Shackin’ Up

Monday, August 25, 2014

It’s been 25 days since George and I moved into our new-to-us home. This has been a rough couple months: a fire, the death of George’s grandmother, my father having surgery…but we’ve made it through on the other side, and I think we’re better for it.

Very early in our relationship, I told George I didn’t want to live with a significant other until we were married (I really meant him, but I didn’t want to freak him out too early on talking about marriage), and he was 100% supportive of that. I cited statistics and articles I’d read about couples living together before marriage leading to divorce. I wanted to give us the best chance possible.

I remember the first time we split the groceries, the first time we planned the weekly meals together, the first time I threw some of his laundry in with mine. It felt natural, normal. It didn’t feel like a slippery slope to living together and inevitable divorce. It felt like we were slowly but surely building a life together.

Gradually, we started having more conversations about moving in. What would it mean for us? What would it change? How would we deal with money? With splitting chores? It lead to conversations about our future and our commitment to each other.

There was one particular conversation where I remember George saying, “I don’t want to rush to get married just because we want to live together. I want it to be our choice.” It was then I realized that I was doing just that. I was rushing things because I was afraid of becoming a statistic. It wasn’t the right way to go about it. We should do what was right for us.

Deciding to move in together was not a matter of convenience. We weren’t trying to make it easier to see each other or make it cheaper. We made a choice to move in together because we’re building our life as partners. We took this step because it was the right one for us.

A week or two after we moved into our new place a friend posted this article on Facebook. It talks about how being deliberate in relationship choices sets couples up for better commitment and follow through. It was so reassuring to finally read something that spoke to the kind of relationship George and I have. We make choices together. We discuss the pros and cons, we debate, we reach conclusions.

Whatever your next step in your relationship, whether it’s getting married or moving in or simply broaching the “relationship conversation,” make it deliberate. Make your own choices, and don’t worry too much about the statistics.

Now, for a few pictures of the new place!

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Thankful

August 14, 2014

There’s been a thankfulness challenge going around Facebook lately, and I was nominated to think of 3 things for which I’m thankful for 7 days. I’m really bad at doing things consecutively over days, plus we’re traveling this weekend, so I thought I’d just do 21 things I’m thankful for in one fell swoop.

  1. Baby brother Danny Fanny, who models self-reflection for me every day. He’s the coolest kid on the block and he has really awesome thoughts if stop to listen.
  2. Mamacita and Daddy who support me every step of the way.
  3. Daddy for being open about his wishes for his future. It’s really a blessing to have parents who plan ahead (and make sure everyone’s clear on the plans!).
  4. Momma for being my first call when something goes right or wrong.
  5. The older Reveal brothers for teaching me to play 007 and being my big bad wolves when I need protection.
  6. My fella George, for showing me what it means to love someone more and more every day.
  7. Torey, Hallie, and Emily who are my confidants, my favorite ladies, and my prayer warriors. Get some women like them on your side.
  8. An amazing support system across the world. When bad things happen, every one rushes to my side. These people keep me sane and remind me to be thankful.
  9. Grandparents who taught me to sing and laugh and learn and plant and tend and cook and bake and play.
  10. A beautiful place to live (with air conditioning and laundry!) that grew out of stress and heartache.
  11. My Patchy puppy who can always make me smile, even from 700 miles away.
  12. Last year’s students who taught me how to teach. They showed me what it meant to open my heart to a group of teenagers, but they also showed me how to maintain balance and pass out tough love like candy.
  13. This year’s students who are already constantly on my mind. They’re going to push me to be better and I know I’ll come out stronger for knowing them.
  14. My colleagues who are the only ones who truly understand what it means to be a Chicago Public School teacher. We can laugh and cry together, and at the end of the day we do whatever we can to make our school better for our kids.
  15. Cooking and baking for being a stress reliever.
  16. Living in a city where I can eat saag paneer and tacos and sushi. In the same day if I want!
  17. Books that take me to far off lands and help me escape from the stress of the school year.
  18. Sweet summertime where I get to sleep in, eat watermelon, learn more about my craft, and plan for this year’s kiddos.
  19. My car for driving thousands of miles to get me to work in a place where public transportation is…well…far.
  20. Fresh flowers and clean apartments.
  21. Hot dogs, Netflix, and Trader Joe’s lava cakes.

 

Smoke

Monday, August 4, 2014

[Trigger warning: Discussions and photos of fire and fire damage]

It was a rare Friday that George didn’t have to work at 4am, so we had planned to hit up Bed Bath  & Beyond and the grocery store in the morning. We planned to leave the apartment at 9, but I was being lazy and sleepy and making a list of the ingredients we needed to make our famous chocolate chip cookies when the fire alarm started blaring.

Years of false alarms in college conditioned me to lazily and sleepily put on jeans, grab my cell phone, and some entertainment for the hour we’d wait in the student center waiting for the burnt popcorn smell to clear. George, the more cautious of the two of us, looked out into the hallway where our upstairs neighbor was running down the stairway in her bra asking for a fire extinguisher. It was when her boyfriend ran down the stairs in his boxers and we could hear the sirens approaching that George said, “We’re going. Right now.”

We tried to get out the back door, but there the back stairs was weighed down with fire fighters in full gear. “Go out the front!”, they yelled.

So, we ran down the front stairs and we could already smell it. As we stood outside of our apartment building, black smoke billowed from every window in the apartment above ours. More fire trucks arrived, the hose started its journey up our staircase, and neighbors I’ve never seen before started gathering. Glass fell from the third floor as the fire department broke every window in that house. They set up their big ladders and started climbing on to the roof.

The two from the apartment on fire were sitting in the grass being treated with oxygen. We felt so uncertain, so shocked, so pained.

Walking in to our apartment for the first time after being allowed back in our building, I just started bawling. I’ve never seen damage from a fire before. I’ve never seen the black soot streaming down the walls or tar dripping from the roof or water soaking through every wall.

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Luckily, the damage to our apartment was confined to the kitchen, so only our cookbooks were ruined. George and I ran back and forth that day from the kitchen to the dining and living rooms, carrying dishes and glasses and food from the kitchen, where it was raining warm, brown water.

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We relocated to his sister’s and his parent’s house while we came to terms with the fact that we would have to move. Fast. The water damage to our apartment would take months to fix.

The last week has been a whirlwind. Full of frantic calls to our parents, realtors, insurance agents, friends, movers. But somehow, by Grace, we were able to find a new place to live, break our lease, and move into the new place in 8 short days.

I went to a trauma training at church once after the Joplin tornado, and they told us that someone who has undergone a trauma has to tell their story 50 times before they can begin to heal. Consider this one of those times, but we are healing.

I can’t even begin to express the gratitude for everyone who sent texts, calls, emails, and prayers our way. To those who put us up, let us store our food in their fridge, gave us hugs, and helped us move. We are so grateful.

We have been blessed with a support system beyond measure. And today just so happens to be 2 years from our first date. Happy anniversary, fella.

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