(from my guy, today.)
One year ago today, I landed in Boston on a JetBlue flight from Seattle and gave Gradon an exhausted, trembly, overwhelmed hug (or nine) at the airport.
About 15 hours before that, I was handed a visa at the US border, about 30 minutes from my parents’ house.
The type of visa I received is one you can only apply for in person. You have to come with your bags packed to go where you plan to go, and with your ticket to ride in hand. Ostensibly, that’s because they need to know you’re serious before they even consider you… and I was.
The combination of elation and emotion I felt when they approved me was one of the most curious things I’ve ever experienced. I was thrilled to be over one more hurdle in making my big move, but I was also nothing short of devastated to be leaving my family and friends behind.
I didn’t know how to navigate that conflict in my heart in the moment, so I put it off for the next few hours while we drove to SeaTac. I almost caved when my mom and dad gave me a beautiful bracelet an hour later, but I managed to hold it together a while longer while we rode on.
I can’t really write about saying goodbye to my parents at the security gate without crying again (oh, look, there I go…) because I knew I was breaking their hearts a little — they would now have two kids (and our respective significant others) living a couple plane rides away.
To color that emotion in a bit more, I’ll tell you two things: that we’re very close, and that a fair amount of my parents’ good friends live within an hour of their kids, and see them several times a week. I’m sure they feel a little shafted by how different their experience has become, even though they know it’s the norm for a lot of other families (maybe most?) And the last time I’d lived more than a shortish drive away from them, I was in my first couple years of university. That was more than a decade ago.
But I knew they were excited for me, and they’d actively supported the whole process like troopers. That didn’t change during the drive down. But that goodbye when we got there? I definitely don’t need to do that again. I sat on a bench beyond the security lineups when I was through — they didn’t give the blubbering girl a pat-down, in a rare show of mercy — and tried to get myself together.
It was easier once I got to Boston and saw Gradon waiting for me, but I still felt incredibly guilty for putting 3,000 miles between me and the two people I love most on earth, besides the one I’m going to marry. I still do, though I don’t think I call or write nearly enough to show them that’s the case — and no doubt my hesitation at times is directly tied into my desire not to fall apart on the phone, or some other terrible excuse.
I love you, Mom and Dad. Thanks for making it work. I miss you very, very much.
The reason for the move. Him.
He’s rather amazing.
He makes me laugh, he makes me think, he makes me feel like anything is possible, he makes me feel safe, he makes me feel beautiful. I find all the things I ever dreamed of in his bespectacled, smiling face.
He’s not perfect, of course, but I’m certainly not either. We’re learning to see eye to eye on things like budgets, housecleaning, and how we spend our time, and for the most part, we end up on the same page. We argue from time to time, but those moments are blessedly short-lived, and end in apologies and conversations about how to do better.
Since I arrived, he’s transitioned from freelancing in jeans and Chuck Taylors to a huge job (in a shirt and tie… and pants, of course) working as an online community manager for a major regional bank. We both put in full days, and then commute an hour or so on either end. That doesn’t leave a ton of time together in the evening, but we still manage to eat dinner together almost every night, and watch our share of Netflix discs while he tries to keep his eyes open, and I jabber and flail at the television (family habit.)
We’re engaged now, too, as of February, and we’re jumping through hoops to come up with a wedding plan (heck, a date) in the late fall / earlyish winter (because winter starts early here!). It will be a small celebration with our families and just a few friends, and it will be “us”, however it takes shape. Can’t say much more about that, but when I do, it will be here.
On that day, I’ll also become a stepmom. To one (by then) 13 year-old, and a kind of step-stepmom to a 16 year-old.
Noisy, hilarious, alternately (and passionately) in love with their PS3/Nintendo DS/iPod Touch/phones, given to picky but voracious appetites, slightly messy, occasionally smelly, and very infrequently cranky, too. Not to mention ridiculous to watch on Facebook.
The whole “(step) mom” thing was something I always figured would come naturally, though that will be more my title of sorts than my name (I’m “Meg” or “Meg! Meg! Meg! Look!” or “Hey, do we have soda?”, depending on the moment) and I think it does. I’ve spent more time around kids in my life than almost anyone else, and I tend to fit in (and not just because I’m short.) That doesn’t mean it’s not an adjustment, of course… because it is.
I used to sleep in super late on the weekends, and then spend the rest of the day running errands, getting the occasional mani-pedi, and cooking meals that fit my cravings… and my cravings alone.
Now my weekends are made up of laundry (at the laundromat, but BOY, are we ever going to have in-suite laundry in our next place in July, when our lease is up… wherever that ends up being), cleaning, running errands, and feeding/laughing at/hanging out with crazy-haired teenagers who make fun of me and take up the whole living room with their ever-increasing gangliness.
Even when it’s an adjustment, I wouldn’t change it. It feels right. I love them. In whatever way they can be mine, they are.
The rest of my life.
Work — that thing I do all day.
I’m so thankful for it, and in no small part because it brought me here successfully.
I’m lucky to work with brilliant, talented people at Sametz Blackstone Associates. They haven’t left me on the curb in hopes that someone else will take me away (yet), and for that I’m grateful. I learn something new here every single day and I laugh every single day — and I don’t know how many people can say that’s true of their jobs. Also, I get to hang out with very cute dogs, and visit the bakery around the corner far too often.
(Update: I just learned that one of those beautiful dogs is very sick, and will be leaving us today. Callie, you were a big part of this family, and a dear part of my day. You will be missed, beautiful girl.)
Finally, we have my friends.
This has maybe been the hardest part — not, of course, because of anything to do with my friends, but because moving to a new community and setting up new relationships is always challenging. Unlike Gradon, they don’t have to love me unconditionally (well, I guess he doesn’t either, but HE BETTER), and unlike Gradon and the folks I work with, I don’t see them every day. It takes a little more time to cement a connection.
I do miss the easy way I fit into all the communities I was a part of back in Vancouver, and the inside jokes and normal haunts and habits I had with my dear friends (including my bestie, Catherine.)
Add on top of that my tendency to isolate myself a little when I’m stressed (read: stay home/cook/Netflix. Full stop!) and a dose of my natural shyness, and it’s a bit of a challenge. Also, I can be annoying sometimes. I know… it’s a shock, right?
But I’ve found some lovely people. They include me in their plans, they bring energy and joy into my life, and they’re all interesting and funny and special in their own right. Some of them, I’ve met through Gradon, and some of them on my own. All of them are wonderful. I love them dearly, and hope to continue growing these relationships in the years to come.
That’s the life I chose a year ago, a year later.
I think the last 365 days have added a few more lines to my face — some probably from the stress, but most from smiling and laughing (and I should probably credit some of them to the crazy wind and weather we have here.)
Those days have also added:
… just plain more.
I’m proud of most of it. Almost all.
And thanks for following along.