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I married my husband before meeting his family. We’d met online, had chatted for years, and when we finally got around to meeting in person it took about three months for us to decide to get married. Our wedding cost $95 (including what we wore). We stood in the Indianapolis Justice of the Peace’s office, holding hands in front of a giant portrait of the Lincoln Memorial. We were witnessed by my mom and Tony’s best friend from childhood. He married us, we kissed, and we went and drank whiskey in a dive bar named Alibis. My mom still says it was the most romantic wedding she’s ever seen.
A few weeks later, we were surprised with plane tickets. Tony and I flew to his home city, Toronto, so I could finally meet his family. It was an amazing visit; I got along with his family wonderfully. His childhood was so much different than mine: married parents, living in the same house all of their lives, roman catholic, siblings only a year or two apart. It was intoxicating and bizarre. I met his friends, saw his favorite places, and met one of my very best friends in the entire world, Tony’s baby sister. Our visit was wonderful, but it was only three days long. On the last day, we packed up our weekend’s worth of clothes, and headed back to the airport.
Customs stopped us. Tony couldn’t re-enter the States because he didn’t have the right paperwork. We’d called immigration before we ever left Indiana and the officer had told us we could come and go as we pleased, as long as Tony had not started his immigration paperwork. We trusted this advice because we were love-drunk babies. So, when we were singled out of the customs line and sent to wait in the tiny, claustrophobic airport immigration office and later told that it would be “three months” before Tony’s papers would go through, we dealt with it. We cried and raged and bargained, but we dealt with it. We went home to Tony’s parents house, set up shop in their basement, and waited. Three months turned to six, turned to nine, turned to a year. We had a house and a car and pets to take care of in Indiana, and for an entire year I was able to make enough money doing freelance publishing gruntwork to support us. One of my first projects was Biz Stone’s book about Blogger.com, and I started a blog to better understand the content. It stuck. I kept writing and finding friends. 800 miles away from my home, in the dark basement of my in-laws’ house, I found a community of hilarious and wonderful people who were always around when I needed them. I haven’t stopped blogging since.
I started a twitter account almost two years ago because I wanted to write more. For some reason, the account grew (to what really feels like a ridiculous size to me) quickly. I’d wanted to write, I’d wanted to expand the reach of my writing, but what I wound up with was 15k followers on Twitter, and no added incentive to write. After Twitter, I found Favstar. And then Instagram. All of the sudden, I was provided an easy way to assign worth to my words and photos. Every day, I would trade my musings and jokes and pictures for stars and hearts. I would go through and delete the things that weren’t well-liked, even though I had seen something in them that I had wanted to share. Suddenly, my pictures that received less hearts weren’t worth as much, and I didn’t want them around anymore. I started wondering about my motives, whether I had something real to say, or was just hunting for attention. Things get lonely in this house; Tony and I work opposite schedules because childcare is so expensive, so when I am not alone in a house full of yelling kids, I’m at work. I wish I knew when I began thinking that the outside world has to see value in something of mine in order for it to be valuable to me. I wish I knew where those thoughts originated in my brain, so I could pull that part out and stomp on it.
I’ve deleted my Instagram and my Favstar. I’ve promised myself to write more. I’ve promised myself to be honest about the worth of my words; and I’ve promised myself to be honest about my motives in writing them in the first place. Am I being moved to speak or am I filling the silence? Because—in my experience—good things rarely come from the latter. I don’t want to trade moments of my life for hearts and stars; I want to share what is important to me because of that very thing; because it is important. To me.