The Big Move Part III: Resignation

Part I and Part II if you’re interested.

Cat wrangling, much like ballet, is simultaneously an art and a sport. It leaves you breathless as well as creatively drained. On the morning we were to finally leave, the Thursday after Valentine’s Day and a day behind schedule, our furry children had to be put in cat carriers to be transported for the long drive. This is that story.

We rose on moving day at about 4am. There was, of course, more work to do because moving is interminable. In fact, I believe a shadow of myself still haunts my old house, forever carrying boxes from one room to another, lingering in doorways and sighing mournfully over dust. We loaded the bed, frame, and headboard into the truck, Husband packed away what little food we had left, and I did a final sweep for things we may have missed. I attempted to ignore the fact that this was likely the last time I would ever be in that house. You see, I loved that house. I knew it was to be our home based on pictures alone. I frequently hugged the house, I loved it so much. So I focused on just getting the work done, powering through, but then I broke the seal.

Let me take you on a little side journey, Dear Reader. Husband and I used to have two cars, one of which was a Dodge Stratus. It was a little, navy, two-door, rusted, low-riding piece of shit that we acquired after my Chevy Tracker was totaled (notice the very purposeful passive voice here) back in 2010. I resented the Stratus for two reasons: it replaced the car that had been the love of my life up until then, and it was so goddamned low to the ground that me and my broken pelvis could barely get in and out of it. Also, I had zero say in picking it out which was pretty fucking annoying, but that was eight years ago, so maybe I should get the fuck over that.

Anyway, that car took Husband, when he was still just Boyfriend, Bart and Di, and me all the way from Ohio to Florida with all our belongings crammed into it. Despite the ire I held for it, I came to love that car so much that when we donated it because it wasn’t even worth selling in 2016, I cried big, fat tears on multiple occasions. You might be noticing a pattern here, but I actually felt bad for the car. Guilty for abandoning it. Why do I tell you about that car? Because I hung from the rear-view mirror a little sachet for good luck and safe travels (side note: I’m a witch, don’t worry about it), and when we got rid of the car, I removed the sachet with those big, fat tears pouring down my face, and instead hung it around the house’s door handle for the same purpose: to protect us whenever we crossed the threshold.

So as you can imagine, removing the sachet from the handle not only made me sad to leave the house, but brought up all the sad memories of abandoning the car. And now I was abandoning the house. The sink had been right for breaking all along. Blubbering notwithstanding, I tried to just hold it in and move on. I asked Husband to get my wooden turtle wind chime down from the front entryway, but my voice cracked with the question, and all I could do was point and sob. So this wasn’t a great set up for what we has to do next which was the aforementioned cat wrangling.

Rutherford, the baby, was first. I threw a toy into the car carrier and he bounded in after it. The mistake here was choosing a jingly ball as that toy that I would then have to listen to for the next eight hours. Next, we got Bart. Bart is an old soul, and I’m pretty convinced he understands human speak in the way that dogs do: he doesn’t know what you’re saying, but he knows you’re trying to convey something, and he desperately wants to make you happy. I asked him to get in the carrier and though he hesitated, when we made eye contact, and I said “Please?” he could read the exhaustion and brokenness in my soul, and instead of using it against me like his brother would, he relented and climbed inside and laid down because he is forever the goodest boy.

Then came Di. Unlike Rutherford who is evil but stupid, I’m pretty sure Di means well, but unlike Bart who wants to please you, Di is significantly more interested in his own security. Throughout the moving process Rutherford wanted to play and Bart just wanted attention, but Di, the smartest of the bunch, knew the horrors that were to come, and immediately holed himself up under the kitchen sink. After 48 hours of packing, moving, loading, bruising, worrying, complaining, barely eating, and crying, it’s hard to have patience with a dumb beast who doesn’t know what’s best for it. Like, seriously, bud, who’s going to feed you if you stay here alone? Who’s going to snuggle you? Who’s going to give you chicken? The ghost of me will be too busy feeling sorry for herself to do any of those things.

Husband tried first since Di loves him the most. He gently called to him, spoke in a quiet “it’s okay” voice, but to no avail. He looked at me and simply said, “I can’t do it.”

But I had this, mostly because I’m the one small enough to fit under the counter. I slid him out, all 19 of his nails (one is missing, that’s its own story) scraping across the wood, and put my body between him and where he had been. The carrier was waiting for him, and he howled “nooooo” in that horrifying way that only cats do. Once he was in the carrier, after a lot of heaving and reorganizing of limbs, my black leggings were white, and I was picking fur out of my teeth the next day, but I’d be damned if we were going to leave one of these fuckos behind.

I decided to have Di ride beside me in the car since Husband was driving the UHaul, and Bart and Rutherford filled up the backseat. This turned out to be the best decision possible for two reasons: Di does a lot better when he can see you, and when Di inevitably shits himself in the first hour of any car ride, you can easily access the cage to clean it up. Because that’s exactly what he does, Dear Reader. He gets car sick, but from the other end.

So I drove about eight hours in the car with naught but meows and Billy Joel to keep me company. The cats were surprisingly well behaved, especially Bart who answered when I called to him to see if he was still alive, but otherwise just chilled. Rutherford had one attack of the crazies, but when he discovered he couldn’t rip open the cage to run circles around the interior of the car, he gave up, and Di cried on and off while looking balefully up at me to let me know he was blaming this discomfort on me forever which, honestly, that’s nothing new.

And, Dear Reader, we made it. We’re all in our new apartment and we’re all alive. The cats are still very uncomfortable, but most of our things are unpacked and save for a package containing a Costco-sized soy sauce and maple syrup busting in the back of the UHaul (a placement Husband now admits was a terrible idea, obviously brought on by the mania of moving), we made it mostly intact. Here’s to a happy future and great things! Oh, and regularly scheduled blogging.

 

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The Big Move Part II: Betrayal

Have you, Dear Reader, ever felt betrayed by an inanimate object?

I often attribute human characteristics to objects. I mentioned how Mari Kondo does this in Letting Go, and I said it’s probably a little nuts to other people, but on some level I think most of us do this. I apologize to or become infuriated with things when I bump into them, dependent on my mood, and that’s probably not that rare. But when an object broke on me while we were moving, I felt betrayal in the very core of my being.

On day two, the “extra” day that I had so optimistically considered a gift from The Universe, things were going well enough. It was Valentine’s Day, I had expected to be driving all day and instead I was boxing things up, but I still felt ahead of the game. My cheeriness only increased with every snag or problem. It would be fine, I insisted, everything was fiiiiine. Getting upset would serve no purpose, so I plastered on some faux confidence, and pushed through.

We were nearing the end of loading, and the sun was setting. We tried to clean out rooms as we went, and I was actually starting to feel genuinely good. I’d faked it til I made it, you could say. As I cleaned our master bathroom after everything had been moved out, I found the sink stopper underneath the counter. I set it on the counter, finished scrubbing down the mirrors, the sink, the faucet, and with a giant smile, popped the stopper into the sink, the pièce de résistance on my beautiful bathroom. The stopper slid all the way down into the hole, sealing it, so I shrugged and pushed on the back of the faucet to pop it back up. Dear Reader, it did not come up.

Then it hit me: the reason we were storing it under the sink to begin with: the stopper mechanism in the pipe was broken. I tried frantically to remove it. It would come out, of course, if I could slide my nails under it. Or perhaps with a pair of tweezers? Or a screwdriver? But in all my prying and pulling and profanity, I’d only managed to lodge it deeper into the drain, rendering the sink in the house I was about to drive away from and hope someone would soon buy so we didn’t have to have carry a mortgage and rent at the same time, absolutely useless. In a last ditch effort to get the stopper out, I slammed the screwdriver into its side, and popped the domed top off the actual stopper, leaving the rest of it just below the sink’s edge, proving that I could, in fact, actually make a hopeless situation even worse.

And so, Dear Reader, I proceeded to have a mental breakdown. Every ounce of frustration and rage I had compressed into my bowels and tried to band-aid over with fraudulent joviality came erupting out of me like a swarm of Africanized honey bees. I threw down the screwdriver, somehow not chipping the tile or shattering the porcelain, and screamed at the sink, “HOW FUCKING DARE YOU?!”

The insinuation/question was completely organic; it was exactly what needed to be said. I felt, in that moment, that somehow the sink, the stopper, the entire goddamned house, had conspired against me so that I would not be able to leave it–and that’s completely insane–but it’s where my brain went.

From there, it was a snowball of epic proportions. We skipped having any kind of dinner, and continued to pack and clean while going back and forth on how to resolve the Sink Horror 2018. We made a trip to Home Depot for some possible tools which I quickly learned upon return to the house that they didn’t and couldn’t work and now I just had MORE SHIT to pack. I stifled tears even as I scrubbed the kitchen into gloriousness. I could tell it looked good, beautiful in fact, but I felt defeated.

The rock inside the snowball manifested when I was emptying out the last remnants of the garage and found a box of paperwork that I had been meaning to shred. I’d had this box for literal years, carried over in our last move from one house to another, I’d seen the fucking thing every damn day while maneuvering around it to get in the car for work. I’d said to myself every time I saw it that I should just load it up and take it to Staples, a literal half mile from my work, and have it shredded, but did I do it? No. Instead I pretended it was an inevitable but minor obstacle to always be in my life, and now there it was being exactly that, and there I was, paying the penance for my past laziness kneeling on the unswept garage floor. I tried to reorganize the papers because the box had been moved and gotten wet at some point, so it was falling apart, and as I repacked this box of paperwork from decades earlier (literally, it had documents from the 90s in it) I devolved into full on weeping. Another goddamned thing had to go into the truck that everything else barely fit into already, and I had to pack it, tape it, and we had to take it with us, I cried, and I couldn’t fucking believe it.

But, Dear Reader, all was not lost, because I have Husband. The yang to my yin, the cheese to my macaroni, the sane to my cray-cray. He got a neighbor to fix the sink, expertly navigated cleaning and boxing what I skipped, and when he found me crying in the garage, he made everything better.

We ended the night by eating the remnants of a few different meals in bed (the bed was to be packed last the following morning) and passing out. I fell asleep without the optimism of the prior night, but without dread either, just a yearning for everything to be over. It almost was.

The Big Move Part I: Optimism

If there is only one universal truth to life, it is surely this: You are never really prepared to move.

You can have a plan laid out, you can do as much ahead of time as possible, you can watch all the tips and tricks videos that exist, but you will never truly be prepared for the physical, mental, and emotional shitfest you are about to embark upon when you decide to uproot your entire life and trek it across the country.

That isn’t to say it’s all bad, but let’s be honest: you are not here for the warm fuzzies.

So Husband got an awesome new job in a new city in a new state. We’d lived in and around Tampa, Florida for almost seven years, the majority of our relationship, but in four different homes: two apartments and two houses. Including our time in Ohio, we’ve moved together a total of five times with increasingly more things. We accumulated plenty of stuff, and I did my best to purge it (see: Letting Go), but it’s never enough. You know those weirdos who can fit their whole lives into a single duffel bag? They have life figured out. The couple weeks leading up to the move, we threw away and boxed up so much shit. We made four trips to Goodwill with our Jeep Renegade FULL of things to donate, we filled our giant trash bins to the brim at least four times, and I pawned off and recycled what I could, so when I looked through the house the night before we got the moving truck, I was incredibly self assured. I mean, I was fucking pumped. No part of me dreaded the upcoming process, I was all smiles and checklists and positive affirmations.

And then we started.

The plan was to pick up the truck Tuesday morning (I had worked on Monday, mind you, my last day, and had been slowly packing the week prior), and we would take a load of large items to the dump, return home, load the truck, clean the house, sleep for a few hours, then get up at about 4:00am on Wednesday and go. That didn’t happen.

I did my best to stay peppy and upbeat, and even if everything had gone perfectly, the physical act of moving is exhausting. We did get the truck on Tuesday morning, and we did take large items, including our couch, love seat, and recliner, to the dump (I tried very hard to give these things away, but no one wants baby-barf brown, cat-shredded furniture nowadays: beggars really can be choosers, Val). On the way back from the landfill where, I have to say, I had a great time throwing a metal filing cabinet on top of a mirror and absolutely shattering it, I looked at the clock and chirped that we were making great time, it was almost noon, and we could go grab some of Husband’s favorite Thai place for lunch. Little did I know, he had already turned pessimistic (see: realistic), questioning if we had time to stop for lunch or even if we’d get done that day. Of course! I declared through a pearly white smile, we’d be done in no time! All we had to do was fill up the truck and sweep up the floors. THAT’S IT.

That was incorrect. As we Tetris’d our belongings into the moving truck, it became apparent there was much more to do. I uncovered what felt like whole rooms of things that still needed to be boxed up, including almost all of our breakables. I held off on buying packing supplies specifically for dishes and stemware for gods know what reason, and I ended up stuck using napkins and extra blankets to buoy the most fragile things we owned. (Spoiler alert: NOTHING FRAGILE ENDED UP BREAKING SO YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF, UHAUL, WITH YOUR $20 DISH KIT!)

When evening came I was beginning to crack ever so slightly. I could feel a hot rage boiling beneath the surface, pricking at my skin, begging to be released, the sight of cardboard boxes and tufts of cat hair long hidden under furniture inciting a primordial ire in want of release. But Husband quelled it without even knowing it: “I have a proposition,” he said.

We just don’t move and stay here, jobless and miserable until we die and the cats devour our corpses sans remorse? I asked, but only in my head.

“Why don’t we just leave on Thursday instead?”

“I love you.”

It was the perfect Valentine’s Day present, and it didn’t even feel like defeat, just like an admission that our goals were too lofty. And too-lofty goals aren’t the worst thing. It felt much like being ahead of the game, like “O, wow, I have just been handed an extra day to do with whatever I want!” And I went to bed that night very happy, lulling myself into another false sense of security. I did not learn, Dear Reader, and that was my first mistake.

An Excerpt

Since I’ll very soon be able to focus on writing and editing a trilogy of fantasy quest stories I’ve been working on over the last *muffled number* years, I thought I’d share a little excerpt from the first book. The series is as yet unnamed which is probably a mistake on my part, but it is what it is.

Jayn’s first memory was of a bucket of dirty water going clean. She held blurry glimpses of a time before, a smiling woman in violet robes, a moonlit field of white flowers, but her first real memory was of a bucket she wished she didn’t have to drag outside, dump, and refill, and then–somehow–she indeed did not.

Jayn had detested trips to the well and back, but the purified water that ran indoors was for drinking, cooking, and occasionally bathing only. Mistress insisted. Her small stature, young age, and sheer boredom made the task tripley difficult. The wispy girl found, however, by concentrating very hard, she could make use of the first bucket she carried in from the local well all day. It was something she couldn’t explain, but after watching Master do all sorts of tasks with what seemed like only his mind, she never felt the need to explain it to anybody. A lucky thing, that was.

A much older Jayn, who now found herself traveling away from the place that bucket resided with no hope of returning, knew that what she had done was manipulate aether, the invisible force within all things, and, though it was no secret that this magic existed, she had developed a different kind of need to keep her ability hidden. As she pressed herself into the cushioned seat of the carriage and peered through a slight break in the curtains, she saw that dirtied bucket of water all over—the color of the ground, the sky, the murkiness beyond the horizon–but this she had no chance of making clean.

The skyline bumped along as she traveled farther away from Mulrennan, and she could almost feel the town breaking away from her as she went, every jar in the road ripping it off a bit more. It stuck to her like sap and though it was not particularly well-loved, it was all she had known, and that, she thought, was far better than the unknown.

There had been another girl, an indentured housegirl like Jayn, who had shown to have similar abilities, and much to the dismay of her masters, the garrison had taken her. The girl had been excited to go, but to Jayn the circumstances felt ominous. While magic wasn’t a secret, it was highly guarded. The family to which Jayn was beholden was one of the few who openly practiced, but they operated their shop with an edict from the royal court that Master would serve on the village’s council, providing his services when needed. And though Jayn had seen her do little things beyond explanation, Mistress swore to the gods she had never manipulated aether, and as far as anybody else was concerned, she was common: the magic was passed down through Master to his sons. Mistress was many things, and chiefly among them smart, so Jayn mimicked that she too was common for as long as she could, and so she was doubly annoyed that her skill with aether wasn’t at all what had gotten her into her current predicament.

The carriage had taken her passed the farthest farms supplying the village, travelling down into a grey fog, distorting what lay beyond. Fog was rare in Mulrennan and considered foreboding. Though Jayn found the superstition silly as there hadn’t been anything more fearsome than the odd wolf sighted in Mulrennan in longer than anyone could remember largely thanks to the temple of Seele a few days’ ride north, she suddenly felt perhaps there was more to the tales of fog delivering demons and monsters than she had once believed. Yes, travelers came to the village and spoke of shapeshifters, lycans, and even the odd draugr, but her home had always been safe. Safe from the monsters beyond the village, at least.

But there had been an air of change in town, specifically since Baron Allaire had died and his son had taken hold of Mulrennan and the neighboring villages. He’d recently returned from the capital, Helmsrian, and had gone, what some called, “a bit off.” Jayn had heard them, the ladies gossiping, while she picked up fruit and bread at market. When she dallied with the other housegirls along the river before heading home, she heard them more crassly proclaim that the new Lord Allaire had gone absolutely mad.

He’d taken to restoring a fallen manor in the heart of the moors that had last been home to Allaires so long dead that no one living had known their children’s children. While his father frequently made visits to the other villages and lived in the largest of homes in the heart of Mulrennan, his son only came into town every moon or so, and when he left, a letter would arrive at the home of one or two of the housegirls in town requesting the permanent services of the girl. Of course, to call it a request was a stretch, but Allaire was at least generous enough to send a purse of gold in exchange.

The ladies being served lunch at the tearoom in the town square spoke in hushed whispers that the lord’s newly begotten hobby of training and marrying off the common girls to his friends from Helmsrian, which of course was what he was doing since he needed replacements so often, was almost charming if it weren’t so improper. The girls working in the seamstress shop argued that his abduction of their cohorts, never to be seen or heard from again would be suspicious if they didn’t agree that they too would abandon this life if someone swept them away to Helmsrian to be some wealthy merchant or lord’s wife. Now, as Jayn sat within the carriage she’d only previously seen amble through town with the shadowy form of someone she once knew inside, she was fairly certain everyone was wrong.

Letting Go

Saying goodbye to Tampa, to work, to my friends, these things will be hard. But saying goodbye to my stuff? Dear Reader, there is little else in the world I love as much as throwing shit away.

Hands down, the best part of moving is the opportunity one gets to purge. I don’t even think Husband and I acquire that much stuff in general, and yet there is always something that can just get the fuck out of my house. I have been donating stuff left and right–clothes, books, small kitchen appliances–and I keep finding more!

The last time we moved, from three bedrooms to two no less, I didn’t get this exact opportunity, so I am going hog wild (except kinda the opposite of a hog). I am sort of utilizing Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, but to be honest I haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve just read articles and watched some YouTubers try it. Sidenote: If you ever need to clean, but you don’t want to, watch a YouTuber organize something. Motivation will come swiftly. (Brittany is my favorite.)

My favorite part of what I understand of the KonMari method, and probably the most popular part, is the concept that the things you keep should “spark joy.” You hold everything in your hands and you assess the feelings that thing stirs in you. If you truly feel joy, you keep that thing. If not, bye bitch!

Too often we keep things because we think we should, but we don’t utilize them properly or at all, and they end up causing us anxiety and taking up space that could be better filled by something we love or maybe nothing at all–empty space itself deserves more credit, I think. Imagine looking into your closet and thinking “I love everything in here!” That’s #fuckinggoals or whatever the kids say.

In order to do this, though, you have to be able to say goodbye to things. And in the case of KonMari, that might literally mean saying “goodbye.” Kondo suggests speaking directly to items and thanking them for their service to you in order to let go. Does this seem crazy? Yes. Does it work? YES. I guess Kondo considers stuff to be alive? I would be lying is I said I didn’t feel bad when I knock down a teddy bear, but that’s because it has a face. And yet, when I think about my stuff, especially the stuff I really treasure, I guess I kind of do assign human characteristics to it. Those things that have impacted my life carry their own stories and trigger specific emotions, and really isn’t that all any of us do anyway? We’re just walking, talking stories, after all.

There are a number of things I’ve read about being in the book that I am sure I disagree with (I will wear baggy sweats to bed or out on the town, I do not give two shits, and she can’t convince me I need to wear something “elegant” to bed because I know I’m going to sweat overnight and be a “hotmess” in the morning either way), but I do think Kondo’s heart is in the right place. She wants you to value your things so you can value yourself. Sometimes it’s really tough to love yourself, so you have to start somewhere else, somewhere easier. And it’s really easy to love a shirt.

I’m decluttering to make moving easier, of course, but ultimately I want to shift out all the bullshit in my house because I want to cultivate an environment in which I can thrive. I want to be creative, but I can’t do that around clutter. Messiness makes me anxious, and having access to the things I need lets me jump headfirst into tasks. Kondo promises right in the title that tidying up will change your life. Our big move, surely, will be life-changing, but clearing out all the nonsense will be a nice boost too.

Vacancy – 1.09 – Please Don’t Worry

 Vacancy is an ongoing web serial. Find out more about it and start reading here.

You can also listen to this episode here.

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Lorelei pushed the curtains away as she curled herself up on the window seat. Outside, an open field was glowing back in golden oranges under the morning sun despite how late she knew it really was. Her heart raced at the familiar sight, momentarily forgetting she was far from that place, but dropping the curtain back between her and the scene didn’t immediately put it out of her mind. With a sigh, she took up her phone from the nightstand and opened the messages. As she scrolled through their words, her heart balled itself up, threw itself against her chest repeatedly, then finally settled, utterly deflated.

She scrolled to ‘Mom’ and typed out a message to her, I’m fine, please don’t worry. I won’t be coming back soon. Love you.

Once the message had been sent, she accessed her bank account and sent a large transfer, pouted a second over her near-empty account, then quickly powered the phone off and tossed it onto the bed. Even if things went horribly wrong tonight, she would stick to her word: she wasn’t going back.

After the chandelier had fallen that morning, there were more strange occurrences all over the grounds–strange even for Moonlit Shores Manor, Ziah had remarked with a faraway look in her eyes. A stove blew up in the kitchen with the dinner’s roasts inside, a plant that wasn’t known to eat people tried to munch on the toddler of a guest, and four separate tubs overflowed with a bright blue goop at the same time. A valiant effort by the fairies quickly cleaned up the messes, and guests were expertly shuffled around by Ziah, and Lorelei noticed that there was always an extra room ready, so she was struggling with the idea that the manor was rebelling against her human presence, but Grier continued to mumble about curses when Lorelei was in earshot. She had tried to hole herself up in the office and continue to tidy it, but by the end of the day, she was worried the whole place might come down around them.

Ziah declared she would put an end to the whole thing after the dessert cart broke a wheel and toppled onto a family of satyrs. She made a rushed phone call then informed the staff there would be an emergency meeting downstairs at 2:30am before heading off to bed herself.

Lorelei had found sleep impossible, fearing they both would and would not find the source of the manor’s troubles that night. She slid off the window seat, about a half an hour before their meeting time, and tiptoed to the door, sneaking down the hall to the common room. A low fire was crackling in the hearth, and she went for the couch, but found Hotaru there instead.

The girl was hunched over a small bowl in her lap, the straight bob of black hair falling like a curtain on either side of her face. From the bowl, a funnel of water had risen and was pulsating just at the surface. Hotaru’s eyes were fixated on the funnel, and Lorelei on Hotaru. The girl was surely controlling the water, but that was impossible, wasn’t it? In her stunned silence, Lorelei realized she’d stood there too long to not make the situation awkward, but wasn’t going to let that stop her. “Wow.”

Hotaru snapped her face up, and the funnel fell, splashing into the bowl and subsequently all over the girl.

Lorelei grabbed a stray blanket from another chair and traded the girl the blanket for the bowl, apologizing.

“No, it’s okay,” Hotaru said quietly, frowning, “It’s my fault, I should have been better focused.”

“So you were doing that?” Lorelei screwed up her face, “That was amazing.”

“Really?” Hotaru finished sopping up the water and placed the blanket on the coffee table.

Lorelei nodded, mouth open.

“Ando says my skills are still very juvenile.”

She scrunched up her face, “What the hell does he know?” When the girl laughed, Lorelei offered the bowl back to her her, “I’ve never seen anyone do anything like that before. Will you show me again?”

Hotaru hesitated, then took the bowl, “Are you sure?”

“Yes!”

The girl bit her lip and studied what was left of the water. After a moment, a bubble raised on the surface as if something were pushing it up from underneath. Then it raised higher and higher until it separated itself from the bottom of the bowl all together. The water floated in an orb above the bowl, and Lorelei had the strong urge to poke it, but restrained herself.

Hotaru nodded her head, and the orb bounced in the air up to the ceiling, then slowly came back down, gently placing itself back in the bowl. The water sloshed a moment then settled as if nothing had happened. “What do you think?”

“I–it’s just…wow.”

Hotaru giggled, “I used to not be able to separate it out. I’m pretty proud of that.”

“You should be!” Lorelei fell back onto the couch, “I didn’t know the world could be like this.”

“Like what?” the girl placed the bowl on the coffee table and pulled her knees into her chest.

“Oh,” Lorelei stuttered, “I just didn’t grow up around all this,” she motioned to the room, “It’s weird. It’s all stuff you see on TV or read in books. It’s not supposed to be like this in real life.”

Hotaru sighed a little, “Sometimes I wish it weren’t real life.” She stood up from the couch, “It’s almost time for the meeting.”

 

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The Sportball We

I love language. The trivialities of linguistics, the odd words we use, how simple semantics can change entire meanings, dialects, colloquialisms: it’s all awesome (except, I admit, there are some accents that I hate, but that’s a whole other thing). English is remarkably complex and word-wealthy, borrowing from so many other languages and spreading across the whole globe, that there are practically no rules in English that aren’t at some point broken yet still considered correct, and just when you think “okay, this thing is a rule and there’s only this one exception”–BAM something else hits you in the face!

But I think I’ve come across something wholly unique in the English language, and I am fucking pumped. I have come to affectionately deem it “The Sportball We,” and, Dear Reader, I would love to explain, especially since it’s about to be the Super Bowl.

The Sportball We is something that we all are familiar with, but it hides in plain sight (hearing?), and you’ve probably never given it a second thought. Let me be clear: this is not a rant. I don’t care that people do this; I just find it fucking fascinating. What I am calling The Sportball We is the phenomenon that occurs when a person speaks about a sports team as if they are part of that team despite it being understood by everyone that they are, in fact, not a player of or other peripheral teammate to, that team. Example:

Did you see the Lightning game last night?

Yeah, we really crushed the Canucks!

or

Do you think we’ll make it to the Super Bowl this year?

or

Are you guys getting a new head coach?

Those second two examples are especially interesting since they can be said utilizing The Sportball We as a total replacement for the team name if all the speakers in a conversation know which team the answerer is “part of.”

What is most fascinating about this to me is sports are the only activity or organization that the speaker is not actually a part of yet speaks as if they are. When I tried to find other examples, my mind immediately went to religion and houses of worship. People say “we” when discussing their congregation or religion; however, they actually are part of these things. People are Christians or people belong to and attend a mosque. Sportball We-ers don’t take an active part in the game in the way a Jewish person might actively celebrate Passover, but SBWs do, in some way, take a passive role in sports by being fans.

So I thought, okay, what are other things of which people are fans? Music, of course. But do Beyonce’s fans leave a concert declaring “We totally slayed it on stage!” or ask one another if they’ve seen our new video yet? I don’t think so. Sometimes people refer to a fandom as a whole that they are part of, but that’s the thing: you are part of a fandom as you can take an active role cultivating it, but you’re not part of the band or musician, and music fans have a distinction in their speech that SBWs do not.

The same can be said for people who say “we” about their hometown or their alma mater. Though they might not live there or attend that school anymore, they did at one time, took an active part in living there, and would still be considered a representative of those peoples.

The only thing that seems to come close is when men say “we’re pregnant.” Your buddy Bob at the office is hauling around a fetus and vomiting his guts out as much as he’s tackling Tom Brady on the 30, but at least he actually (probably) had a hand in making it possible for a fetus to eventually exist, and in that way we can kind of parallel conception to being a dedicated sports fan who “helps” their team win. However, there are a lot of people who find the “pregnant we” weird, and almost no one who thinks The Sportball We is bizarre.

In fact, I never thought The Sportball We was weird until I started working in a male-dominated department where sports were discussed in numbers equitable to how children were discussed in my previously female-dominated department, so the language was constantly in my ear. It’s just a part of American culture and language, and that’s kind of cool. There is, of course, a lot that could be said sociologically about patriotism and sports fanaticism, but I’ll leave that to someone else for now. Instead, we can all just marvel at the uniqueness that The Sportball We brings to English.

Also if you think you have another instance of a “we” used in a socially acceptable and understood instance despite the user having no actual, active participation in the activity or organization, leave a comment below, Dear Reader, and I’ll be happy to tell you why you’re wrong.