The Last Slice

“NO! You have to save that piece to eat on your first anniversary!” M’s voice filled our kitchen with both protest and excitement. The gluten-free, red-velvet, cream-cheese-frosted cake she had made for our wedding day was beyond delicious, and I wanted nothing more than to take another bite out of the lonely slice of its remains. This Saturday is my husband and I’s first marriage anniversary, and that last piece of delicious memorabilia – that’s been hiding under alcohol and frozen meat – has survived the year and would meet its end come May 16th.  I wasn’t familiar with the cake tradition at all until M shared it with us that day in our kitchen, and the pending arrival of our first anniversary has me wondering if holding on to that one, last piece of cake means something. Out of sight out of mind is the notion that comes to mind almost immediately. “The first year of marriage is the hardest” is what every tells you when you tie the knot, and much like our frozen slice of wedding cake, married life blinked right by us in a time-warped state of reality. Has it really already been a year? I guess this slice of cake will be even better than tasting it for the first time, because it’s serving as some kind of reward for getting through our first year as husbands. Our relationship has always been smooth sailing; crossing choppy waters here and there, but never truly rocking the boat. As I think about eating this cake, exactly a year from when I tried to finish it off, a dormant excitement is awakened. I haven’t taken the time at all to note, or keep track of anything we’ve done during our first year of marriage! We did move from our one-bedroom apartment to a lofted condo, AND we are expecting our first fur child – a rat terrier puppy we plan to name Reynold, and who’s a direct descendant of S’s family dog. This first year of marriage has been out of sight and out of mind. It was a good year, and eating this cake will give us a great excuse to reflect and really honor our first year of marriage. I want to thank M for sharing this tradition with the both us, because come this Saturday finishing the cake we started a year ago will mean so much to both my husband, and myself.

Playing with Fire

A handful of months back, I asked my husband to help me with one of my entries for Gays in the Life. I had the crazy idea to write a blog entry where we shared our pet peeves, and talked openly about the things that secretly drive us crazy when it comes to one another. He let out an incredulous laugh, and then proceeded to ask “is that a good idea?” I believed deep down that it was a good idea, but perhaps my inner artist was feeling a little too hungry. Writing a blog entry like this with my husband could offer a fun, real, and honest peek into our marriage and everyday life, but I wondered if my ambitious spirit was approaching an edge that we – because I’d have to consider his feelings, along with mine – weren’t quite ready to dance upon. Would I be taking a bite out of something we couldn’t quite chew? Issues we couldn’t quite swallow?

Almost all of my friends were in and out of relationships before I met my husband. Having a front row seat to every argument, scolding, and various other quibbles helped me realized that, depending on the couple, the smallest annoyance could cause a relationship to crumble, crash, and burn. Remembering those couples and scrolling through memories of their successful, or failed, relationships ignited my current thoughts on whether or not our relationship – our fresh marriage – could survive knowing each other’s hidden pet peeves. Obviously I would say my marriage could survive, but we have to keep a realistic view in regards to our relationships with ourselves – inside the marriage – and as one unit; because every moment isn’t peaches and cream. At this point, we know what sets each other off, but these triggers were discovered as our relationship developed over the years.

Knowing if, and when, the truth is too much, is another factor that should be considered. Initially when I was playing with the idea of doing this joint piece with my husband, the spirit was light and fun, with no thoughts of potential darkness in mind.  Couples can be one hundred percent open, and still have things they keep to themselves. S’s questioning whether or not the unborn blog entry was a good idea bred life to this notion, and invited a small amount of darkness and negativity into my well-intended burst of creativity. Surely we, of all couples, could survive knowing what makes the other tick like a time-bomb, right? The answer to that question would depend on what each trigger was, and the only way to obtain the answer, is to actually move forward with my plan – for the joint blog entry – and discuss them. It’s a devilishly hilarious thing, and the answer remains unknown.

Bored.

Tuesday nights he has class. Any other night, he gets home about an hour after I do, and the usual weeknight routine of hanging out and decompressing on the couch together commences. Best Coast plays in the background as I sit here at the kitchen table; trying my best to think of something to do, or decide which band I should listen to next on Tidal. Boredom hits me pretty hard every once in a while, and most of the time will guide me in a very unproductive and lazy direction. This was almost one of those instances, but some nagging energy from within managed to place my ass in this chair in front of this computer screen.

“What to do, what to do?” Tonight was the first night I went walking, solo, on the trail near our condo. The weather was too charming for me not to get an extra workout in, and despite violent winds, I enjoyed my hour stroll around Eagle Creek. “Now what?” I’m glad we canceled our cable, because even the streaming services were failing me, and YouTube was not piquing my interest in the slightest. “I guess I’ll shower.” I showered because I was bored, and continued to avoid cleaning the refrigerator; something I’ve been meaning to do for the past few weeks. The intensity of my walk was no more than that of walking a dog, so a shower most definitely was not a need, but it was something to do. “I wish he were home… then at least he could be in charge of picking what show we watch… or we could play Mario Kart… Do I want to play Mario Kart?

Significant others, boyfriends, or girlfriends make the time pass easier during these bored moments. I can’t stand being bored and alone, because I can never decide what I want to do.  “What do you want to do?” is a common response to him asking me “What do you want to do?” At least if he were here, being lame and bored with me, I’d have someone to interact with while scrolling through Netflix listings. No activity, show, or chore sounds remotely appealing at the moment, so sitting here listening to music and attempting to write something seems to be the best way to battle boredom’s persistent energy. I have one hour or so until S walks through the door. Let’s see if I can finish this post by then.

Pumped

Finishing his last set of lateral raises, my alter ego studies the reflection in the mirror. The body in which he lives is no longer round and fluffy, but hardened around the edges with some softness left in the middle. He is built like a brick wall with fresh mortar, and the sweat-shaded shirt harnesses swollen shoulder, arm, and chest muscles. Judging by the weight and overall wetness of his t-shirt, it is safe to say that today’s workout was a success, and the urge to flirt is burning wildly under the freshly worked out muscles. All bets are off at a smaller gym, because eyes have no choice but to wander, and I’m one to give a show if I catch you looking. My shorts are already pretty short – because I hate basketball shorts – my shirts grow tighter in all the right places as the weeks pass, and I make sure my form is on point.  This voyeuristic trait really only comes to life when I’m in the gym, and I like to think it makes me dig deeper in achieving a better workout.  Whether you like it or not, you will gain inspiration from watching another participant, or you’ll unconsciously lust after them; wanting their body for yourself. Snapping out of my temporary trance, I put away the dumbbells, wipe off the bench, and make my way toward the locker room. “Oh, I’m sorry!” I bump shoulders with another lifter, and the urge is reawakened. “Get the hell out of here” I think to myself, doing everything I can to will away the thirst of my alter ego’s sweet and sour thoughts. If this internal battle weren’t already enough, running smack into my office crush – making chest to chest contact – on my way into the locker room was the icing on this mess of a cake. “Hey man! Looks like you got a good workout in today, eh?” Why is he so nice? He’s always so nice. Get me the hell out of here.

Past in Present

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and marked his fourth birthday that we have celebrated together. Where has the time gone?! The wonder, curiosity of what and when, and the overall remembrance of the moments that have already past – and the subliminal preparation of those that have yet to arrive – proves to be one trippy ride.  I find myself, in this moment, trying to piece together every single day that we have shared. Good days, bad days, our bright days, and our grey days blend together to form a beautiful watercolor painting; as seen through memory’s hazy vision. Many memories approach, and my attempt to remember those already traveled prove to be nothing short of an intro to an odyssey.

Let’s not spark the fuse on dramatics’ canon too soon, as I’m not trying to live out any scene from The Notebook. It feels like yesterday that I was back in high school; living the last of my glory days in jazz band, graduating, and packing for my first semester at Indiana University Bloomington. It’s a funny thing, time, because it’s been ten years since those last days of high school. In an instant, and with the blink of an eye, I can be taken back to that moment in time, via memory’s influence and without notice. The realization of where S and I are now, together, is mind-boggling.  I merge from Memory Lane, speeding back into present day, and think to myself “…wow, where has the time gone?”

It wasn’t until this week that I really stopped to think about everything life has thrown my way throughout the last decade of my life. The ups and downs, along with their joy and misery, trace a path from then – whenever then may be – to now. So many things in life take time, yet we don’t feel the time passing. Four is a big number for me in this moment. October of this year will mark four years that S and I have been together. That’s four Christmases, four of my birthdays, and four of his birthdays… It’s crazy when I think of how quickly that time flew. I have to wonder that if, come tomorrow, would another four years have passed because I was so caught up in the present? The reality is that no matter what you do, those memories will linger and make their presence know as you need them. Live in the moment and don’t look back, because before you know it, you’ll be reflecting on more memories collected.

Superpowers

It’s one o’clock in the afternoon, and I’m breaking my no-coffee-after-noon rule. “Hey, man! You doing alright?” My office crush (OC) enters the break room, and the zombie-like state I’m in quickly morphs into blazing excitement. “I’m doing well, how about you?”  His resemblance to an old ex of mine is truly uncanny. He’s on the shorter side with dark hair, warm eyes, and a charm that’s irresistible.  While I don’t crave him sexually, his energy warrants the presence of subtle flirtation; this is fun when you work a regular 9-to-5, monolithic job.

There’s something about me that screams “tell me all of your business” to people – a superpower of sorts – and OC has fallen victim to this influence.  Our exchanges are usually filled with talk of my husband, his girlfriend – yes, he’s straight, of course – or him asking me where I get my sweaters.  Using my powers for good, I take the opportunity to give into the moment; giving him the most neutral, hetero-tailored advice I could provide without losing eye contact. Using my eyes as a tool to convey everything you shouldn’t say to someone at work – regarding their overall attractiveness, and other innocent, not work-appropriate thoughts – I listen, engage, and enjoy the view.

At the end of what felt like a split second, he smiles and heads back to his desk.  I chuckle and do the same.  I fully encourage the conditioning of whatever superpower you hold, and challenge you to perfect it to your highest ability.  People are drawn to me, and I’ve always been aware of my flirting ability, so I use it to keep my skills fresh and spicy for my relationship, but I can also use my gifts to help people… minus the flirtation… or could that also help someone? I won’t test that theory.

Burrito Bowls

Do you ever feel like you’re talking to yourself? You get some bright idea, mention that idea, and end up going in a completely different direction by way of his idea. I’d been craving a burrito bowl for quite some time now. In passing, I would bring up the idea for dinner during our weekly grocery shopping together; never sulking or souring if we didn’t get ingredients for the meal. When you’re following a low-carb diet – and we have been for over a year now – it can be hard to keep your eating options fresh and exciting. I retain a subtle want for a burrito bowl because I know I’d never be disappointed with one, and it would mix up my day-to-day eating habits.

I can’t remember the last time we had this favored menu item of mine, and while red meat is zero carbs and high in good fat – perfect for our diet – burgers and steaks get old. “Hey, would you want to make the burrito bowls this weekend?” The inner chubby kid of my past burned more calories exerting a disgustingly thirsty grin at the mention of the desired meal. My craving for this specific meal is well tamed as long as the thought is out of sight, and out of mind. As soon as I hear any mention of a burrito bowl, I immediately want one.  I’m not one to hound anyone over what’s for dinner, but I know I’d made a solid attempt in pitching the idea more than a few times between early October and now.

Pan-seared chicken over cauliflower rice, with chopped onions, crisp spinach, Verde salsa, jalapenos, Pico de Gallo, spicy guacamole, and a dash of shredded Colby Jack cheese. It was the purest form of delicious. What made the meal even better was that he listened. Sure it might have taken him a while – and sure, I could have organized the meal myself, or pressed him more about it – but he came through.  Part of being a significant other is listening to each other, and it’s the little things like unplanned burrito bowls that help remind you that he is listening.

Prince Charming

Who is Prince Charming? Does the comparison – of one’s new, old, or off and on again boyfriend – truly mean anything, or has society programmed us all to think that it’s some end-defining-scare-the-man-away-anti-feminist notion? A recent exchange with friends made me consider what the idea of Prince Charming really means within a relationship. The group of us were at a bar, watching Big Ten basketball, and enjoying beers when I mentioned to my friend’s boyfriend that he was like her prince charming; keep in mind this was my first time meeting him. He handled the comment like a gentleman, and I later found out, via my husband’s opinion, that the comment was “awkward,” and that my friend was a smidge embarrassed.

Making awkward comparisons and embarrassing my friend was never my intention. The way I viewed my comparison was the fact that both of us had been through a great deal of shitty dating experiences, boys, not men, and our fair share of situations you may only see in movies; movies that usually end with someone’s heart being grinded up in some dramatic, emotional fashion.  I’m genuinely happy that she has found someone, and stand by what I said in that moment. So, why is there so much weight placed on the idea of portraying a Prince Charming-like character? I know full well that my friend does not need any man to save her from anything, so maybe I should have tried to compliment their relationship in another manner?

My view of who Prince Charming can be is not so traditional. If I were Rapunzel, there’s no way in hell I would be waiting for a man to come and rescue me from a tower – only to get knocked up with kids, who I would love dearly, and become a housewife. That’s never been me, or any of the people I surround myself with; nothing against those of you who would enjoy, or aspire to be stay-at-home parents.  What’s wrong with Prince Charming being nothing more than a man that’s extremely attractive, has a good job, sends out every signal and vibe that he loves the woman, or man, that he has found, and is an overall good fit for your life where it stands currently?

My husband is my Prince Charming because he entered my life at the right moment. He didn’t save me like some fairy tale hero, but we were ready for each other; ready to give each other a try, with no specific ending (good or bad), or timeline in mind.  He challenges me, emotionally and professionally, and most of all, he inspires thoughts of what a realistic, adult future could be. For me, this future with my Prince Charming is not a stereotype-fueled vision of what the American dream should be, but a relationship that works, is filled with love, and one that encourages our growth as people. No pressure, no awkwardness, just owning and living your relationship to its highest potential.

Silence CAN BE Golden

A good sign that you’ve found someone that will be around for awhile – hopefully forever if you’re married or in a serious relationship – is if the two of you can be in the same space and just be; existing in the same space with silence and unconditional peace of mind and comfort.  In the past I’ve had roommates and exes that assume something is amiss if we’ve been in the same room and haven’t shared any kind of interaction for an hour or more.  What’s wrong with actually watching the television, reading a magazine, or surfing the net in the presence of another? This is something that annoys me about individuals that crave constant attention and, in a sense, social babysitting.

Thankfully, my marriage is one that does not require constant attention or tending. There’s something truly authentic about being able to just chill out with a significant other, and not give two fucks about anything that’s trying to enter your orbit. One of my favorite parts of the weekend is relaxing slothfully with my husband; binging on episodes of The Good Wife, and only moving from the couch to pour more merlot. Take this very moment for example: Currently we are watching survivor casting videos, he’s in and out of scrolling through Instagram, and I’m partially anti-social because I’m writing this blog entry.

It’s okay to not be in each other’s faces every second of every hour after you get home from a long day of work. Interaction is a great thing in any relationship – and necessary, of course –  but it’s telling if you have someone that can share pure peace and quiet with you. If you’re one of those people that think you need THAT much attention, and can’t take sharing silence with your significant other? CALM DOWN, GIRL (or boy), is all I have to say to you. Now, because this entry is finished, I will go discuss some of these silly Survivor cast members with S. Can you believe this show is on season thirty? Talk to you later, readers.

Tick. Tock. I Love You.

Three years ago, this evening, our relationship presented itself as something new.  It was New Years Eve in my cozy, cheer-filled apartment. I had one of my best friends in town – visiting from Los Angeles – amazing roommates, a great chunk of friends I had made working at the Goodwill Store, and him. I was so happy S had come down from Indy to celebrate the holiday with us. At the time, we’d only officially been boyfriends for a little over two months, and were an hour apart during the work week.  About thirty minutes or so before midnight, we found ourselves alone in my bedroom. “…I’m scared” I express as I look past him nervously and prop myself up on my elbow.  Lying next to me, he puts one hand behind his head, and the other around my arm.  “Why?”  He looks worried as he presents the single-worded question.  I shift. “I think I love you.” The second it took him to respond felt like agonizingly long minutes passing on a clock. “I love you too” he grins looking directly into my eyes.

When is the right time to say “I love you” to a person of interest? Our exchange that night was not planned, and I honestly had not thought about the subject at all.  We were still a very new couple, but there was something in the air that evening that made me want to share my feelings with him.  Society programs young adults in so many ways when it comes to saying “I love you.” We absorb the lessons we learn – or think we’re learning – from relationships we’ve witnessed in the past, and think we have to apply them to our own relationships.  Whether it’s too soon or long overdue to share those guarded words are up to the individual that possess the feelings.  When I think back on that night, I recognize that the timing was right.  Our relationship didn’t feel like work – I say that a lot, but it’s true – I was always excited to see him, always wondering how his day went, counting down the days until we were together again… the love was building before I even thought about saying it.