If you're thinking about getting married

During, you know, THE MOVE, there was one thought that kept me from totally losing it, and that was the fact that they say moving is one of the most stressful things you can go through in life. I figured if they say that then, well, it was ok that I was having minor nervous breakdowns from time to time. Even better, it was normal. I was normal. The other nice thing, of course, was having J along for the ride. One time, when I was just standing there in the bedroom nearly hyperventilating, pointing from box to box and all the stuff that was very clearly not in boxes and asking, over and over again, "How? How are we going to ever finish???" he very calmly asked me to leave the house for a while, go run some errands or something, and honestly, that saved me. That was exactly what I needed - a break.

Of course, the two of us being in it together also meant there was always someone around to yell at when things weren't going well. You know, someone there to take it out on. And while there was comforting and support, there was a fair share of petty arguing, too. And on moving day - that last, extraordinarily long stretch of loading the truck and combing the house for tiny remnants of our two-year stay there - the petty arguing was at a high, the comforting and support at an all time low. Because it was, you know, really bad. We had to do the kind of stuff only the people who've lived in the house can do, like going to public works to make sure the 500-year-old broken lawnmower we own would get picked up and taken away sometime. Stuff that, maybe, we should have taken care of months ago. But didn't.

One of the things we should have definitely taken care of by that day was dealing with this very large pile of cardboard we had stacked along the side of the house the entire time we lived there. Chapel Hill, with good reason, has pretty strict recycling rules and really condemns putting recyclable stuff, like cardboard, in the regular trash. There is a recycling center just minutes from where we lived where you can take stuff like broken down cardboard boxes and throw it in a recycling bin. So, when we moved in and started getting many, many wedding presents in many cardboard boxes, we'd break down those boxes and stack them along the carport wall, in a neat pile and we figured we'd regularly make trips to the recycling center to get rid of them. Only we didn't, and we kept getting things in cardboard boxes and the pile just got bigger.

And when we started talking about the moving process a couple months ago, I thought about those cardboard boxes, and how some of them had been outside for about two years, and about how they were sort of getting moldy and about how many insects live in and around our house and wouldn't those boxes be the perfect habitat for some seriously horrifying insects? And I thought about this one recent time I'd mustered the energy to do a little something about the situation and I went out there and pried a few of them from the pile to stick in the trunk and take over to the recycling center, and how I instantly got this incredible headache and became extremely congested to the point where everybody, for the remainder of the day, was asking me if I had a cold, and this happened because I'd moved a few - just a few - of those boxes and whatever lethal spores were proliferating there in the damp conditions had entered my nasal passage when I dared move those boxes and probably killed off several thousand of my brain cells.

And so I'd tell J as moving day loomed ever and ever closer, "Listen. I'm worried about those boxes. I mean, there's so many of them."

So you know what we did? Nothing.

So by the late afternoon of that fateful Wednesday (we'd hope to be on the road by mid-morning) we, naturally, wanted to go. We had packed the truck and checked the house and we were tired and dusty and headachey and cranky and we wanted to take showers, but of course we'd packed all the towels, and we wanted to give up, but you can't give up when the end is in sight. We'd dragged some old, unusable items - the lawnmower, a suitcase with a broken zipper, an old dog cage, some lamps - out to the side of the road for anyone who wanted them if they weren't trashed first, and that's when we realized that cardboard - that hateful, disgusting cardboard - was still piled up on the side of the house.

And I think this is when, as I mentioned before, J said it was the worst day of his life, and he was walking around wincing and kicking things and I just stood there with my shoulders slumped, hand on my forehead, swearing over and over that next time we were paying someone to do this for us, and somehow, amazingly, we realized we just had to do it. We had to finish.

J found a large green tarp that we'd had lying around forever and proved to be worth it's weight in gold that day. He laid it out flat on the ground and we took turns removing each flattened cardboard box from it's home against the low, cinderblock wall, holding them with the tips of our fingers as far away from our bodies as possible, which proved difficult with the heavier ones, then thrusting them down into a pile in the middle of the tarp. With each movement a new insect appeared to smite us for tearing down his or her homestead. Spiders - including at least one Black Widow - that had woven thick, cottony cobwebs amongst the rubble. Crickets that jumped high into the air and alarmingly near our faces. Caterpillars and cockroaches and other indescribable mutants that love to nest in dank havens of sin and despair. We did it in the blazing August sun with our headaches ever increasing. We spoke very little because there was nothing helpful to say and finally breathed a sigh of relief once we had finished, tied up the tarp and catapulted it on top of all our belongings in the already-bursting-at-the-seams back of the truck, carted it to the cardboard recycling bin and thrown each piece inside. We threw them hard, as the smallest inkling of joy returned to our hearts.

All I'm saying is that there are so many good parts to couplehood like lying in bed reading on a lazy Sunday morning or a romantic dinner at your favorite restaurant, but my advice to you is if you are seriously thinking about settling down with someone, just think about something like, oh I don't know, taking a billion moldy cardboard boxes covered in insects to the recycling bin on a day when your will to live is already at a low, and if you think you can handle that - really handle it without badly hurting or maybe even killing one another - then I think you're probably ready.