of puppies and backsplashes

Hi, hey, how are you?

I hope every single one of you, whether you're a longtime loyalist or a leering lurker - whether this popped up in your subscription inbox or you just happened to do a drive by and see I came through - is happy in at least a few ways and living something at least somewhat resembling Your Best Life.

I have news.

That's a conversation I had about an hour ago. In case the contextual clues aren't enough: I'm moving in with the ridiculously hot blonde pictured at the top.

You know me. You know my tendencies towards hyperbole and sentimentality where romance is concerned. So I'll try not to go there. I'll try not to gush and instead point at those texts right there by way of explanation and evidence. Seven months in and that's where we're at: imminent cohabitation.

Not that it matters (other than for the sake of this decade+ narrative I'm still running here), but he brought up the idea first. We are both utterly dog crazy, both desperately wanting a pup back in our lives (his ex took his to another state when they broke up two years ago). And so he very casually started to drop the occasional "what if" into our conversations, usually when we were cuddling and being especially close. "What if we got a little boy pup and named him Holden?" "What if we got a little girl pup and named her Scout?" And I would smile on the outside and smile even bigger on the inside and just enjoy the feeling of a man liking me enough to even consider that scenario.

And the what ifs became more serious in tone until one day he was sending me links to listings of two bedroom apartments and we were getting granular about what neighborhoods would work.

But I should back up.

Hello, hi, how are you? I am Ellie, former lady of leisure who now runs a restaurant and has roughly 1/100th of the free time she used to, when she was your scandalous near-daily-read-of-choice. I very much miss having the time and energy to blog like I used to, but man does it feel good to have structure, purpose, income, self-respect and the respect of others. I get to give people jobs and solve problems all day. I'm really good at it most days. My boss just told me I'm getting a raise. It hasn't even been a year since my promotion.

Professionally, I'm 8/10.

Socially, I'm 6/10. I don't get to see my friends as much as I'd like, but who does? I feel very close to all of them - those who have chosen to stay in my life, that is - and that's enough for me right now.

Physically, I'm 6.5/10. I have a pretty good exercise routine but holy fuck is it a daily fight to eat well when you work in a restaurant with so many tempting options.

Emotionally, I'm 9/10. Despite the fact that my life is mostly work, I generally feel peaceful and grateful. I've made some changes in my lifestyle that have freed up a lot of mental energy and made me more calm. I only spend time with people (both IRL and online) who give me a positive charge, who show me genuine love and care. I avoid Instagram like the fucking plague. (I haven't been on Facebook in years.) I very carefully curate my media intake. I cut out podcasts that overstimulated me or triggered me in any way, including most news. I spend at least some of every night at home with no media going whatsoever - not even music. Just pure quiet. And I'm currently on a Twitter detox, after realizing I had gotten way, way too emotionally invested in the Yang campaign.

Oh, and I'm wildly in love with the first boy who's ever actually said the phrase "I'm in love with you" to me. So let me tell you a little bit about that, with as little hyperbole as I can. (No promises.)

Somewhere around the end of summer, something shifted between us and I realized that my insecurities about him were unfounded and just plain in the way of loving him. Actually, I shouldn't put it that way. It was less a passive realization on my part than a series of active expressions and, well, actions on his part that made me feel that way. He became open and emotionally sharing with me in a way that he hadn't been before. At first this made me almost resentful in an "aha! I knew you were just as human and needing of love as me!" kind of way. But I've come to realize how beautifully organic it was. He was simply taking his time to feel his emotions and not rush in until he was sure. And then he became sure, and because it was on his own time and at his own pace it feels so pure and authentic.

But let me tell you about his birthday. That was a real leveling up between us. Check. This. Shit. Out.

Kenny loves adventures. Even simple ones like picking a recipe and following it. He loves new experiences. Loves learning - loves, even, trying and failing. But he doesn't love planning. He doesn't love logistics.

So I texted him on a Thursday (i take Fridays and Saturdays off) and said, Yo. I'm kidnapping you for your birthday. Overnight. Not telling you what or where, but I'm giving you three choices. Fun Fancy, Fun Adventurous, or Fun Playful. You have to choose one.

And then in my head I planned out three distinct adventures along those themes.

All three, he said.

No, I said. You have to pick one.

He chose Fun Adventure. But it ended up being all three after all. And it was so awesome. And he was so grateful. It couldn't have gone more perfectly or made us more close.

And I will tell you about it when next we meet, but now it's 11pm and I have to get up early so I can go be a human with a job, a boyfriend, and lots to look forward to.

Back soon.