Sunday, 14 September 2014

You choose to stay

Today has felt like Fall outside. It's been cool, and the storm that drowned last night cured the air of its stifling humidity, so it's been clear too. The pathetic fallacy is something I'm really appreciating, as I feel like this past month I've been breaking a fever and, finally, I'm out on the other side, cooler, and able to recover (yes, it's one of these sentimental posts - bear with me). 

The timing, then, could not have been better for Jess and I to finally get our matching tattoos, representing strength, happiness, and looking forward. We've been planning this for a while (specifically a few months, generally probably since she verbally accosted me upon our first meeting because of my natural British propensity to eat Baked Beans for breakfast - we were fast friends). A while back, Jess gave me a Giving Key, on which the words 'LET IT GO' were inscribed. She has a similar key that reads 'TRUST'. These are lessons we both have to learn, before paying it forward and passing the key on to another who may be in need of inspiration to achieve the same. It was this that was the original inspiration for our shared tattoo design.

The design.

On top of that, and the symbolism that keys open doors, represent taking charge and making choices about which doors to open, we wanted to include love and music. Over this past year or so, Jess has held me up with unrelenting strength, unconditional support, ferocious loyalty, and encompassing love (and I hope I have done for her even half of what she has done for me). Love really is key to life and being able to say 'I lived', in whatever guise it comes. And then there's music: whether it's silly playlists, dining room dance-offs, waltzing in the Wine Vault, or (our favorite) seeing our best-loved bands perform live, music has been a keystone of our friendship. We managed to find a design that Tom at 510 Expert Tattoo could work with to include a heart and a treble clef.

Jess sitting like a champ.

The pièce de résistance is the placement. Obviously the designs match, so if we are together then you can see that Jess and I share a tattoo. But she has hers where my Claddagh is (on my inner right forearm), and I have mine where her 'Fiction' tattoo is (on her left inner upper arm).
Both finished tattoos (me on the left, Jess on the right).

Jess is like a sister to me. Even if I had the words to explain just how wonderful having her in my life is, to share a house with her, to know she always has my back about anything (from not having enough Gatorade in the house, to knowing when I need JAMMIES and cuddles, to knowing she'd gladly junk-punch anyone who even thought about hurting me), and to be able to express just how amazing a woman she is that's unrelated to our friendship, I don't think I could do her justice. She is so totally her: a whirlwind of facts and rambling, of joy and turbulent thoughts; a brilliant writer and thinker; a spontaneous and hedonistic explosion; a fierce and fearsome protector; an affectionate, vulnerable, and loving heart; and a woman who has no idea just how special she is.

The morning after.

I'm so Instagram right now.

Love is the key. And we have it.

The British were here!

I have been quiet on the blogging front for the last fortnight for all of the best reasons: I was, as described in the last post, surprised by my dearest, oldest friend turning up at our house party at the end of August, and then was treated to the company of the one and only Martha for the last week as part of her America tour of Fall 2014. She departed for Atlanta today, and I am now sat on my sofa surrounded by my dogs, a half-full glass of wine, and relative quiet apart from the low buzz of Jess' TV and intermittent sleepy puppy sighs. I am, as ever, sad to see people leave, but feel very comforted knowing how at home I am here and, consequently, how wonderful a thing that is to share with those from my home-home when they do visit. Happy memories of their sojourns abound, and I'm currently in a state of peaceful reminiscence.

If you'd like to see what it looks like when I'm rendered speechless, please enjoy this video as solid evidence of it actually being a possibility. This is Tim's arrival, as recorded by my dear friend MG Josh.


Any further updates can be better done in photo form, so here are some of my favorite shots from the last couple of weeks: on the lake, at Not Just Coffee, walking home from the Wine Vault in a rain storm, at the Diner, at the Wine Vault (again), Bojangle's with Tim, fun clothes with Martha and Jess, more Wine Vault, Diner and cards, lunch at Cassie and Lesley's new place, and Good Food with Martha and Loren.

What a couple of weeks!

Monday, 1 September 2014

It's the only way to be

This weekend - and it's not over yet, what with it being Labor Day weekend here in the US and thus a 'bank holiday' - has done something to me. In fact, I think it's the past few weeks, this past week, these past 72 hours. I know enough now to never jump the gun and assume I'm healed or that happiness is going to be a constant. I've also learned that that doesn't lessen one's happiness while it is there. Finally, I've learned that I am, definitively, a happy person capable of a level of joy that's frequently equivalent to delirium. And I like that girl.

Yesterday, almost all of my best US friends and a surprise landing (quite literally) of my oldest, closest friend from the UK - all organised by my roommate/wife/sister - were at my house to share in the general joy of life being less stressful knowing that I can, for now, remain here relatively peacefully, in the city I now call home. I can't even begin to express how much love, happiness, warmth, and magic abounded. There simply aren't words for how lucky I am to exist in the same space and time as these wonderful people, and it keeps being shown to me over and over how much I have to be grateful for.

Tomorrow I get to go do another of my favorite things: be silly-happy on a boat, listening to loud music in the sunshine, swimming in a lake, eating great food, drinking delicious wine, and all with some of the best people on the planet (I'm pretty sure I can prove that somehow). I'm about to burst, I swear!

These days I have a far greater awareness of the temporary, but I'm starting to see that that's not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly doesn't change who I am fundamentally. You can't know what's going to happen; you can just try to live up to the tenets you set for yourself: be kind, take care, spread joy, love each other. The future's never certain. Who's to say how it goes? All I know is I'm back in the world again.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Safety in numbers

This blog post is going to start out boring. On a scale of one to boring, it's really fucking boring. But this may be the last boring post I have to write, so bear with me, and I'll add in some less boring stuff just as soon as the boring bit is explained because, like a good deal of boring stuff, it's kind of important.

As of four days ago, we entered into the "safe" window in terms of the time I'll need to get paperwork for the USCIS if they were to send me a Request For Evidence (RFE) before the middle of November (the earliest time at which I will be able to obtain the paperwork needed for an RFE). It now no longer matters if they do send me an RFE, because I will be able to obtain the required documents within the USCIS-set 87 day limit.

This still doesn't mean I'm in the clear as such, as there is still an interview and an assessment as to my "good faith" status, but it does mean that six whole months have passed since the panic of February when I realized just how complicated things could get due to North Carolina state-specific laws. Add to that the fact that everything was bona fide, without a doubt done in good faith, and then collapsed around me beyond my control, and I'm feeling a whole lot better about bureaucracy right now. Not confident, not presuming anything, but certainly not as crappy as 24 weeks ago.

This date seemed so, so far away back in the spring. 182 days on, and today I can hardly believe I'm looking at life starting afresh. That's possibly a dramatic interpretation, but in true Rogerson style, I'm throwing a bloody big party next weekend (that has been planned since February, regardless of how August was going to be looking), to celebrate life moving on. It's time to get exuberant, however small the triumph. The numbers may have seemed insurmountable but, like so many things this past year, they have not been.

Numbers that have helped during this time have been my four amazing family members back home, my four incredible women right here in Charlotte, innumerable friends in two different countries I can consider home, two wonderful fuzzballs with whom I share my house and my walks and most of my life, and one fantastic job filled, again, with too many fantastic people to count. I may not do math very well, but these are numbers I truly understand.

This blog, then, is likely to move away from numbers and back to words. With 7.184 billion people on the planet, it's about time I got back to focusing on being among them, in a country I face not alone, but as an independent woman who's still in the first three years of living abroad. It's time for new adventures, and I for one can't wait.