Category Archives: Relationships

A bridge over troubled water

I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It may have been in my Dad’s hunter green Tahoe listening to a “Golden Oldies” radio station. It may have been in the living room of my grandparents house listening to an album on their record player. (That I now proudly own, *humble brag*)

It’s a song I just… know. That many, many people know. From the mega famous to the ordinary. It spans generations, continents and cultures.

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all

The London Gay Men’s Chorus sang it in solidarity with the community of Orlando at a vigil held this week in London.

For obvious reasons, this video moved me significantly. I watched it several times. Thinking about Orlando. Feeling heavy hearted for lives affected, and my own. How my life right now seems like a deep, long stretch of troubled water.

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

I have struggled to put into words what I have been feeling for months on end. I’ve written several unpublished drafts on this blog. Searching for the right way to explain myself. It’s a lot of confusion and hopelessness. Feeling unworthy of opportunity and acceptance. I have felt angry with myself for failing to achieve certain things professionally — and for failing to be someone I am proud of.

I feel lost. All the time. I never seem to know if I’m making the right or wrong decision. I keep looking for “answers” in people, ideas and things… Expecting to have a moment, an “a-ha!” A “now I understand the workings of the universe” epiphany. But after a talk with my mom that went something like this: SOMEBODY SEDATE ME. She told me I wouldn’t understand any of this until I was on the other side.

I’ve heard that being in your 20s is a rollercoaster. I’ve heard it’s for exploration and self-discovery. I’ve heard it’s for dating and traveling. I’ve heard it’s the time to f*ck up before it really matters.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street

But I hadn’t heard how painful it would be.

Then Orlando happened. And instantly, I am hit with a sweeping wave of guilt. Guilt for failing to appreciate the life I’ve been given. Failing to remember my “troubles” pale in comparison to others. Like the 49 mothers and fathers who will never hear from their child again.

When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

Last weekend my brakes went out in my car and I hit a wall. Like an actual wall. At a grocery store. And that’s just the first *real* wall this year, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I’ve hit many “walls.” Walls in my personal life, my professional life. Walls that I keep hitting over and over again. I feel like a windup toy, stuck in a maze. I keep making the same mistakes.

I grew up about an hour outside of Orlando. It’s a city where people vacation. It’s the home of the “happiest place on earth.” It’s a family town in many ways, with pockets of charming neighborhoods and lakeside porches. The highways are flanked with lush green grass and palm trees.

It is no place for the largest shooting in U.S. history.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

I’ve seen pretty gruesome things during my short time working in news. I’ve seen the worst of humanity, not personally, but close enough to rattle my organs and make me question what my purpose is in this life. Questioning the very industry I work in at times — wondering, what is the point?

As journalists, we are committed to you. We are committed to explaining what is happening in the world. And during catastrophic events like Orlando and Paris, we work long hours. That sometime require talking to a deceased person’s family. Keeping accurate counts of death tolls. Verifying pictures of the dead.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

We are not doctors or nurses or first responders or police or trauma surgeons. But we see things in exquisite and alarming detail.

In some ways, we are the bridge over troubled waters.

There are times when I resent my job. There are times when I curse those 3 red letters. There are times when I’m *so pissed* I have to to go to work. But there are times when I talk to people who have done extraordinary things, and I’m reminded of the wonderful humans in the world. I come across stories everyday of people demonstrating remarkable kindnesses, and those are only the ones that get reported.

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Sail on by

When I read a tiny thing about a tiny person, in a tiny town, that made a tiny difference, it’s like a lighthouse in my brain. Almost instantly, I’m like, “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!” Those stories are the bridge over my troubled waters.

Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine

It’s so easy to think that the world is against you and that the only people here are bad. That people live to see you fall… But I would argue, and I believe in the rawest part of my heart, that they don’t.

Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Life is brutal sometimes. It’s one lesson after another. It’s a struggle. It’s a climb. It’s one that constantly changes when you need it to be still. And it’s one that’s still when you need it to change.

One of the most comforting things to me have been seeing my fellow colleagues, even if silently, work next to me. We are all doing the same thing. We are all tired. We are all, I assure you — heartbroken.

And sometimes during this life, all we can do, is be a bridge.

For each other.

I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

How #ONA15 helped me face my networking fears

Do you like meeting people?

I’m going to be really, really honest here — I don’t. I hate it. (Keep reading.)

Earlier this year, I bought myself a pass to go to a conference in Los Angeles — the Online News Association’s annual gathering for digital journalists and badasses to come together to share industry knowledge — and talk to each other. 

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What the hell was I thinking? I can’t even drag myself to a professional event in Atlanta, let alone fly across the country to do it.

I’m an introvert. Before you dismiss that claim because you’ve heard my extreme laugh, hear me out.

I am easily overwhelmed by crowds and I generally err on the side of, uh, complete avoidance when it comes to socializing with people I don’t know.

In the days before the conference, I didn’t have much to say about it. “I’m mostly stressed,” was my answer when questioned. I spent most of the night before my flight thinking, “What have I done?”

How was I going to deal with this? How would I survive this mortal combat known as  — “networking?” I gave serious thought to completely ditching it for the sake of “saving money” — and my scared and fragile psyche. But it was a trip to California, for God’s sake. I wear a compass around my neck with a map of Los Angeles pasted to the back of it most days. (It’s cuter than it sounds.)

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There was only one option — a one way ticket to getting the hell out of my comfort zone. So I committed. I packed my favorite blazer, an enormous stack of business cards —  and an attitude synonymous with “Long Black Road.” They used to tell me boy you ain’t goin’ nowhere…

On Wednesday, after a painfully early flight (of sideways sleeping and freaking out) — ONA hosted a Google event in Venice Beach. There was going to be a presentation, preceded by the scariest words in the English language — “light refreshments and mingling.” Oh. God.

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Now, normally, the mention of a mixer would have sent me running for the hills. With my head on fire.

And I didn’t have to go to it. I was tired. So exceedingly tired. I could have just showed up for the presentation and crawled into my plush hotel bed. But I forced myself to go.

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And at first, yeah, I felt really freaking awkward. As expected, I didn’t know a soul, and I just kind of wandered around the room like a lost little kid. Like maybe this cement wall will strike up a conversation with me? I prayed.

But I remembered a simple piece of advice I’d read earlier in the week while prepping for the conference — act like a host, make other people feel welcome, instead of focusing on how weird you feel. So I found someone who wasn’t talk to anyone, and we had things and people in common.

(Funny thing about media conferences, you’re bound to have something in common — you know, like, everything?)

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Once that conversation ended, I picked up another, and another after that. And that’s really all it took. One conversation with one stranger to propel me to have more conversations with more strangers.

I learned a ton of stuff at ONA — including how to negotiate a salary, how to write more engaging content, how to effectively use Snapchat, what the HECK Yik Yak is…

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But the biggest thing I learned was how to face a really tangible fear in my life, a fear that has interfered with my success and growth as a person and a professional — a fear that manifested into a lie about myself that I started believing: That nobody cares or wants to know me.

But they do — and they did, and I want to know more of you in return.

So thanks to all of the people who made me feel welcome, and thanks to the Online News Association for forcing people like myself to face of some of their silliest hangups. It was worth every penny and every anxious thought.

I read and finished Into the Wild during my flights on this trip for the first time. I both admired and pitied Chris McCandless for his bravery, his brashness — and his fear and distaste for intimacy. But we have to assume near the end of the book, as his health deteriorated beyond repair, he began to crave human relationships. Days before his death, he wrote in the margins of a copy of Doctor Zhivago — “HAPPINESS ON REAL WHEN SHARED.”

Indeed.

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25

I turned 25 last week. Which is, by all accounts, not a big deal. But this particular year of my life involved a LOT of change. I’ve learned a few things, and I’ve grown up a bit. In fact, yesterday, I went to Target to buy hair conditioner and a mop. And I left with ONLY hair conditioner and a mop. I didn’t buy any clothes, shoes or wine. And that, is an accomplishment.

Life isn’t that serious.
I’m sort of a drama queen. Not in the sense of necessarily causing it, just in my reaction and overall delivery. I’ve got an arsenal of facial expressions and hand gestures to fire off in any given argument. And I have a tendency to go straight to “doomsday” mode when things go wrong. In middle school, I brought home a progress report littered with B’s and C’s. My parents went ballistic. I wasn’t allowed to bring home anything less than an A. They scheduled meetings with my teachers, suspended my dance classes and gave me about 25 lectures, a piece. I knew that day, that the world was over. I still haven’t mastered the art of “settling down.” But I AM beginning to recognize when I overreact, which is I think at least a step.

Not ready? It’s okay.
Not ready to get married yet? It’s okay. Not ready to make that big career move? It’s okay. Not ready to move out of your parents’ house? Eh, it’s still okay. Move at your own speed, because if you try to keep up with everyone else, you’ll exhaust yourself, and you’ll be miserable. Do what feels right. You have nothing to apologize for.

Your truest self arrives in the form of a gut feeling.
We’ve all got an inner voice. It pings us when someone seems fake, it encourages us to dream big and it generally steers us toward the greater good. We do one of two things with “the voice,” we follow it, or we ignore it. Too often, I think we ignore it because we doubt its legitimacy, or we convince ourselves that it’s impossible. Dreams and convictions don’t just surface out of nowhere. Could it be possible the voice leads you to your purpose in the world? I think so.

Be fiercely loyal to your loved ones. 
I keep my family and closest friends really close. I’ve only got a handful, and the older I get, the more I want to be totally loyal to them. The people that have clung to me at this point in my life are probably going to stay there. Be good to the people who care about you most. Listen to their boring stories and be available to them no matter how busy you are. They’re the ones who are will carry you when you can’t carry yourself.

Making decisions out of fear is a terrible idea.
How many times have you made a decision because you were scared of the alternative?
I don’t want to break up with him because I’ll never find anyone else.
I have to stick with this job because I won’t find a better one.
I can’t move far away because I’m scared of getting home sick.
These fears, for the most part, are irrational. But they’re unbelievably believable. Especially that first one. If you’re unhappy in any given situation, it requires change. And if the change scares you, it’s a good thing. You’ll be much better for it in the end, even if the light at the end of the tunnel is but a twinkle.

Believe in something higher than yourself.
Knowing there is a higher plan in place makes me have a lot of hope. At age 25, your entire life is one big unknown. Chances are, you haven’t found your dream job, or your soulmate. But chances also are, if you believe, you will.  If you’re finding yourself in a total rut — this is temporary. If you believe in the steadfast power of the universe to align with your deepest hopes and dreams, it will. You’ll find a way. You always will.

Be fiercely loyal to yourself.
Loyalty comes from a deep place of respect and often love. I think a key part of living successfully involves loving yourself. When your core beliefs and values reflect what you’re doing, and you’re succeeding — you start to like who you’re becoming. There’s nothing in the world more gratifying than exuding confidence because you know exactly who you are, and liking it. You become unapologetically genuine when you love yourself, and there’s nothing more likeable than authenticity. One of my absolute favorite compliments in the world, is when people tell me, “You’re so real.” That’s when I feel I’m my best self. So be loyal to the person welling up inside of you. If you love yourself, the world will love you back.

And that’s just fabulous.

20 things every 20-something *doesn’t* need to know

We 20-somethings, we love a good list.

Especially, the list of “pointers” about how to live a better 20-something life. “20 Things Every 20-Something Should Know,” “23 Reasons No One Likes You When You’re 23,” “I’m Feeling 22, Boo effing Hoo.”

Ok, I made that last one up. But some edition of this type of story publishes every week. 20 pieces of advice for the clueless 20-year-old. (Yawn.)

They all ultimately say the same thing: It’s okay to be a mess, hangovers suck bad, don’t get married young and get out there and travel.

Good advice or not, we’re all pretty obsessed with ourselves when we’re 20-something. Aren’t we? Myself included.

Seems like we get SO obsessed with trying to figure ourselves out that we forget about well, living. Because learning comes with living — Not by reading some Thought Catalogue article.

It’s hard as a young adult to have peace about life in the midst of navigating a premature career when you’re still trying to figure out how not to overdraft your bank account. Also, what is “mopping?” So I guess reading about how much of a wreck we all are during our twenties is comforting.

But you don’t need to read lists about 20 things that may or may not affect you to make yourself feel better about your life. You’re absolutely not alone.

“You mean, I’m not the only person in the world that eats cake and $4 wine for dinner!?” No, you most certainly are not.

I went to New York a few weeks ago to visit a good friend. I had some lose plans here and there, but I ran into several people I’d lost touch with. It made me think about life’s ability to twist and turn unexpectedly.

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And life has done that a lot lately.

We can plan our lives hoping to rid ourselves of every anxiety we feel about the future. But at some point, fate evades the planner and reveals a better plan.

Because let’s face it, even in my short 24 years of life, “the worst thing in the world” ended up leading me to something better. Every. Single. Time.

Life will continue to do that, I’m sure of it.

Maybe we shouldn’t waste our time trying to figure out how we tick, why we feel so deeply or why we physically can’t down 5 shots of whiskey every Friday night anymore.

It will be okay — there’s a plan of sorts behind all of your moronic, 20-something decisions. And even more importantly, the awesome things you’re just beginning to tap into will blossom and you’ll find your footing. And one day, you’ll be telling people why being 20-something doesn’t actually suck. It’s kind of wonderful in its own, twisted way.

At least, that’s what I believe.

Throw the ’20 things you need to know’ out the window — you only need one. Be yourself. And what will be will absolutely be.

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Every time we say goodbye

You know that scene in “The Parent Trap” (the one with Lindsay Lohan) the scene where Dennis Quaid and ‘Hallie’ are saying goodbye to Natasha Richardson and ‘Annie?’ It’s raining, it’s sad, and that Ray Charles song is playing in the background, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

It sums up everything I feel about leaving people. (PS, can we reflect on how much we love that movie? Is it just me?)

I dropped a friend of mine at the airport last week after a blissful weekend with my college roommates (turned best friends.)
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIt’s a weird place, airports. One of the only places you can feel fulfilled in one instance and empty in another.

Nothing beats the excitement of arriving at the terminal — But leaving… That’s another story.

I always wonder if the people embracing each other next to stacks of baggage are staying or leaving.

Every time I left my grandparents after a holiday when I was a kid, I would cry for at least 30 minutes afterward. (They lived 10 hours away.) I thought I would “grow out of it” one day, because it was childish, I thought.
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But after 24 years, when I say goodbye to close friends and family, that Ray Charles song plays in my head, and I cry.

After I dropped Emily off I was struck by the fact that airports were a whole lot like life.

You come, you go, you stay, you leave. People arrive — and they depart.

The arrival is sometimes euphoric. But inevitably, (unless you’re Buddha) you spend some time dreading the moment you have to go.

I enter relationships that way: Hesitant, and dreading the moment we have to part. Which is pretty depressing, I know.

But don’t all good things have to come to an end?

Not necessarily.

I think about some of the greatest joys in my life: Writing, cooking, music… Those good things will never end.

The same goes for people.

Though some people will leave – In a furious drama, or just as quietly as they came. They will leave you, nonetheless, better or worse than they found you.

But the ones you bond with inexplicably, the ones you don’t understand life without — The ones who become a part of you without even knowing it. Those people are here to stay.

Though maybe not physically.

This silly needle-point picture hung on the wall of my grandparents’ house before they both died.

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I took it with me because it reminded me of my grandmother, who was hilarious, giving and tough.

She held us together, pushed us out the door — And told us that we should never, under any circumstance, chase a boy. It was hard for my family to say goodbye to her 3 years ago. But though she’s gone, she’s still with us, encouraging us to make the world brighter, just by being in it.

An ode to the graduate: Fearlessly be yourself

My sister Jordan graduated from high school last week.From the same high school I attended. But even though we’re from the same place, we had very different experiences. Jordan’s high school years were pretty typical, nothing to write home about. So going to college for her, is a shining beacon of *hell yes.* For me on the other hand, I felt differently. 130_8499875481_8545_n

I was blessed with some really, really good friends in Lakeland. Friends whom I shared every secret, tons of laughter & countless trips to the beach. They were the people who made my high school years more than bearable, they made them fun. So, when my acceptance letter from Florida State came in the mail, I was well, scared to death. I really didn’t want to go. I was comfortable. But I went, & I moped through my freshman orientation, & I sobbed my way through my freshman year.  I had a tough time – I was dealing with some teen heartbreak and homesickness. But I somehow crawled out of that Lifetime Movie without being sedated, which to this day, is my greatest accomplishment. (seriously.)

I eventually found my way and became heavily involved with student activities. And even though I basically took a year off from school to do so, I had fun, and I graduated, and landed a pretty great job.

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But Jordan is different. She’s over the moon about heading to USF, she’s already earned a spot on the dance team – she already has a resume. (When I was her age, all I had was a MySpace & a Live Journal.) She’s excited, she’s ready and she’s the proud owner of a hot pink Keurig.

For the larger part of my life, she’s looked up to me. I’d like to think she gleaned my determination & drive – but I think she learned that from my mom. She raised us both to be real & determined as all GET OUT. So really the only things my sister may have picked up from me is how to tease her hair & why you shouldn’t have a boyfriend in high school.20140616_1753491

But as she heads into this new part of her story with confidence & poise, I find myself looking up to her.

I consider myself fairly successful person (even though there’s a long road ahead) but just as I thought I had figured some things out, they fell apart again. But that’s life. It sneaks up on you & teaches you lessons you didn’t think you needed to learn. And sometimes you pick up a few things from your kid sister – Who used to steal your china tea set & your Limited Too polos.

While I was interning my ass off – during the era of “South in the City” – I was fearless. I hopped a plane to New York, lived in a nunnery, interned at a fashion mag – And a short month later, I was already driving up i75 to Atlanta for an internship at CNN. I may have been a doe-eyed, inexperienced “intern.” But man, was I gutsy. I worked really hard, showed some tried and true grit – And then I “arrived.” I got where I wanted to be my WHOLE life. I have a job that I love, in a small apartment, that I love. But I’ve gotten a little soft.

You know when you feel the wind of change blow into your life? You know, the wind that you’re not ready for, the kind that whispers around before it takes knocks you cold in the gut. That’s what I feel right now. It’s scary. It makes me nervous – But, from experience, I know that change hurts the most when you resist it.

I hope to be brave again, just like I was as an intern, just like my sister is as an incoming Freshman. Just like I know I can be. But the “what if” bully enters my thoughts, yelling: “What if you don’t succeed? What if you make the wrong choice? What if you never find what you’re looking for?”

And the small voice: …But what if you do?

That’s harder for me to picture than the failure.

But time & time again, when I think I can’t or won’t – that there isn’t going to be a next thing, a next someone, a next job – there always was. So while I teeter around the edge of wondering if I can I make the jump – I’ll be thinking of my sister and her God-given inclination to fearlessly be herself.

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Charleston & the disposable camera

Last weekend, we took a quick vacation to Charleston, South Carolina. We brought the Kodak disposable camera, for it’s quality, obviously. Here are just a few of my favorite shots. It was a weekend full of charm! (And getting lost on backroads and arguing about Google maps.)

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The Charleston Harbor.

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One of the many charming houses lining every street.

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The food in Charleston is bangin’. Hominy Grill  has a “to-go” window for ordering drinks while you wait for a table. Need I say more?

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We rode bikes!

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We saw the sites (Rainbow Row.)

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We went to the market.

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Admired the charming scenery.

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Represented ‘Merica.

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Took a selfie.

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We sat on the swings on the edge of the bay.

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More market charm.

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You can find me living here in 60 years.

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Cobblestone streets.

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Great friends, great drinks.

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Brad’s winning smile.

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This kid was cranking out some Disney tunes with his saxophone along the harbor (it was SO cute, and he sounded so good! You go!)

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We really, really didn’t want to go home.

On engagements, and why they freak me out

“She said yes!”

Well… Good for you.

There have been a lot of engagement announcements lately. And when I say a lot, I mean like 2 or 3 per week.

And every time I see those sweet pictures pop up on my timeline or my newsfeed, I get a twinge of nausea.

It’s not that I think marriage is stupid, or that I don’t think love is real, OR that I don’t approve of the union.

The hand holding, the ring pix, the “save the date” signs — That’s all charming and great, but wow — I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.

The mini-panic I feel when someone I know decides to tie the knot, has compelled me to dive within myself and figure out, just why engagements freak. me. out.

My parents got a divorce when I was 14-years-old. I was in middle school, had a surprisingly great group of friends, listened to a lot of indie music and had a pair of lime-green converse sneakers. And after their divorce, I continued to listen to my weird music and wear my weird shoes. The only difference was, I lived in a smaller house. Which was fine with me, it was less scary. I wasn’t damaged, I didn’t suffer psychologically. Neither did my sister. We got a dog and we moved on with our lives. My Dad moved on, too.

I’ve had two serious relationships in my life. One that ended, and one that has, despite it all, survived, and it’s a pretty healthy one. He’s my favorite guy. Neither one of us have the desire to get married right now. Mostly, because we have young but serious careers, but also because, we are just not ready for that kind of commitment.

And that’s where my anxiety about all this marriage crap really gets to me. It seems like when people get engaged, the whole damn world is cheering them on from the sidelines. “Yes!!! Go!!! You can do it!!! Finally!!! Wooooo!!”

And inevitably, I’m the spectator wondering, “Are they sure?” “Do they REALLY wanna do this?” “They can still turn around and go home!”

I have dear friends, who are engaged or married and I have no doubt, whatsoever, that they are committed to each other, and will continue to stay that way. Because they were ready. They knew. They were “consciously coupling.”

Agreeing to marry someone is brave.

To look at a person and to be capable of saying YES, you WILL be there, when things go bad, when people get sick, when money is tight, and when the septic tank explodes.

That’s a gigantic commitment. And it’s a complicated one. Intricate, even reverent.

But getting engaged looks oh-so-easy. You looked up how to do it on Pinterest, and you picked out the perfect ring. And you asked. She said yes! And people took some pix that you posted to Instagram and just like that — You have 500+ supporters of your decision. Easy-peasy.

But there’s no Pinterest board titled “How to Make Your Marriage Work, Forever, For the Long-Haul, Even When You Want to Stick a Fork In Their Eyeball.” (Unfortunately.)

Marriage has to be hard, I can’t imagine that it’s not. I recently read a book and the author compared being married to Jesus carrying the cross up the hill before he was crucified. Yet Seth Rogan says, if everything in his life was like his marriage, he would have no problems.

So, what is it? Easy? Or torture?

On Monday I read an article from a man who lost his wife to cancer. She was in her 40s. He stood next to her while she tried on wigs after she lost her hair and he admitted to her that her eyes were yellowing when her liver started to fail — Which meant her life was beginning to fail. He compared her death to a phantom limb — an extension of his own body that wasn’t there any more.

All of that scares me. To my core. And the engagement pictures are fun and cute, but what happens when you’re middle-aged and sick? Or elderly and senile? When you have to be the one to tell your wife her eyes are yellow? Things aren’t as cute anymore. They aren’t as Pinterest-y.

I know marriage has its perks. You get a tax break right? Just kidding. I see how being married can be exciting, a ton of fun if you do it right, and down-right hilarious. But I see all the bad things, too.

One day I hope I’ll be able to look somebody in the eyes and tell them I promise to stand next to them even when they drive me nuts, when they’re running late, when they’re being rude — When they get sick, when they are depressed and even when they are dying.

But until then, I’ll celebrate your engagements, and I’ll your drink your free wine at your wedding (gladly), and I will buy you mixers and plates and shower curtains, and I will support you. With a twinge of anxiety in my own heart, until the day I am brave enough to promise somebody that I will, and always will.