Why Did You Park There?

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Thoughts on what it means to be decent

I’d never call myself a rule follower. I’m creative and a dreamer so I don’t care for boundaries. But I do have an unfaltering desire to be decent. I don’t won’t to infringe on the rights of others. You’d think we’d all be in agreement with this. But it’s not so, on either the micro or macro level. Instead, we have a world of people who invade your personal space, tell you what to do with your body, and yes, park wherever they please.

I, like many, live in a community with assigned parking. While I get the occasional inconsiderate driver parked in my spot, I’m left baffled more by those who park in no parking zones. They park in fire lanes or areas where it makes it hard for others to get out. I honestly want to go up to those people, and ask them why they parked there. It’s not that every other space was taken, that’s not the problem. The problem seems to be that they think the rules don’t apply to them. They’ll park where ever they want. Drive how they want. Act like they want. And say what they want. And most of the time, there aren’t any consequences.

How did we as humans, the most advanced of all Earth’s creatures, end up so unaccountable? Every day, I witness adults doing whatever they want, including hurting and disrespecting others, with zero consequences. This is only going to end badly. As the “leaders” of the animal kingdom, aren’t we somehow supposed to be better than this?

So, it’s as good a time as any to start taking responsibility. Own your actions. Stop encroaching on others. Call others out who are making the world a less civil place. Don’t shove your beliefs down others’ throats. Get right with yourself. When you become emotionally healthy, you’ll find you have no desire to tear down others. Because isn’t that the ugly truth about human behavior? Most of those who want to condemn others or believe the rules just don’t apply to them, are just emotionally unavailable and impaired. So while they often present themselves to the world like a proud bird, they’re really sad and broken and insecure.

Do yourself and your fellow humans a favor, and get some therapy. I highly recommend it. Facing your truths, gives you the best shot at some kind of happy.

I’ve been known to say, only slightly in jest, that I don’t like people. I do like some of you (you know who you are). But honestly, I like you all enough to not object to, harm, inconvenience or hurt you. Your life is not my business. And mine isn’t yours. You can count on me, every day of the week, trying to be decent, which means I’ll park where I’m supposed to.

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I refuse to have a conventional marriage

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Marriage has been a part of society for thousands of years. Of course it has dramatically evolved. In the beginning, it wasn’t about love but rather the need to strengthen alliances and bare legitimate offspring. Polygamy was actually the norm up until around the sixth century when the Catholic Church interceded. But men still had much opportunity to be promiscuous. Marriage has since become more of a contract with a license being needed and the state’s involvement. Yet women did not have equality in marriage with marital rape still being legal in most states until the 1970s. Some would argue that women still aren’t equal in marriage or in society in general. And of course now, the laws of this country have finally turned to allow same-sex couples to marry.

So that was a short history lesson on marriage. The majority of marriages that have occurred during humanity’s reign on this planet have had nothing to do with love. It was business or a religious necessity. Arranged marriages still happen throughout the world.

I provide this history only because the idea of marriage isn’t some romantic, beautiful experience as we are told to believe by the bridal industry (which is a billion dollar industry). As you can tell by my tone, I don’t buy into any of the conventional nonsense about the sanctity of marriage. So why did I get married? Well for me, and for him, it wasn’t about a contract or the need to produce children. Our ideas and feelings toward marriage are completely unconventional. We cared little about the actual wedding and more about what it meant to us to be joined together, not in a religious manner or a civil manner, but really what it means to be husband and wife.

But I refuse to have a conventional marriage. Justin and I don’t ascribe to traditional roles in the marriage. He’s the cook; I manage the finances and “operational” parts of our life. We play to our strengths, and we make decisions together. However, we don’t have to ask “permission” to spend money or make plans.

I think I’m a good wife thus far. But you won’t catch me waiting on him. I’ve certainly made him coffee before, but he’s an independent man who can take care of himself. He doesn’t need me to do it. Nor do I need him to take care of me. We don’t “need” that from each other so it actually happens very organically.

And I’m not taking his last name, which has always been the custom and another way in which men are provided the lead. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that at this point, I’ve had this last name for 12 years. It’s a part of my brand. You may think it’s odd that I’m still going by my ex-husband’s last name. Maybe it is. Let me explain. I was glad to shed my maiden name. It was liberating because I didn’t want to be that person anymore. That person was gone to me in a lot of ways, and I certainly had no desire to continue with a last name that was relating to my father. So I didn’t change it back after my divorce. It’s a lot of work to change your name. In the end, it’s just a last name. It is completely inconsequential.

So the biggest question is: does it feel any different now than before we were married? We already lived together and had been building a life together. But I would say yes it has changed slightly in a really positive way. I like calling him husband. The permanence of it doesn’t make me freak out. I feel secure and safe in a way that I haven’t much of my life.

I never thought I’d try married life again. But then this amazing man showed up in my life. Any doubts or concerns I had about what marriage is and what it can be disappeared. I don’t really believe in happily ever after. I believe in happy right now at this moment, and I sure am.

How I Know I’m Not an A**hole

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Every once in a while I think a gut check is needed. I’ve been in a bad mood lately. Maybe it’s all the negativity in the air. And life is stressful. Lots going on then the holidays, which are often a time of sadness for me. I know I have a lot to look forward to and much to be thankful. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days; days when I’m pretty much winging it and holding on by a quickly fraying thread. So I decided to make this list to remind myself I’m not an a**hole, or at least not one most of the time.

  1. I pick up after my dogs. I understand that their waste belongs in a bag in the trash not on the ground for everyone to step in.
  2. I open doors for people, thank them when they do the same, say excuse me and respect people’s personal space. I do these things, not because I’m southern or a lady, but rather because it’s the behavior that was modeled by others. My mom and grandmothers were all very kind and considerate souls. Some of that apparently brushed off on me.
  3. I stop at stop signs and drive slowly through my neighborhood. I do this because I’m obeying traffic laws, and I’m never in a hurry. But I do look in disdain at the cars on the street not parked in the driveways or garages of million dollar homes. I side eye the yard signs that say, “Drive like your children live here.” Why? I’m driving through city streets right outside downtown Charlotte. This isn’t the suburbs. This is not a cul-de-sac.
  4. I don’t litter, and I pick up trash a lot in my neighborhood. Sometimes begrudgingly, thinking why does this not bother anyone else? But I care about the earth. It doesn’t deserve to be treated in the way that most humans treat it.
  5. I honestly try not to judge others. I may not understand why some people do the things they do. I may not agree with or like it. But I am not perfect, not even close so it’s not my place to judge others.
  6. When my temper gets the best of me and I become a bit snippy to those I love, I’m always able to calm down, reflect and apologize. Having this awareness and the ability to step back has saved me so many times.
  7. I don’t always have to be right. I mean, I am a lot, but being right isn’t a prize that you win. And if it was a prize, it’d be a very lonely one. I can admit when I’m wrong (even if it’s just a whisper).
  8. I will do about anything I can to help an animal. It’s easy to be loving and kind toward animals. They make my life better. If I can repay that in any way, I will.
  9. I do not chew loudly or make weird sounds. It’s fine if you do, but you may always be a table for one.
  10. I don’t put empty things back in the refrigerator. What kind of monster does that? Oh yeah, men.
  11. I stand up for my beliefs. I’m not a yes woman. I’m not a sheep. And maybe this does make me seem like an a**hole sometimes. But I think it makes me brave.
  12. I try, some days harder than others, to leave the world a bit better than the day before. This could mean that I do a lot of little things or nothing at all. No matter what’s going on in my life or my mood, I believe in being better. I do not have a poker face so it’s easy to see when I’m not having it; although my resting bitch face may make it harder to interpret. But I’m just a real person with real feelings. And I think it’s okay not to hide them.
  13. I make lists like these, which must mean there is more kindness in my heart than coldness.

So this is what I could come up with half an hour. Tell me, what are you doing in your life to make sure you’re not the a**hole?

 

What Love Means to Me

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I once thought love was about finding someone you couldn’t live without; that loving someone was the same as your need for air. Because this is what I learned about love, beginning with fairy tales and reiterated by rom-coms and just about everything else I absorbed as a young girl. Popular cultural has been teaching girls for ages that love is something that envelops you and sinks down into your every pore. And that without it, you’re nothing.

The reality of love is far different. But it took me a long time to come to the conclusion that love is really about finding someone you can live with, flaws and all.

I am not an expert on love. I have been an utter failure at it most of my life. I do know that my thoughts have changed, and even though love has been heart breaking at times, when it’s right, it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve only been in love three times. Here’s how I found my own meaning of love.

I was probably always a little boy crazy. Most of the time in elementary school I had a boyfriend, whatever that meant. Although I do recall kissing in kindergarten during nap time. In middle school, I bloomed and got noticed more by boys. I never had a problem with boys liking me. I just usually liked a different one! Pop culture allowed me to believe that someday I’d get the boy I wanted; after all Molly Ringwald did.

But I never really had real heartache until high school. My first serious boyfriend was much older and more experienced. And for some reason he liked me. I felt special. I thought he really cared for me, and he probably did. But I was naive; life had not hardened me yet. I still remember when he broke up with me at the movie theater. I cried for days. I didn’t understand why. Hadn’t I done everything right? Hadn’t I been the perfect girlfriend? It was a good learning experience about “love.” I didn’t really love that guy. I did trust him and cared for him deeply. It changed me. It made me realize that I should protect my heart more, and that’s about the last time anyone broke up with me. Many years later he apologized to me, and I really appreciated that.

The only guy I really loved from my adolescence was a guy I met when I was dating his friend. Then he and I realized we had feelings for each other. We didn’t date long. Instead we stayed friends. I went on to date others, but my heart was always his. What I remember most about him were the late night phone calls that lasted for hours when we were really honest about everything. A few years later when I was in college, I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me, too, but he couldn’t be with me. He didn’t think he was good enough. I didn’t know what to say so I put some distance between us. And in that distance, he met someone. Not long after, he told me he was going to have a baby and was getting married.  That summer was brutal. I still remember him telling me; nothing was ever the same. 

A few weeks later, I spent the last night in the house I grew up in with him. But he still got married and became a dad. He still called me all the time until one day I said stop. I didn’t want those calls to stop, but he had made his choice. I needed to get on with my life. I never stopped loving him or thinking there might be a time for us in the future. Then he died. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in years. I knew his life was kind of a mess. I only hope that he always knew that someone loved him.

I didn’t really fall in love again until my 30s. My early 20s were full of lots of non-commitment then I met my ex-husband. But as I clearly know now, I never really loved him, at least not romantically. I was not in any condition to love at that time, which is why I married a man I didn’t love.

This next love was after him, and it was a train wreck from the start. We were co-workers. I was still married when we met. We were just friends at first. After separating, he and I knew we couldn’t start something. It was too soon. But there was something very intense between us. And honestly, I had already fallen in love with him over the many months of long conversations at the office. I tried to move forward and not think of him. I started dating; met some guys I liked. It was him I wanted though, and we couldn’t stay away from each other. About a year later, we finally made a go at it. It was never easy. There was a lot of baggage. There was fighting and anger. I loved him fiercely. I stepped on my heart until it burst to stay with him. Slowly, I fell out of love with him and had to go so I could save myself. I’ll always care about him. I have forgiven him. He wasn’t my happy ending, no matter how bad I wanted him to be.

After that, I needed to just work on me. It took a long time to heal from that heartbreak. I was fine being alone. And when I was in a good place, something amazing happened, I fell in love for the last time. We were friends at first. I wasn’t sure where it would go, and that was okay. When you’re older and wary from what you’ve been through, you have a different expectation, which is that you don’t have any expectations!

He won me over with his easy way about him that’s just so relaxing to my soul. He is bright and kind. He is a good father and a wonderful partner. I never knew it could be so easy to be with someone. There’s no drama; our only fight is what to have for dinner (and that topic itself could be a blog – coming soon!).

What he has taught me about love is that it can be unconditional when it’s right. He lets me be me. I let him be him. Yes, we still have to work on our relationship, but we do that every day by talking to each other or not talking. Regardless, it’s honest and sincere. It’s a really nice way to live. I once had this checklist of what I thought love would be. It’s long in the trash! That’s not how the real world works. As I get closer to becoming his wife, I absolutely believe we will make it because he’s the one I can live with.