And Then There Were Five

Man walking a dog in a park.

I’m a cat person. Always have been, always will. The first words out of my mouth were probably, “Mom, Dad, can we get a cat?” Just about the second Byron and I got our first apartment together, I talked him into getting not one, but TWO feline friends. We’ve had our little fur-devils for years now, and I am a total crazy-cat-lady for them.

Cat snuggle.
Cat snuggle.

Byron, bless him, is a dog person. He grew up with dogs — in fact, his family raised guide-dog puppies when he was growing up, so not only did they always have dogs, he was always training dogs. For the past five years, anytime we see a canine, he wistfully sighs, “I want a dog.” And I’d reply, “Someday, when we have a house.” I mean, a house was soooo far off in the future, right? It seemed a safe thing to say.

Well. We have a house. The day of reckoning has arrived.

Man walking a dog in a park.
A boy and his dog.

Louie. A 6-month old puppy. Some sort of (possibly) beagle-whippet mix — a true Heinz 57. Byron is over the moon. He finally has “his cat.” And I am learning how to live with a dog.

The first day we had him, I kept looking over and thinking, “Huh. So, you’re here. You live with us now.” It’s been the four of us — me, Byron and the two cats — for so long. We had our routine, our cadence. And let’s face it — a cat is easy. You throw some food at them, give the occasional snuggle, and they’re happy. Dogs are High Maintenance.

Here’s the thing — for a puppy, Louie is incredibly well-behaved. I know it’s early on, but I feel like we may have won the puppy lottery. Good with the cats. Sleeps through the night in his crate. Doesn’t whine when we leave for work. But still, dogs are different than cats. I’m GREAT with cats. I EXCEL at cats. Dogs? I really have no idea how to interact with them. And the interaction is different. They look to you for… well, everything. Did I do this right? Did I do this wrong? You have to let them know, in no uncertain terms. And I feel like I’m trying to read a driver’s manual while simultaneously driving the car.

He even shares his toys with the cats. I mean, how sweet is that?
He shares his toys with the cats. I mean, how sweet is that?

The first night we had him I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake thinking of all the things he could possibly get up to that night, all the things that could possibly go wrong (mind you–he was in his crate. So literally the worst thing that could have happened was if he peed in the crate. Literally the worst thing). And the thought that kept racing through my mind was holy shit we have a dog. A dog! Me, the crazy cat lady, now a dog owner. How did this happen?

Beagle-whippet puppy looking up at owner.

But, ya know? I also never expected to be married and living in a house by now, either. Life throws some curveballs, and that can be what makes it fun. And, yeah, the stinker IS cute. I mean, look at that face! Look at those brown eyes! He’ll melt your heart, this one. We’re learning one another, Louie and I. We’ll get there.

Now I’m just waiting for my ultimate dream to come true: a dog-cat cuddle pile…

This House

This past weekend, a miraculous thing happened: we had an entire afternoon with no plans on the calendar. Nowhere to be, nothing to do. Well, nothing planned to do — the house needed picking up. But it ended up being the “ok” kind of housework, where you just get in the zone and get shit done. We fell into a rhythm, puttering around and cleaning, talking to one another from different rooms, listening to the radio in the background.

At one point we were both in the bathroom, Byron wiping down the sink and me looking at the shower, which I had cleaned earlier that day. When we bought the Rambler, the shower was advertised as “new!” Well, technically yes. It was a new, shoddily installed shower with obvious gaps and really questionable caulk work (really, so much of our house is basically an advertisement for “hire a professional, yo!”).

As I studied the shower, I said, “Byron, I’m a bit worried some of the shower isn’t sealed correctly and water’s getting behind the panels.”

“Oh yeah, it definitely is,” Byron said.

Oh, well, ok then. “So do we have to worry about mold?”

“No, rot. Definitely rot. I’m 99% sure it’s rotting back there.”

“Oh good, another project.” I shrugged. “Add it to the list.”

“This song is appropriate,” he said.

I must have given him my ‘huh?’ face. “Listen to the lyrics.”

I did — and I laughed:

What do you know? this house is falling apart
What can I say? this house is falling apart
We got no money, but we got heart


Well, yes. That about sums it up in a nutshell. But what can you? We had a quick dance party in the bathroom, then moved on to the next task at hand. This never-ending project of a house may throw curveballs at us, but we’re creative, resourceful, and we have each other. We’ll pull this place together.

One Year

One year ago today, I woke up in my childhood bedroom and walked upstairs in sweatpants and a T-shirt. I went over to the window and looked out at the grey sky and damp lawn. It was about 8am. My mom came up and read a text she’d received from our family friend, Barbara: “On the day of our wedding it was misty in the morning and cleared up in the afternoon. Today will be perfect, too!” Barbara had gotten married in that backyard, and today I was, too.

Photo by Luzco Photography.
Photo by the amazing Luzco Photography.

I wasn’t worried about the weather. I knew it would clear up (which it did — thank you, Seattle, and your weirdly beautiful fall weather). I wasn’t worried about much of anything, actually.

It’s funny the things you remember after the fact. Sitting in the living room the night before the wedding, my family drinking martinis and me sipping Alka Seltzer Night (I’d had a wicked cold the week leading up to the wedding). Mary following me around like a sheepdog, herding me from one task to the next (“Nope, go this way, you have to put on your makeup.” “You can do that later, go change out of your sweatpants.” “You’re coming with me, sit down, here’s some champagne.”).

Photo by Luzco Photography.
Photo by Luzco Photography.

Going out to the garage to greet Byron after he arrived, sneaking a kiss. Waking up at 2am in the hotel room the night after the wedding and getting a can of Pringles from the mini-bar. Reading Game of Thrones in bed while trying to quietly eat Pringles (IMPOSSIBLE) so as not to wake Byron.

The wedding was great — but the year after has been better, a huge year full of adventure and change. We bought a house, we merged finances, we’ve learned better how to challenge and support one another all while planning and saving and setting goals for the future. And I’ve gotta say, so far we’re nailing it. We’re more of a team than we ever were before. And it’s so nice to not have anything big looming on the horizon — no wedding to plan, no mortgage to figure out. We can just be together, being us. And “us” is a pretty good thing to be.

One year down. To be continued…

Photo by Luzco Photography
Photo by Luzco Photography