Love in the time of Board Games, Golf, and Zombies

We need to invest in some new board games.  Sure, some of the ones we own are fun, but most of them are intended for more than just the two of us.  Others, like Risk, I just adamantly refuse to play (sorry, my love).  Some, however, lie dormant and collect dust in the closet of the guest room, awaiting the day that my mother-in-law comes over and insists we play Monopoly.

And so she came, and so we did.

Now, let me tell you something about Monopoly.  If there were a word that could represent all that is good, positive, healthy, and beautiful in the world and then you took that word and searched for its antonym, it would be would Monopoly; active games of Monopoly have been known to increase the risk of cancer; ever feel that a prickling on back of your neck whilst cleaning out the attic or walking into a dark basement? a game of Monopoly was once played in that space and someone PROBABLY died.

The point is that Monopoly rips families, relationships, and minds apart.

Until mommy-in-law came to visit, I'd literally never finished a game of Monopoly.  After 3 hours and a sweeping victory by Brandon, I cried and gave thanks that it was over and vowed to never play again.  Until the next day, of course, when the two of them wanted to play.  And then the next day.  And then the next.

In all seriousness, though, it was really nice having ma here with us for the week.  We got a chance to show off our favorite places to eat in DFW, enjoyed taste-testing some of Brandon's crazy-amazing meatball gloriousness (he was prepping for Aventino's contest), and even got her to admit some places are better than Pizza Inn.

pic of said meatball gloriousness

After ma left, the spirit of gaming stayed with us and though I refused to play a two-player round of Monopoly with him, I was absolutely down to play Scrabble.  It even turned into an every-other-night ritual for a while, so that was really fun!  Then, Brandon tried using the spirit of gaming for his own personal gain and it almost destroyed me.

He wanted to go to Top Golf (uuuuugh, golf) and I said, "Alright alright, let's go; we'll find a spot where it can be just the two of us and you can play to his heart's content while I read or play video games."  So, I packed my favorite Totoro tote bag with the 3DS, some yarn in case I felt like crocheting on the sort-of-long trip there, and a copy of Stephen King's newest collection of stories, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.  Though golf (as with most sports) does nothing for me, I do enjoy watching him play, but ooooh no, that wasn't enough for him this time.  "Try it!" he insisted, and I refused.

"Come on, try it!"

"Nuuuuu, I've never done it, I'll look ridiculous, and everyone will laugh at me.  On the inside, which is even worse."


And ugh, you guys, I love this man so much that I was willing to let the anxious feelings of embarrassment tear my soul in twain in order to make him happy.  My hands shook, I simultaneously felt cold and sweaty, and I sensed an all too familiar numbness creep down my spine that left me feeling as if nearby, someone was playing a game of Monopoly.  I took a few swings and Brandon cheered and made me feel as if hitting the ground once or twice was totally normal.  On our way back home, you could've seen the brilliance of his smile from the moon.

me, with a terrible stance, being terrible

He was SO giddy, in fact, that he said he'd be willing to play or watch anything with me.

"Anything? No complaints?"


We fixed some dinner, sat on the couch together, and believe it or not, he watched the entire second episode of The Walking Dead with me without falling asleep (he'd previously seen the first but admitted it didn't really do anything for him)!  Get this: not only did he watch the episode with me, he let me pause a few times to unnecessarily explain and ramble about which characters I disliked, what he'd have to keep an eye out for, etc.  He totally let me go into hyper geek-mode and I very rarely put him through that, 'cause I get a little self-conscious and know he's generally just not into my flavor of nerdy stuff.  He listened to me go on and on without even picking up his phone and when it was over, he looked into my eyes and with perfect nonchalance said, "I could get into this show."

A few weeks and two seasons later, I still giddily squeal each time he sits down with dinner and asks "Walking Dead, babe?"  I guess, y'know, that it wouldn't kill me to play a little more golf with him; it's more than fair.


Moving On and Finding Ourselves Again

Recently, some friends on Facebook shared this crazy-adorable video and I made a mental note to show it to Brandon when he got home from work.  When he arrived with dinner a few hours later, he insisted that I not have the laptop at the table, but I persevered (I really wanted him to see it)!

Now, before I continue, let me tell you about this endearing power of Brandon's.  Five minutes into any film, he's able to guess "the big twist" and dash any hopes you had of picking a movie you thought could shock him into dropping his jaw.  "I bet the dad dies; I bet the mom's the murderer; I bet it's the wife's head in the box." BAH!!

So, he starts to watch this precious video and a few seconds in, he says something like "oooh, the guy's drawing on the wrappers--" and I maaaaay have raised my voice to cut him off: "Yes, but wait 'til you see what he does with them!"  But, when that super sweet moment finally came around, the moment of "awww, you were right; that was a cute video!" never came.  Instead, the conversation took an adorably serious tone.

"Why don't you doodle our lives on gum wrappers?"


"No, really; you haven't doodled or written about us in a long time."

And dang, you guys, he was right.  This year's been a bit crazy and though the stresses of everyday life have decreased ridiculously, I hadn't made an attempt to play catch up and write or draw anything us in quite a while.  So, without further ado:

The first few months of 2015 were filled with more stress than both Brandon and I had experienced in quite a while.  So much so, in fact, that our constant need to vent each day's nonsense began to irritate us.

"I would appreciate it if you'd try to speak of my job a bit more positively."

"Why would I ever speak of it positively, when I'm furious at the way you're treated?!"

We started to fall in love with the idea of selling the house and just taking off.  We were looking at houses, we were researching jobs, and we even started telling our friends and families that we'd be moving before the summer arrived.  We just had to settle on where.

We were torn between Chicago and Minneapolis and were going back and forth about the pros and cons of each, when Brandon asked me something with far reaching consequences.

"Why do you want to move, anyway?  Because if it's just to get away from things, maybe we need to rethink it."

The words stuck and everything changed.  Yeah, we were married in Minneapolis and I'd fallen in love with the city in a single day, but... why did I want to move?  It's not as if we had a home ready to purchase and didn't have to worry about the awkwardness of selling and buying at the same time; it's not as if we'd gone and found a place we could stay, temporarily, with 5 animals, whilst we spent time finding this magically affordable home that was located near to the job I also hadn't found.

What Brandon said made a huge impact on the rest of the year and our lives.  Yes, I had to tuck my tail betwixt my legs and un-breakup with my family and friends ("OOOOH Gilbert"), but, and more importantly, the knowledge that we'd be staying a while longer became the key to finding our forgotten tranquility.  We had been given the ability to change our situation here, for better or worse.  You see, we may have been locked into our destinies by a force that moves us each day to do what we regularly do - consistency, complacency, and/or a misguided sense of responsibility.  However, we were willing to undo all of that and create a great amount of instability and uncertainty in order to be happy again.  I believe that willingness gave us the chance to take our first steps, but here at home, and it's made all the difference.

For whatever reasons we held in our hearts and those we gave to the air, we accepted change.  I no longer work where I did, and neither does Brandon.  And we're happy.  Motivation has poured back into our lives and we have more stories to share with each other that do not leave us feeling tired and drained and uncertainty has given way to confidence and hope once more colors the walls of our home.

Since the changes, Brandon has had time to write more shows than he's ever undertaken in a year, before; something he's always wanted to do.  I've delved into my hobbies more than ever, and though I may not have kept up with #LoveDerp doodles or writing, I've crocheted a ridiculous amount and listened to more books this year than I have read in ... probably the last few years combined.  We've also revived our urge to fix up the house and have continued with projects that were put down and forgotten a while back.

Summing up the majority of this year may not do justice to the revitalization of our very lives, but I've tried to capture it in as short and quick a way as it has felt - the inner details of it all left to the imagination of onlookers and snuggled comfortably within the memories of two lovers making their way across the stars, together.  I ask that you read into this what I've always wanted to live by, forgot along the road, and then found again: we're all going to die one day, so why not try and be happy.



One Year Since

One year ago, we said "I do."

I giggle-cried, unsurprisingly, while he smiled and never let the blue of his eyes leave my face; we awkwardly kissed in front of Carl Fredricksen, from Up, and our two new friends from the frigid North; and rings were placed around our fingers and our hearts.

Then, the flow of time returned to normal.  The day that felt like it could last forever came to an end and we flew back to Texas.  Back to where the world demanded our attention.  Back to where the focus of our lives wasn't just us.

And now twelve months have passed.  We've laughed, we've grown, we've disagreed, and sometimes, we've even driven in silence.  We've gone to work and stayed up late, worrying about what needs to be done or fixed or taken care of, both wishing that there'd be more time for us to just sit down and relax, together.  It's been a particularly long and stressful year...

But we're always together, even when we're not.  No matter what annoyances drive us to the point of awkward car rides, I know that I am still happy each night when my eyes dip down to sleep and he is next to me.  And I look forward to more.  I look forward to a better year, with a focus purposely directed at ourselves, rather than the world outside of us; I look forward to days, months, years of gentle snoring that lulls me into the next day; I look forward to each day's "I'm home!" whether it's from him or me; and I look forward to each time those beautiful blue eyes remind me of that moment when I realized how tired his smile was from having smiled without pause, that time he never dropped his eyes from mine as we said "I do."