11 years

Lady and the trampJan and I have been together for 11 years today! A long time. Unfortunately, he has choir practice tonight so we won’t be celebrating until the weekend.

Apparently, if this were a wedding anniversary, it would be steel.
In German, numbers made up of repeating digits are calles Schnapszahlen (in maths, they use the English term repdigits. Boring!). The term Schnapszahl comes from the fact that in lots of dice games if all the dice added together make a number with all the same digits, the person who rolled it has to drink a schnapps. Sounds like a much better gift than steel to me 😉

So much has changed since our last anniversary, and I’m really looking forward to starting a new adventure together. Here’s to (at least) another 11 years!

A decade is a long time…

This is where most people wpuld insert a photo of themselves with their significant other... but I'm pretty sure Jan wouldn't like that, so here's a heart instead.
This is where most people would insert a photo of themselves with their significant other… but I’m pretty sure Jan wouldn’t like that, so here’s a heart instead.

So, the boyfriend and I have been together ten years today!! If we’d been married for that many years, we’d be celebrating our tin anniversary (you’d think the first round anniversary would be something a bit more exciting than tin!). I’m pretty sure one of us deserves a medal for managing to stay in a relationship for this long… although I’m not entirely sure which of us 😉

Jan has a paper due first thing tomorrow, and it’s an important one because the conference it’s for actually bears some relation to his dissertation (unusual… most of the time he’s forced to work on the projects that actually bring in the money at the expense of his own work), so we won’t really be celebrating. He did say this morning that he doesn’t think he’ll have enough time to finish it – which really sucks – but I suspect he will try anyway. Also, I woke up this morning with what feels like the beginnings of a cold, so I’ll probably end up in bed with my water bottle and a pile of tissues by 9 pm! Jan is planning on working on his paper from home though, so we should at least be able to eat together.

Ten years! Double figures! Who ever could have guessed that something as a year abroad romance could have lasted this long? I certainly didn’t expect this. But I’m glad we are still together.

It’s all good!

Day 51 - Together
Together (Photo credit: Cristiano Betta)

Jan has been back from South America for a week now and since then things have been really good between us… and (TMI alert!!) not only because we’ve had some fantastic sex 😉 It’s like nothing at all has changed, but everything has. He’s still working late most nights and I’ve been doing overtime before running around like a headless chicken every evening, trying to get to the post office (I might as well move in there!), do shopping, write Christmas cards (finished those now, thankfully!) and  keep semi on top of the housework. But when we finally do get to sit down together, it just… works. We’ve even has a few serious discussions on topics that we don’t necessarily agree on (nothing to do with our relationship) and haven’t argued. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most of you, but believe me it is! (I’m not very good at stating my opinion without getting loud and argumentative!).

Yesterday, we spontaneously decided to go to the Christmas market together. Jan hadn’t been to it yet this year, so we went and we both agreed that the atmosphere is much nicer now that it’s moved (the place it used to be is currently a giant construction site!). We drank Feuerzangenbowle under the trees and talked about nothing much… and it was just nice (there’s that word again! My GCSE English teacher would have a fit!). Of course, spending the afternoon not doing work means Jan didn’t come to bed until the early hours of the mornin, but having him to myself for those few hours in the afternoon more than made up for that. 2013 hasn’t exactly been my favourite year ever, but I’m hoping this is the start of something good that will continue over Christmas and beyond!

Friday letter(s): Older

As you all know, my 30th birthday was on Tuesday, which means I’ve now been older than my step mum for a whole three days. Well, technically I’ve been older than her for a while – she died just over a month after her 29th birthday – but that’s something about the number changing that makes it seem more official. So I’m dedicating this week’s Friday letter to my step mum. I apologise now for any abundance of emotion, and also for the length.

Broken heart
Photo credit: johnkoetsier

Dear Shirley,

It’s weird to think that I’ve now reached an age that you never did. For all these years, I’ve thought of you as the adult and me as the child. And now I’m 30! I wonder what you would think of me now? I was 12 the last time I saw you. You didn’t see me though… you were in hospital and although you’d woken up that morning, by the time we came to see you in the afternoon, you were sleeping again. It was the 23rd of December, and the next day my mum was picking us up to take us home. The plan was to come to the hospital before making the drive back down South, and my last words to you were something like “See you tomorrow”.  I never saw you again. At 1 a.m., you stopped breathing and quietly slipped away. Christmas Eve – your favourite time of year. I still can’t remember if I told you I loved you before leaving the hospital that day, but I hope you knew.

We didn’t always get along. Of course we didn’t! I was an argumentative child and you could be incredibly stubborn. But I never once resented your marrying my dad. You made it perfectly clear from the start that you weren’t there to take my mam’s place – to this day, I remember you saying “You’ve already got a mum. I’m always here if you need me, but your mum is mum. I’m Shirley.” So instead, my sister and I would make you mother’s day cards labelled “To the world’s best step mum”, and in my eyes you really were. You were always interested in what we were doing at school, you listened to me recite my times tables for hours (although I’m sure it must have bored you senseless!), and whenever we came to stay, you were perfectly happy to bake and do crafts with us – no matter how much glitter we got on the dining room carpet! It’s true, you were not our mum, but there was a time when you were more of a mum to us than our real mother was. I  wondered why somebody so great did have kids of their own, but you always told us my sister and I were enough… and I’m sure that was true. But It wasn’t until later that I discovered breast cancer ran in your family and now I believe part of the reason was that you didn’t want to leave your children without a mother. Losing you broke mine and my sister’s hearts as well, but like you always said, we at least still had a mum.

After I moved to my dad’s at 13 (just over a year after you passed away), I would have loved to speak to you on many occasions. I love my mam, but 360 miles is a long way, and back then phone calls were expensive. I love my dad, too, but as a teenage girl, there were some things I just didn’t want to discuss with him. Since then, there have been many occasions that I wished you could have been around for. My 18th and 21st birthday parties, the day I graduated and, more recently, when I became a godmother. I always wondered what you would think if you could see me in whatever situation I was in … finally becoming a legal adult, getting a degree, moving abroad, being chosen as a godmother. Not being religious, I have trouble believing in a “heaven”, but if you can somehow see me now, I hope I make you proud.

You’ve been gone for more than half my life now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember you. I still think of you often. You may not be here, but I still love you with all my heart, and always will.
Love from your now-older-than-you step-daughter

Beverley

Friday letter(s): To my mam

Just one letter this Friday, to my mother who turns 50 today.

Mum I love you xxxxxx
Photo credit: Andreas-photography

Dear Mam,
When I said I would be attending your 50th birthday while in England, a lot of people were surprised. Other people my age have parents who are already in their 60s… sometimes even late 60s. But you always were younger than most of my friends’ parents. Mostly, I thought that was a good thing – you were always so much more fun than those other stuffy, responsible adults, and now I’m older I love that I can go out for a drink or a shopping trip for you and actually feel like we have something in common. But our relationship hasn’t always been this great. For a lot of my childhood, my sister and I were basically left to raise ourselves (and later I helped raise my brother). I was 8 the first time I made tea for the three of us (sausages, chips and beans!) and started babysitting at around the same time I started secondary school. Even before that, one of the local teenagers would come and look after us every Friday and Saturday night. For a long time, I resented that. Looking back now, as an almost 30 year old, I still can’t 100% agree with everything you did back then, but I can certainly understand it a lot better. Going from living at home with your parents in the place you’d been brought up to being an army wife and new mother in a strange town within the space of 6 months can’t have been easy for you! And no matter what you did “wrong”, you always came through when it was important – whether it was baking a cake for the school fair, showing up to cheer us on at sports day, providing money (that we technically didn’t have) so I could go on school trips or driving me to and from sea cadets every Friday. And throughout everything else, I don’t think any of us ever doubted that you loved us. HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY MAMMY! Here’s to many, many more.
Love you!
Beverley xxx

Nine years on

Love ? I love love love you.
Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Today, Jan and I have been together for nine years! Unbelievable. At the beginning, I never expected us to make it this far. I was on my year abroad, I’d recently broken up with someone else and my longest relationship until that point had been less than a year.

We’ve had our struggles and ups and downs, of course – starting when, after six months of being together, I had to go back to England to complete my degree while Jan went off to America for a year. Ironically, I had previously broken up with someone because I couldn’t handle being in a long-distance relationship – and the distance in that case was only between Northumberland and Nottingham (sorry Jay!!). However, neither of us wanted to break up at that point, so we agreed to try, and somehow it worked! Despite the fact that we only saw each other once, for precisely one week, between my 21st birthday in August 2004 and my graduation in July 2005 (my dad bought me a return flight to America as my Christmas present in 2004).

Long distance love
Long distance love (Photo credit: Dvortygirl)

After another year of long-distance – this time with me in Austria (read that carefully – it’s the one without the kangaroos) and Jan back in Germany, I decided that seeing my boyfriend an average of once a month wasn’t enough for me and made plans to move to Germany.

And now, almost six-and-a-half years later – I moved back in September 2006 –  here we are celebrating our 9 year “anniversary” (I wish I could think of another word for that…). I wonder what the next year will bring?

(Apologies to those who already know this story – probably not many. Pinklea maybe? I’ve gained a few new readers over the past year and I felt it was worth repeating).

A mini breakdown… and a potential breakthrough

An hour ago, Jan called me to let me know that he’s not going to mak it home before the early hours of the morning (he’s working on a paper, deadline midnight and needs access to the computers at work to run the tests he wants to write about). He’s been working on the paper for about a week now, so I wasn’t really expecting him home at a sensible time tonight, but the fact that he actually bothered to call put a huge smile on my face. While this may not seem like a big deal to many of you, his not calling is exactly the kind of thing we disagree on. We’ve agreed that, once our evening meal is ready, I won’t wait around too long for him, but will eat alone leaving his portion for him to heat up later, and while this means I get to eat at a sensible time, when he neither calls nor shows up I can’t help but feel it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. He, on the other hand, says it’s not that he never thinks of me when I’m not there, he just loses track of time and it doesn’t occur to him that I’ll be cooking tea already. So him calling me as early as 6 o’clock is nothing short of a miracle.

This comes on the heels of a bit of a mini breakdown on my part yesterday. I have to admit, I have slightly crap timing – Jan was actually doing some work for the aforementioned paper at the time and was about to get ready to go and meet his choir for a warm up before a festival they were performing at. But after being ignored by him nearly all morning, then catching him on a forum rather than actually working on the paper, I burst into tears, told him I wouldn’t be coming to his festival and stormed off for a shower. Yeah… it’s not exactly something I’m proud of. But… we talked, Jan said he had noticed my getting rid of things and preparing to move, and he does want me to stay, he just doesn’t know what he can do to make me want to do so, especially since he still can’t see his way to offering me any kind of long term commitment. And I told him it’ not like I’m looking for a marriage proposal… or even a commitment to stay with me forever without a bit of paper, but I want to feel that he’s at least willing to give us a proper try, not just drift along the way we have been doing. So, he has promised to try and show me that I am important to him, even if he can’t make a decision to save his life and I’ve promised to communicate more, and let him know what’s actually bothering me rather than saving it all up and letting everything out out once. That method only leads to arguments… and tears (mine, not his). So back we go, for another try. But he has said he wants me to stay… which isn’t quite the major decision I’ve been hoping for, but I feel it is a breakthrough, of sorts. Baby steps… And today, at least I get to go to bed happy.

Clearing out

Recently, I have finally faced up to the very real possibility that, come January, I may be moving out of my lovely flat.
It’s been five months since the boyfriend and I had one of the worst conversations I’ve had to initiate in my life, and so far not much seems to have changed. Despite Jan promising in July that he was going to make an effort with our relationship even if he couldn’t bring himself to do so in any other area of his life, nothing much seems to have changed. We have been arguning less, but honestly I think that has more to do with the fact that he’s been even more busy with work than he usually is, and it’s difficult to have an argument with someone who isn’t actually there. He did say he had missed me and the flat felt empty when I went to a four-day seminar for work a few weeks ago, but that’s not exactly a declaration that he wants me to stay. and conversations about the future are still, well, non-existent if I’m honest. So I decided it was time to start mentally preparing myself. But rather than focusing on the fact that moving out will mean the end of my relationship (I’m not quite that brave yet… even typing those words was difficult), I’ve been concentrating on how I’m going to fit all my posessions into a place that will probably have much less space. And I came to the conclusion that I probably couldn’t… I’m sure I didn’t have this much stuff when I moved in here. Where did it all come from?! (Actually I know the answer to that one – the Internet mostly. I knew I shouldn’t have found myself a new hobby that involved buying things and storing them at home!) It was time for a clear out! So two weeks ago I went through all my clothes, ruthlessly sorting out things that I knew I was never going to wear again and had only been holding onto for sentimental reasons, throwing away holey socks (including the ones with the rubber ducks on that I loved. That was a bit of a heart wrenching moment… and yes, I’ve just admitted to get emotional over a pair of socks). This week, it was the turn of my books. Those of you who have been reading for a while will know how I feel about books. I LOVE them! While other girls dream of walk in wardrobes and entire rooms full of handbags, my ultimate aim in life is to have my very own library. With soft read sofas and chairs, a mahogany desk, beautiful shelving and books, books, books. But books are heavy, and so some of them have to go. I’ve been gradually taking books off the shelves, rearranging the bookcases and moving things into a carrier bag all week, and gradually I’ve got to the stage where everything actually fits on our three bookcases, whereas before things were piled up on top of the neat rows of books, stacked in front of them etc. Then, today, I placed a number of books into a smaller carrier bag (there’s no way I could have carried the larger one!) and walked around the corner to where there’s a public book cupboard (an excellent idea by the way!). There, I deposited the 11 books I had brought with me and returned home with a much lighter load, but a heavy heart. Getting rid of books is like cutting ties with old friends – not pleasant! But now that a few hours have passed I’m feeling a little better about things. I know those were books that I didn’t really enjoy that much and probably wasn’t going to read again any time soon – I won’t say never, because you never know. And I can always buy more books, sometime in the future. Instead of being a crazy cat lady I’ll be the mad old woman who filled her entire house with stacks of books. And maybe when Jan sees all my stuff gradually disappearing he’ll realise I’m seriously and actually start start trying to figure out what he wants.

I think I’m really starting to understand the meaning of the phrase “hope springs eternal”…

The boy done good!

Not being a fan of the forced romance that Valentine’s Day seems to bring out in people (who needs a boyfriend that only says he loves you once a year?!), I didn’t want any gifts from the boy yesterday. My only request was that he be home by 8 so we could actually eat together – a rare occurence, unless it’s the weekend.
Not only did he arrive home a whole two hours earlier than I’d asked him to, but he also turned up with these:

Despite my “who cares about Valentine’s anyway?” stance, I have to admit I was pleased. Maybe I am a cliché after all!
Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone!

The other girl

Here’s a poem I just wrote. I’m not sure whether I like the last line, but couldn’t think of a better one. Maybe I’ll change it at some point, when I’m feeling inspired. Thought I’d post it here anyway since I don’t have anything else to say.

The Other Girl

It’s me you go to bed with,
And me you call your girl,
But I know there’s someone else you love.
She looks like me,
She talks like me,
She even shares my name.
But try as I might,
I can never compete,
With the version of me that you see when you sleep.

Written by me, today (12 February 2012). No stealing please.