Living’ On a Prayer – amazingly wonderful, incredibly difficult.

I was woken by the sound of a semi truck a few feet from my head. This WalMart parking lot isn’t the quietest place to sleep, but it is one of the safest. And I’ve come to appreciate the silent community that huddles their vehicle homes close together without so much as darting eye contact.

And he was there by my side.

I’m not sure we ever told people how he practically moved in with me within a few weeks of dating. Not like it was planned or anything. Family life was in a rough patch and we couldn’t get enough of each other, so it just sort of happened.

We’ve been facing everything together ever since.

So as I woke up with financial worries racing through my mind, I let him sleep in while I researched jobs for myself. I ended up finding a bunch of leads for him instead, in between finishing up my latest online gig.

As soon as he woke up, he applied for every single one of them while I made us both breakfast sandwiches. He knew it would help set my mind at ease, so he did it right away. Then says, “You spoil me” with a winning smile as I hand him another sandwich.

We spoil each other.

“You gotta hold on to what you got. It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We’ve got each other, and that’s a lot for us.” -Bon Jovi

I invite him out for a walk to counteract my downer mood. On the way to our favorite forest trail, we discuss cutting our losses on the most recent stable housing attempt. We both agree that what we had so much hope for is now no longer an option. We’re crushed, but better to stop throwing money away. The minivan becomes, once again, the only place where existence is okay.

We breathe.

We arrive.

We walk.

And as we walk, we flirt. Our tone softens. Our steps…slow. The therapy of nature begins working its magic. The chirps of the birds, the greenery of the leaves, the shapes of the rocks all form a symphony that soothes our thoughts.

We take pictures. We share memories. We make memories.

In between we talk jobs, gigs, housing, van modifications. The usual. Always reaching for solutions. Always problem-solving–

–then a cute little squirrel darts in front of us. And we stop dead in our tracks to watch as it carries a gigantic mouthful of dead leaves up to its nest in a hole near the top of the tree.

Nature has a talent for lightening the mood.

He gets this certain look on his face when he wants to do something for me. It’s like an impish grin. In this case, it was taking me out to sushi, at a place we’d never been to before. We hadn’t done anything for my birthday, and he had a $20 budget to treat me.

Now, you should understand, my dietary restrictions are so severe that I can count on ONE hand the restaurants I can safely eat at. And most of those limit my menu to fries. So I hid in the car while he went in first to see if they were ready for Pickiest Customer of the Year.

And he says I spoil him?

We got the all clear, and what followed was nothing short of a magical experience. I finally gave chopsticks a go and failed miserably. We discovered new foods we loved, and made faces at the crab and cuttlefish sushi. We took pictures. We laughed. We cuddled. We disgusted everyone with our cuteness and the staff couldn’t get enough of it.

Then his face started to itch.

And I knew.

I knew it was a severe allergic reaction, far more serious than he realized as he drove us from the restaurant. I had no benedryll on hand – I’m actually allergic to it, so I had no reason to keep it around.

By the time we’d found it at the closest store and reach checkout, he’s scratching all over and casually mentions his throat is itchy, too. And getting stiff. His eyelids are swelling. His voice is all but gone.

I pay for the meds as quickly as possible, open them right then and there and tell him to take it now, because we might need to call 911. In hindsight, we should have. Shellfish allergies are no joke. But after a tense 5 minutes his symptoms were no worse, and 10 minutes later they’re clearly abating.

He mentions the gig he was supposed to do tonight and I tell him don’t worry about it. Medical emergency trumps all. Just rest. We’ll figure it out.

He’s now sleeping peacefully next to me as I type, snuggling up close whenever he gets the chance and kissing any body part within reach if I stir. Earlier I made sandwiches again, and he woke up just long enough to eat one and tell me how beautiful and amazing I am in a slurred stupor before collapsing to sleep some more.

It was so freakin’ adorable. I couldn’t resist blanketing him with soft kisses as he drifted off again.

Another semi rolls by, deafening.

Life is incredibly amazing. AND life is unbelievably stressful.

Through it all, we hold each other. We mess with each other. We look out for each other. I helped him find a pillow that didn’t hurt his neck. He took out the trash and emptied sewage for me. It works. WE work.

Now hopefully we can get all the other stuff to work, too. Perhaps tomorrow.

“Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear.” -Bon Jovi

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