Old Macdonald?

One thing that Julie and I would do when I was home, was to drive around looking at rural places to live.

We were looking at different properties in a town that’s about 20 minutes from where we live now.

One such place had a small house that had caught fire a few years ago but also has a small pig barn and a hen house. The price was well below our budget because of the remote location.

We’ve decided that what we really want is to build a house. OUR house. We have similar tastes and similar ideas of what perfect is. Hell, we used to drive all over the country side in College Station looking at different houses trying to decide exactly what we liked.

Well, ever since we saw this little place, Julie has been sending me one article, photo or news clipping after another.

Different porch designs, different sitting room layouts. You name it, she had already decided that this was our place.

Of course, me being the realist, I reminded her. “Honey, when we are ready to buy, it may be sold.”

Each time I’d say that, I could hear the disappointment in her voice. That was something I just couldn’t have.

So…I put an offer on the place about three weeks ago. A week later, it was ours. They didn’t counter or argue. They even agreed to about 3/4 of the original asking price. (Found out it was about to be seized for back taxes if they didn’t hurry and sell!)

So, on my last trip home, I arranged for a contractor to come and remove the old house.

It was built in the 30’s but the fire caused so much damage that it would never have been able to be brought up to code. However, there was so much copper and steel in the construction, the contractor agreed to only charge me the cost of the roll off containers and fuel if he could salvage the metals. DEAL!!

As they were tearing down the house (mind you, I’m getting reports from Julie while I’m in Ft. Worth, Amarillo, etc) that her and the S.I.L were trying to get the chicken coop fixed up.

Eventually, the guys working on the house took pity on the girls and ended up basically rebuilding it.

Tonight, I get a text.

“We’ve got chickens!!”

Apparently, my girl has decided to try her hand at farming.

More power to her!

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One more for the road.

Early I talked about our presentation. We were told that a decision wouldn’t be made until after thanksgiving so the results of our efforts will remain a mystery for now.

My opinion? We did pretty good! Two of the three panel members were females and the commented on how impressed they were that we not only have a woman (me) on our team but that I’m a task lead.

Everything else went well. We were articulate and confident. We put our best foot forward

Monday, we are off to San Angelo to do it all over again for a different contract.

On a more serious note. Remember my friend C? Well, I haven’t heard from her since last weekend. The “cryptic” text message that she sent telling me she was ok.

I haven’t contacted her since I texted Sunday to tell her I worry about her, but understand the need to get your heart and head together.

Again, I’m not sure what has prompted her shutting me out, but I will continue to pray for her and hope that she doesn’t give up on herself.

The big show

Today is the day. I am the task lead on the proposal that we submitted to the D.O.T.

In less than 1 hour, I will be sitting in a room, PowerPoint presentation and clicker in hand. Trying to convince the state that we are worth the 3.5 million dollars we are asking them for.

Worst case scenario? I fuck up. I bobble the questions and we lose this contract. Best? I knock it out of the park and we go home one contract and 3.5 mill richer.

For now? I’m sitting in my suit in the lobby of the district office waiting for my boss and project manager to get here so we can set up.

I’m not sure if the sweaty palms or the urge to throw up will go away but I sure hope so!

Wish me luck!!

How we guard ourselves.

Last night, as I sat on the couch next to Julie, I glanced down at her bare feet and laughed.

Let me just say…Julie has some ugly feet!! It’s completely a genetic thing but I notice things like that. And yes, she is aware that I think her feet are a little “funky” looking.

Mine aren’t in the running for the cover of Podiatry Monthly, either so I guess we’re even!

I bring this up because it got me to thinking about just how far I’ve come with regards to trying to protect myself, emotionally, to standing before a priest and promising forever.

As I’ve chronicled, I have always kept the notion that Julie and I may not make it in the back of my mind. I lost her once before, so I’m very conscious of just how fragile relationships are if you don’t put in the effort required to nurture them.

Once upon a time, I was more than just a little superficial. I dated the typical “girly girls” with the nails, clothes, shoes, etc. a trophy on my arm. It made it easy to not get attached. After all, if your relationship is based solely on the exterior qualities a person has, you tend to spend little time focusing on the inside.

It kept me from being hurt. You can’t be hurt if you’re not invested!

Well, there were times that I’d find myself afraid of losing Julie. Scared that she’d choose to follow her family instead of loving me. Scared our distance would be more than she could tolerate. Afraid someone, a little closer to home, would catch her eye and I’d be a distant memory. In order to protect myself, I tried to revert back to my shallow superficial ways.

I had a picture on my phone. One that is not very flattering. Julie has been working outdoors and the person that took the photo caught her at the most awkward time. Hair unkempt, clothes loosely hanging, she’s about 30 pounds heavier, and there is an awkward, pained expression on her face.

When I would feel insecure, I’d pull up this photo. I’d look at it and tell myself, “she’s not that cute. Do you want to wake up next to her everyday??”

I’d think about her feet, how they are entirely too big for her little body and how her big toes are unusually disproportionate to the rest of her foot.

I’d think about how she will sometimes slump a little when she walks. Her shoulders hunched over because the day has kicked her ass and she just can’t take anymore.

I’d purposely pick out little things to try to convince myself that “she’s not that great”

My plan backfired…big time.

I’d sit and stare at these photos and think about her imperfections and I’d find myself seeing the beauty in them.

Smiling at the thought of how when she is slouching a bit too much, she comes up to me and let’s me wrap my arms around her. Her way of saying, “make the world disappear”. The way that her tired gait was the precursor to me being allowed to protect her from any more disappointment, that day.

I’d laugh at the realization that the look on her face in that photo is a look I’ve seen time and again. A look of determination and frustration, all rolled in to one. Then I realized that now, when she has that look, she can see me standing there and a smile quickly replaces it and she knows that I will step in to try to undo whatever chaos has unfolded.

The extra 30 pounds? I would find myself thinking about how she is more like me in that respect than I ever imagined. We get “lazy” or stressed. We put on a few pounds. We also wake up one day and decide we aren’t happy and change it.

And those feet? I just look at them now and smile because they have led her back to me. A very long and difficult road to walk.

My point?

In my attempts to protect myself from pain, I discovered that the imperfections that make up Julie are a small part of what makes her perfect.

They are the parts of her that I want to wake up and see everyday. They are the outer shell of the amazingly beautiful woman that lives inside.

And I think she’s beautiful. Ugly feet, included.

My honeymoon

I guess these few days together would be mine and Julie’s honeymoon.

We’ve snuck off to Indianapolis. Not the most glamorous place in the Midwest but somewhere that no one knows us!

Tonight we were at a local pub watching the Bulls/Celtics game when I got a text from C.

“I’m ok….I went to a very dark place this week and shut everyone out…I’m working my way through it a little at a time.”

I sat there. I knew she had her ups and downs but this one really scared me. I showed it to Julie and she said exactly what I was thinking. “If she is checking out for a week at a time…she’s not ok”

C has never had any counseling over this. She is trying to brave it the best way possible and it means she’s not being very realistic.

One day, about a month ago, she even broached the subject of dating again. I sat there in silence. After all, who am I to know if or when she’ll be ready to date again?

3 months seemed a bit soon to me but I just told her to take things at a pace that she was comfortable with.

Tonight she took her kids to dinner and a football game. I haven’t heard anything else from her but I hope she’s doing better.

I’m in a hotel suite with my new bride and I dare not broach the subject with C. I would feel guilty to bring up my happy day while she’s still struggling with her loss.

I sent her a text saying exactly what Julie and I were thinking. I haven’t heard back. I don’t know when I will but I’ve told her I’m here if she needs me. For now, that’s all I can do.

Tomorrow we drive back home, I need to go buy a new suite for my proposals and then I’ll fly back to Beaumont on Tuesday.

For now, I have everything I ever wanted in life. While I hurt for my friend, I can’t let her pain rob me of my joy.

Our big day

Last night I announced on here that Julie and I got married.

I’ve seen others post about their big day. Going in to great detail about it and describing all the nervous energy leading up.

I didn’t want to do that.

I feel like I’ve shared so much about Julie and I with the rest of the world that I wanted this to be all ours.

We’ve been planning it for a while. We originally wanted to do it on February 14 (our anniversary) but C made us rethink things.

C told us one night that the relationship she had with her partner was the only one that she ever “chose”. For others, that may sound silly. But, to Julie and I it made perfect sense.

Each of us found ourselves just existing in relationships. Taking them from one level to the next, simply because it was the natural progression. We never “chose” to be in them. They just happened.

This time, it was different. Julie and I chose each other. We knew the obstacles and the “drama” that would accompany our lives and decided that the other person was worth the work.

The flights back and forth, the stolen moments away from prying eyes, the tension associated with family. All these things would scare a sane person away. Well, a sane person or a person who wasn’t completely and utterly in love!

As we sat listening to C talk about her life we began to realize what she was saying and just how fragile life and especially love can be.

Two people found each other. Decided that working together to nurture that love was worth it. And in the end…the universe took it away. Allowing them to glimpse happiness and bliss but not to hold onto it.

As I looked at Julie, I knew she was the only person I ever wanted beside me. The only woman I wanted to hum along to the radio as we drive. The only woman I ever want to pour me a cup of coffee and the only woman I ever want to hold in my arms.

Apparently, she felt that way too.

On my last trip home we decided that we want to be responsible for and responsible to each other. Even if geography made that difficult.

We circled a date and started making plans.

Before you ask, yes, her family was there. Well, all except her Dad. He said that he couldn’t support this.

Julie was sad and disappointed, but our friends and family made it worth while.

My children couldn’t be there. Louie had to work and Huey couldn’t get away from work or school either. Both made it a point to skype with us before our ceremony and I got to see my little man smile and giggle at us before we took this step.

S.I.L was there standing next to Julie. Little H was there with flowers and our rings. At one point she realized that people were staring at her so she came over and “hid” behind my leg.

Julie’s brother even made a showing. He gave me a hug and told me that even though he doesn’t understand, he knows that I will always take care of his sister.

Her mom? She was somber and quiet until after the ceremony. At which time she came to me with a glass of Jameson and Ginger Ale (my drink of choice) and told me, “Julie is the spitting image of me. This is what she will look like in 30 years. Are you ok with that?”

I kissed her cheek and in my best, charm induced bullshit tone said, “if she’s as pretty as you, I’ll be very lucky”

My friend J Will flew in as did Chele and Sheila.

Why didn’t we say anything?

Everyone we know posts their entire lives on social media. Everything from their latest broken heart to what they had for dinner. This is personal for us.

Our lives have come full circle. Two young, reckless teens fell in love and 25 years later are married.

How does this change things? Well, for starters, I’m not going to spend any more time than necessary away from my wife. She is looking at schools in different places that she can work at and, as I said, I’m charging full steam ahead to secure more and more contracts.

I love this woman. In a way that I once thought was not meant for me. I look at her and see someone that I could very easily and very happily grow old with. Someone that I never want to lose.

And…if something tragic happens, as did with my friend, C, I will make sure that Julie knows that she was the only woman capable of holding my heart!