742 miles apart

My parents married when my mom was 24, and my dad was 26. I looked up to them as I grew up and had this fantasy in my head that I would be married when I was 24 like my mom and life would be sunshine and rainbows. Well, I’m 26 years old, and I’ve never been married.

When smartphones came out, online dating became easier. The first time I set up an online dating account I was 16. A decade later I am still doing it. My photos and bios on the sites have changed as I grew up and matured. As I evolved so did the dating apps. There’s an app for hook-ups, fetishes, religious partnerships, and affairs. In my desperate attempts to find love and connection that would blossom into a lifetime marriage, I went on them all. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

After being on so many sites at once (upwards of double digits) I got to the point that I needed to step up my game and get serious. I upgraded my Bumble account for a month last August then crossed my fingers. 28 days into my “premium” month I was matched with a girl in Kansas City. I had burned and shot down so many times that I thought ‘What’s the harm in talking to this girl? It would be good practice!’ Little did I know that the 742 miles that separated us would help us to create the best relationship either of us has ever had.

Seven months later I am still talking to that girl. Don’t get me wrong; I love this girl, but the distance is rough with a capital ROUGH! Somehow we make it work. Every day starts with a text to the other person and ends with a video chat. Now don’t start thinking ‘have they even met?’ Yes, we’ve met! She’s met my parents and friends, and I met her friends, and I am scheduled to meet her parents at her brother’s wedding this year. This winter I plan on moving to Kansas City to make a real “go” of the relationship. She is still in graduate school for social work, so her moving is not an option; my life is just easier to move.

Being a stay-at-home-daughter may come to an end this year.

What a Gay Night!

When I came out to my mom almost 8 years ago, I only dreamed about being with my family at a PRIDE parade. Never did I think that at 26 years old I would be able to get my whole family at pride (brother drove down from DeSoto for this) nor did I think I could get them to wear matching shirts. It was a night I will never forget! I owe my family so much for their support and love of me and the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

#rememberingneenee

Elizabeth Ann Devine Kinney

August 3rd, 1937 – October 23rd, 2016

She was my comedic rival. She was my bright light in a tunnel of darkness. She was my NeeNee.

I was privileged to grow up for the first 24 years of my life with all four of my grandparents. As they watched me grow up and grow older, I did the same. I went from seeing my NeeNee out in the backyard kicking the soccer ball around with us to her watching us from their porch while we played in the yard.

One thing that never changed with her age was her humor. She loved to laugh, and we loved when she laughed. Her laugh was infectious; it never mattered if you understood the joke if NeeNee understood it she would get everyone else laughing.

Above all, she was the easiest person to shop for gifts for. Anything frog; I mean anything! You could make her a foam craft frog, and she would still have it on her frog bookshelf decades later. Everyone knew that frogs were NeeNee’s “thing.” She never went overboard with the frogabilia, but she cherished everyone she got. My favorite frog piece of hers was the stained glassed lamp that sat in the front room of their house for years and years. It was beautiful and colorful and perfect. When I went up to New Jersey in 2016 for her funeral and Poppop told everyone to take their favorite piece of NeeNee’s frogabilia home with us, I wanted to have the lamp. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit in my bag, it was old, and I didn’t trust the postal workers to safely transport it down to Texas. That’s when I knew I wanted a tattoo based on the lamp. I took photos of it from all different angles to capture its beauty.

You may think, ‘It’s 2018, and you just got it tattooed. Obviously, you didn’t care that much.’ That’s where you are wrong. I cared deeply about it. I researched various tattoo techniques, compared black and white work to color work, thought long and hard about placement and size. After a year of research, I still hadn’t found the perfect artist, but I knew how I wanted it. The tough part was telling my parents who were none too happy to know that their precious princess is going to be marked for life (disregarding the countless scars she has on her body). I found the courage and told my parents separately, and it went better than I thought it would, they accepted it and were content on the amount of effort I put in into finding the perfect tattoo. The only thing missing was the tattoo artist. It was coming down to crunch time. I had contacted a couple artists that had flaked on me already had August 3rd booked up. Then I found Daniel O’Driscoll. His geometric line work is phenomenal, and the way he is able to inlay the color into is work to add to the geometric work instead of covering it up; I knew he was the man to create the masterpiece of my first tattoo.

He was patient, kind, and saw my vision better than I ever did. He is a dedicated artist, is passionate about his craft, and is ever growing. Check out his work: https://www.instagram.com/the_rainbow_plague/

You may even see a piece that you recognize. If you are in Austin, Texas and need a tattoo…go to him.

Growing up sister

As you may have gathered, I am a little sister. I grew up with an older brother. Many people say we are 3 years apart, but I suppose we are 2 years and 365 days apart. The year I was born was a leap year, so there was an extra day in there. We were almost born on the same day. My brother was born on July 28th at 1:32am, and 2 years and 365 days later I was born on July 27th at 3:31pm. I was the best birthday present a 3-year-old could ask for.
For those of you who know my brother nowadays, he wanted me when he was 3. He loved me so much that when I was growing up and supposed to be hitting my growth milestones, my speech growth was delayed. Why you ask? Because when I was younger I would point and grunt at things I wanted and my loving older brother would run and get it for me. Why would I need to learn to talk if I could communicate with grunts and pointing? Needless to say, my parents stopped my brother from being my lackey, and I learned to speak which is when my brother began falling out of love with me.thumbnail (1)

There is one thing and will always be one thing that my brother will love more than anything in the world. Animals. My brother has entirely laid out plans for a zoo and an aquarium. It includes which animals would be at each enclosure, what the sex of the animals would be, feeding schedule, feeding needs, habitat needs, and where he would be able to locate the animals. Every family vacation included at least one zoo or aquarium or nature preserve of where ever we were. While granted I have seen some pretty amazing zoos and aquariums, there are only so many times I can look at the same kind of fish and fain my enthusiasm. My brother definitely took my family on many adventures that looked the same, and to an outsider that wasn’t my brother they were, but to my brother, they were new every time and got better and better with each visit.

Finally a Perk

 

 

It has been a few months living at home with my parents and my brother. While it has been stressful doing so, I have survived. My dad and I have a tendency of saying the same thing, just in two different ways, which has caused a lot of “yelling.” [The quotes are because my father believes that he never raises his voice, which means he has never yelled, but it sure sounds like yelling to everyone else in the house]

Regardless of the countless fights my dad and I have had or the number of times I’ve attempted to hide from my family in my room there are good moments that have occurred while living with my parents; such as having a bubble bath and my mom bringing me hot chocolate and cookies while I soak. Now, this is the reason I moved home. I’ve never had a roommate bring me hot chocolate and cookies while a bath, then again I had a roommate in college bring me a beer while I was showering. We called them Bhowers. Needless to say, I could get used to living at home if this becomes a regular thing becomes.

Goodbye Neenee

Today the world lost an amazing woman who I knew as Neenee. May knew her as Elizabeth, Betty Ann, or Lizzy. A couple of people knew her as mom, and one knew her as wife. She had always been there for me whether in person or over the phone. No matter what I was doing, she was always looking over my shoulder and guiding me through the journey of life.

I don’t know if I believe that heaven is real or where our “souls” go when we die, but whatever does happen to them I hope she goes somewhere warm where she can swim until her heart’s content.

Her funeral is this weekend, and I volunteered to speak. I will be reading a poem that my Poppop loves; it is called So Little Time by Sister Miriam Barker:

So little time to say the things
You’d really like to say
Before you even find the words
The time just slips away.

So little time to do the things
You feel that you must do.
So treasure, like the purest gold,
The time God’s given you.

So little time to dream your dreams
For youth has passed its prime,
And all too soon you realize
That there’s … so little time.

So little time to reach the height
To which you’re bound to climb,
For swiftly pass the waring years,
And there’s … so little time.

So little time for past regrets,
And less, to make amends,
Yet God can heal the deepest wounds
In chosen, cherished friends.

So little time to share God’s love,
And beauty here on earth
And know, before His endless time,
Their meaning and true worth.

Oh, yes, there is so little time
To seek the hidden door
That open’s up to heaven’s time,
Where time’s forevermore.

How did I get here?

I had moved out of my parents’ house. Then, I was in an apartment with a couple of coworkers, but now I’m back home again.

For me, returning home to my parents was a failure to me. I somehow had to get over the fact that it wasn’t, but how? My older brother still lived at home, but I was the failure. My brain rationalized him being home. He was had been in the Peace Corps down in Nicaragua, he was still adjusting to a first-world country after living being down there for 3 years. I went from being on my own to back home with the parents, so I was the failure. It would take me a while to not feel like that.

We wrote and signed a contract. That changed everything. I went from their freeloading child to their roommates from a few strokes on a keyboard and the swipe of a pen. These are the “demands” that I had to meet to keep a happy home and to live as an independent adult in my childhood home, sleeping in my childhood bedroom:

  • Rent must be paid on the 1st of every month
  • The floors of the house must be cleaned weekly (My brother would clean everything else)
  • All yard work must be completed weekly; luckily grass doesn’t grow in our yard during the winter
  • I must plan and cook 1 meal a week for the family (take out was allowed)
  • All of my expenses came out of my pocket; phone bill, health insurance, car insurance, gas money, clothing, hygiene needs, etc.
  • If I was not going to be home that night, I just text them, so they don’t freak out and wake up in the morning wondering if I am dead in a ditch somewhere

This contract worked. I was able to feel independent at my home while also allowing my parents to have their freedom from me as well.

I have no survival guide to living at with their parents as an adult, but what I can tell you is that what I am doing is working for me. Living at home is definitely not a boring life. We will just have to see where this takes me.