Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I recently moved in together. We were spending so many nights at each other's place that we decided it just made sense. We both gave up our studio apartments for a cute little house. It even has a yard, albeit a tiny one, which is great for my golden retriever.
That brings me to the reason I'm writing in: My boyfriend seems to be severely allergic to the dog. I'm stumped. I've had her for years, and in all the time my boyfriend spent at my old apartment, this was never a problem. I used to take her over to his place, too. We've lived at the new house for three months, and he's had a stuffy nose the entire time. His eyes get itchy and watery, too. His symptoms seem to disappear when he goes out. He'll only take antihistamines right before bed because they knock him out.
I love my man, but I also love my dog, and I don't want to give her up. What should I do? — Dog Lover
Dear Dog Lover: Don't be so quick to blame the dog! The culprit could be any number of things. You mentioned that your boyfriend's allergies only started acting up once you moved in to the new place. That tells me it's probably a household allergen that's causing his symptoms — perhaps mold or dust. His doctor can refer him to an allergist for testing.
Whatever the trigger ends up being, you both will most likely need to embrace your inner clean freaks. Vacuuming, dusting, washing linens and wiping down counters will help keep aggravating particles at bay. A great byproduct of this vigilance? A spankin'-clean house.
Dear Annie: I went to college in my hometown and was able to save some money by living at home. I sometimes wish I'd gotten the dorm experience, but mostly I am happy with my decision. It's always nice having Mom and Dad to take care of you. Plus, it helped me stay focused. Never partied too much.
In May, I finished my degree, and almost immediately, I was offered a job across the country. It's exactly the type of thing I want to be doing — graphic designing at an advertising agency and possibly art directing some projects, too. It's a well-known firm, and I like the company's portfolio. One of my professors used to work there and referred me for the position.
It's a great opportunity, to be sure, and I think the job sounds exciting, but it's so far away, and I don't want to leave my friends and family. I can't even imagine a life outside this town. Should I wait to find something local, or should I give up everything I know for a job? — Scared to Leave the Nest
Dear Scared: Let's try a thought experiment. Imagine yourself 10 years from now living in your hometown, having never left it. Are you happy? Comfortable? Restless? Feeling as if your career has already reached a plateau? Wondering what you missed out on?
For me, it would have been a little of all the above. I love my family, but if I had stayed in my hometown because it was safe, there would always have been a little voice in the back of my head asking, "What else?"
Your 20s are for taking risks, growing as a person and testing your limits. There will never be a better time to up and move across the country. If it doesn't work out, you can always come back. That's the beauty of home. Bon voyage, little birdie!
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