Anyway….. I never really talked about the foundation and origin of my relationship with Roland. Now I’m not going to go into this in depth recap of our 7+ year friendship (and eventual relationship)
but I remember logging into an online war game (Evony) and thinking “well, there’s a decent human being”. I had been playing the game for a while and wasn’t taking it too seriously, but then I joined an alliance (basically, a group of us that would play together whenever we had time to sit around our computers) and we’d chat rather anonymously with the rest of the group.
We rarely just talked to each other. We just got along. He also became aware of how my personal situation was escalating and was one of the only people I could talk to about it. He overheard altercations and encouraged me to stay safe in a way that a decent human being would. He didn’t judge me. He was there when I was at my worst and he supported me until I became my best (so far, I’ve still got some work to do). I think that his level of innocence was something I found to be both refreshing and uninteresting in a combination that worked well for us as friends. What I mean is that I could talk to him about anything and I knew he was “safe”, but I didn’t immediately have a romantic interest in him. After all, I was in a bad relationship at this time and he was still coping with divorce. Neither one of us was interested because we had our own battles to deal with.
I know there’s a long message I sent him when I was in the midst of saving up to leave and had a moment of courage to tell him how I felt. I contemplated waiting to tell him until I was out and there were no blurred lines, but I was trying to hurry and get a car on the road so I could take most of my things (a lot of shit builds up over 4 years) and my kittens and leave. I look back at it and realize that it was such a defining moment in my life. I also realized that the very act of buying my first car since I had moved to Buffalo, NY was a clear indication that I wasn’t thinking of ever really meeting Roland in person. I had decided to purchase a thing as part of my quest for independence.
It was a time in my life where I sucked at adulting. All I knew was how to bury myself in work and try to cope with life when I didn’t have the escapism of paperwork or the rare outing that I was “allowed” to go out on without repercussions. I had already made the decision that I was going to prove that I could get my shit together before I decided to date again. And at that moment before I told him that I liked him I made that promise to myself that I would not date again until I got my stuff together so I wasn’t presenting myself to the world (not just to him) as a hot mess. But I told him and got it out there because I also realized that life is short and nothing is gained by not saying how you feel. And I guess we could say he even admitted he liked me a bit too.
Neither of us knew what to do after that and we kind of awkwardly (and slowly) tumbled towards love.
I laughed just now because I realized I should have done this as a wedding speech. Maybe he’ll see it before our anniversary (as I chuckle). He’s my low key biggest fan. He’ll find it eventually.
Anyway…It was a long time before I was ready to even approach the discussion of “maybe I can come visit” and “where is this going”. With the support of some really great friends that I could have been better too (I know I was a shitty human for a while, and I’m sorry) I managed to kinda get my shit together. I looked back at that time and I really kept thinking “well, why the fuck didn’t anyone teach us this in school?????? (insert emoji) and I struggled to get it right.
To this day I struggle, but you know what? That’s just how life is. There’s no manual and there’s not always going to be someone that will hold your hand.
Eventually, I had to accept the fact that it just is how it is and you need to make the most of it. Depression and anxiety were part of my package deal along with some questionable life choices and I had no bikini body. All I could be do was be me and hoped he really liked me.
You ever miss that feeling? The time when you’re falling in love can be the most amazing and the most terrifying thing at the same time. I knew I wanted something real with him and I had no idea if he felt the same because the man was a post-divorce-single-dad fortress I could barely walk up to. In retrospect, I should have worried less because he was always honest with me. He really has always accepted me as I am. We had both decided to not date during the time that we were figuring things out and I sort of worried about wasting his time. It sounds stupid after the fact and he’d probably scoff at it and make a face but that’s how I felt.
But when February 14th/15th 2012 came around, it changed the entire course of things.
Short version, Roland was held up at gunpoint and robbed in his own driveway that night. I had been waiting for him so we could talk on Skype for a bit for Valentine’s Day (I figured that he was as close to a Valentine I’d get for a while) and I thought he had bailed on me. But eventually he messaged me and shared what happened and I immediately asked him to call me. Hearing him talk about what happened almost left me breathless and I didn’t understand why at first. Then I realized that it was me coping with the realization that he could have been killed. I could have never heard from him again.
That terrified me.
I booked my flight to South Africa to see him that following May.
I didn’t even realize it until after but I had perfectly timed it to land just a few hours from his birthday on May 4th, which is why we say that’s our anniversary. However, we debate it a bit. Roland claims it’s the 3rd (which means that he was sold on me right away, haha) and I say it’s the 4th because we had talked long past midnight and it was then that I felt I could exhale and not worry about my decision to fly halfway across the world to stay the night with a man I had never met in person before. When I put it THAT way, it sounds batshit crazy. But I took a chance on Roland.
Summarizing the years that followed: I moved in with him officially after a couple of months and we ended up both agreeing (though reluctantly) for me to get a visa to stay and do volunteer work locally. We got pets. We made each other laugh. We loved. We struggled. We clashed. We cracked. We rebuilt. Rinse and repeat.
The court cases he had to participate in (I choose my words carefully here) almost murdered our relationship from very early on. They were all around the kids and I had to sit back and let him handle that. I can’t say I didn’t resent that in a way because it caused me to have to put the pause button on some parts of our relationship. I’m not ashamed to admit it because I’m just saying what other people would be thinking if they were in a similar situation. I was vocal about it. I didn’t grow up in a broken home, so I didn’t know how to handle being part of one.
When the kids were younger we got along really well but as the years wore on I got worn out. That’s more of my recent past there. I was worn out emotionally, physically, mentally. I was painfully homesick and had to give up a chance to have a wedding with more of my people around (the handful that took the trip all the way to South Africa since I’ve come here- I will never forget that- it meant the world). I had to give up friends I used to see several times a week or being part of the family when people started growing up and having kids of their own. To this day I have not set foot in NJ (where I mainly grew up in an elementary sense) since 2005. I’m honestly terrified of going back after being disconnected for so long.
My parents, though, had set a really awesome example for me and others. The only issue was that it took me 30 something years to get it. And it was around this time that I was basically looking back at two stepkids that were going through a part of life that we all can relate to; the part where you think you have it all figured out and you haven’t a clue what a tailspin transitioning to adulthood can be sometimes. It’s when you dismiss 80% of the life advice people tell you and you’ll later be in your late 20’s or 30’s and say “oh, they were right”. What a vicious cycle.
I had to realize that I couldn’t control so much about life and could only do my best. I had lost focus on the simplicity of that statement. I just needed to my best and accept that it’s all I can do. Sometimes it will be enough. Sometimes it won’t be enough.
I said this wouldn’t be in depth but then I realized that there’s no way to make it short and sweet so people understand. But there are plenty of stories that I’ll touch on one day because I have some amazing memories that still shone through the struggles with this man. As much as I butt heads with him because I’m just basically mad at life right now, I know I will eventually straighten my back and get my shit together again. He knows it too and I know he’s trying to work with me.
I guess a funny thing about my 30’s is that I learned that I am really a brat. And I sometimes try to give people an out because I somehow started to believe that I don’t deserve love. I was the type of person that would refuse to allow myself to cry (even happy cry) in front of other people. But the day I walked down that aisle I happy cried in front of everyone and I couldn’t care less. Even when I didn’t love myself enough he still loved me. I owe him a lot for that kind of unconditional love because I’m pretty sure it saved my life.
Anyway. This all had a point.
I took a chance on Roland and now I am here. For the longest, I felt like I didn’t have a story to tell but as I started to unpack the years of memories I realized that my life wasn’t as uneventful as I thought. Life with him is not perfect and have not been the best life partner to him but I know he’s worth every effort to try harder. I also realized that for me to be better I needed to expect better from myself. And that is where I am at this time as I get ready to get my shit together like a veteran. I know what I need to do, I just need to get the ball rolling.
I’m currently doing a juice fast but for a different purpose because I remembered how much clearer I could think when I was on it for a while. It actually kept me a bit zen and gave me more time to focus on catching up on my budding library of books or this blog. I had more time to spend with the zoo and I’m trying to muster the mental strength to get the house in order so it’s more streamlined (6 years of living together led to stuff and not enough space, so I just need to organize everything really thoroughly one time to “reset” it). I’ve been taking a lot of naps.
I’m pushing myself to be a better person because my life has changed quite a bit from where I was 6 years ago. Back then I was nervously packing and repacking for a trip that was meant to be for 3 months. I didn’t realize that it was going to lead to my “forever”. Part of the reason I want to is that I know I need to set a better example for these kids. And who knows, having one of my own is not entirely off the table (surprisingly- I didn’t think I’d consider it once I hit 35) and I want to be stronger then too. More importantly, though…I want to be a better wife and best friend.
I always feel like I’m nowhere near ready to live such a domesticated life because I’m far from refined but…again…I need to remember that he loves me for me. But if I better myself constantly and make MYSELF happy? I can only imagine how happy that would make him too.
So, I guess I’ll be sharing more of our story as we stumble along this life together. We have no idea what we’re doing some days but we keep pushing through burnout with work and compounding obstacles and enjoying those brilliantly awesome moments life gives us. And he makes an excellent traveling partner when he allows me to do it my way (haha) so it’ll be great to chronicle our misadventures. I’ll also be working on the fiction piece but this will be my little window into my world for you voyeurs that find it interesting.
I adore you if you take the time to read this. I hope you know that.
Not everything is going to be roses, but we control a lot of the direction our lives go in. It’s like how the “butterfly effect” style storylines are appealing to us but it is far less risk. I realize that putting my life out there to any extent can cause me to deal with the “well I would have done this” kind of judgment instead. Just remember that I’m not here for advice but I’m hoping that someone might be able to relate. I want to be able to look back at our progress in a way that I can share these memories with my grandkids one day. I think that’s kind of cool.
Well, I’ve rambled long enough. It’s almost 3 am and I need to try to adult and human today.
I’m doing laundry and stalling on taking a shower until my most comfortable jeggings are dry because I don’t want to have to change again later. I want to get some heavy duty housework done so I can create a relaxed evening for all of us to just hang out and shoot the shit. Maybe play some Battleship or watch a movie. I have to find a purpose for all of the pumpkins basil and butternut that my father-in-law brought from his own garden (he really inspires my dream to live off the land someplace and have off-grid accommodations- that would be amazing) and remembered that Roland loves soups during the cold weather. I never like to make them because I can only have them made from scratch and I’m lazy at the same time. Today will be the day.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. All the more incentive to keep it interesting for us all.
But seriously….it’s time to live life and love fearlessly. My future self is counting on it.