Tuesday, February 23, 2016

March 13th.

On 13 March 2015 some of you will recall I was on Belize's island of Caye Caulker with my friend Dave. It was my very first trip outside the United States, and it proved to be quite eventful. It was a Friday the 13th, the power and running water were out for the whole island. We went snorkeling where I swallowed my fear of open water (and a lot of ocean water). Then I drank a few too many beers to dilute the saltwater, and with the reassurance of Dave and Seb, a British fellow we met at The Split, dove into the ocean to swim the 100 meter split and back. While a storm rolled in. And I nearly drowned in the ocean.

Belize was probably the best trip of my life. I'd been wanting for as long as I could remember to just drop everything on a moment's notice and take a flight to anywhere outside the U.S. and go for an adventure. I may have had a twenty-four hour notice, but it satisfied my need just fine. Much better, in fact, than the month long solo tour in Europe. Because, while my plane ticket to Spain was a one-way ticket, I bought it six weeks in advance. It was like biting into a bitter piece of candy. I loved it, but it wasn't nearly as awesome as sitting on a dock in the Caribbean knowing that only twenty-four hours prior, I'd had no plans to leave the states. It was liberating and I wouldn't trade that experience for any other.

If, while I was sitting on that dock, someone had told me I would be getting married in a year, I wouldn't have believed them. If they showed me some sort of proof, I probably would have cried. At that point in my life nothing sounded better than being single for the rest of my life. The very thought of a relationship almost made me gag. Marriage, for me, has pretty much always sounded like a trap. It was as if, at the wedding ceremony, the priest who married you sucked all the fun out of your life and brain washed you. You began as this fun-loving, adventure having, spontaneous person and were magically transformed into just another suburbian with a white picket fence and HOA fees. You stopped traveling, skydiving, mountain biking, and basically anything else awesome and started mowing the yard on Saturdays and taking long Sunday naps.

Thank God that's not true. I mean, it could be. We haven't had our wedding ceremony yet. The Chaplain very well might put a curse on us and turn us into normal-ass people. But so far, Caleb and I have done quite well to keep adventure a regular part of our lives. We rock climb, ride dirt bikes, go hiking and camping, and even have plans to drive the Pan American in our truck. With the dirt bikes, of course. I'm convinced there's nothing the Chaplain can say on 13 March 2016 that will change the person I was on 13 March 2015 except that I'll be married and I'll have a reliable partner in my adventures. Someone I know is as strong and capable as he is intelligent and adventurous. In two weeks I'll go from being a solo traveler who wakes up and says, "I think I'm going to fly to Ireland today" to someone who, over dinner, says, "Hey, wanna drive to Red Rocks in Vegas next weekend to climb?" or, "Let's go to Germany." And while we may have to limit our overseas travels while we're tied to the Army, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make so I can keep this guy around.

Moral of the story, marriage isn't a trap (probably). Having kids is a whole different story though. Having kids is definitely a trap. Use birth control.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Mothers. Mothers are pests. When you got your first tattoo, your mother was the first to FREAK OUT. When you got arrested for DUI and called her to bail you out, she stood on the other side of the glass and laughed, then walked away without bailing you out so you could learn your lesson a little more thoroughly. When you dated that person in high school who was never going to amount to anything, your mother was the one who told you you were wasting your time. When you didn't do your homework or failed a class your mother was there to ground you until your GPA came up.

There are a lot of important people in your life. Brothers and sisters. Spouses and best friends. Grandparents and cousins. But for those of us who have a good relationship with our mothers, literally nothing can replace that.

Aside from your parents, your siblings are usually the ones who have been around you the most. They've been your partners in crime, blamed you for peeling wallpaper off the bathroom wall, and bet you a Reeses Cup to touch a hot stove for five seconds. They know how to push your buttons. And when you got a DUI and were freaking out that your parents would kill you, you called your big brother to help you pay it off without them finding out. Siblings will be there for you as much as they can. Until you make them mad. Then they'll rat you out to mom and dad and you'll face the firing squad for getting caught with beer at nineteen.

Your siblings are awesome (sometimes). But they're not your mother. Your mother is the one who pulls a wooden spoon out of her back pocket when you and your brother get caught tying fireworks to the cat's tail. She's the one who knows by the look on your face you're not the wallpaper peeling culprit. She won't just bandage your hands when you held your hand on the hot stove for an extra second to make sure you got the Reeses Cup your brother bet you, she'll tell you how stupid you were for doing it. Your siblings may love you, but your mother has done more than love you. She has endured you.

Your mother knows you better than anyone. She may not know your overly complicated sorority girl coffee order like your best friend or significant other does, but she makes up for it in other ways. When you call your mother crying your eyes out about a mid-twenties crisis that's not really a crisis, you don't even have to get your first word out before she starts telling you exactly what you need to hear. That's because she's probably known exactly what you were going to freak out about for a while. And when you find yourself wandering aimlessly around a foreign country, your mother is the one who knows what to say to make sure you don't come home until you've accomplished what you went there to do. Even if you don't know what that something is. Your mother knows your personality so well you don't even need to consult a psychic or a palm reader. She knew when you were eighteen you would marry someone several years older than you. She also knew you weren't getting married until you were at least twenty-four. She knew when you were five you would enjoy jumping out of planes and backpacking solo through Europe as an adult. And when you're teetering on the edge of a big decision, she doesn't just tell you the right decision, she helps you through the decision making process so you can make the decision on your own and move forward with confidence.

Ultimately, your mother is the one who has been your disciplinarian, your shoulder to cry on (even if you don't really cry), and your best source of advice. She's the one who spent your entire life making sure you would grow up to be a capable and independent individual. And for as long as she's around, you won't find anyone to match her.