I’m one of those people who makes other people puke because I’m married to my best friend. P is too good for me, in every way. I first started to realize how amazing he was after days spent staring at the sky through the branches of huge maple trees, studying for finals together, and playing Devil’s Advocate. I fell in love with him after nights spent sneaking around hidden parts of campus, talking about our pasts, presents and futures, and eating hash browns at Waffle House.
At first it was really complicated. There were a few months when I was sure I’d lost him, as a result of stupidity on both sides. Somehow we made it over the hump and decided to make it work. For over a year we had a long distance relationship…one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There’s something to be said for relationships where you can just sit and be with each other, even when there’s nothing to say. Doing that from opposite sides of the ocean is next to impossible. Thank God for Skype, Facebook, and calling cards. We visited each other a few times during that year, when I was at uni and during a semester in Spain.
Just before Christmas my senior year, P proposed during a trip to England to visit him at school. He’d written me a love letter back at the beginning and told me to keep it with me at all times. On the day he proposed to me, he stole the letter from my wallet and highlighted parts that, when read together, said “Will you…will you…will you marry me?”. Adorable. And terrifying! How did he know we were meant to be together forever? But then again, I knew it, too.
Sorry, disgusting. I know. Anyway, back to the story. After I graduated from college, we got married in my hometown church. I applied for a UK spouse visa and moved to England to be with P during his final year of seminary. I got a job at Starbucks (ironic, right?) to pay the bills, and ended up staying there for four years. More about that later. That first year was terrifying and amazing and challenging all at the same time. My mom tells me I’m her conversation piece – Ooo, a daughter that lives halfway across the world! – but to me, it’s just life.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience culture shock! Holy shit, England is not like America. The first time I visited P’s family, I thought they were speaking Greek. Hell, sometimes I still can’t understand him. There’s no such thing as free refills, I can’t find macaroni and cheese to save my life, and I have to have Peeps shipped over on every major holiday in order to stay sane.
After overcoming the initial differences, though, I got used to England. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time going home to visit my family in the States now. Stepping off the plane results in strong feelings of embarrassment and homesickness as I think, what the F are people saying?! I regularly find myself pretending not to be American when groups of people who are obviously tourists fulfil every single negative stereotype at once. I know I’m loud, but come on. Snapping your fingers and shouting for my attention does not endear you to me. Still, my roots are my roots, and I suppose I can’t deny them. Not completely, at least. 😉
I really wanted to go back to school (because I’m a huge nerd and, if given a million pounds, would probably just take degrees and travel until the money ran out) but had to wait three years to pay UK fees. So, I kept working at Starbucks (to pay the bills, I know) and eventually got a job at a nursery. I loved the nursery at first, so much so that I took a course that gave me Early Years Professional Status. I left the coffee shop for a few months when the nursery gave me full time hours and pay. Then things turned sour. I never thought that people could be so shady and negative. It all ended very badly and I made the decision to leave with no other job…terrifying, but I knew that if I was so worked up every morning that I would cry the whole way to work, I should get the F out.
So, back to Starbucks. Seriously, I need a career. The best part of that job was meeting my best friend R. She is everything that I’m not: calm, relaxed, creative, and skinny. Bitch. But honestly, she is the best friend I’ve ever had and I’m so grateful for that smelly coffee shop for putting us together! R moved to get away from home, and I stayed at Starbucks while taking a Masters degree. Spanish Linguistics = far more statistical analysis than anyone should ever have to do, and far nerdier than I had imagined. Not what I thought it would be, but a means to an end, in the end. I thought I’d be clever and give myself a niche…something glam that employers would hire me for.
Then I got pregnant. So much for a career! OK, so it sounds like an oops, but we did talk about it and plan it. After almost four years of marriage, we managed to keep our cat Jet alive and stay married, so we figured it was time for the next step. We moved back down south in July, P started his chaplaincy, and I worked until New Year and started maternity leave. Our beautiful daughter Sophia was born on March 12th, after a stressful few days of labor and an emergency caesarean. I’ll spare the gory details (unless you want to hear them! no? ok.), but everything is wonderful and scary and overwhelming now.
What now? After taking lots of time to be with my beautiful baby, I guess it will be time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Or maybe we’ll just have another baby. (Shh, don’t tell my husband!)