Relationship Goals

March 11, 2019

My college boyfriend and I were at a point in our relationship where we were looking for a deeper commitment but weren’t quite ready for the baggage of I love you. So we decided to get a pet. Now due to our apartment size and restrictions, cats and dogs were off the table. Hamsters and rabbits seemed too cliche and high maintenance, so we settled for a snake instead. A cute, tiny corn snake that we named Zeus. We loved Zeus, don’t get me wrong, but as far as pets go, snakes just aren’t that exciting. So we decided to try again with our pet adoption. 

We were limited on funds, so we found ourselves deep in the free section of Craigslist, hoping that some animal out there would be in need of a home, when we saw an ad that read, ‘Come get tonight or we are making turtle soup’. We looked at each other and knew that we couldn’t let these not one but two turtles go out like that. We quickly packed a snack bag for the car and made our way steadfast to Carrolton, KY, a place I’d heard tell of and assumed was maybe 15-20 mins down I-65; turns out it was longer than the whole CD. 

As we draw nearer, you would have thought we were pulling into a trailer park somewhere in the foothills of the Appalachian mtns, given the copious amounts of children and junk strewn about. I thought their house was made of junk, to be honest, towers of tires at all four corners, a car door from every make and model of every car ever created, stacked surprisingly neatly on either side of the sidewalk leading up to the front door, it was exactly the type of veranda one would expect for this type of place. And what do they plan to do with all these barrels? 

I stepped out of the car into a sea of kids with dirt-powdered Kool-Aid stains around their mouths, most without shoes, many lacked shirts, and some weren’t wearing any pants. One of those little terds shot me with a Nerf gun, which was exactly the time the mom came rumbling out the front door. She was larger than life in every way in literally every way, “Jr, what did I tell you about shooting strangers with Nerf guns?” Jr then shoots her. My boyfriend and I look at each other in terror. What have we gotten into?

One of her older children begins to make his way over to his mother; looks to be in high school, missing several teeth, and dressed in Sunday’s best yellow sweat-stained wife beater; every few steps, he stops to spit his chaw, which explains the missing teeth at such a young age. I have the vibe that the turtles belong to him. That’s when she introduces him as her husband. Oh lord. He motions for us to follow him in the house, finally to rescue the turtles and be gone with this place. 

He opens the front door, and the smell hit me instantly, diapers, last night’s dinner from 2 months ago, ugh, and they definitely have 45 million cats in there, some of the smells coming out at me on this hot, hot, Ohio river valley day, were unidentifiable but maybe taxidermy is one of their side gigs. We cross the threshold, and I was right about the cats. They also have equally as many dogs; maybe their side gig is the neighborhood junk yard; I look around and notice bags on bags on bags of unmentionables stacked everywhere. Hoarders is probably an understatement. The kids, which there are more of inside, have made an intricate tunnel system throughout the house with the bags of junk and trash. 

Now my sweet bf can talk to anybody, and after a few minutes of unbearable small talk, they got on the topic of Zeus, who I know is anxiously awaiting our return with his brothers. The man walks out of the room and returns with a boa constrictor on his arm. He then tells us that they had an 8’ python, as he begins to look around, but he got out a while back. Right then, a baby crawls into the elaborate tunnel system of junk. We have got to get out here. These people are insane; who lets their kids run loose with a snake that could eat them. We get to the room where the turtle is kept, their house, a small mixing bowl filled with water, and a popsicle stick bridge on the top. We grabbed the turtles, I don’t remember much of the ride home, only holding that mixing bowl tight and reassuring our new friends that we would love them forever. 

Anyway, flash forward to today. When I leave here, I’ll be heading to my house in Hikes Point, to my no longer bf but husband. Not much has changed, although we have learned a few things, like barrels are a great tool for catching rainwater or building your own compost bin… And we plan to get to those things one day. (wink) And they aren’t tunnels made of junk; they are forts made with love, of course. We have our own sea of kids, it would seem, as we’d just found out we were having our 4th. AHHHHH.

As for the turtles, happy as ever in a massive 5×5 terrarium at my husband’s office, there to greet each client as they walk in. And Zeus, he’s 5’ long now, and he got out 6 months ago, and we haven’t seen him since. 

Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Talk soon.