Is it just me, or does anyone else revert to their childhood self when they get together with their family?
Unfortunately for myself (and my next of kin) my childhood self is…well…kind of a brat.
Late last night, Scott and I returned to ‘Sota after five days in beautiful California with my parents and younger brother.
My brother is stationed in San Diego, and scheduled to leave on his first deployment to the Middle East in just a few weeks. We wanted to make it down to California to see him off and spend some quality family time together.
Long story short, Scott, myself, both my parents and my brother ended up holing up at his two-bedroom apartment. There were five adults and only four bath towels.
Did I mention he has a roommate?
To say we wore out our welcome would be an understatement.
To say I grew slightly crabby after being in such close quarters with my parents?
Also an understatement.
A gross understatement.
Essentially, I fought with my dad for the majority of the trip. I’m certainly not proud of this, but anyone who knows both myself and my father is probably not all that surprised. Basically, we’re the exact same person aside from our gender, age, and spending habits.
Also? He willingly wears fanny packs.
Anyway…both my dad and I are extremely stubborn. We also both insist on getting our way. Unfortunately, my way is generally the polar opposite of his way, which results in some good old-fashioned head butting.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
(Most of the time.)
The funny thing is, I always regret our little spats after the fact. Yet during the actual argument…I seem to be totally on auto-pilot. It’s as if I’ve been transported back into my snotty, Old Navy-wearing, hormone-raging, sixteen-year-old self, and am completely incapable of acting like an adult and simply biting my tongue, no matter how hard I try.
Also…we fight over the silliest things. There was literally a fifteen minute debacle regarding milkshakes.
So, while the trip was a total blast, my sassy tantrum-throwing ways certainly put a damper on things. I really feel terrible about squandering the last visit before Leif deploys by engaging in petty squabbles and making snide remarks towards my dad.
I realize this blog is typically a place of jest and facetiousness, but today, I’m being one-hundred-percent serious– please take every opportunity you have to treat your family with love, respect and care.
Even if they do willingly wear fanny packs and have horrible taste in milkshakes.
Yesterday, Scott and I celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss.
Although if you average everything out, it’s technically been about three years of wedded bliss, a year and a half of “meh”, and six months of “If-you-even-look-at-me-right-now-there’s-a pretty-good-chance-I’m-going-to-shank-you-with-the-toilet-scrubber.”
Please tell me I’m not the only married person who feels this way.
Five years later, no one has actually followed through on the toilet scrubber threat, so I figure we’re in pretty good shape. Also…toilets get way cleaner when you scrub them while you’re angry.
Scott’s family was in town this weekend, so we didn’t have our traditional romantic dinner, which was fine by me. I lucked out with some pretty awesome in-laws, and spending our anniversary with them was a total blast.
Spending our anniversary cleaning rotten compost juice from the trunk of our car?
Not a total blast.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Scott and I offered to host the family for a day of Smalltown-style fun on Saturday. By the time everyone arrived, our compost bin was practically bursting at the seams. Living in an apartment means we’re forced to drive our bin nearly ninety minutes to Scott’s dad’s house whenever we need a place to legally empty it. As we were about to cook two large meals for twelve people, an empty compost bin for scraps would have been ideal. Yet despite our imperfect circumstances, the King of Composting was somehow able to work his magic, pressing the compost down to make room for eight more pounds of organic material. By the time we drove it to his dad’s place the next morning, it was packed tighter than Times Square on New Years. I swear…the thing had to weigh at least 30 pounds–carrying it down the stairs was like a smellier version of lifting weights.
Things were complicated by the fact that before stopping at Scott’s dad’s place, we drove two hours to watch him compete in a mountain biking race. I recall hearing a thump in the trunk of the car about fifteen minutes into the drive, but assumed it was one of the mammoth salad-filled Pyrex bowls we had packed to share for lunch. Fortunately, the bowls are sealed with some pretty serious lids, so I didn’t think twice about one of them potentially falling over.
Five hours later, and about fifteen minutes from my father-in-law’s home, Scott made a critical observation.
“Something smells like…vinegar.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “I noticed that, too. Uh…is it your feet?”
(If by some off-chance, you saw two adults–one of whom was driving–and a small child heading north on I-94 while smelling each other’s feet at approximately 2:30 pm yesterday, now you know why. The fact that we didn’t get pulled over is nothing short of astounding.)
While I’m happy to report that everyone’s tootsies smelled fresh as daisies, I’m not so happy to say that the culprit was about forty ounces of putrified compost juice.
Putrified compost juice that had baked in the trunk of our car for approximately five hours in 100 degree heat.
Putrified compost juice that, by my estimation, came mostly from some rotten tomatoes and egg shells that were about three weeks old.
We stood there scrunching our faces, trying not to breathe, and wondering how in the world we were going to undo this extremely unfortunate organic tsunami. Finally, I broke the silence.
“Hey, Scott…can you get brain damage from a smell?”
(In case you’re curious, brain damage smells as if Satan himself had rolled about in a vat of cream cheese and cigarette ashes before descending in to the heat of hell and working out for seven consecutive days without so much as a shower of single swipe of deodorant.)
As everyone ran off to play volleyball and prepare lunch, Scott and I were tasked with cleaning up the “compost gravy”. He assured me neurological damage from the odor was out of the question, but I wore a protective mask as a precaution anyway.
Happy Freaking Anniversary.
While I certainly would have hoped to avoid the great compost flood altogether, I’ve got to say, Scott and I made a pretty good team. He removed the lining of the trunk, hosing it down with soap and water, before laying it out to dry in the sun. I threw all of our reusable grocery bags in the washing machine and sanitized the dozens of pieces of contaminated Tupperware. Together, we wiped the rancid sludge from the nooks and crannies of Jolie’s pink dog crate.
We didn’t fight, we didn’t blame, we didn’t even complain. Without any verbal communication whatsoever, we divided and conquered. We didn’t rest until the trunk smelled less like cream cheese Satan, and more like a Febreeze overdose.
We were a team.
A really good team.
As I sat on the front porch, vigorously scrubbing the compost bin with a toilet brush, I wasn’t even halfway tempted to shank my compost obsessed husband with it…partly because I was sure it would be really efficient way to give him MRSA, but mostly because I genuinely love the guy.
Finally removing my protective mask, I started thinking about the nine years I’ve spent with Scott as my boyfriend and husband. Suddenly, I realized the last sixty minutes had been one giant, foul smelling metaphor.
Sometimes, life is a lot like a lot like a compost disaster in the trunk of your car. It sucks, it smells like Satan’s B.O., and it seriously tests the boundaries of your sanity.
But it’s a whole lot easier to handle when you have your best friend by your side.
In a mere eleven days, I’ll be turning twenty-eight years old.
As a matter of fact, I’ll be turning twenty-eight on the twenty-eighth, which means this year is my golden birthday!
I’ve imagined my golden birthday on many occasions, and always seem to conjure up visions of travelling with a group of friends to New Orleans or Las Vegas and wearing a sparkly gold dress so that I would literally be golden on my golden birthday.
Yes, these are the things I choose to occupy my brain with.
Instead, we’ll be spending the weekend with Scott’s family, who is coming to visit us in Minnesota for our annual summer get together. Honestly, playing sand volleyball and going to the lake will probably be a lot more fun than spending way too much money on sparkly mini skirts and plane tickets–even if it means I’ll be covered with mosquito bites as opposed to gold sequins. The older I get, the more I realize that spending time with those you care about trumps wearing a fancy outfit any day of the week. (Managing to do both at the same time? #Winning.)
My upcoming birthday has caused me to think less about sparkly dresses, and more about my existence in general. Realistically, I’m about 1/3 of the way through this big adventure we call life. This has made me consider where I’m at and where I want to go next. What have I already accomplished? What do I still want to accomplish? Is this where I thought I’d be at the age of twenty-eight?
I believe major life events, and birthday’s in particular, are a great time for a good old self-evaluation. Let’s see how I measure up.
Stuff I’m proud of:
Earning my master’s degree: Let’s just say I’m glad this is out of the way.
My job: I got really lucky here. I work as a web designer at one of the best organizations in the world. I love the people I work with and the changes we are striving for.
My marriage: Spoiler alert: marriage is not easy. Not at all. The day after my birthday Scott and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary. It’s been extremely challenging yet incredible rewarding — I’m particularly proud of this one.
My friends: I have an amazing network of people I’ve been lucky enough to know as a result of my time spent in Washington, New York, Nebraska and now Minnesota. When I think of the special peeps I know all over the country, I can’t help but smile.
Being SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE to paying off our student loans. There may or may not be a trip to Australia in the works once this goal is accomplished.
Stuff I need to work on:
Save more money: Believe it or not, I think the plan is to stay in Minnesota and (gasp!) buy a house. This means I need to stop giving all of my money to Nordstroms and fatten up our piggy bank a bit lot.
Arrange life and finances so that Scott and I are able to start a family: Insert second gasp here.
Spend more time on my book proposal: This is currently my biggest goal, and I’ve been majorly slacking.
Be a better wife: I’m trying my best to tame my control-freak tendencies and lighten up a bit, for the sake of Scott’s sanity.
Get my fitness and nutrition in line: Moving to Minnesota caused me to fall off the wagon, and I’ve been wallowing in a pool of greasy apple fritters ever since. It’s not pretty. (But it sure has been tasty!)
Focus on the important things: I’m pretty incredibly materialistic. This needs to become less of a priority in my life.
Be less of a people pleaser: While I’m incredibly honest on this here blog, I tend to be kind of a push-over in real life, and have serious issues with confrontation.
Stuff that’s surprised me:
I don’t have it all figured out: As a teenager and woman in my early twenties, I thought that surely, the magic switch of adulthood would have flipped on by age twenty-eight, resulting in a perfect and flawless life. I think I’m finally realizing that the magic switch of adulthood doesn’t exist.
It’s just the two three of us: The younger version of myself would have thought that we’d for sure have some non-chihuahua children at this point. While I certainly didn’t predict that we would start a family later in life, I’m really happy with our decision to wait on the whole having kids thing.
We’re still renting: My younger self would probably be shocked to know that at twenty-eight, I would be living in an apartment. And not just any apartment. An apartment that is in walking distance of the mall. (This is the part where my younger self screams in sheer terror.) I’m learning to love the freedom of renting, and have slowly accepted the fact that when you’ve moved six times in the last six years, owning a home isn’t always in the cards.
My metabolism has slowed down: I distinctly remember at the age of sixteen saying “I’m so glad I can eat whatever I want! I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to go on a diet…I love food way too much.” This is the part where I’d like to go back in time and punch my sixteen-year old self in her perfectly sculpted abs and then yank on her pony tail before force feeding her a giant salad covered in non-fat dressing.
I’m becoming my parents: Both of them. I look like them, I act like them, I’ve picked up their good and bad habits. I’ve also started incorporating phrases they’ve coined into my daily vocabulary. “Uff Da!”, “That really frosts me.” and “Looking sharp!” are prime examples of this.
Even more frightening? The moments I look at my reflection in the mirror and see my younger brother Janss, wearing mascara, staring back at me.
My tastes haven’t changed: Scott loves to remind me that I still have the tastes of a fourteen-year-old when it comes to television, music, and even literature. I think he’s just jealous that I know all the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” and actually read the Twilight series as opposed to copping out and just watching the movies.
There’s so much more, but I won’t bore you with the gory details. Now, I want to know about you. Do you keep a list of goals and accomplishments your proud of? Does the course of your life continuously surprise you? Do you still have a passion for teeny-bopper bands and MTV reality shows? Spill it in the comments section–if only to make me realize that I’m not alone here.
Technically, the funny thing actually happened while we were in Missouri, but some interesting stuff went down on the road trip as well.
Namely, this video clip that Scott was kind enough to capture. (You only need to watch the first fifteen seconds or so to get the gist of it.)
At least my hair looked good?
I eventually woke up, and we arrived in Kansas City for a wonderful reunion with Scott’s side of the family. Seriously…my husband comes from a terrific group of people. I love spending time with them, and think of his relatives more as “our family” as opposed to just “his family”. We had a blast, and his aunt and uncle were extremely gracious hosts.
They also had a home espresso machine, which was pretty much the best thing ever. Picture me creepily staring at it while whispering “I want that.” for at least half of the weekend.
Because there was an outdoor pool involved, Scott naturally resorted to his twelve-year-old self asking everyone (including the children) if they wanted to race him. After participating in the Taylor family version of the Olympic trials, He demanded (multiple times) that we watch him sink down to the bottom of the pool and blow rings of air to the surface. I kept trying to explain to him that the air rings weren’t actually visible from above the water, but eventually gave up and applauded vigorously every time he demonstrated his fancy trick.
Truly, the can of Bud Light in his hand was the only thing distinguishing him from the rest of the kiddos.
I will admit that it’s not really fair for me to make fun of him, as I myself wasn’t always on my best behavior. Try as I might, I’m pretty sure I accidentally shared a story about how I mistakenly ate a bowl of chili with Scott’s fingernail clippings in it once.
In addition to this, I may or may not have divulged that my side of the family hadn’t hosted a reunion is a while as at the last one, my grandmother had too much to drink and ended up making a pipe bomb.
But probably not the best thing to share in the company of in-laws.
For me, the highlight of the weekend was Saturday evening. Scott’s uncle set up a projector on the back deck, and we watched 8 millimeter home movies of Scott’s dad and his siblings growing up in the fifties. As scenes from Christmas, past family reunions, and first days of school flashed across the screen, a smile spread across my face. I glanced back at Scott’s grandmother, who had made the trip out for the day and was sitting in the center of the deck, soaking up fond memories of years gone by. I thought of her late husband, Scott’s grandfather. They were simply two young people who had fallen in love. Years later, here we were: four generations, sitting on one deck, smiling, laughing and reminiscing over these home movies. This beautiful, loving family had all started with them. Two people who had fallen in love.
Eventually, our picture perfect moment came to an end. The sky filled with lightning, and a storm was coming. We carried the projector inside, and headed back to the hotel.
That’s when the “funny” thing happened.
“We should probably start having kids,” Scott muttered.
“Huh?” I replied with confusion. Perhaps I hadn’t heard him clearly. Scott and I have always said we don’t want children. We want to live in a city. We want to travel. We want to play with our cute little nieces and nephews, but not be responsible for changing their diapers or feeding them in the middle of the night. We don’t want to have to worry about bringing life into the world and then nurturing it for eighteen years.
Basically, we want to be selfish.
Also…I can’t even keep a plant alive for more than two weeks.
And then there’s the whole ting about how every single baby I’ve ever held violently bawls the moment they are placed in my arms.
Not to mention the fact that I actually once told my niece to “go watch TV and eat some candy…Auntie Katrina needs to flat iron her hair.”
“I don’t know…” he continued, “Those films just got me thinking. It might be kind of nice to start a family.”
I paused for a moment. Perhaps the Minnesota water has started to fill my brain with Midwestern family values. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was surrounded by throngs of adorable children, including two beautiful baby girls at the reunion. Or maybe, after five years of carrying a chihuahua in a purse, I finally felt the urge to upgrade to a baby in a stroller.
Obviously a stroller with a hook strong enough to hang a purse holding a dog on it. Let’s not get ridiculous or anything.
“Believe it or not,” I muttered, “I was actually kind of thinking the exact same thing.”
I know. I’m as shocked as you are.
Scott and I have since rehashed the details of this conversation, and still don’t know quite where we stand. If we ever do decide to start a family, it won’t be until well after we pay off our student loans, and settle into a place of residence that doesn’t require a twelve-month lease or the use of a public elevator.
But, for the first time ever, I wasn’t totally put off by the idea of infiltrating rural Minnesota with the spawn of “Scottrina”– a frightening thought, indeed.
But also kind of an exciting one.
“Don’t get too amped up yet,” Scott warned. “Let’s think about it for a few months and see how we feel. You know…sleep on it for a while.”
I know he’s right.
But, last night, as I created a map that highlights all of the states Jolie has travelled to, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it’s time for a different type of child.
I don’t mean to brag…but she’s also been to Canada. Twice.
You know…the ones that come with opposable thumbs?