As a traveler, as I’ve discussed before, packing light is key to one’s sanity. This translates to every form of travel, from leisure travel to studying abroad to working overseas.
Since I was on the go so much, and never felt sure of if or when I’d have a more stable life, I took the concept of packing light and applied it to everything. I found myself living the nomadic bachelorette dream. I preferred language books to cook books, plastic utensils to real plates, takeout instead of home-cooked meals, and so forth.
I was the epitome of a bachelorette, in every sense of the word. I ate whatever I was craving that particular day, set my schedule the way I wanted, and let whatever quirky tendencies I had to have full reign in my lifestyle. Some would call these quirks “secret single behavior,” those little things you do but that you know full well you won’t really want to do when you’re married.
My “secret single behaviors” were wide ranging, and I never had them challenged by anyone. I hated having an overflowing trash can, so I’d often keep a trash bag by the door and take it out when it was full. Sometimes if I wasn’t really hungry I’d have popcorn for dinner. I didn’t like to decorate, so unless my living space overseas was already furnished, I’d usually hang up a world map or something just to look like I was putting forth effort. The list goes on, but I’ll stop there.
While most of my friends were marrying and having children, I was planning my next adventure. I told myself that, eventually, I’d meet someone and transition from a bachelorette traveler to a domestic goddess. Would it be easy? No, probably not, but it would be necessary. I wanted to be a wife and mother, after all, and I didn’t want my husband and children to get food poisoning every time I cooked. Or see my own kids throw a bag of Orville Redenbacher in the microwave and announce that dinner was served.
The initial step of my transition from bachelorette traveler to domestic goddess (ha) arrived when my fiance moved to the D.C. area and we went from a long-distance relationship to a close proximity one. I hadn’t realized how ingrained my bachelorette behavior was until “the kitchen incident.”
Leon had a couple of days in D.C. to kill time before his larger household items arrived to his new apartment, so he was itching for something to do. He graciously offered to do some stuff around my apartment that I hadn’t taken the time to do (another bachelorette tendency–you ignore a clogged sink as long as you can): plumbing DIY projects, restocking the fridge, and so forth. I was happy to have the help and appreciated his gesture.
After work that day, I headed home trying to ignore my craving for macaroni and cheese. As a bachelorette, I ate whatever I felt like for dinner, guided only by my cravings. Things were changing though–Leon was more of the mindset that you plan out your meals each week, shop accordingly, and cook healthy meals at home. The plan was for us to eat out less during the week and enjoy going to restaurants more on the weekends. I loved the idea, in theory. In practice, it was tougher.
Take that evening, for instance. Leon and I had planned to cook shrimp stir fry together, and we had all of the ingredients ready. I wasn’t really craving shrimp stir fry though. I wanted mac and cheese. But, I told myself, I needed to eventually break my habit of eating whatever I wanted and get into a healthier routine. Shrimp stir fry it was.
I got home to find Leon starting the stir fry and gave him a big “thank you” hug for being my maintenance man that day. The apartment looked so much better, and my sink was actually draining at a normal speed. I tilted my head to the side, though, and noticed that the kitchen was totally different. I had to investigate.
By totally different I mean, well, totally different. My kitchen was tiny, as I lived in a tiny studio in Arlington, Virginia. There wasn’t much space, so I had organized everything on top of each other–spices, paper towels, cereal boxes, and so forth. It was cluttered, yes, and a little stressful to try to cook in that space, but it was my clutter.
Now there was no clutter. Leon had reorganized everything, putting items in different shelves that I hadn’t thought to use as storage, put spices in a basket on top of the fridge, and cleared enough shelf space so that we could actually chop vegetables on a flat surface. It was completely different.
I stood there with my head still tilted to the side, and took a deep breath. He looked at me like he knew he had tested me a little, and I was going to have a bachelorette moment.
Oh, and I did have a bachelorette moment. I’m not talented at hiding my emotions, and I had a mini meltdown. I think that the gist of the meltdown, to which Leon patiently listened, was that everything was changing and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. My life had been structured according to my wishes, and those wishes had not included planning out meals, cooking at home, or having someone else organize all of my stuff. It was tough, I ranted, and he had to understand that I was used to being independent and on my own, and I wouldn’t transition overnight to being more domestic, and what if I never did, and on and on and on.
Once I calmed down, Leon smiled, gave me a big hug, and said, “Oh Linds, you need a man’s touch in your life.” Then he looked at me, and we both busted out laughing.
So, lesson of the day–transitioning from being a 100% secret single behavior indulgent bachelorette traveler to a domestic goddess won’t happen overnight. It’s a process. I know it won’t be easy, but I also know that it’s time. I’ll never lose that traveler side of me, but it’s also time to grow up a little and allow myself to share my life with someone. And use real plates.