Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This One Time, In Key West... (PART FOUR - HEADING HOME)

We woke up early on our last morning, so we could grab a quick breakfast and stop into town to pick up some giant cookies for the plane ride home.  Our flight was at 5:30 later that day, but we were out the door by 9:30am.

We drove to Dunkin Donuts for what we anticipated to be a speedy on-the-go meal, but ended up being there for half an hour as the two slowest women on Earth took our orders and messed up Claudia's food three times.  When we went into town the first store we needed to go to was closed, and the cookie store didn't have the kind that Jil wanted.

"Let's just go home, I think we're done here" was the general consensus.

We drove to the airport, this time not in rush hour traffic, and also this time in the daylight.  We could see the beautiful water as we drove over bridge after bridge, and the big mansions that Oprah and other celebrities had as vacation homes.  About a third of the way into our drive, we stopped in Islamorada for a pee break (I wasn't lying when I said I always have to pee), and Jil showed us the beautiful spot where she had wanted to take us on our way down for dinner and drinks.  It's a shame, it would have been an amazing start to our trip had we not been delayed for ten years of our lives.

One last group pic with our best friend, the selfie stick
The one thing that was not so amazing about Islamorada; there was water beneath the bridge that was filled with tarpons.  For those of you who aren't familiar, they are fish that are roughly the size of a basketball player.  These things are HUGE, and they jump straight out of the water to catch food and their eyes are half the size of my face.  It's not ok.  More ok than the iguanas, but still...not great.  Also with them were sharks.  Because nothing is more comforting that looking down at fish half the size of a football field, only to have a shark mosey on by.

The monster to the left of the shark was easily 6 ft long.  WHY ARE YOU SO BIG, FISH?
We got back in the car and drove and drove and drove.  Luckily, it was sunny, beautiful weather.  We stopped to get gas and stock up on beef jerky for the plane (protein kids, it's all about protein).  We arrived at the car rental place, dropped off the car, grabbed our bags, and walked into the airport.  They weighed our bags after telling us that if they were over 40 lbs we would have to pay an extra $30 fee.  The suitcase that Jil and I had split was 39.5 lbs.  Carol and Claudia's suitcase was 42 lbs.  Carol opened the bag and, understandably frustrated, took out a bunch of clothes and threw them in the brown paper bag that had held our giant cookies.  The part that was annoying was that we had exactly the same amount of stuff in our suitcases as we did on the way down.  And remember when I said Carol hates carrying a bag?  This was not her favorite moment.  We walked to our gate, sat down, and that's when the rain came.  The sky was black, it rained down, it rained up, it rained sideways.  It was like that scene in Forrest Gump.  Jil pulled up a weather map on her phone and we saw Hurricane Harvey coming from the west and a new hurricane coming from the East.  Right down the center was a clear path that luckily included Atlanta, which we had a layover in again.

They boarded us 30 minutes late, and then we sat on the runway (Tarmac? Airport driveway?) for a full hour waiting for the rain to let up.  We then noticed that none of the seats had air sickness bags, so I started doing inventory in my head of how many random plastic bags I had in my carry-on that I could give to Carol if need be.

We finally got off the ground and again we had turbulence.  Not as bad as the trip down, but enough for us to grab the seats in front of us again.  We landed in Atlanta and they told us we had 10 minutes to get off and do whatever before we had to board again.  We ran off, peed quicker than we had peed before, went to board the plane, and were told it would still be about a 20 minute wait.

So we just threw our bags on the ground and sat where we stood.  Chairs be damned, they were a full two feet away.

The second leg of the flight went so smoothly that I thought, "If every flight was like this, I would fly all the time".  Literally the SECOND that thought left my mind, our plane started shaking again and the pilot came on and told us there would be some turbulence.  At that point, I was so exhausted I literally don't even remember what I was thinking.

At around 10:30 that night we landed, and by 11:45 we were home.

Although the travel to and from was hell, the trip itself was amazing, albeit exhausting.  I'll tell you one thing though; as I sat in my apartment the next day, with the temperature outside barely reaching 60 degrees as it poured for 24 hours straight, I desperately longed to be back in those muggy, sunny, iguana filled Florida Keys.

The EP Ladies

This One Time, In Key West... (PART THREE - IT'S RAINING POOP)

Sunday morning.

Beach Day.

But first, breakfast.

We went to Blue Heaven, as Jil had been there before and I had a couple of people from work suggest it.  It's a really cute outdoor place with a rustic, islandly feel and chickens and roosters walking around.  In fact, there were roosters all over Key West- they're its version of squirrels.

We sat and we waited.  We finally ordered our coffee and we waited.  We finally ordered our food and we waited.  The food was good, but the rest of us should have taken Claudia's advice and just substituted the various omelet fillings with more meat and cheese.  We were about halfway through our meal, when we noticed something wet drip down from the sky, straight onto the chair in between Claudia and I that held our purses and sweatshirts.  Then more stuff came down, a little more forcefully and with a slightly brownish tint.

"Is, is that...poop?"

No sooner had this question been asked then a GLOB OF CHICKEN DIARRHEA FELL FROM THE HEAVENS AND SPLAT DOWN IN BETWEEN ME AND CLAUD'S COFFEE MUGS.

Everyone stopped.  Everyone stared.

"Did it get on our stuff?" Jil asked, almost afraid to say the question out loud.

I looked over and saw brown spots on everything.

"YUP", I yelled and stood up, frantically looking up and around for a safe place to stand.

We tried to get our waitresses attention but she was awful and just kept walking past.  Finally Claudia was able to grab her eye.

"Hi, yes," Claud said as the girl casually sauntered over, "Yes, um, we just got SHIT ON".

"Oh no," the waitress said, looking down at the glob of pure poultry evil spreading across the table, "Did it get on you?"

"It got all over our stuff." I told her.

"I'm so sorry.  I'll send a busboy over right away."

It took the busboy about ten minutes to show up, and he lazily threw some napkins on the table.  Then the manager came over and literally chuckled and said, "Well that hasn't happened in awhile".

In awhile?  IN AWHILE?  If we wanted to get shit on we would just stand outside in Pennsylvania and let a pigeon's digestive system have its way with us.

I went to the bathroom to reevaluate my life, and when I returned the girls informed me that they took some money off of our check (which didn't matter because they overcharged us for other things), and apparently we were each going to get a free t-shirt from the gift shop.  While picking out our shirts, a woman came in and told us that we could only get 2 free shirts between the 4 of us, and I immediately became the kind of customer that I hate, and instructed her to go talk to her manager again because either we're all getting free shirts, or we're just leaving.  She came back and said we could all get one, so we all picked out ugly stupid shirts from their ugly stupid gift shop.

We went back to the hotel and I ran my sweatshirt underneath water in the bathtub and then hung it to dry.  Funny thing about tropical weather though- air drying is impossible.

We soldiered on and went to the beach.  I'm obsessed with palm trees and to be on a beach that had them everywhere was one of the greatest things I've ever seen.  And the water was warm.  And clear.  I never knew such luxury existed.  We lounged and read and then noticed it was starting to look like rain so we drove back to the hotel and sat in a cabana by the pool.  It was here that I noticed all of the iguanas.

Hello Lover

 Here's the thing.  Not much scares me in terms of animals.  You can cover me in snakes and rats and scorpions and it wouldn't bother me.  You could throw hypodermic needles my way and it would just be another day at the Jersey Shore.  But something about iguanas...no no no.  Iguanas will leap through the air like a Jurassic gazelle and EAT YOUR FUCKING FACE OFF.

These assholes were everywhere.  Walking by the pool.  Sleeping on the island IN the pool.  One waited for a lady to get up out of her lounge chair before strolling over, hopping up on it, and making himself at home.  There was one in the grass behind my chair that kept getting closer, and every time I made eye contact with it, I swear it grinned and licked its lips.  Carol finally had to shoo it away before I went into cardiac arrest.

Jurassic Park 6: Terror in the Keys

As per usual, it started raining again, so we went upstairs and climbed into bed.  A couple of hours later we got dressed again and went out for our last night in Florida.  Our first stop was Mallory Square, where every night there was a sunset festival.  Except for that night apparently.  There was one weird guy with a cat who had bald spots from stress (the guy and the cat), and after standing there for a minute and getting a stranger to take a full length picture of us (the one downside of the selfie stick), we moved on to dinner.

We DO have legs!
We went to another cute outdoor place for dinner, where Jil and Carol had delicious burgers and Claudia and I had dreadfully disappointing crab cakes and quesadillas.  After eating we hopped around to a couple of bars, including one that had dollar bills stapled all over every inch of it.  There was an alligator in a glass case at the back of the place, so we jumped up next to it to take a picture.  A foreign man with a staple gun joined in, and while I don't remember exactly what he was saying, I do remember being worried about the combination of his blood alcohol level and heavy duty office supplies.

One sneeze from this guy and we all would have staples in our heads

Then we wandered around some more and went into a bar called The Bull.  Jil went to the bathroom and when she came back she informed us that there was a clothing optional bar upstairs.  She seemed grossed out by it, but at the mention of 'clothing optional', Claudia and I looked at each other and raised our fists in the air.

"PENIS!" we shouted, with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning.

Carol looked at us. "A guy from work said to not go up to the Garden of Eden".

"PENIS." Claudia and I said again, this time as a fact, not an exclamation.

We went up to the second floor and noticed everybody was clothed.  Well this didn't seem right.  Then Claudia noticed another set of stairs with a sign next to it that said No Cell Phones.

"This must be it", she said.

"Hooray!" I yelled, running up the stairs and preparing myself for some naked tourists.

The Garden of Eden is a rooftop deck with towels on the benches and a closed off space on the side where you can get your whole body painted.  Two middle aged women were in there getting painted and they looked amazing.  Two completely naked men were shaking literally everything on the dance floor to "Shut Up and Dance".  Every man in there was naked, all the women were clothed.  We stood and looked around, not sure how long of a glance we could give any given person, and I wondered where people put their clothes.  Were there lockers?

As I was wondering this, a guy with a Welsh accent came up to me and asked what was going on.  Apparently he had been downstairs with his mother and grandfather and someone had told him to check out upstairs.  They just didn't tell him about the clothing optional part.  He was scared and confused and I took that opportunity to ask him about my guilty pleasure British reality show, The Only Way is Essex.  After telling me that the cast 'were all wankers, every single one', we all went back downstairs and we helped his family get an Uber home.  We watched their car pull up and immediately drive away.  We watched it drive by again.  Claudia looked at her phone and it said that the guy had picked up his passengers.  They were just the wrong passengers.  Unable to cancel the trip, Claud tried calling the driver but he hung up on her.  Then Jil took the phone and texted the guy.

'You have the wrong passengers.  We tried calling you.  Cancel the trip. 
Make it happen.  We're walking.'

A moment later Claudia got a confirmation that the trip was canceled.

Boom.

We ended the night at another bar and were all exhausted and realized we had stayed out too late.  Back to the hotel we went, with Jil's and my bags still smelling faintly of rooster.

This One Time, In Key West... PART TWO - TRAINS, DRAG, & SELFIE STICKS)

So here we were.  Waking up Saturday morning in Key West, all in one piece.  After losing the previous afternoon and night to traveling, we were determined to fit in as much as we could during our remaining two days.  After an ever-nourishing breakfast at IHOP, we boarded the shuttle for town and bought tickets for a train tour.  We figured as we rode around we could pick and choose what destinations we wanted to go to that day.

One of the great things about Key West is the open container law.  It allowed us to always have a refreshing beverage in our hands no matter where we were.  You can even get a beer at one bar and bring it into the next.  This was great for those of us who don't drink a lot, as we didn't have to order a new beer at every place that we went to.

We hit a bar as we waited for the train and then poured the rest of our drinks in cups and boarded the cutest little trolley with the cutest little driver.  He took us all around and gave great commentary.  The four of us girls sat in the very back (as only the coolest of kids do), and we eventually gave in to Jil's requests to take a picture of us all wearing the paper train conductor hats the ticket lady gave us.

Oh, quick side note: Claudia mentioned that morning that she had forgotten to pack her selfie stick.  We immediately proceeded to make fun of her, and I believe I made a comment about how I would rather get back on a plane than be caught dead taking a picture with one of those things.  She tried to explain how useful they are, but we were all like, "Psssh, nooooo Claudia, you're wrooooong".  Needless to say, she went into the gift shop next to the ticket stand for the train and bought a selfie stick.  It was pink.  It was large when extended.

It was a lifesaver.

Granted, it took us awhile to figure out how to use it, but by the end of the first day we were pros.  We took this thing EVERYWHERE and used it a million times.  Please enjoy the photos below that first show Carol, Jil, and I very confused about Claud's instructions on how to use it, and then show how useful that little pink sucker was:

"Wait, what?  There's a button?  WHAT'S GOING ON?"

Cheese, suckers


Ok, back to the story.

After getting off of the train we decided that our first stop would be to Ernest Hemingway's house which thrilled me to the core because, while I think he's a shit writer (sorry every English teacher I've ever had), I was still interested to see how he lived and worked.

We entered the house, which was BEAUTIFUL, and tagged along on a tour that was about to start.  Our tour guide was amazing.  She was funny and knowledgeable and didn't hold back on telling us about old Ernie's affairs and affinity towards the glug glug.  It was amazing to walk through and see the books that he read and the glasses that he drank out of and the typewriters scattered around.  We also realized that not only was Hemingway a stone cold fox when he was younger, but he was also a silver haired god when he was older.  The consensus was, 'Yeah, I'd hit that'.

The Sun Also Rises in my pants, amirite?


There were also cats.  Oh good lord were there cats.  6-toed cats to be exact, 55 of them.  They were on the bed, napping in the sink, wandering around their little village of mini wooden houses.  They all were named after celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart.  Jil was beside herself with the adorableness of it all, and I was beside myself with an allergy attack.

The best part was after the tour, when we could go up and see the studio where he wrote.  It was the only part of the house that was completely untouched, and there were black, wrought iron bars keeping you from fully walking in.  But to see where this man sat and thought and wrote and daydreamed, it was incredible.  There was still a piece of paper in his typewriter (whether that was staged or not I'm unsure of, but I'm going to pretend it was real).

After leaving the Hemingway House, we shopped and we ate and we became quite familiar with how oppressively hot Key West was.  I'm freezing if it's below 80 degrees so I loved every second of it- it was sticky and muggy and sexy and I was in heaven.  Whenever we got too hot we would just duck into a store which are all air conditioned, or stand by a fan outside a restaurant.  After a few hours we decided to head back to the hotel and watch some TV like god damn Americans.

While waiting for the shuttle back, a group of youths came up and began a fight right in front of us.  They were drunk, they were yelling, the girls were trying to calm down the boys, the boys all had ridiculously bright shorts on.  Eventually the drunkest guy sat by a tree a few feet away from me and promptly began to vomit.  Claudia turned to me and suggested that I maaaaybe not look in that direction.

As our shuttle arrived the girls pulled out a plastic bag for the kid to continue puking in, which the wind immediately picked up and took out of her hands.  It flew into the street, and one of the guys ran out after it, right into traffic.  Everyone stopped and one of the girls finally asked, "Did he, like, get run over?"

He did not.

They then walked towards our shuttle and us girls looked at each other, hoping this jackhole was not going to be getting on our ride and ralphing all over our good time.  Luckily our shuttle was just for our hotel, so the gaggle of idiots got on another trolley.

After our relaxing break in the hotel room, we got ready for our first night out.  We got dressed and brushed our hair and put on some makeup.  Claudia, my fellow blonde, got this powder to fill in her eyebrows, as sometimes people with lighter hair can look like they have no eyebrows or eyelashes which is just plain silly.  She asked if I wanted to try it and I was all, hell yes!

She showed me how to put it on and I felt like a new lady.  The other three girls approved so we grabbed our bags and the selfie stick (I feel like we should have named it, considering it ended up practically being the 5th person on our trip) and walked out of the hotel to catch the shuttle.  It promptly started pouring.

We come from the school of tongues, not duck face

 But did that stop us?  No!  We had overcome the plane ride from hell and the car ride from some other hell!  We were unstoppable!  We were ready!  WE HAD EYEBROWS DAMMIT!!!

We hit a bar called Sloppy Joe's that someone had suggested to Carol.  It was super crowded so we decided to just grab some walking beers there and move on.  The girl behind the bar asked for me and Claud's IDs, and when she saw how old her were she looked at us, then back down at our licenses, then back up at us.

"Damn!" she said, as all four of us look roughly ten years younger than we actually are.

Our next stop was Irish Kevin's where we happily realized that we weren't the oldest people in the bar.  There was a guy on stage playing guitar and singing and he would bring up people who had on a bachelorette sash or a birthday crown, and pour liquor down their throats.  Then we realized that mentally, maybe we were the oldest people in the bar because we gagged just at the thought of taking a shot of anything.

We used to be cool, I swear.  We used to stay out past 10, and drink all night, and not wear sweatpants to the bar.

From there we hit the main event of the night: A drag show.

Jil and Claud have been to them before but Carol and I were downright penis tucking virgins.  We met one of the performers outside, Miss Sheeva, promptly became best friends with her, and took a picture of all of us (she even found the picture on Facebook that night and commented on how nice it was to meet us.  Be still my heart).  Her makeup sparkled like the Times Square New Year's Eve ball and she had a better rack than I'll ever have.

We went inside and grabbed seats right at the front of the stage.  While we were waiting for the show to start, the announcer and head performer came around to talk to us.  She came up to us with her microphone and began asking me where we were from when she suddenly stopped at stared at me.

"Your eyebrows are amaaazing," she said as she took a finger and firmly wiped it across my newly powdered brow.

"Don't wipe it off, they're fake!" I cried as the rest of the girls burst out laughing.

"Oh shit!" the host laughed, before putting her arm around me and saying, "Girl, I know how that goes."

I told her we were from Philly and she told us that she has a cousin who lives in King of Prussia, by that "big, crazy ass mall".

The show was amazing.  AMAZING.  We stuffed dollar bills in the girls' outfits and sung and danced and had the best time.  By 1:30am the show still wasn't over, but our tired old asses decided to go home.

She slayed, she sashayed, she wiped my eyebrows off

 We got an Uber home and collapsed into bed.  Four girls, seven eyebrows.



Monday, September 4, 2017

This One Time, In Key West... (PART ONE - GETTING THERE)

Key West 2017

The Cast:

Jil: Key West aficionado and mother to the shmooshiest little girl you ever did meet.

Claudia: Brave as hell, bruises like a peach; had the foresight to pack a power strip, medicine for tummies, nerves, sleep, etc., as well as sunscreen with an SPF so high it would prevent a burn even if you were sitting on the sun itself.

Carol: Hardcore on the outside, heart of gold on the inside.  Hates carrying a bag and loves a good steak.

Alexis: Your faithful storyteller who always has to pee.

The Tale:

We've known each other for years- the longest being 25 years, the shortest being 15.  Still, the four of us have never gone away on vacation together.  Sure, we've talked about trips; but then moving and relationships and babies and jobs began keeping us busy.  It wasn't until a few months ago when Jil and I were sitting on my porch- drowning our respective sorrows in wine- that we decided to just do it.  Jil goes to Key West every year and had racked up a bunch of airline miles and hotel savings, so we texted Claud and Carol on the spot, figured out the one weekend that worked for everyone, and before you knew it everything was booked.

Easy, right?  The sign of a stress free getaway, right?  RIGHT?!

The morning of vacation arrived.  Jil slept over my place the night before, and Carol slept over Claudia's.  As our alarm went off at 4am, I rolled out of bed and told Jil to brace herself because I was going to turn on the light.

"NOOOOO", she moaned form beneath the covers.

"It's the only way", I replied, flicking on the switch.  I was halfway through the living room when I heard Jil yell out, "GAHHHH, YOU WHORE!!!".

Apparently Carol didn't have it much better at Claudia's house, as Claud programmed her alarm to automatically turn on all the lights when it goes off.

Everything aside, Claud and Carol arrived at my apartment at 4:30 and we drove to the airport.  It has become a running joke that Claudia always gets searched by the TSA.  I'm convinced it's because they see a pretty blonde with boobs for days, but who can really say.  We arrived at the airport, checked our bags, and then walked to the end of the longest line I had ever seen in my life.  This thing zigged, this thing zagged, this thing reached all the way down to the end of the airport.  Fortunately it moved pretty quickly and as we went through the metal detectors, for the first time in a long time Claudia was spared a pat down, a finger printing, and a general caressing by a uniformed government official.  We took this as a sign that, again, this trip was going to go off without a hitch.

We were in high spirits and we grabbed some breakfast and waited to be boarded.  We watched the sun rise over the Philly skyline, and even Carol admitted it looked pretty.  As we got on the plane, Jil mentioned she preferred the aisle seat, and no one seemed to want the window seat so I happily obliged.  I've only flown three other times in my life, the last time being seven years ago.  The first leg of our trip was fine, even though we now had a layover in Atlanta because the airline we chose, while cheap, is also an asshole and changed our nonstop flight to a direct flight.  So while we had a layover, we just got back on the same plane.

The plan was to land in Ft. Lauderdale around noon and then drive our rental car down to Key West, getting there sometime between 3 and 4 o'clock.

That was the plan.

As we approached Ft. Lauderdale I remember looking out the window and thinking how pretty the clouds looked.  It was like a quilt of white, with what looked like little kernels of puffy popcorn popping up here and there.  I took a picture to remember it because it just seemed so peaceful and still.

Moments before all hell broke loose

As we began our descent, we heard the wheels go down, which is always Jil's favorite sound because she hates flying.  But then it got very dark.  The plane started shaking and for a split second I forgot that I was in the sky because I'm so accustomed to any bumpiness being from the road while I'm in a car.  On the ground.  Where humans are supposed to be.

The shaking intensified and as if on cue, everyone in the plane threw out their arms and braced themselves on the seat in front of them.  It felt like we were in a snow globe and some maniacal, shitty little kid was shaking it with all of his might.

After what was maybe 2 or 3 minutes- which is a lifetime in turbulence years- we straightened out.  Carol reached for her air sickness bag, "just in case".

The pilot came on the speaker and told us that there was bad weather around the airport and visibility was down to zero.  Air traffic control wouldn't allow any planes to land, so the pilot told us we were going to circle one more time and then land.

It felt like the plane went sideways and we circled around the storm.  Almost immediately we were caught in another bought of turbulence, only this time a much longer, much more violent bought.  I heard a woman scream and looked over to find that it was Jil.  Tears were streaming down her face as Carol stuffed her face into her barf bag.  My immediate response- due to my severe fear of anything having to do with throw up- was to put my hood up, close my eyes, and plug my fingers in my ears, as poor Carol was thrown around like a rag doll next to me, desperately trying to keep her lunch down.

The only way that I can truly try to describe the whole situation is to relate it to those scenes in TV and movies; the ones right before the plane goes down.

I've noticed that as I've grown older, I tend to feel more calm than anything else when faced with a scary or dangerous situation.  As I sat there with my head down and my ears covered, everything in my head went kind of silent and I remember trying to figure out if I was scared or not.  I remember thinking about Kirby and thinking about Matt, and thinking about how if something did happen, I would never get to get married or have babies.  I thought about who I would call if we did go down, and I decided on Matt.  The idea of calling my mom made me feel too sad.

We finally straightened out again and as I was opening my eyes I heard Jil say, "Fuck you, Claudia".  I looked over to see Claudia laughing and taking a picture of us (remember when I said she was brave?).  Here are the two pictures she took, the first of which shows the intensity of the shaking, as she couldn't even hold her camera still, and the second shows Jil mid "fuck you".  These of course aren't the most flattering pictures and by no means convey the sheer violence of what we just went through, but they give the general idea:


Still able to throw out a good 'ol Fuck You, even in the midst of a crisis

At this point we had no idea where in the sky we were, how close to the ground we were, if we were ascending or descending, or what was happening.  Nobody was telling us anything.  I lifted up the window shade just a crack and saw that we were close enough to the ground that I could actually see people walking around.  Getting in their cars, casually strolling into a store; people below going about their every day lives, with their feet wallowing in the luxury of pavement and grass.

'We're going to land,' I thought to myself as I closed the shade and wiped my absolutely sweat-drenched hands on my pants.  Seconds later, the plane began to shake again.  Not as bad as the second time, but worse than the first time.  All of a sudden- and I know that sounds like a cliche phrase but there is really no other way to put it- our plane shot straight up into the air with more force than I have ever felt before.  It felt like our backs were completely parallel to the ground and in no more than a few seconds, we went from being a couple of miles from the ground, to high above the clouds.  We all clutched onto the seats in front of us once again, as Carol and her bag resumed position.  I laid my forehead against my arm and just started to cry.  I don't often cry in public, as I am one of those people who likes to keep everything bottled up inside until I can unfairly erupt in a fit of anger and tears on some poor soul who had nothing to do with it.

I was so frustrated and just could not believe that we were doing this again.  One time was scary, two times was terrifying, three times was unbearable.

The plane righted itself and we continued on in silence, still not sure where we were going or what the pilot was doing.  There were no announcements, no available stewardesses (as they were all strapped in for dear life at the front and back of the plane), nothing.

Then it got sunny.

After what I would guess was maybe twenty minutes, our pilot finally came over the intercom and told us that we couldn't land, so we were heading up to Orlando.  UP.  Not the navigational direction any of us wanted to be going.

"I knew it," Jil said, "It got too sunny.  I knew he was taking us to freaking Orlando".

The pilot also told us that we needed to refuel, since he apparently used it all up CIRCLING THE SEVENTH LEVEL OF HELL THREE TIMES.

We flew to Orlando, landed, and were told to stay on the plane as they filled out paperwork and figured out what they were supposed to do.  Then they listed off all of the connecting flights that fellow passengers had now missed.  Everyone got on their phones to call people and let them know they would not be meeting them in Ft. Lauderdale.  The girl in front of me told the person on the other end of her phone that she was in Orlando.

"No, I didn't land in Orlando," she said in frustration, "the PLANE landed in Orlando".

We sat and we sat.  We sat for close to an hour with no announcements, no water, no food.  Everyone got up to stretch and a line for the bathroom formed, with two of the stewards manning the door.

"Just out of curiosity," Jil asked one of them, "What's the worst flight you guys have ever been on?"

"We've been at this job for ten years," he said, "and this is the worst flight we've ever been on".

Soon after, Claudia and I were talking to one of the guys.  He was pissed.

"I don't know why we didn't just fly straight back up to Orlando after the first time.  Instead he circled three times and put us through all of that".

Back at our seats, the four of us girls tried to devise a game plan.

"Let's just rent a car here and drive," Jil said, as she did not want to be on an airplane for another minute.  We considered this until Claudia brought up a good point-

"All of our shit is checked in the bottom of this plane.  If we drive, we'll have to wait at the Ft. Lauderdale airport for this plane to finally arrive with our bags, if it ever even does arrive."

"I don't care about my shit", Jil said.

Carol and I looked at each other.

"I kind of care about my shit," I whispered to her.  She nodded.  "I like my shit." she whispered back.

Our pilot of the year (although I do realize he was just following instructions), came back on overhead and told us that we would be trying Ft. Lauderdale one more time, we still just had to sit tight, but at the moment the weather looked to be clearing up.

"THEN LET'S GO NOW!" the plane practically shouted in unison.

There was a bachelorette party in front of us that was heading to Miami.  They got up, grabbed their bags from the overhead compartments, and announced, "We're making this a road trip ladies!"

As Jil urged us to make this a road trip as well, the rest of us pointed out that an hour plane ride was better than a 15 hour car ride, and what were the chances of there being turbulence again?  And if there was, we had gotten through the worst- literally the next thing would be for us to crash and die and we wouldn't remember that anyway.

We had all gotten slightly delirious at this point.

A few minutes later the bachelorette party climbed back on board the plane.

"I cornered a lady and told her it was bullshit that nobody was telling us anything, and she promised me that we're landing," said the spokesperson of the group, who still managed to have a perfect bun and face of makeup on.  They sat down as the pilot's voice appeared once again and told us that we were going to take off soon, it was going to be a bumpy ride, and that the entire crew would have to remain seated and strapped in throughout the duration of the flight.

I took out my phone and texted Matt.
'Taking off again.  Very scared to fly.  I love you.'

Just in case anything horrible did happen, I needed him to know that.  

About an hour later, and just a few small spots of shakes and bumps, we landed at our destination and the entire plane erupted in cheers and applause.

After getting off of the plane, we bypassed baggage and went straight outside to fresh air, where we saw fellow passengers from our flight shakily chain smoking.  Eventually we went back inside, got our bags, and headed over to the shuttle that would take us to the car rental place.  We just missed one as we walked up.  Then it started raining a little bit, as we waited and waited and waited for the next shuttle.  I heard the lady behind me say that never in her life has she ever had to wait for one; they're supposed to come right after the other.  Finally one arrived, as well as a line of buses behind it.  We got to the car place, and finally were on our way.  The only problem is that it was now 5:00 on a Friday on Florida's main turnpike (remember when we were supposed to be in Key West by 3:00?)

We sat in traffic.  Then we moved a little.  Then we sat.  Then we moved.  Then we realized that nobody in Florida uses turn signals, and they all think it's a jolly old time to cut people off.  Then we sat.

Finally we got off the turnpike and pulled into the first fast food place that we saw for some Road Nuggets.  We walked into Burger King and Claudia went to open the bathroom door, not realizing the cleaning lady was inside.  The lady dropped something and it made a loud noise, and Claudia jumped out of her fucking skin.  Our plane falling from the goddam sky had no effect on her, but a tiny Floridian custodian nearly did her in.

Road Nugs: Washing away the memories of aerial terror since the Wright Brothers


We got back in the car, not even caring that, according to the GPS, our 3 hour car ride was now going to be a 5-6 hour car ride.  No sooner had we hit the road than the skies opened up and more water than you could ever imagine feverishly poured down upon our poor, weary souls.  All you could see were the taillights in front of you- you couldn't even pull over because it was impossible to tell where 'over' was.

We drove and we drove.  It rained and it didn't.  We drove some more.  It rained some more.  We all wanted a beer.  Carol stated that if she didn't get a steak she was going to kill someone.

We didn't doubt her.

At 9:30 that night, we finally arrived at our hotel, after 17 straight hours of travel.  Carol got her steak. We got our beers.  Later in bed Carol started hysterically laughing, then slightly crying, then laughing again because she could not believe what we had just gone through.  That night we slept better than any of us had in years.

Welcome to Key West, bitches.

The first picture we took that day, around 5:30am or so.  Look how fresh faced and naive we were.  Fools, every single one of us

Us as we arrived in our hotel room.  Notice our near lifeless eyes and weathered, aged faces. Yay vacation?




Sunday, February 26, 2017

It's Ok

I haven't been feeling well.

Those who know me know that I never feel quite right, as I am one of those people who is constantly in and out of doctor's offices and labs and whatnot- I'm pretty sure there is a framed picture of me at the pharmacy with a "Customer of the Century" plaque fashioned underneath.

So when I started feeling sick over the past couple of weeks I simply attributed it to that, as well as some side effects of stress.  You see, I've had a rough few months.

Without getting into too much detail, this past summer was one of strange and unexpected transition for me.  Back in June, my then-boyfriend and I were about to sign the lease of our first apartment together (and I mean just about to- we were getting ready to head over to meet our landlord), when he told me that the night before he had bought a house.  Just like that, "I bought a house".  Now to most people, this sounds like a romantic gesture of grand proportion- almost movie worthy.  But to me, I was blindsided.  This was a house that I did not ask for, expect, or want.  But I felt like showing anything but gratitude would be selfish and horrible so I acted how I thought everyone would want me to act.

The papers were signed in August, and with the flourish of a pen, my entire future was decided for me.

Someone else had chosen where I would live, where I would work, where my future children would grow up and go to school; not to mention how much money I would spend each month on a mortgage.  I felt trapped and angry and sad and stupid that I had let it happen.

We moved in and one month to the day later I moved out.  It was a scary break-up and the only advice I can give is that if you ever have a little voice in your head screaming, "get out, get out, GET OUT!", you should get out.

So I grabbed what I could and started my life over.  I never fully dealt with the trauma that came with the whole situation, so when my body started rebelling against me recently, I chalked it up to a very delayed reaction of "that fuckin sucked, and everything is finally catching up to me".

Then I found the lump.

I was on my couch, watching TV and wondering why I was scrunched up in the corner while my 18 pound dog was sprawled out, living the life.  My right breast had been sore for a few days but that day it was actually painful, like it was being stabbed with a dull knife.  I started rubbing it, hoping to ease the pain, when I felt a large, hard bump on the lower right side.

"Hormones," I told myself, "I'm probably just about to get my period or something".  Over the next couple of days the pain intensified to the point where even a loose fitting shirt grazing against my chest sent waves of agony through my body.  I started noticing other things happening that I knew weren't quite right, so that Monday morning I called the doctor.

My plan was to just set up an annual visit with my GYN, as I was due for one anyway.  But when I mentioned to the woman on the phone that there was also something in my boob that I wanted to get checked out, her tone changed.

"Is it a lump?" she asked.

I didn't want to use that word because it's scary and I'm only 30 and 30 year olds aren't supposed to have lumps.  But I was sure that the receptionist wouldn't agree with this skewed logic, so I said yes, it was a lump.

"I'm going to have the emergency nurse call you back".

I thanked her and hung up and headed to work, not quite sure how everything had gotten so real and terrifying in a five minute phone conversation.

Once at work, I told my boss that I was expecting a very important call from the doctor and I needed to have my phone out.  After four agonizing hours and two rounds of phone tag, I was finally talking to the nurse as I paced back and forth in the basement, trying to keep my voice low so the cooks on their break in the next room couldn't hear me.

I explained the size, sensation, and location of the lump and then the following conversation occurred:

"Have you been extremely fatigued lately?"
"Yes."
"Any headaches?"
"Yes."
"Hot flashes followed by chills?"
"Yes...yes."
"Redness or a rash around the area?"
"Yes."

One by one, the nurse listed every strange thing that I had been experiencing, like she had Magic School Bus'ed herself and had been living in my body for the past week.  By the sixth or seventh 'yes', she stopped me.

"We need you to come in right away", she said, as she began listing the different times and locations they had available.  I explained to her that the next day- Valentine's Day- I had a double shift at work and would not be able to make an appointment until Wednesday.

"You realize this is serious, right?" she asked, sounding annoyed.  I apologized and made the first available appointment for Wednesday.

The next day at work I spent ten hours being angry and scared and jealous of all the couples coming in who were in love and not worrying about whether or not their lives were completely about to change.

I was frustrated that I was being a miserable bitch towards my co-workers and I couldn't tell them why.  But mostly I was pissed off and sickened by this thing that was in me- this unwanted foreign object that was so painful that it was all I could concentrate on.

The next day I went to the hospital for my checkup.  My regular GYN- whom I absolutely adore- was not available so I was a little nervous to go through this with someone new who didn't know my body or history.  Luckily, she was awesome.  Like, where-have-you-been-all-my-post-pubescent-life awesome.

She started feeling around and immediately felt the lump.  When she checked my left breast she hit a spot that made me wince.

"There is a lump in your left breast as well."

I felt my entire being slip out of my body to go hide in the corner where it was safe.

She asked me the same questions the nurse on the phone had asked me.  I also told her about my hair loss.  As I have mentioned in previous entries, I've been experiencing this for a couple of years now, but I have recently found some actual bald spots that have alarmed me, and my eyebrows are now falling out so much that I look like the girls back in 8th grade- where we all plucked them to within an inch of their lives.  There have been many mornings where I wake up and go to the mirror, only to find small eyebrow hairs scattered down my cheeks.

Next my doctor did a pap because hey, why not.  These always make me nervous because I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which heightens your risk of cervical cancer.  Most times my paps came back showing pre-cancerous cells (which actually happens to more women than you would think) and I'm ordered to go get a colposcopy which are the absolute worst things I have ever, ever experienced.

During the exam she found something else that wasn't quite right to which she ordered 6 rounds- one per week- of a very simple but slightly painful procedure that would kill the cells of yet another unwanted object.  She also wrote up scripts for an ultrasound and blood work to try and figure out what the hell was going on.

I went home, completely wiped out, and called to schedule the ultrasound.  My choices were the next morning or in one month.  I went with the following morning.

Driving to a cancer center alone is scary.  Sitting in a waiting room full of women who are about to be told either good news or bad news is scary.  Seeing the women who have already been told bad news and are filling out paperwork before their surgery, while their husbands sit beside them with all of the color drained out of their faces, is scary.  Having your name called, being handed a scratchy, cold gown, and being sent to a smaller waiting room of women who are shaking and fighting back tears is downright terrifying.

I was called back relatively quickly to the ultrasound room.  I laid down, opened up my gown, and put one arm above my head as the technician spread goo across my chest and pressed down with the wand.  First one boob, then the other.  Every time she went over one of the lumps I closed my eyes and tried not to yell out in pain.  Way too often she would stop, screenshot the image, and type something.  Then she said I was done, but she needed to go talk to the doctor.

While she was gone, I cried.  I cried because I was afraid and I cried because I was sick of all of this.  I have had numerous ultrasounds performed on my uterus and cervix because of the PCOS, as well as the conclusion that I will probably have trouble getting pregnant.  I laid there and cried because out of all the ultrasounds I've had, not one of them has been to see a little baby in my belly.  I cried because if these results came back as cancerous, would the resulting treatments leave me completely infertile?  I cried because all I have ever wanted is to be a mom, and bit by bit my own body was taking that away from me.

The technician returned and told me she didn't see anything that constituted me having to immediately worry.  That there were definitely lumps there but that they were probably just cysts, although she still wanted me to get the blood work because my other symptoms continued to be suspicious.  Then she left.

I didn't really know what to do at that point.  So that was it?  Everything was ok?  But why did my chest still hurt, why did it feel like there was a golf ball weighing one of them down?  Was I supposed to just live like this?

I was relieved and confused as I drove straight to work.  I walked in and cried and didn't answer anybody when they asked if I was ok.

A couple of days later I got a letter in the mail from the lab with the official results of the ultrasound: Benign- Non Cancerous.  A part of me was frustrated that every physical and mental thing that I had been going through for the past week was summed up in just three words; albeit, three beautiful words, but words that almost made me feel crazy for thinking anything was wrong.

That Monday I went for blood work that also came back normal.  Again, relief and frustration duked it out as I was left wondering, then what the fuck is wrong with me?  Why am I still feeling so sick?

On Friday I left work a little early to get Round 2 of the six week treatment.  I'm responding very well to that but I told my doctor that I was still feeling sick and my breasts were still in pain.  The only time I wear a bra now is at work and it is pure hell from beginning to end.

She told me that if things weren't better by the next time she saw me, we would run more tests.  And that was that.

These two weeks have dragged me through emotions and feelings I didn't even know I had.  I know that I am supremely lucky- at the end of the day, I came out of this with the best case scenario.  I am still in pain and more tired physically and mentally that I could ever even begin to describe, but only time will tell what happens from here on out.

The only thing that has gotten me through all of this has been the unyielding support of my boyfriend.  This spectacular man who has stayed strong for me, let me cry, taken me to appointments, and been the definition of a teammate.  This man who became my best friend the moment I met him over a year ago, this man who I fell in love with before I was supposed to, this man who has let me not only into his own heart, but the hearts of his children as well.  This man who, when I showed up at his door the night I left 'The House', wrapped me in his arms- no questions asked- and hasn't let go since.

I guess what I hope people take out of this very long winded (sorry) story is to trust your body.  If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut.  Even it it's scary.  The only reason I called the doctor when I did is because I had my boyfriend feel the area I was concerned about and when he also felt something, he made me promise to call the doctor first thing the following morning.  He also promised me that he would take me to whatever appointments I wanted or needed him at, and that he would be there with me every step of the way.  It provided the comfort and determination I needed, and that I will continue to need as I am not stopping until I figure out what is wrong.  I don't care how many doctors I go to, how many needles are poked into me, or how many things are cut out of me and biopsied.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I refuse to give up.  I can only hope that if anyone reading this is going through something similar, my account will reassure them that it is ok to be scared, it is ok to have questions, and it is ok to push until you get the answers that you not only want, but deserve.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

365 Revisited: Heartbreak

I wanted to take some time to delve deeper into my last entry- break down each section into more detailed and constructed essays.  I'll probably end up repeating some things but that's okay.  Nothing wrong with a little refresher course.

Let's start with heartbreak.  Instead of completely exhausting stories about the person that this particular topic was about, I'm going to focus more on the after effects of the whole thing and how I, individually, was shaped by it.

Yes, I did lose things and people and time; I'm not going to pretend like any of that was okay because it wasn't and I'm not thrilled about any of it.  But the benefits that came out of it were infinitely rewarding.

I don't like the cliche thought of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  An individual person or event did not make me wake up one morning and consciously go, "I'm starting anew- fuck him, I'm going to live life for me!".  Make no mistake- in a sense I did have to start completely over, specifically mentally and emotionally.  But it wasn't one of those things where I started doing yoga and took up a new hobby and told myself affirmations in the mirror every morning.  I did move to a new apartment and I did revel in the fact that I was now solely in charge of my Netflix queue, but otherwise everything was the same.  Each morning I put on my same clothes and went to my same job and hung out with my same friends on the weekends.  Still, I noticed a palpable shift in my approach to things.  I stood up for myself more and I learned how to feel again.  Until you've utterly and completely lost the ability to do that- to feel- you don't realize how difficult and scary it is to get that back.  I told people that needed to fuck off to do just that.  I embraced more deeply the people that deserved to be embraced.  As cheesy as it sounds, I began to learn and accept the value of myself.  There I was, rising from the ashes- a phoenix with a minuscule but exquisite rack- ready to take on the world.  Well, not totally ready, but more willing to try it out than I ever had been before.

I just kind of let life happen.  One day I would fall in love again and get married and buy a house and fill with with babies.  One day I would see my past as just that- the past.  One day I would know that no matter what, I was good enough and didn't deserve the things I had gone through.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that all of these things would eventually happen, and for the time ever I was prepared to just be patient.

Don't get me wrong- there were aspects to this that were hard.  Having to rebuild yourself is confusing and weird, but I chose to look at it as an opportunity instead of a requirement (which in and of itself was a strange revelation, as I had dedicated most of my life to being a stone cold pessimist).  Once I settled into that mindset everything because much easier.  Dare I say, enjoyable at times.  And for that, I quickly came to realize that I was one strong mother fucker.

Sure, there are lots of things that are still uncertain.  I don't know if I'll ever find a job that I can be even somewhat content with.  I don't know if I'll ever have enough money to buy that house for my phantom children.  I don't know if I'll ever not have photos of my other dog all around me.  But I do know that I will always have my friends, and my family, and my music.  And son of a gun, I did end up finding that love that I've spent the last 30 years blindly stumbling towards.

But more on that later.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

365

On New Years Eve, Facebook took it upon itself to remind me that every year on that day, I would write a status about how that year sucked and I couldn't wait for a fresh start.  It was actually quite annoying to see post after post about how miserable I always seemed.  And to be honest, I could have easily written the same thing this year.  But instead, I figured I'd break it down in a post, the good and the bad.  The reason I want to talk about the bad is because there are certain things that I have been dealing with that I want to share; not for pity or sympathy, but because I'm hoping that if someone with similar struggles can see that they're not the only one going through them, maybe they can find a light at the end of the tunnel, if not some feelings of peace that they're not alone.

I'm going to organize this entry into four sections: Heartbreak, Happiness, Family, and Love.

Heartbreak:

2015 was the year I said my final goodbye to Him, and everything that came with Him; his parents, our furry babies, and the family that we had built together.  He and I continued contact up until June- putting us at seven years of back and forth, tears and fighting, anger and resentment and trust issues and lying.  A doctor later described what I had gone through as 'psychological trauma'. There was a small sprinkling of smiles and laughs and commitment and hearts so full they could explode.  But not much.  Not enough.
I had long since fallen out of love with him, but I had certainly not stopped loving his family and the dog that he kept.  Still, I had to come to terms with the fact that as hard as I had fought and pushed and tortured myself, we were never going to be We.  Even though I was the one that chose to end us, it's still not something that can easily be accepted, and I hid just how hard it was from everybody- including myself.  I worked hard to start over and build myself back up to a person that could stand on her own.  Years ago, I would have considered our ending as a failure.  But then I realized that it's ok to fail sometimes.  People say that nothing is a lack of success if you try, but that's not true.  Businesses fail, relationships fail, friendships, jobs, hobbies, all just flat out fail sometimes.  And that's ok.  It's all ok.

Happiness:

This past November I lost my mind.
I have been struggling with depression and anxiety most of my life and I pushed and packed it down into a dark, thick, black box of hell within me.  I don't like talking to people about my problems so I continued to hide them while I did my best to act happy and goofy.  I hid behind sex and cigarettes and sarcasm- anything to get my mind off of, well, my mind.  But that was dumb.  It was so dumb.  As boys left my room and my ashtray filled up, I knew this wasn't fixing anything.  I came close many times to "breaking down"- including two separate occasions in the spring where a co-worker and then a friend offered to bring me into a 72 hour psych hold at the hospital- but a couple of months ago it finally happened.
I woke up one day feeling worse than usual.  I had already planned on going to my mom's house that day to do some laundry, and then head back home.  I walked through her front door and for whatever reason finally let myself cry in front of someone.  I didn't leave for nine days.
The first two days were spent under a blanket, feeling like my life was physically escaping out of my body.  I let my mom hug me and I let her bring me cups of tea with little silver spoons in them.  I let her tell me that we were going to fix this and I let myself nod and say, 'ok'.
The decision was to stop everything.  I had just been offered a new job and I let them know I would have to decline.  I canceled any plans I had with friends.  I didn't let myself think about how I was going to pay my rent or bills that month.  I crawled into my little childhood twin bed with Kirby under the covers right next to me, his head on my pillow.  I scratched his ears and breathed in the smell of his dog shampoo and thanked him for being my reason to wake up every morning.
When I finally went home, I lasted about four days before I was back at my parents' again.  This time it was only for five days.  I forced myself to start therapy sessions which I had been avoiding for years, reasons unknown.  I cannot stress enough how much therapy has helped.  To have someone listen to what I have to say, repeat it back to me, and then tell me why I'm not actually crazy has been life changing.
I started reading other people's accounts of their struggles with depression and found solace in the comparisons.  It made me realize that all of these feelings I found to be abnormal actually were laced with normality- albeit, a very sad and unfortunate normality.  I still wouldn't consider myself a happy person, but I consider myself a hopeful person.  I have learned to tell people how I am feeling instead of letting things fester into something awful.  I have learned to find relaxation in my music and my painting and my writing.  I have learned to stop comparing my life to everyone else's.  Everyday life is still pretty terrifying to me but bits of excitement are starting to sneak in and that's pretty cool.

Family:

A significant chunk of my depression was influenced by some medical issues that I have been dealing with over the past few years.  I struggle with ovarian cysts and a hormone imbalance.  For me personally, this causes a myriad of flat out annoying symptoms.  I experience chronic nausea and dizziness.  Almost every minute of every day I feel incredibly ill.  Most mornings are spent with a wet washcloth on my neck, breathing into a brown paper bag so as not to pass out or throw up.  I'm afraid to go out with friends, go on vacation, and go to work.  All three of these things have been greatly affected, causing me to pass up on way too many opportunities to count.  People sometimes get on my case about how I don't drink a lot and don't stay out very late at bars, parties, etc.  The truth is because lots of the time, I can really only stand to be out for a couple of hours before needing to lay down.  It sucks, plain and simple.
Anyone who has experienced cysts also knows that they suck.  They're painful and annoying and can cause irregular cycles and crazy changes in your body as they shoot laser beams of hormones throughout your insides.  The past couple of years have brought a new batch of weirdness, as my hair started falling out- half of my right eyebrow is all but gone- while a beautiful layer of peach fuzz has crawled up my body and face like ivy.  In certain light I look like the early stages of a blonde Chia Pet. I would be lying if I said this didn't bother me, but the fact of the matter is there is nothing I can do about it.
The worst thing that my body has done to me has to do with my ability to have children.  For the past five years, every annual exam form my gynecologist has come back with pre-cancerous cells.  I know that as women near 30, this is actually quite normal.  However, if anyone has ever experienced a colposcopy, I don't need to tell you twice how wretched the follow up procedures are.  (Side note- last week my latest test came back completely free of yucky cells.  You're all invited to the party in my head).  My doctor has told that due to the cysts and some other problems, there is a good chance that I won't be able to have a child the old fashioned way.  While I know there are numerous ways to get pregnant, it's still a crushing thing to hear.  (Another side note- this is why I have always hated when people would tell me that Emmett was 'just a dog' and I needed to get over not having him anymore.  Aside from that just being a terrible thing in general to say to somebody- especially someone going through a long-term breakup, Emmett has always been and will always be my kid). I have always felt like I am a mother without a child- I have such an intense urge to have children, I can't even really describe the feeling.  I have horrible dreams about being pregnant only to lose the baby, or have to give the baby away once it's born.  When I wake up from these dreams, it takes awhile to compose myself before I can get out of bed.  I have had multiple ultrasounds and it's so sad to lay there and see an empty uterus on the screen, framed with giant cystic masses.  When a woman gets an ultrasound, it's supposed to be so you can see the life growing inside of you, not the absence of one.
This is another thing I am taking day by day, and another thing that I hope by mentioning, someone else with the same experiences won't feel so alone.  Much like depression, I have researched the journey's of others and am comforted to know that even though I will never meet these people, we're all in it together.

Love:

Instead of pointing out a dumb blonde moment, he smiles and calls me Hunny.  Whenever I feel like I'm spiraling out he reminds me that I'm taking every step that I need to take to get to where I want to be and that I'm doing great.  He bought me new socks when he saw that all of mine had holes in them.  He offers me bites of his food without me asking because he knows that as a girl I never want my own food, just bites of his.  When he wakes up the first thing he does is turn over and puts his arm around me.  There are times when he bugs the hell out of me but not once have I ever considered taking a step back.  All of this, and that's how I know.