Thursday, June 23, 2011

A realization

I was driving by myself in to work today for a change (Brendan's got an appointment at home), and I happened to turn to this song on my iPod:

It's a nice song on its own, but it has special meaning for me:  the day I graduated college and was about to leave for home, Brendan gave me a CD full of songs that he'd picked out.  Some were silly and some were serious, but most were about leaving, new chapters in our lives, and moving on.  I realize now - and perhaps realized then - that after two and a half years of dating, he didn't really expect to see me again.  He thought I would move to Philadelphia, my life would change, and I would find someone new.  I actually spent most of that summer, while I was doing a summer lab rotation in D.C., driving to work listening to that album - and probably crying at least once per commute, thinking about how much I missed him and how scared I was for things to change.

If I'm being honest here, I had the same thoughts as he did when I left college.  I loved him very much, but we had, in effect, had a long-distance relationship even when I was in Boston.  He worked full time and barely had time to see me, and my college schedule was pretty full, which led to us seeing each other for dinner or a movie once every 1-2 weeks.  When I left, we'd probably spent the equivalent of a month together, if you add up all the time we saw each other.  I didn't know if we could last the time apart, but I knew I had to choose to go to grad school somewhere great rather than staying in Boston.

(Commencement Ball, right before I left Boston)

The first few months away were really rough, and we didn't see each other near enough.  But something changed in the middle of my first year in grad school.  I finally came to see that he was committed and loved me, and we finally began to put effort into keeping the relationship going while we were apart.  Things weren't easy, of course, and we had plenty of arguments about how often we could talk to each other, see each other, etc.  But we managed to have a lot of fun together and see each other as often as possible.  We aren't always the greatest communicators, especially with each other, but I credit open communication for keeping us together over the five years I lived in Philly.  Without honesty and talking often, we wouldn't have made it.

My realization, in the car this morning, is that I finally have what I've been waiting for for so long.  Even when we were dating when I was in college, I was waiting for us to have a chance at a real relationship - and now we finally have the chance to be together, wake up to each other every morning, and have the full presence of each other in our lives.

This past week or two, I have been a ball of stress.  I've been worried about my new postdoc job, scared that it's going to be too intense for me.  I've been worried about how things will turn out with our relationship, and when we will get married and have kids.  I tend to stress a lot about the future, but this morning I definitely had a moment of appreciation of the present.  I am finally here, at home with my best friend and sweetheart, and we get to have a life together.

Brendan, if you are reading this, I am so happy to finally be here.  I know that we haven't really felt like things are much different than they were before - but that is a testament to the fact that we've managed to keep this relationship strong and grow together over our time apart.  Coming here to be with you felt like coming home, and I am so, so grateful for the chance to come home after all these years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On feeling at home

It's been a little over 6 weeks since I moved in with Brendan, and while it may sound cliche, the past weeks really have been a whirlwind of excitement, stress, over-emotional-ness, and fun.  It took a little while, but I now can say I really, totally, feel at home in the house.

Before I moved in, Brendan lived in the house for two years.  He took buying the house seriously, and bought "adult" furniture (i.e., not from Ikea).  The house was cute and looked polished when he first moved in - but without anyone else in the house, it began to look a bit like a bachelor pad - except in gigantic scale.  The combination of a stressful job and a long commute meant that he had very little time or energy to keep things clean, and once he moved in everything from his parents' house, there was a lot to organize.  And this, my friends, is what I moved into on May 1.

(No, I don't have any "before" pictures - I think I just really wanted to forget that little episode in our lives! But trust me, there was a lot of stuff, and while some areas were organized, many needed a little work.)

Being the neurotically organized person that I am, I had a few minor breakdowns in the first few weeks. Moving into a house with someone you love and merging your lives is stressful, and the lack of storage was a bit.....overwhelming.  But we got through those weeks together with a lot of compassion and love - patience didn't hurt, either.  We slowly but surely chipped away at the mountain of my stuff, and made room for my life in his house.

I am now the proud occupant of my "office," which is actually the formal dining room.  We discussed all sorts of possible locations for a desk for me, but it became pretty clear that any desk area was going to be a bit of a squeeze.  The dining room is not normally used for anything, so we set up my printer, computers, and some of the office supplies downstairs.  The whole thing can be moved somewhere else or stowed away if we have company over, and the space in the dining room is HUGE compared to where I would be working otherwise.  Take a look:

Not too bad, right?  Don't mind the clutter still in the corner - it's a pile of things to bring to my new desk at work.  But this space is perfect for me - both space-wise and feng shui-wise.

Brendan has been really, really wonderful about working hard to get the living spaces in the house organized, and I have to say, that is what's really made me feel welcome.  He knows I'm obsessively neat, and even though he isn't, he's trying his hardest to make sure everything is clean for me.  It will take a while until everything is taken care of, but the massive progress we've made has helped make me more patient for the rest of it to be finished.

Cleaning isn't all we've been doing, though - we've been having fun too!  I have my garden, and we have been catching a few movies (Pirates = meh, X-men = awesome).  There's been some cooking out, some shopping, and some snuggling going on too:

The kitties are getting adjusted to our new definition of "home" too - Mimu isn't totally comfortable yet, but we're getting there.  And Meadow and Lily like that I'm here - I feed them earlier in the morning!

The next few weeks will be busy, but I'll do my best to come by more often and write more.  I'm on a steep learning curve right now at work, but things will (hopefully) calm down and I'll get into the rhythm of things.

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far!  Did anyone grill anything exciting yet?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I have a garden!

Hello from my little corner of the world....long time no see!  I've been crazy busy this month, and now that I'm finally looking forward and the dust is settling on move-in time, it's time to tell you all about my new home!  I have a long post planned with pictures of all the rooms, but for now, let's talk about the garden:

I tried to make a nice little panorama of the garden, but as you can see, my Photoshop skills leave a little to be desired.  Oh well - at least you can kind of see what we've got!  You'll have to click on the pictures to actually be able to see anything....panoramas are huge!

When Brendan bought the house, one of the things he loved was the location - not just the town, although we love that too, but the fact that the house is located at the edge of a cliff with a beautiful view, and that it's at the top of a hill in his neighborhood.  The outdoor areas of the house were a huge selling feature, and this garden certainly helped convince him to buy.  The only problem is, there is a LOT to learn about keeping this garden up!

This is my first year paying attention to what we have outside, and so far I see hostas, some ornamental grasses, some unidentified pink and blue flowers, a not-yet-growing rose bush, and something that looks like creeping juniper.  I am learning as we go, so I'm sure I'll know a lot more about the garden as time goes on!  One of the things we're doing this year is keeping track of how it looks every month, so that we know when each flower comes out.

I have to say, one of the weirdest things I've noticed is that trees seem to try to grow EVERYWHERE around the house.  I didn't know trees could just sprout up randomly - I thought beyond just the acorn, they needed a little food and water and general care - but apparently, they can just pop up anywhere they please!  I have picked more trees than actual weeds out of the garden so far, which is a little odd.  We have to keep viligant, or we'll have a forest in the backyard instead of landscaping.

Aside from the beautiful plants, I now have an herb garden and some tomatoes:

The herb garden is sweet basil, Greek oregano, cilantro, rosemary, summer squash, and orange bell peppers.  In the small clay pot is green peppers - I think I may be planting those in the soil soon, I just wanted to make sure that things could grow in there before I put everything into the ground!  We have used some of the cilantro, basil, and oregano, and they were delicious.

And in the deck pots we have "Black Prince" heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and "Red Beefsteak" and "Mr. Stripey" heirloom tomatoes.

I am really excited about having actual food come out of our garden.  Last year's CSA experiment was great, but actually growing the food myself would be even more rewarding, and we'd have an abundance of the things we love without the abundance of random greens that we won't eat.  Let's cross our fingers that some of these actually grow - I'll keep you all posted!

That's it for now, but I'll have more soon on how the house is coming along once I get pictures of all the newly-clean rooms!