Dressing Up and Promising Rings

Sunday I had lunch with a girl I was best friends with in middle school. She moved away after 7th grade and moved back after high school, and we’ve met sporadically over the past two years, but this summer we both actively decided we wanted to pursue friendship.

I had a great time! I’m excited to hangout with her again But she said something to me I can’t stop thinking about.

“I think promise rings are kind of stupid at our age,” she told me. “Like, we’re not kids anymore.”

Before I talk about any of that, I want to say that she began our conversation by saying she felt like a little kid playing dress up, that we’re doing adult things but it doesn’t quite feel like we’re actually adults yet.

She thinks her boyfriend of a year and a half will propose to her soon. She is going to say yes. Good for her.

But when my boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, we will both still be in college. When we graduate with our bachelor’s degrees, I will be in a master’s program a month later, and I will be in said program for the next year.

When I finish that program, we will have been together for three and a half years. Before I marry him, I want to live with him for at least six months in our own apartment, just the two of us.

“I wouldn’t even mind a long engagement,” she explained. “I just don’t want to live in a house he owns, since he’s buying one now, and just be his ‘girlfriend.'”

I understood what she was saying. But that’s not the pace that my relationship is going, despite the fact that we both intend to marry our current boyfriends.

A long engagement isn’t what I want. Engagement, to me, means marriage is coming soon. And I do want to marry my Boyfriend! But what marriage means to me isn’t something I’m ready for yet.

Marriage, to me, means a home in our names, joint bank accounts, a plan for a honeymoon, and enough money to have the big, beautiful Catholic wedding I know my boyfriend wants. Those things will not exist in three and a half years.

But you know what I love about a promise ring? It means those things will exist some time after three and a half years. I trust my Boyfriend enough to know that if he gives me a promise ring, it’s because he means it.

am still playing dress up sometimes. I don’t really know how to be an adult yet. I do have a million things I want to do with my Boyfriend, all of which I’m comfortable doing with just calling him my “Boyfriend.” All of which I would love doing with a tiny, stupid ring on my finger that says “I intend to marry the person I am dating.”

Frankly, I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with that.

-HH

Home

Before God gave him to me, I was a weak foundation
There were cracks in me from Surface to Earth

Before God gave him to me, I had no intention of Building myself
Pieces of me sat around, just out of reach, and I wasn’t even Stretching for them
Before God gave him to me, the rain poured–
poured–
poured–
Until no part of me remained Dry
Then God gave him to me

When God gave him to me, I decided to fill the cracks
I needed to be the best so that one day he would Build on my Base
No other blocks of cement could be more appealing than mine
When God gave him to me, I decided to fight

When God gave him to me, he took the planks of wood that make up my soul
None of them match or are the right length
Yet still, he is building a house out of me

When God gave him to me, I was Cold to my Core
Unwilling to be Punctured by the reality of Love
I have since learned how to Warm a Room

When God gave him to me, I was sure he wasn’t Real
Sometimes I squeeze him to remind myself that it’s not a Dream
He supplies my Frame with Warmth and Protection
He covers me from the Wind and pushes me in the Sun

Thank God gave him to me
He Built a House from my Broken Bits
Together, we are Home.

-HH

Working, not Breaking

So I had a bunch of things I was thinking about writing about while I binge How to Get Away with Murder on Spring Break. Then there was a scene in this episode where Annalise (Viola Davis) is in an AA meeting. And I thought of my father.

My Boyfriend and I got into a fight  a few weeks ago. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to breaking up. I’ll explain.

We were at a party, surrounded by people with whom I was having tension–his friends. I was surrounded by alcohol–a thing I have so many negative feelings about that I work to process every day. My Boyfriend, while he knows about them, doesn’t get it. He hasn’t had the kind of experiences I’ve had with alcohol. I’m happy he hasn’t. But that can make things difficult.

The party became too much for me almost immediately. I couldn’t handle it. I walked home alone. Try as I might, my brain wouldn’t stop. The panic felt overwhelming. I was alone, with my brain running in circles it hadn’t gone in quite awhile. And I tried to let him have his fun, I did, but I couldn’t.

So I called him. Told him I needed him to come home. And he was drunk on the other end, I could tell. But he loves me, so I figured he’d come back when I told him I needed him.

He didn’t.

Or, I mean, he did. Like three hours later.

And we talked about it the next day. I got mad, he apologized.

“I should have come home,” he told me.

But when I demanded to know why he didn’t come home earlier, he couldn’t give me anything worth anything. Because “I was playing Beer Pong,” just doesn’t compare to “My girlfriend needs me” in my opinion.

“It’s going to take time for me to forgive you,” I finally said. “You’re going to have prove yourself to me.”

Weeks later, we were riding home to Spring Break. And for some reason, that night crossed my mind. And I turned down the radio.

“I’m not meaning to start a fight, but I told you it was going to take time for me to forgive you. And I think you deserve to know that I haven’t forgiven you, yet.”

And he got mad. When I tried to grab his hand, he pulled away.

“That was weeks ago and I think there’s a bigger problem if you’re still holding on to it.”

And I laughed. “With me? Oh yeah, definitely.”

I think maybe we probably almost broke up again, in the car. Which would’ve broken my rule, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

“You picked beer over me,” and I hate to admit that my voice broke when I started to yell, but it did. “And a lot of people have picked beer over me, my entire life.”

He got quiet. And all the anger I had felt from him before changed.

All the anger in me shifted. “I’m not angry at you. I’m scared. That that’s going to become normal.”

When the fighting is over, we always ask each other. “Do you have anything else you want to say?”

Normally it’s nothing big. Quiet I love you’s. Hand kisses. Hugs and I’m sorry’s.

But this time it smacked me.

“I didn’t realize that it was about more than just me.”

I always know about the things that make us different. Like he’s Catholic, and I love writing. But I forget about the bigger things that make us different. I think he usually forgets them too.

Alcohol, to him, means a fun night. Alcohol, to me, means my father forcing my sister to drive his car when she was twelve, while she was crying. It means my father dragging my mother through a verbal slew so awful I can’t believe I ever trusted one awful thing he said to me about her. It means my mother throwing her wedding ring out the window at 3AM. It means broken doors being replaced five times in ten years. It means broken windshields from my mother’s feet, scratches across my stepdad’s face, holes in walls (and ceilings and cabinets).

So we’re working on it. I’m working on realizing that I have no reason to believe that my Boyfriend is like my Parents. He’s working on realizing that I didn’t grow up like him.

We’re working, not breaking.

I kind of, maybe, definitely want to marry him.

Pretty sure the feeling’s mutual.

-HH

Dear Valentine,

I am not someone who holds back. All the things you’re supposed to say on this day, I have said before. And my face is an open book, so even what I don’t say you can (and do) still read.

I’m sorry that all I have are more words–that I cannot give you things so that you know how true my words are. I hope maybe you know anyway.

You are my best friend. You are my favorite person to talk to. Your weird matches my weird. These are all things you know already.

You are more than I ever could’ve asked for. More than I ever thought I deserved. Your respect and love for me are almost overwhelming, because they are things I have never experienced before. You validate the things I already know of myself.

You are quick-witted. You’re hil-ar-ious. Your smile lights up my world. You’re thoughtful. You’re a terrible singer. And you always get the words wrong. You are nothing at all like what I expected love to be like.

I tell you this all the time, but I hope you know how true it is: you make me feel lucky.

You make me feel worthy.

You make me feel in ways I never thought I would.

I have never been happier.

Thank you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

-HH

Thinking and Knowing and Growing

Tonight I went to a wedding for two people I went to high school with. It’s terrifying to think that I’m old enough to know two people who are old enough be adults who are married–or that I’m old enough to be an adult who’s married.

The wedding was small and simple. The way everything back home feels, now.

I played softball with the bride when I was a freshman in high school. I remember the day we found out she was pregnant, weeks before she graduated. She’s four years older than me. I remember thinking that she was going to turn out so different than anything I’d ever expected from her.

That part is still true, that she turned out different than anything I expected from her. But I think her future turned out better than anything I could’ve imagined.

“Do you not want to have a wedding, then?” My Boyfriend asked the other night, after I went on a ten minute rant about how weddings are for other people and not that actual bride and groom.

I thought about it for a moment. “I think every girl dreams, at least once, about being the princess walking down the aisle.”

Tonight I watched someone be that princess. She bounced with excitement. I wondered what it was like to be her. To be so sure of what you had and who you were and what you wanted and where you were going. To be so sure of who you wanted that person to be and who you wanted do those things with and go those places with.

I looked at the girl sitting beside me, one of my best friends of over seven years.

“I’m going to say something to you,” and she turned to me, already preparing for the worst. “And maybe I’m going to sound crazy. And maybe it won’t happen But I’m going to say it anyway.”

She waited.

“I think I’m going to marry him.”

Her smile was small and sweet and soft. “Yeah?”

And when I nodded, she shrugged. “When you know, you know.”

And as he sleeps next to me, breathing getting heavier, fingers twitching, limbs sinking–I think it a little more. I think I know a little more.

What I have.

Who I am.

What I want.

Where I’m going.

Who I want to go to those places with and do this things with and be with.

Yeah, I think I know a little more.

-HH

The Jar Post

I don’t like to rank my Top Ten Best Events, but I did this time–because although all the Post-Its were good, these hold different levels of importance.

10. The Beer Pong Tournament – My first ever college party, and I had more fun than I ever thought I could while sober and socializing. It was here that I realized that I really liked people in my fraternity–and that maybe, just maybe, they liked me.

9. The Holy Trinity – I’m not sure where this ridiculous and irrelevant name came from, but during Finals week I religiously hungout with two people in my frat. We started calling ourselves the Holy Trinity ironically, and the name sort of stuck. It’s an unexpected trio, but such a fun one.

8. Wine and Cheese – This is the party that happens the night after new members get inducted into my fraternity. My second ever college party, and I had a ton of fun. It’s also the night I got together with my Boyfriend.

7. Bro Bonding – A trip we do towards the end of every semester–this year was my first one. It was a learning experience, but also really good. Also, I fell down the stairs twice and sprained my ankle.

6. Making Mark Cry – I know it seems like a really awful thing to have, especially so high on the list. But he cried for a good reason. I think if this night had never happened, he wouldn’t be alive anymore.

5. Sushi with Squad – I have a core group of friends from high school I try to meet up with during every major break. Seeing them right before the start of Sophomore year was the best way to end my summer. It’s always nice to remember where I came from, and how far we’re all going to go.

4. Biloxi – Alright, so I realized that there were 4 different Post-Its with Biloxi related events written on them. I live about two hours away from Biloxi, and spent many-a summer night there. It’s my new go-to Runaway and Think place.

3. The Boyfriend – “I’m going to say something,” I told my Best Friend while I drove us back to my house after a night out. “And you might think that I say stuff like this all the time, so maybe it won’t mean anything. But I’m going to say it. And maybe I’m wrong! But I’m going to say it anyway…I think I’m going to marry him.”

2. Brother of the Month – I think if I hadn’t been voted Brother of the Month, I wouldn’t have become so invested in my fraternity. I didn’t realize my presence was valued until I received this privilege, and I’m forever grateful for the recognition.

1. Δ – I got this tattoo in July. A delta. As a means of reminding myself of the importance of change–of its inevitability. To welcome it, to reach for it, to remind myself that I will change every day, that I can change every day. Maybe not the tattoo itself is most important–though I do love it–but rather the moment I learned this lesson is the best thing that happened to me in 2016. Because it was a terrible moment when it happened, and it was a lot of terrible things that happened leading to that moment, but everything after that has been good. Nothing has been worse than what my life was like before that moment. My life started again, after a year and a half being paused, after that moment.

So I’m a few days late, but I’ve still got to say it:

See you never, 2016. You had your good moments (see above) but otherwise, you sucked. I hope your successor is better.

-HH

Making Change

I wanted to make my first post in 2017 my Jar Post.

See, every year I have a Jar. It starts off empty, and as the year goes on it gets filled up with crumpled up post-its of good things that happen to me throughout the year. At the end of the year, I pop open the Jar and pick the Top Ten Best Things That Happened to Me in [YEAR].

Sadly, I left my Jar in my dorm room. And I was going to wait until I got back to school to make a post, but I don’t want to wait that long to write something.

I’m down to my last week of Winter Break. The first week of Break I spent stressing about purchasing The Perfect Gifts and recovering from Finals; the two weeks following that I worked (and when I say I worked for those two weeks, I mean I had Christmas Eve off and that was it). This last week I’m gearing up for the Spring semester and recovering from two weeks of work.

My New Year’s Eve was quiet. I’m not one to give in to the idea that a Revolution around the Sun somehow signifies a time for Change.

Change is Inevitable. Change is Constant. Change doesn’t give a Shit about whether or not you’re ready for it.

But I like the potential energy that thrums in your bones when the clock strikes twelve. It’s like all the elastic vibes you spent the year emitting snap back to you, and this time when you send them out they can have a different feel, texture, color, sound, thickness. Not a New You, but maybe a Better One. A Wiser One. One Excited for something New.

The Change I need this Year is Internal. Instead of waiting or working for new people or better classes or more money, I mostly want to work on Loving Myself more. Which, as I’ve aforementioned, is a thing I’m Always Working On.

I think I want to try harder, this year.

I think the biggest part of Loving Myself more is feeling better inside. Not letting myself get wrapped up in negative spirals. Drinking more water. Writing more. Focusing on my academics. Learning how to balance mental health, academic success, and physical health. Surrounding myself with people who give me positive vibes. Doing something with my body that feels good–yoga, kickboxing, anything that reminds my body that there’s a person inside of it.

I don’t want to say that my Boyfriend gave me a reason to make myself better. It’s too dependent, and it’s not true. But he’s given me a reason to see the better in myself. He doesn’t doubt the relationship, doesn’t doubt me, or himself. He is secure in his decision. It makes me secure in myself.

So I’ll make a Jar Post when I get back to my dorm room.

For now I’m not making Resolutions. For now–and hopefully for all of 2017–I’m making Change.

-HH