Build Something Beautiful, Together!

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote two years ago when Mr. H and I first moved in together, we decided to build a beautiful bench to go on our new super cute porch at our super cute house back when we lived in Denver. As we built this bench I realized that the process of putting the bench together was a lot like the process of putting together a healthy relationship and so this blog post, and eventually this website harrishomemade.com  were born out of this idea, that we could physically and relationally build something beautiful, together.

So here it is….

So what does this bench have to do with my marriage?

Well we built it.. no kit, not precut pieces of wood, nope just a youtube video and a trip to home depot later and we were making a bench. This took both of our strengths and some I don’t think we knew we had in order to accomplish it.

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Here I am at home depot, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to construct our very own bench, something that will hopefully last 30 years so we can pass it down to our children, as his parent just did with a picnic table Mr.’s Dad built 30 years ago.

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Did I mention we decided to build this bench on the day it snowed in May? No? Oh well here I am bundled up in our garage waiting for the snow to melt as we begin sawing.

But we get underway constructing this bench and just like I imagine we will in marriage, we started to hit some bumps, my bright eyed and bushy tailed turned into curse words and we were soon doubting if we could put this bench together at all. It started when we realized we didn’t charge the drill, and were left screwing most of the screws in by hand, do you know how many screws it takes to put a bench together? Way too many to screw them in by hand I tell you that.

I started to think that this was Ben’s fault and that it was his drill so he should have been responsible for the charge of the battery and as my wrist became more and more sore, I had two choices to continue blaming mr. and become resentful, or realize that this is something we are in together, realize we both will make mistakes and that as a team we will work through them, so on I went screwing in screw after screw by hand. ( And to be fair, he was also participating in this, it wasn’t like I was left with a screwdriver on an abandoned island or anything)

And I am sure he was thinking that I could be helping more, or stop nagging him about the directions, I am sure I screwed a screw in wrong, or measured the pieces of wood too small ( ok  I know I did that one once) And he could have taken those things and created a list, an arbitrary checklist of the ways I was failing him and allowed that running record to eat away at his faith in me. in us. But he didn’t every time no matter how frustrated he was he would look at me, smile, say “you are doing great babe”, and move on… EVERY time.

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And then we screwed the legs together wrong, leaving us with what would have been a seatless bench, not very effective right? So unscrew the pieces, and start again, this time following the directions. This is where we could dip deep down into those gender stereotypes pull out the one that says men don’t follow directions put a big ole check mark on it and slip it back into our pocket of low blows to use next time. But if we are going to create a marriage that is built to last, what we really need to be doing is digging into that pocket of stereotypes and low blows and throwing them in that brand new recycling bin we just got and let someone else compost those. Because holding on to these things just creates an environment where both Mr. and myself could be digging deeper and deeper at each other until one of us breaks.

Now 50 years into this bench building marriage we will have so many of these things we could be throwing at each other that there is no way to survive all of those bad experiences, but if instead we choose to recycle that crap, chalk it up to a mistake we both made and move on, then in 2,5 or 50 years we won’t be counting all the ways our spouse has messed up over the years right?

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It was starting to look like a marriage…. I mean bench, the pieces were all where they needed to be, it had legs it could stand on and a sturdy seat two people could sit on. But there was something missing, just like our marriage which has 79 days until it becomes official ,our bench was missing some crucial pieces to it’s structure. But this is where it really got tricky, the video said to put the back at a slight angle so that it would be more comfortable to sit on. The guy used a fancy tool to measure and then drill sideways through the posts in order to accomplish this with ease. However here we were with our dead drills, no fancy tool and only the few screws that we had purchased which were now to short for this job. How were we going to accomplish it?

And then Mr. had an idea, he said why don’t we use extra wood, create a back for the ends and use that to nail into, that would cut down on the amount of screws we need and allow us to create the comforting angle we had heard about in the video.

There you have it folks I am marrying a genius this is where I got to celebrate with him, think about how I never would have thought of that on my own and rejoice in his accomplishments, I could do this without fault because I had already thrown my earlier reservations in the recycling with our bench building mistakes.

So that is what we did, and it worked!

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And there it was our beautiful bench, it is still not perfect all the pieces don’t exactly line up, the wood is not sanded or painted to perfection, the back angle isn’t exactly even or at  the magic comfort angle that was prescribed, but let me tell you what…it is sturdy,

And in 30 years when our marriage has seen the test of time,  I hope we will look at this bench think of all the things we could have held onto over the years, all of the little mistakes that could have torn us apart but instead made us a better team and think it all started with this bench.

❤ Rae

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In the third year of marriage

In the first year of marriage my marriage gave to me sweet good morning kisses, and someone to share in HGTV

In the second year of marriage my marriage gave to me comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

In the third year of marriage my marriage gave to me, really hairy legs, ugly underwear, comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

Here I am in the third year of marriage, marriage is still a place I fee like I entered yesterday, I can still feel the butterflies of walking down the aisle, and the warmth of the sun on our honeymoon. I look back and can’t believe enough time has passed from that day to be over 2 years away from it.

But then I look at the way things are now and I realize that a lot has changed over the past two years and some change. This weekend we discovered I was deeply in need of some new underwear, all my mine were getting holes in them or didn’t fit right anymore or were a style I wouldn’t wear everyday .. . not teacher underwear if you will. So when we stopped at the store I went straight to the underwear section,  I looked through all the “cute” read expensive underwear and then went over to the underwear I would have groaned at 3 years ago, the kind that comes 6 to a box, the plain colors, ugly read cheap underwear. I grabbed a box of those and went right back to my husband. He said, do you want one pair of the cute underwear, when I said no he was not upset and went right about his shopping.

Now a few other things have changed over the past two years, I no longer worry about having perfectly shaved legs around him, I also fart and discuss my stomach aches, underarm smells and sores, and essentially just tell him what is on my mind.  So all this to say you could say we are out of the “honeymoon” stage. . .if you must say that. But my marriage is full of laughter, love and I wouldn’t say that the relations department is any worse than in year one. . . I would say it is better because I am willing to just tell him whats on my mind.

Now I still get the sweet good morning kisses, now they may just be filled with morning breath as well, I still have someone to share in HGTV, and now he even understands what I mean when I whisper “Johanna would be proud” when we entered someones house, I get to forget about the annoyance of shaving my legs until I feel like it, and I get to spend way less on underwear. The best part is in my ugly underwear, with my hairy legs an stinky breath, while I am watching my 16th episode of Fixer Upper he still tells me that I am the most beautiful girl in the world.

-Rae

 

 

 

Why do we idealize the “dramatic” relationships?

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I am currently rewatching two of my favorite shows; Friends and One Tree Hill. I have seen them both all the way through at least once and love them both, but this time while watching them I have noticed a similarity I did not see before. . . both of the ‘Great’ love stories are SO dramatic.

Take Ross and Rachel to start with, the first 4 seasons or so it is all build up will they be together or won’t they. There was the meeting Ross at the plane, and the “I’m over you” phone call

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Then there is the short period of time where they were SO happy and you just cheered to yourself every episode because all was finally right in the Friends world.

And of course then comes the “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” saga, that would carry us through for many more episodes . . . seasons even!

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Fast forward a few years, they have a daughter and they STILL don’t get together. It takes them so many years to finally get it together that by season 10 they are still figuring it out.

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Then there is Lucas and Peyton from One Tree HIll. They go through a similar on and off again saga for the first 7 1/2 seasons of One Tree Hill. So much that when they finally do get married (at least we get to see that wedding) Lucas has been engaged and said “I Do” to someone else, all while writing a love story to Peyton. They have not been together more than they have been together throughout the seasons. And during their wedding, Haley even starts out with this

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Both of these relationships are so full of drama that not even the characters can figure out if they are going to be together until it is almost too late. And yet we LOVE them we claim them as #couplegoals we all go around trying to find the Ross to our Rachel.

Why is that?

Why do we crave drama, does that equal passion in our mind? The fact that they can never make up their minds or stay together for more than a season really makes us think they are made to be together? How in the world do we think they are going to have a healthy marriage when they have been running at the first sign of trouble for the last 10 years?

I believe this just sets us up for failure. We are so busy waiting for that “passion” that when we find our Monica and Chandler, or our Nathan and Haley we think it is boring and move on looking to fill that dramatic void TV has set us up to believe should be the leading characters in our lives.

Well, today is my 2nd wedding anniversary, and let me tell you that there was none of the Ross and Rachel drama involved in our courtship. Once we decided we wanted to be together, we were together. And then we worked our asses off to make sure that we stayed together, there were no breaks, no scandals no drama. Not to say we didn’t have our fair share of fights because let’s just get real EVERYONE FIGHTS. But fighting doesn’t equal passion and drama doesn’t equal love and we worked to stay together and happy through the fights and walked ourselves right through dating, engagement, and marriage just fine.

I took one of those stupid online quizzes the other day “What TV couple are you and your SO?” and guess what it came back as ROSS AND RACHEL! I sat there all. . . okay, I will give you the “He’s her lobster” version of Ross and Rachel, but don’t give me any of that “WE WERE ON A BREAK! ” Ross and Rachel. I want to be Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together

I want to be  Monica and Chandler, or Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together, to grow up together. To fight, hate each other at times but always fight for the love you want.

To make a choice and stick with it! Because in the end that is what love is, it is a choice every day to fight to push the other people to be their best self to be your best self for them.  To live your best life together!

 To live your best life together!

So why doesn’t TV show us those leading couples, why is there always the DRAMA, because then we are left looking for what we think passion is. But when it comes down to time to fight for what we want., to make a choice and stick with it. When we are forced to examine life together, we turn to, let’s take a break. Instead of let’s work this out. We think that if it is meant to be after 10 season and endless other relationships and marriages (If you are Ross) you will find your way back to each other. But that is not what love is, love isn’t finding your way back together, love is choosing to stay together. To fight for each other every day!

“I don’t believe in soulmates, and I don’t think that you & I were destined to end up together. What I do believe is that we fell in love & that we work hard for our relationship.”- Monica Geller

So forget Ross and Rachel and Lucas and Peyton. I want to make my choice, the same choice every day.

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Here is a picture of my husband and I celebrating our 2nd anniversary in San Fransisco this weekend. Yep, I got him these cheesy socks because we do traditional anniversary gifts and year two is cotton.

-Rae

 

Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

A little walk down history lane . . let’s look at my marriage.

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9 days ago this happened!! I married the love of my life in a beautiful ceremony with all of the most important people in our life and no one said one word about the little black girl marrying the white man, but that wasn’t always the case. We as a country just won another monumental history battle for the LGBTQ community by legalizing marriage for their community but in the not so far off past we were fighting for my marriage and for some people this is still the first thing that they see when they look at my new husban and me.

Mr. first pointed this thought out to me on our honeymoon, there was another interracial couple at the resort we were staying at and he pointed them out to me, he stated that ever since we started dating more than 2 years ago he notices these couples more and feels some sort of camaraderie with them, a little head nod in the direction of the guy, a bromance over the love they found with women of different races.

We have been lucky enough to go through our relationship without any real push back or fights over these fact. HIs grandfather when we first started dating famously asked his dad if ” I was just really tan.” And then was equally confused when he met my white mother. But there was no maliciousness to this request just wanting to get his facts straight.

And when a white man walked me down the aisle and gave me away there were murmurs of confusion, questions if I was adopted and where this man came from, but that was it at the end of the day we have had a very easy relationship in this field, and I am grateful for that but that doesn’t mean it was always, or even stil is the case in some places in the world and in this country, so lets look at that.

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50 years ago… Hell 20… probably 10… years ago this card could never have been made.

The United States Supreme Court did not legalize interracial marriage until 1967… 1967 my mother was 7 years old and probably already having first grade crushes on the little black boys in her class but that sort of relationship was illegal.

In 1958 the Loving’s broke this law and wed anyway and were faced with several days of jail time and persecution for falling in love.

When I was given this card for our wedding i was overjoyed I had never seen a card like this, and then I got to thinking why haven’t I?

I can remember a few years ago that my friends went from target to target looking for the glimpse of the first gay and lesbian wedding cards that were being premiered at Target Stores across the nation it was a mini-victory in a fight that they had not won yet.

And yet here I am 50 years after that supposed battle was won for us and I am surprised and beside myself to find an interracial marriage card?

I think that when we are crying love is love, we have to remember how very true that statement is and always has been, people have been falling in love with people they “aren’t supposed to” for ages and every time they have to make this fight, that love is love no matter what

They had to fight between classes, between families, between bloodlines, between races, between genders, and through all of this they cry love is love. This cry is not political or aggressive it is simply a cry to let us love one another.

The same cry we hear over and over again through Jesus’ preachings,

” Love one another as I have loved you. ” No rules, regulations or stimulations. Let us love and be loved.

My walk down history lane reminded me how close I was in history to not being able to marry the love of my life because of the color of my skin, the last law again interracial marriage was taken off of the books in Alabama in 2000!! 2000 I was 9 years old and definitely had a crush or two on a white boy by then.

How is it that in my life time we are still crying Love is Love and begging people to hear. . . when we look back on history how far back was it when you are your love could not have been married? Separated by oceans, languages, classes, religions, country, family, race, gender, whatever else could be used to separate you… if we look back far enough we all had a time when we would have had to shout love is love. . ..

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❤ Kelsi Rae