family

Unconditional

How does love become unconditional? Or is love always unconditional? If you love with conditions, then is it really love?

For me, I know that I will love my family unconditionally. Despite how much I dislike mother and her … everything, I know that at the end of the day, I will still love her. If I could choose differently, I would, but I can’t. From the moment my niece was born, I loved her. Anybody who is tied to me by blood, I will love. Perhaps that’s based on the values of family that have been instilled in me since birth and as demonstrated by my family.

Then there comes the love that you have to create with others – with your friends, with your significant other. Can those be unconditional? Are they ever unconditional? Will I always love my friends no matter how we change throughout the years? Or do I get to pick and choose which ones to love? If I pick and choose, is it therefore now based on condition? What helps me define which friends I shall love unconditionally?

With a partner – I admit, I’ve said those “I love you”s to a few folks throughout my years. If I had to think about my feelings for the former beaus, I could probably tell you that I loved them once upon a time. But the conditions changed and I no longer could continue loving them.

As I am now older, I know I can change my definition of love. I would like to think that I love my current beau unconditionally. I’d like to think that unless this man were to begin to intentionally hurt me, I would still love him no matter what would transpire.

But how does this happen? Does this happen with time? Is there a marker during which you can finally say, “Yes, I love you unconditionally.” Or do you just wake up one day and realize that this is it? “That no matter what may happen, whether we are together or apart, I will always love you.”

This is also not to say that an unconditional love is always peachy. But it’s to imply that when big, rocky things happen, the love motivates for change, reconciliation, forgiveness, etc. That the love encourages us to stay together instead of apart. That when you love unconditionally, that you accept all – warts, farts, snores, bad habits, etc included.

So… how do you know? If there are deal breakers – do those count as conditions? Or are they just conditions for the relationship and not conditions for the love?

Just some thoughts on which to ponder…

Home

I got to talking with an acquaintance a few days ago. He regaled us with stories about his life and travels. He started in the UK, but moved to Japan for work when his son was still really young. Now, his work has taken him to the States and his family will be joining him. He had intended to return to the UK, but I suppose he’s realizing now it may not happen as quickly or at all.

Yesterday, I took a drive out to the college town. While I did not revisit many places, or any places of true significance, it felt really comforting to return to a familiar (shopping) area. I began to think about how I felt during the years I spent in college and how much has changed since I left and also, how my definition of “home” has evolved.

When I was a child, I had only known one home and it belonged in the apartment complex. Very abruptly, I had to start new, start in an unfamiliar area, with unfamiliar people and communities. I constantly yearned to return to my previous home, my friends, my neighborhood, the surroundings I knew, but I couldn’t. I was stuck for four years and during my teenage years of angst, hormones, and overly dramatic emotions, I never felt like it was home. I felt as if something had always been missing and couldn’t be fulfilled.

College had eventually become my new home. I felt comfortable. I felt safe. I felt as if I had everything I had needed and felt fulfilled. As I graduated and moved back into the previous house (aka parents’ house), I felt like I was going backwards. It didn’t feel like home again. I had to watch my actions and what I wanted to do. I couldn’t be me; I couldn’t do things as freely as I would have wished.

As I begin my transition to leave the “nest,” I begin to think about where my new “home” should be. To which area do I want to move? What do I call and what will I define as home? Will it be defined by geographical locations? The surrounding community? The proximity of the people I hold near and dear to my heart? Or will it be the sense of parental freedom? The ability to be free of housemates and be myself without judgment or fear?

What is a home?

Money

My current stream of consciousness is kind of all over the place, but bear with me.

I am not a woman of money. I don’t know what it will look like if and when I finish school this coming May, but I don’t expect a lot of money. I actually am not sure what to expect, but I am hoping that it will be something decent, something worthwhile. I know I didn’t go into this profession thinking I’d be raking it in, but I am hoping that it will be sufficient, enough to keep me happy and sane and just enough to get me out of this house. The hard part is that I like nice things and nice food and often times, these things and foods come with a higher price than I should probably indulge in. But that’s okay. Sometimes that’s what rainy days are for, that’s what saving is for. But at the end of the day, these nicer things and nicer foods aren’t the things that make me happy.

My parents did a lot of things for me as a kid. They shielded and sheltered me. While some can argue that wasn’t great, but at the same time, they gave me something that I don’t think I could have gotten otherwise: a childhood filled with friends and memories. I never felt poor or low-income. I felt happy. While I didn’t think we were rich or raking in the dough, I knew that we were okay. I knew that I had friends and a family and despite how much I hated some of their authority and decisions for me, I loved them anyway. They taught me that at the end of the day, a few pennies are just a few pennies, but a family can’t be replaced. They taught me that money will come and go, but it’s not important to have the “finer” things in life because I already have them. My parents, or more specifically, my father, didn’t want me to worry about the things that didn’t matter like money so I could go live life and be a kid. My father made it possible for me to not depend on money, to see it as a necessity to live.

Yes, maybe I wasn’t able to fully learn the value of money in that way, I learned something better. I don’t need a lot to make me happy, but the little things. While I may be slightly unhappy now with a mother who is nuts, but set that aside, I am happy. Sure, I like fancy foods, fancy things, but I can live without those. Give me a decent living space and people in my life who matter and I will be happy.

I don’t need much and that’s okay. It’s what the East Side taught me and even though it becomes a smaller and smaller part of my existence, it will remain a big part of me.

Sadness

I am currently feeling a profound sense of sadness. I don’t know exactly why – it might be a culmination of everything within the week.

School – I hate research. I hate it with a passion. Well, more importantly, I hate writing the paper that goes with the research.

Work – Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – I just want more time without compromising my time! Or… somehow be more efficient with the time I do have. Somehow. Paperwork! Eek!

Partner – I hate that he’s been gone for the week. I barely get to talk to him, converse, chat. I’d feel guilty otherwise since he’s off having fun. I noticed this last time too when he went away to China. I felt like something was not right in my day and that was a lot less communication.

Life – It’s so busy. Granted, I made it this way, but I wish I had a patio where I could just sit, watch people, and drink wine. Maybe pet my cats once in a while.

Daddy – While I was folding laundry, I came across a letter written over a decade ago. I won’t go into its details, but essentially, my dad had expected to retire at 55 (he’s 60+) and he was unhappy with mother at that time. I’ve been thinking about him for the last couple of days – is he happy? Is my daddy happy? Is the man who provided so much for his family finally able to feel a sense of joy? Peace? Free of worry? Is he working out of necessity? Is he happy with work? Would he be happier in retirement? How can I help him get there when I am not financially independent yet? In a nutshell, how can I finally support him when he’s done so much for me?

The strangest thing is that what set it off was that I broke a french press that I had just bought off craigslist. I was really excited to finally try and taste the awesomeness that is coffee in a french press, but I broke it and will have to wait until I go to IKEA to buy one. These are all little things, but maybe when put together in the same space, they mean something.