What is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me)


Currently, it is 10:30am on Christmas morning and I am sitting in my apartment, alone, preparing to write a blog post about love.  #situationalirony (yes, there are different types of irony–go look it up).

I thought that I wouldn’t mind being alone for Christmas–and technically, I’m not.  I just got back from breakfast with a former student and her mom, I’m have Christmas lunch with my friend and HER mom, and I’m eating dinner with on of the girls I met through football—so pretty much the opposite of alone.

But even with my full schedule, I still feel, well, ALONE.  I absolutely love all of my connections that I have made in California, but I nonetheless feel at times like I am sitting on the sidelines and watching people live rather than fully participating in the life that I have envisioned for myself.

Obviously, holidays can suck for single people such as myself simply because of that reason–seemingly every other person is posting adorable pictures with their significant other, or hilarious family moments, or innocent-yet-enviable posts of holiday cheer.  Even though I am very happy with nearly everything in my life just the way it is, I still have felt a twinge of “I want that” with nearly every scroll for the past couple of days.

Which, of course, leads me to contemplate WHY.  Why is this something that I envy?  Why do I feel that rush of impatience?

Especially since I could, with recent events, potentially have that.

This potential comes in the form of a former NFL player who I recently met on Bumble during one of my “lets reinstall this because I’m bored” forays at the car dealership.  I have seen him several times over the past couple of weeks, and on paper, he seems perfect: former glamorous career (Superbowl ring and all), great current job, tall, muscular, plays piano, gentleman, world traveler, loves adventures, and on and on.  The cherry on top?  He is head over heels for me and thinks that I am the hottest, most amazing girl he’s ever dated and can’t wait for any time we spend together.


Or so it SHOULD be.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, I am not quite following his headlong charge in Loveland.  My girlfriends think I’m crazy, and this whole internal waffling back and forth has caused me to do some serious soul-searching and head-scratching over the past couple of days.  Why on EARTH am I not allowing myself to get swept away?  What is wrong with me that I can’t be thanking the universe for sending me the man I’ve always wanted?

After a lot of thinking, I’ve realized that it’s “the spark”.  The magical, elusive, stereotypical flutters that appear in cartoons as floating hearts and romantic comedies as gigantic smiles and last minute airport chases.  In this man, I have everything I would ever want….except, so far, that spark.

I was talking to my friend briefly about it, and she pointed out that I could always grow to love this guy and that my relationship with him would be very safe-and that I want a man who chooses to pursue me.  All very well and good.

But there’s a part of me, deep down, that digs in my heels.  As much as I want to be pursued and adored, I want it to happen with a guy that I ALSO want to pursue and adore.

In my last relationship, I had a gigantic smile stretched across my face every. single. time I was driving down to see him.  The moment I knocked on the door, giant butterflies burst from my chest and flew wildly around from the anticipation of the lock click and hinge creak as the door opened to reveal my favorite person.

And the thing is, on paper, this person was completely wrong for me.  Always busy, focused on his own thing, hardly any time to spend with me, made me question his feelings for the first half of our relationship, never paid a dime over his half when we went on ‘dates’, and overall was kind of a douche in several different aspects of our relationship.

And yet….those damn butterflies.

And so, I find myself being pulled in two completely different directions.  One side of me is shaking its head that I would even CONSIDER leaving someone so seemingly perfect-because realistically, those butterflies still have time to manifest–the relationship is still quite new.  And the other side…the other side is digging in its heels and screaming bloody murder at the thought of settling for anything less than an explosion.

What sucks is, I know that there is no right answer for everyone…there is only the right answer for me.  There are several marriages that are built on solid ground where the only sparks that fly are on the Fourth of July.  And there are other relationships where you can hardly stand next to the couple because they give off so much heat.  Both types seem happy in their own way.

As I approach my 30’s at a seemingly breakneck speed, I feel more and more pressure to chose the path of least resistance.  Stay the course.  Choose safety.  Stay boring.

Yet I’ve always been a stubborn, headstrong, don’t-tell-me-what-the-fuck-to-do type of girl.  And I have an inner voice telling me that the path more trodden is just not my path.

Robert Frost tells us that the road less traveled makes all the difference.  So many people nod sagely at the Greats when they tell us to be daring, be bold, seize the day!  Yet when it comes to actually doing so, throats are cleared, feet shift uncomfortably, and no one actually makes a move.

I refuse to settle for less than the heart pounding, grinning, jump-into-his-arms-and-wrap-my-legs-around-his-waist love.  I have to believe I can find that with someone who also offers the other qualities as well.  Maybe the guy I’m seeing now will call up some butterflies if I give him a chance.  And if at the end of the day I don’t end up finding that?  I suppose I’ll have a lot of fun looking.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

What is Family, Anyway?


As I write this blog post I am currently sitting on a plane that is taking me away from one home and towards another.  Every year at Thanksgiving I make the aeriel trek home in order to eat some delicious food, see my family, and eat more delicious food.  I am never disappointed.

Despite the fact that I love my life in California, I am particularly morose this year as I journey back towards the land of sun and sand.  Being together with everyone has reminded me how much we all have grown up (and how much we haven’t) and has made me realize how much I miss out on when I don’t get to see my siblings for a year at a time.

And yet, even with that year of time between being together in person, I experienced nothing but complete settledness.  Even with every single one of us branching out and living lives so completely different from one another, the moment we are back in our childhood house we immediately fall into our relationships with ease.

For those of you who are also able to experience this, how lucky are we?  We are able to grow and expand and experience and fall and succeed yet still have a place of safety and ease on which to land and take a break from everything in our regular lives.

The dictionary definition of family is “all the descendants of a common ancestor”.  However, this succinct phrasing cannot encompass the true meaning of family; having individuals in your life that you simultaneously love, can’t stand, and every other emotion in-between but overall, can’t imagine your life without.  Family means…everything.

FAMILY means acceptance.  There are five total children in my immediate clan, and two of them are married (hint: it’s not me).  Whoever walks into the door of my parents’ house opens a Pandora’s box of personality types, backgrounds, strengths, and issues.  I love so many things about every single person in this eclectic circle, and every single person has a particular way that they can Drive. Me. Up. A. Wall.

Yet, because of the bonds shared since womb-hood, I cannot imagine cutting any of them out of my life.  No matter how annoying, stupid, or irresponsible any of them can be, I accept them whole-heartedly.

The great and unbelievable thing about this is, is it is true in reverse.  I know 100% that I do and say things that drive my family nuts or rub them the wrong way.  There is no possible way to avoid doing so after 28 years of being around the same people.  However, I know that no matter what I say or do short of cold-blooded murder, I will never be cast outside of the fold.  And there is absolutely no better feeling than that.

FAMILY means constructive criticism.  While family may accept your imperfections, they are not averse to putting in their two cents when they feel necessary.  Yet in opposition to most criticism thrown around in the world, these thought-provoking comments or conversations spring out of a place of deep love and desire for the best for whoever is receiving the notes.

This Thanksgiving, I had finally gotten fed up with one of my siblings and had snapped a curt retort.  My grandma simply stated “cool it, you” as she walked past.  Straightforward, short, to the point, yet it completely shook me out of my annoyance and made me realize that my vitriol was not necessary.  Sometimes a simple reminder from people who love you regardless is just the thing you need to change a negative attitude or a habit.

FAMILY means safety.  The reason that I am able to fly so far from the nest of my youth is because I know without the slightest shadow of a doubt that I can always, 100%, rely on my family if I were to need help in any way.  Even with all of the pulls on their attention, if I were to ever get so desperate as to need a place to stay, I would have one.  If I ever need to vent and not worry about sounding like a Negative Nancy, I can call on any number of ears and take advantage.

Anything and everything that might crop up in life does not seem like a big obstacle because I have access to an incredible network of strong individuals that will do anything in their power to make sure that I am ok.  This knowledge is a powerful antidote to any fear or hesitation I might feel over any roadblock I may face.

FAMILY means abnormal normality.  My dad has been known to make up short bizarre songs on the spot.  My brother decides to speak in random accents at unforeseen times.  My sister loves to reference anything I do wrong in her eyes as the act of an “uncultured swine”.  We 100% bust out the Disney songs when we ride in the car, and my voice is usually the loudest one.

All of these quirky, random, non-normal aspects of every single person in the inner circle makes my family, family.  Every single family in the world has their weird, zany, creative, off-the-wall, embarrassing habits that they would rather the outside world not know.  I say, however, that we should embrace that weirdness as OURS.  There is a distinct sense of pride in ownership, and your family deserves that pride as much as your car or your house.

As a teacher, I am privy to the heartbreaking reality that my family situation is rare.  There are too many children and adults that go through life without the love, acceptance, criticism, and sense of belonging that they need in order to thrive.

So for those kids and grown-up kids, who is family, anyway, if it’s not blood?  Thankfully, we can still get all of these benefits from families that we build ourselves.  Actively seek out people that can offer this support to you, and make sure to offer it in return.

So, if you are in possession of this sense of family, cherish it.  If you are not, build it.  Life is better with our people, and I think we could all do a little bit more to make sure our people know how awesome they are.

Because honestly, without the bonds of family, what is life, anyway?