my favorite souvenir.

(Left: Reflective birthday cat, "What does this birthday MEAN?" 
Right: Spirited birthday cat, "Screw this birthday hat.")

Four years ago today, I slammed my laptop shut and demanded Gabe drive us out into the Kuwaiti desert...immediately.

Why, you ask? An orphaned 3-week-old kitten in Kuwait had caught my attention on the internet, and if we didn't go pick it up right now, life wasn't worth living. Gabe rolled his eyes, assuming my pleading was all a bit hyperbolic. (It usually is.) It was nearing 9pm, and he was less than pleased about spending the remainder of the evening attempting to navigate our way to one of the thousands of identical sand colored address-less apartment buildings in Kuwait to pick up a feral street cat. I pled my case:

"He's only three weeks old, and doesn't even have a mom or siblings to keep him warm! How can you say no to something that small and helpless? I promise, it won't change anything in our house. Cats are so easy!" (Hah. Sweet, sweet naivety. Also, "he" turned out to be a "she".)

Gabe slowly started putting on his shoes, while I shoved the keys at him and impatiently flapped my hands in the "COME ON ALREADY!" gesture that wives have oh-so-lovingly used for centuries. Out into the desert we went, and hours later we returned home with the teeniest little kitten I've ever held.

(We had a killer view of the Persian Gulf. I used to write inspirational quotes on our window.)

The past four years have flown, and along the way we've learned that feral kittens will change things in your house, and no, they will not be "easy". (Whoops. Sorry, Gabe.) In so many ways, we see her feral roots show through...like the fact that she has not let a vet touch her for the past three years, or that she'll willingly have a hissing , swiping showdown with an adult human male sitting on her corner of the couch.

She's a feisty one, and has taught me so many great life lessons.

Lessons I Learned From My Cat

 Don't buy a gift if you could amuse the recipient with only an empty box.
You can't have nice things anymore.
Always check your luggage for stowaways before leaving the house.
Act like you own the world, and people will start to believe it.
Cat snuggles > therapy.
Never buy in bulk: taste preferences will change as soon as you do.
Just because you're little doesn't mean you don't matter.
Don't be afraid to speak up our swat out if something doesn't feel right.
You don't own a cat. It owns you.

In hindsight, we realized we brought home very few souvenirs from our time in Kuwait: a cheap scarf from the Souk, a few seashells collected from the Persian Gulf, and an adorable rag-tag street cat with a real attitude problem. The latter is clearly the best souvenir we could have bought (er, picked up curbside near a nameless apartment building in a foreign country). 

Happy Fourth Gotcha Day, you magnificent beast. We can't imagine life without you.

Welcome to the World, Lucky Bear. from bethany wuerch on Vimeo.


nine hundred and forty four days later.

Yesterday, my phone buzzed with a text from Gabe:

"Your blog domain is about to expire. Do you want to renew it again?"

I set down my phone, and let out a whooshing, melodramatic sigh. This is annual conversational territory for us, usually responded to with a half-hearted "I guess I should"...but after 943 days of my blog gathering dust, I knew I needed to either retire this space or return to make use of it (which would include deleting all the spammy love spell and fortuneteller comments I've passively allowed to populate the comments section for the past three years).

"Let me sleep on it," I typed back. Having known me for years, he deciphered my code: I'll procrastinate on making a decision and toss a coin in the morning.

My main dilemma was this: when I blogged regularly, it was an exciting season of life. Mysterious pen-pal, turned boyfriend, turned fiancee! Romantic trips overseas! Parisian proposal! Wedding planning! Becoming an expat! Solo trips to Rome and Prague!

But, life for the past 944 days has not been particularly full of those top-of-the-roller coaster, highlight reel moments one would take time to photograph and write about. Life now is a 6am goodbye kiss on the way out the door, a walk with the dog around our quiet neighborhood. It's the daily shooing of the cat off my laptop while I respond to work emails, it's dinner eaten while watching The Daily Show. And, if we're having a particularly wild month, a wine-tasting date night squeezed in between book club meetings and family birthday parties.

Gabe and I often talk about the funny contrast between our lives just 5 years ago, and our lives now. There are days we miss the excitement of not knowing exactly where life was headed, of genuinely needing to have our passports handy at all times. Honestly, I'm not even entirely sure where my passport is these days. Is it underneath that pile of crumpled papers from the DMV? Perhaps it's tangled among that ridiculous ball of outdated iPhone cables in the junk drawer? God only knows.

Note to self: suss out my passport situation, should life ever become exciting and sexy again.

But here's the real truth: while I miss the excitement of those days gone by, I like the predictably of this season in life. The way Gabe comes home every day between 3 and 5, and that he often has a bottle of wine tucked under his arm. That our pets run--meowing and barking--to meet him at the door. The way he sings that silly little greeting song we made up to sing to our pets while we kiss them "hello". How he clips a rose from the blush-blossomed rose tree he brought home one weekend, and brings it inside just to make me smile. Or the way he makes pancakes every Saturday morning, and knows exactly how I like my latte.

Or the fact that after nearly five years of marriage, we've just created a mutually agreeable laundry-folding system. If that's not a memorable moment, then I'll be damned.

These little memories deserve to be tucked away too, I decided last night. Someday I'll want to return to revisit them, to smile over these simple yet sweet days. After all, there's beauty to be found in even in the simple moments that others would rightfully view as fairly mundane, and I've missed taking the time to preserve life beyond just an Instagram photo and an attempt at a witty caption.

So, in an effort to succinctly update you on my now 30-something life, here's a rundown.

Life moments, in numbers, since early 2014

Moving trucks packed: 2
Pets adopted: 1
Jobs accepted: 3 (Gabe-2, Bethany-1)
Squabbles over boring married couple issues, like whether crockpots are safe enough to be left running while gone, or what date is appropriate for setting out fall decor: 17
Books read: 23 (approximately)
Cars purchased: 1
Peaches harvested from our backyard: Innumerable
Jars of peach jam I made: 11
Jars of hot jam dropped on the floor: 3
Businesses launched: 1
Laptops killed: 2
Children had: 0 (maybe someday we'll get around to it?)
Friends made: 9
Times I felt genuinely grateful to share a life with someone I like and love : 944

Well, then! That catches us up to speed quite nicely doesn't it? 

All that to say, hello again...and I'll be back soon. :)


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