money ready for the tolls? Or is he constantly scrambling for his wallet as you pull up closer to the booth? Does she tell you where to go next or leave you blind?

The point is, if you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it means about as much as if you’d answered no. You shouldn’t break up with someone if they don’t have the toll money ready when you’re driving. But if you can spend an hour in the car with them without completely hating their existence, then maybe you should give them a shot.

For the millionth time this year, I’ve been reminded that I am incredibly lucky in the relationship department. My boyfriend and I not only talked the entire way on a road trip we took tonight and enjoyed each other’s company, but he also helped me to make sure that there was no one behind me when changing lanes. (I wasn’t very good when I had to quid pro quo, but he assured me that I was doing fine.) We were working as a team (a swearing, traffic-cursing team, but a team).

In the end, you can look at life like a roadmap. But even if you have all of the directions, you can sometimes get lost. So, enjoy life, just cruising with your partner. Or be with someone that you enjoy getting lost with. Unlike a GPS-guided route, the choice will always be yours.

My Grandfather Kissed Me on the Mouth

Author’s Note:

Today, I would like to take the time to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday with this blog post. I hope you enjoy him as much I did.

The Man, The Legend

My grandfather was a stately, diplomatic man. He was once mayor of my small town, but always a lover of politics and knowledge. In an age before the internet, he was our Google and our Wikipedia. The dinner table would always fall silent when he would begin to talk about a particular topic. We’d always lean a little closer to hear what gem might spill out.

He was robust in appearance and in life. He was a great man, and an even better grandfather. Not only because he would slip $20 bills into our hands and call it “gas money” before we could drive, but because we respected him and admired him thoroughly.

Except for one thing that irked me. Every time we would leave his house, he would kiss my sister and I directly on the lips. Yes, you read that right: on. the. lips. When I asked my mother for an explanation for this behavior, because I was suddenly 16 and had already been kissed by my Pop-Pop, (oh my god, he might have been my first…) she simply shrugged and said, “It’s always been like that.” So, reluctant to ruffle his well-poised feathers, I puckered up for peck after peck, all the while hoping that I didn’t accidentally linger too long.

Maserati, Please?

But my grandfather was always teaching me something, always helping me to learn and to grow.

And I only recently realized that in this uncomfortable memory was a valuable lesson about love.

He kissed us on the lips because he didn’t want us to be confused about how he felt about us. He refused to give us social “air kisses” as friends might, and thankfully he did not put his tongue down our throat like a romantic partner could (try another blog for that kind of action.) He simply desired to convey his love in an unmistakable manner.

Sure, he could have bought us a Maserati (or two?) to produce the same effect. Such an effort would have eliminated any adult weirdness I may feel about the situation now. But that wasn’t his style and it isn’t mine. His intimacy as a no-nonsense man was meaningful in a way that a new car is not.

The Kicker in the Kisser

And really, when was the last time that YOU showed someone or something that you loved them that much? When was the last time you defied an awkward moment to remind someone that they meant something to you? (I’m looking at you, teenage boys, who hang up the phone without telling your mom you love her when you’re out with your friends.)

And when was the last time you knew how someone felt about you, without any worrying or questioning for hours after about their true feelings?

The problem is that we beat around the bush, tree, and lots of other foliage simply to avoid being vulnerable or too personal with others. Days fold in and out and we forget to tell the people who matter most that we appreciate them. That we love them. We don’t think about not being able to see that person who we see everyday. But I assure you, that day will come when you can’t. And you will wish you loved them harder, held them closer and told them what they meant to you. I know I do. I miss my Pop-Pop everyday. Even his kisses.

So, here’s your chance. Get off this blog. And kiss the nearest person to you on the lips. Oh, it’s your mom? Good. She deserves your love the most.

Remember, be candid with your affection and you will never regret anything in this life.