Wednesday, March 10, 2010

FRIENDS & Newly Married Life

Growing up, we hardly ever watched TV. Mom was pretty strict with our TV time and what we watched. And even though I sometimes wished we could watch more, I was also really appreciative of the values it taught us.

Unfortunately, it didn't stick once we got married.

Tim was raised in a household that watched a lot of TV. When we first got married, we lived in a small 756 square foot apartment on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex that was within walking distance to a suburban train station {so I could easily commute to my first job downtown for a year}. Keep in mind, I grew up in the middle of nowhere on a farm. Granted, four years in a dorm certainly helped, but that was with all females at a small, safe, midwestern Christian college.

So when we first moved in and Tim went to his odd-houred/often late night job, I had a day job so it meant I had a lot of alone time in the evening where I was quite scared and didn't know what to do with myself. I would literally sit on a corner of the couch in a spot where I could see the door {you know, just in case} and eat a bag of potato chips {like what, I'm going to pummel a robber with potato chips??} while watching FRIENDS on TV. I didn't have any friends here. I knew no one. I had no close friends at my very far away job. We were new at our church. I'd moved away from my family. I barely knew Tim's family.

I was often very scared, very alone, and felt very unsafe. But also dearly loved my husband and our new life together. The hallways in our apartment building were dark. The laundry was three stories down and in a dark/dingy room. Thankfully we never had a single problem there {it really was a safe building now looking back on it}. But I still felt scared all the time. I would literally jump out of my skin whenever our buzzer went off {it was a place where you couldn't get into the building without someone buzzing you in}. Small sounds scared me. Our bed was against the wall that went into the stairwell. We could always hear the stair door close. It was loud. It was scary to me. {Although surely not nearly like what some have to deal with.} Now this makes me laugh.

We were both relatively freaked out about certain things. We were new to all this. We were suddenly in charge of everything, not our parents. We were responsible for protecting our stuff, ourselves, and everything that was dear to us. And in a lot of ways, neither of us were ready for it as much as we thought we were.

So the FRIENDS on TV became my friends. They were all I had. I watched them constantly. I got to know their characters. And even though I didn't agree with half of what they said or did, there was an odd connection for me there. I still liked that I could relate to someone {beyond my husband}. I was adjusting to being a newlywed, had a lot of questions, and felt really... alone. Which really confused me. We were able to join a newly marrieds small group a few months later at our church. That turned out to be really great! And around that time, hubster got a steady job with regular daytime hours... WHEW! Not so much downtime by myself at night which was good! 

But still, it wasn't easy. I didn't transition well. FRIENDS became a bit of an obsession. We watched more TV than any two people should. We really didn't have a good sense of what we wanted to do with our lives. So... we kind of sat around.

Now don't get me wrong, we didn't only sit around. We still took walks, went to the park to play basketball, went to the library, and did the occasional outing. But generally speaking, we did fill a good chunk of time with TV watching. 

I also had no clue how to cook. Nada. Zero. Zilch. My mom always enjoyed cooking for us {same with laundry--I didn't do my first batch of laundry until right before I left for college... now vacuuming & dishes I was a pro at, but mom loved cooking & laundry & ironing}. So we ate a lot of prepackaged / boxed foods especially in that first year. We had basic TV, so no cable {i.e. no Food Network}. I knew basics like spaghetti and hot dogs, but the rest was just sort of shooting in the dark. I had recipes I tried to follow but didn't feel very good at.

I can safely say I've come a longgggg way since then with my ability to cook. Especially after moving into our new house 6 years ago where we couldn't get basic TV through the antenna so we had to get cable {trust me, we had to... two communication majors without any way to be filled in on the world does not work well... we needed our news, sports, and uh...Friends}. There was no Hulu back then. So, once we had access to The Food Network, it quickly became my new obsession. I started feeling freer with recipes, learning to cook more from scratch {or at least a "modified" scratch}. I cooked with garlic and onion, veggies, and fresh meat. Wow! It was like whole new world!

But still, without a dishwasher, it often came to a screeching halt when our kitchen would get too messy {it doesn't have much counter/cabinet space despite being a rather large room} and I tended to no longer enjoy doing dishes without a window to look out of. A couple years later I started having health issues. They tested my gallbladder like crazy when I had some major acid reflux problems. They told me to cut out acidic stuff and things that would flare up my reflux like tomatoes, oranges, orange juice, garlic, and onion. I was exhausted all the time. I was seemingly depressed all the time. Eventually after a few months I was able to slowly bring those things back, but not to the same degree. I've hardly used or been able to tolerate much garlic since. I went back to orange juice but have to drink the Low Acid kinds {thankfully both Minute Maid and Tropicana have the no pulp, low acid o.j.}. I stopped cooking from scratch as much. I gained weight back.

With the latest health kick/lifestyle change attempt {I refuse to say 'diet'}, I'm trying to go back to less processed, more homemade stuff. But it's still really hard. 40 hours a week at work, sometimes more. An hour and a half on the road every day. Working out at the gym an hour 3 times a week. Friends, family, life. I want to help keep us more active and eating healthier, but it's still definitely challenging.

And we still do watch too much TV. What can I say? You get two communication majors together, it's pretty hard to keep us away from communication-related stuff. Our favorite TV shows are Chuck, NCIS, NCIS LA, LOST, and Smallville. And of course, home improvement stuff on HGTV, stuff on the Food Network, reruns of old shows, news, and sports. I do have to admit I love being connected. We both Facebook, Twitter, and blog while watching TV too. We've become multi-talented. :) And we're in the same room together enjoying our time together, so it still sorta counts right? Yes, we do still turn the thing off and talk too.  

You know, every week or so.

I now own all but a couple seasons of Friends on DVD {I own 1 and 2 as well, just not pictured}.

Thankfully now I am no longer in such dire need for friends {which now very much includes Tim's family as I've gotten closer with them over the years}. I have a whole slew of 'em, and I'm getting used to city life. God is good. All the time. And He continually amazes me with his goodness and grace. I am so thankful for the friends I have here now and cannot imagine my life without them, or even think about the possibility of never having lived here. I am so thankful for this time in my life and wouldn't trade it for the world.

Well, maybe I'd trade it for a horse.


Christina T said...

I can't imagine how frightening it must have been for you when you were alone in the apartment in a big city when you first got married. What an adjustment you had to make!

I'm glad you enjoy cooking. I am lazy about it. I don't like working with raw meat. I once made meatloaf without touching the raw meat. It was fun. :)

I am so thankful for low acid orange juice too! I had to give up citrus stuff completely for awhile but I have been able to add a little back. I like the Minute Maid stuff and it helps to boost my immune system.

I am happy that you have more friends and a house of your own in a safer area.

My family watched a lot of T.V. when I was growing up but it was usually educational or religious based T.V. until I got older. My parents didn't get cable until Reneta and I were both out of college. I remember watching more T.V. when I lived in Kent by myself for grad school. I didn't have any friends there and so when I wasn't studying I did watch more T.V. I used to watch The Food Network while I ate my supper. Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray, and even Paula Deen whose food I can't eat!

Great post.

blueviolet said...

I kinda think of the tv as a companion too. It's comforting and it covers up all the squeaks and groans of being alone.

As for cooking, I despise it so I'm guilty of using processed and convenience foods too often because they're quicker!

Julie said...

I really appreciated your honesty, and could really relate to well... most of it actually. I too when I was a young newly wed had a husband with night hours, and lived in a town that I didn't really have anyone I was close to. I sedated myself (I had quite a lot of anxiety - oh yeah, I was also preg) with talking on the phone until no one was available, and then the telly. You know I really hated the fact that once you get to about 3 AM the only thing on is infomercials. Seriously? Couldn't they do a little better? I mean its already depressing when you're alone and not feeling great about yourself, then you gotta watch all those beach bodies get in even better shape? YUCK!

Anyway, I can relate to the exhaustion and weight struggle a little as well. I don't have any diagnosis of a permanent problem, but I know that when I'm stressed, I become completely drained, and it doesn't take much to sap my energy. Weight is a struggle in that I'm 95% of the time either underweight or overweight. If you happen to see me and I look really good like a size 8, don't count on me looking that way in 2 months, or even 2 weeks.

Well, girl, this is your blog, not mine, I just thought this was a great opportunity to acquaint myself with you a little better. I know Elgin is pretty far out, but I'd love for us to arrange to hang out or something. FB me and we'll work on getting something worked out!