On Change


Spring is wrapping up here in Mississippi. Now when I step onto the deck each morning with Chara, the air is as warm and soft as a second skin. The brilliant spring blooms have faded, and the garden is well established.

And with these changes come other big life changes. About three weeks ago I clapped eyes on a little red dog at a work event. At the humane society I see hundreds of dogs each month–ones in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities… But there was something about this pup that caught my eye (and it wasn’t just that she was missing a leg, though that was rather hard to miss).

Try not to fall in love with that smile. It won’t work.

I inquired about her, got handed her leash so that I could say hi, and have been tumbling deeper and deeper into love with the pup since. Jordan and I have talked about whether or not we wanted a second dog since Chara was a puppy, and we had both decided that when the right dog came along, we’d happily transform into a two dog family. And let me tell you, this was the right dog.

Unfortunately, falling in love came at a price. Our landlord wasn’t keen on us bringing a new dog into the house–which prompted another round of decision making. We knew this dog was the one, but how far were we willing to go to adopt her? In the end, we decided that staying in one house for an extra year shouldn’t cancel out an entire 15 years of getting to be with this pup.

Fortuitously, our lease was up within only a couple of months, and so moving was an actual option. We decided that we’d start casually looking at houses, and that we’d only make the leap if the perfect spot presented itself. Sure enough, it did–a cute little place out in the country, with cheaper rent, two yards, and horses galore. We signed the lease, filled out Wren’s adoption application, and all of a sudden we had a new dog and a new house in our near future–happy changes, but definitely changes that require some adjustment time.

Old living room.

On top of that, Jordan is due to make his annual pilgrimage to Texas mid-May, which will launch another three months apart, my sister, Jenna, is moving in with us for at least the summer, and right before we bring Wren home and move, I’m headed to the Northeast for Jenna’s graduation and my sister-in-law’s wedding.

That’s quite a bit of change, all at once. And while we’re fairly used to change in the Youngbuck household, and pretty adaptable, it can still feel overwhelming. Sometimes it feels a little bit like life is unraveling at the seams–like the fabric is sturdy, but the first threads are coming loose, and it’s just enough to set Jordan and I on edge. The bills are paid, the pets are happy and healthy, but the floor isn’t swept. And the dishes are starting to pile up. And we really need to fold the laundry that’s accumulating on the spare bed.

So we’ve been trying to take it slow, to savor the quiet sweet moments–like right now, as I type away on my blog with a little tiger-striped cat curled up beside me, and Chara sprawled like a rug by my feet.

I feel this weird mix of emotion–this incredible excitement over a new spot (we’ll have real AC and heat! And a little overhang to sit under! And an open floor plan! Even a bathtub that you can take bathes in!), Wren finally getting to join the family, and Jenna coming, mingled with sadness that Jordan and I will be apart, and that I’ll have to give up little things at this house, like the garden that’s flourishing out back, and the view out the backdoor of thick, leafy trees.

We moved into this little brick house expecting it to be dank and dark, and we slowly transformed it into a cozy little home. And I know that within weeks we’ll have done the same to the next place, but still, it’ll be hard to say goodbye.

The kitchen of the little brick house.

But then again, I’m also capable of being nostalgic about the most ridiculous things–I still miss the swarming highways around the first apartment Jordan and I lived in in Burnsville, Minnesota–something I loathed while I actually lived there. I even look back on our crazy next door neighbors fondly.

I’m not sure what it is about change that can be so hard. Maybe it’s that every situation has its bright points and dark points, and so as we navigate to a new one, we’re forced to leave both the good and bad behind. Maybe it’s simply that it’s unknown–and at least in the present, we know what our challenges are. And we know that we can handle them.

Mostly though, I’m excited for the upcoming months. I absolutely cannot wait to bring Wren home–to watch her ribs disappear as we feed her top quality food, to watch her grow strong and capable as we help her recover from all of her medical issues. To get to know her likes and her dislikes, her quirks and habits. I can’t wait to start training her, so that we have a mutual language and understanding built up between us.

I can’t wait for Jenna to come back with me, and I’m glad that I’ll go through it all with her at my side–she was with me when I road-tripped from New Jersey to Minnesota after graduation, was there when I picked out Chara, and helped me move into that first little apartment nestled in a swarm of highways. I’m glad I’ll be able to be there for her first hectic months out of college. I also can’t wait to have an entire summer to get to know each other as adults. It has been seven years since we lived together full time, and we’ve both done so much growing in that time.

Jenna as my maid of honor.

In ways, I’m even excited to have time away from Jordan. Our long distance periods are incredibly hard, but they help remind me who I am on my own. I fall back into my natural rhythms–rising early, running regularly, eating small frequent meals–and I thrive on a certain amount of solitude. I know where my head is when I’m alone. And I can better regulate my emotions.

Time apart also reminds me who he is when the lines haven’t been blurred between us. It reminds me not to take him for granted, and to cherish the time we have to spend together. It’s like pressing a reset button that takes me back to the beginning of our relationship, when he was this mysterious, romantic figure who I couldn’t get enough of or really understand.

Time apart from this guy: hard but okay, too.

So all of this change, ultimately is good. But it’s hard too. And that’s okay. A few dishes will go unwashed. I’ll wear the same pants for a week. And in the end we’ll be installed as a little family unit in the new house, and there will be two dogs sprawled at my feet.

How do you feel about change? What about long distance relationships–do you ever find that a little distance helps reset things?

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