Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Really is the Charm......

            Everyone says when it is right, its right and you’ll know it. I’ll counter that bold statement with one of my own. Bullshit.

            When you hope it is right, you can lie to yourself until you actually believe it. Take my previous marriage to Satan’s step daughter. There were a few nice moments but overall it was like cotton candy. The concept looks nice on the outside but absolutely no substance. I spent the day walking around, putting out fires, dealing with upset family members as the newly crowned Mrs. Richardson was chasing the 4 xanexes she had with anything in a glass.

            It did make for some powerful memories like the 15 minute speech she gave, her grandfather yelling at me to take get her out of the reception before the inevitable pass-out. (Think Drunk Spring Break Girl to visualize my blushing Bride to be), and all the reruns of “Sanford and Son I watched of the gentle snores of the newly dubbed Mrs. Richardson.

            Sadly, this is only a 12 hour window of the world I was existing in at this time. You should have seen all of the fun prior to the wedding. How could I not know? Well, I lied to myself and I also drank a fair bit at the time.

            I look back and I fell sorry at myself and also a little bit angry. Why did I put up with this? I guess I thought this is what love is. Oh, I lied to myself. A lot.

            It’s nothing like what I am experiencing with Kim. I do know this right. I also know that I will never secretly regret feeling this way when things turn bad because they aren’t. That is the difference this time. I have faith in this relationship.

            Oh, I had faith in the previous relationship otherwise I would have never gotten married. I also found myself saying to myself,” Oh things will get better a few years down the road when we get past……”and then I’d list some obstacle like my masters or her schooling. We would always be fine in the future then sit back and laugh about the hard times.  

            I do not think like that with Kim. We laugh. A lot.

            During the planning stages of the previous marriage there was much laughter but it was always directed toward how the ex was being a bridezilla or how I was subservient to all her bridal wishes. It was never laughing about wacky events happening or to our guests.

            There is an expression about how every joke hides a nugget of truth somewhere. I guess everyone was seeing the damaged relationship but everyone was looking away just like I was.

            I never got excited about a wedding before like I am now. Kim has made it very easy. We sit down to discuss and we both want pretty much the same things (though she did shoot down my all Stormtrooper color guard idea. I’m working on it) And we laugh. A lot.

            Last night at Fish Tales, we had our weekly date while the kids are at church. The laughing kicked in with frenzy and we needed it. Our lives have been pretty serious lately between her school responsibilities and my whole estranged bit with Mom. Things are working out slowly so Kim and I do what we do best in tense situations. We find the humor and make fun of it.  

            How many weddings own tag lines? We do. “If you have ever wanted to wear flip flops to a wedding this is the one…..” I’ve been threatening to put up a sign saying,” CAUTION. First three rows will get wet.”

It’s not stopping at Kim and me. Everyone else seems to be getting into the act. My sister has been chatting up the notion of creating a flash mob to Pat Benatar’s,” Love is a Battlefield.”  Steve and Dave, my teacher colleagues, are threatening to create an all Guinness wedding cake covered in a Bailey’s frosting. People seem very happy for me and Kim and I can tell the difference from my last endeavor like this.

It was a rough patch for a bit but the clouds eventually dry up and goes away. Kim never left my side. As crazy it is sounds, between all this family drama and wedding planning, I feel like I have fallen for Ms. Texas a little bit more. We’ve had to work together and we did it not only well but we successfully. Oh, And we laughed. A lot.
Probably my favorite photo. Kim will do anything to make me laugh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In response to "Coming Clean"

            I teach U. S. History with my good friend, Steve Freenor. We are a great team due to mutual respect, similar senses of humor and our love of the content we teach. There are always two people in the world I know that will be upfront and pull no punches. One is my sister, Mary, and the other is Steve.
We keep a working guillotine for classroom management. Very effective.

            During vocabulary this morning, we began discussing my current situation especially regarding the latest blog. Steve was very complimentary about the entry but did point out that I might have gone too far in one area. My attitude towards my mom’s closing comment about having a wonderful wedding.

            I pointed out it was my honest feelings. Writing this blog had given me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It started out as an exercise to work on my writing skills. As a future world famous storyteller, I have a modicum of understanding on how to sway people. I often use those abilities to prompt reactions and feelings about events in my blog.

            Even though yesterday’s blog was not entertaining like the one where I went to Rock City or even heartwarming like the Heist/Proposal entry, that blog will always stand out to me. It is probably the most honest thing I have ever written. I wrote it for me.

            In retrospect, if I had written the “Coming Clean’ blog a few weeks ago, it’s purpose would have been only to strike out and try to hurt my mom. Truthfully, I have about 3-4 earlier versions written since December and yesterday. None of them were written for the right reasons.

            “Coming Clean” was written by me for two reasons. First, I needed to get this weight off my chest. I have carried this around for months and it had begun to affect my outlook and how I treated those I love around me. This whole silly mess had even begun to affect my sleep or lack thereof. Secondly, I have not only great friends but smart friends. I guess you could say I outsourced this whole thing to get some fresh perspective.

            And fresh perspective, I got. Thank you. It was very comforting to know that I am not alone and some of y’all have issues like this in your own family. It was also nice to know that I may not have to shoulder all the blame in this situation to make it right.

            Since I got this on paper last Sunday, I am walking around like I’ve just dropped a 60 pound pack after climbing Blood Mountain. Life doesn’t seem so dark. Once again, thanks.

            Ironically, I wanted to avoid having a wedding for reasons like this in the first place. Since I’ve come clean, my attitude has been reinvigorated. I was never not excited about marrying Kim but now I am psyched to have a ceremony so I can give my bride Forsyth Fountain even if we only have it for a few hours.

            Over the past few days, I have gotten confirmation on the venue, been shopping for a wedding outfit, took care of the cake. Got the first draft of my vows done, looked into the marriage license. It’s all working out and it’s because I faced down the elephant in the room.

            How is this going down? Am I inviting Stuart to my wedding to appease my mom? I honestly don’t know. I lean back and forth on this one. Kim and I are planning on sitting down with Mom and Stuart to begin a dialogue to maybe work out a few things. One thing I have figured out is that I don’t have to rush anything. It will work out one way or another. I just want to have an awesome wedding and enjoy it which will happen. May 26th will be an awesome day because I have done everything for all the right reasons. I keep to that path, it will be fine.

            I’ve got a wedding to plan. See you there on the 26th. Setting up at 8am. There will be mimosas and doughnuts. Bring a chair and let’s make some memories.
Kim, I have an idea.......

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time to Come Clean Especially With Myself

            Word of warning. The following will not be like one of my regular blogs. I am using this as a way to get something very personal and very painful off my chest. I promise to return in the next blog with some geeky or funny observation about my life filled with wedding plans and hysterically funny children.

            My mom and I have not spoken to each other since the afternoon of December 27. We had a huge falling out over what seems like my dislike of her boyfriend.  There is actually a bigger issue involved other my dislike of her boyfriend. I have watched my relationship wither with mom for the past few years. Stuart (the boyfriend) is part of the problem but not it entirely.

            For the past few years, I know that mom has struggled with getting older and understanding her role in life. Frankly, she has been thrown a lot of unfair curveballs. I get that and I understand. It’s just that she doesn’t seem to ever want to do anything with myself, adopted family from Young Harris College, Kim and the kids, or even my sister anymore. All she wants to do is to either stay at home or go out with Stuart.

            Back in December we had a huge falling out. The day after the Oyster Roast, everyone always goes out to eat lunch somewhere. We were over an hour late getting out to the Crystal Beer Parlor. I tried to get everyone going but the gang was moving slow.

            By the time, we arrived tempers were short and Stuart has decided they are leaving. Gid’s girlfriend used to be very close to Mom so she and I beg Mom to stay. Stuart pitched a huge fit in the parking lot and basically threatened to kick my “fat ass.”

            There is no love between myself and Stuart but I never had any intentions of venting my dislike in a public place like he did. The entire time Stuart was giving me an earful, I just stood there silent because I was afraid that if we did have it out, we’d accidently hurt my mom. So I just stood there and took it. When he was done, Stuart sped off in his mini-van and left my mom behind.

            I tried to talk to Mom later in the day. I tried to stay to the problems between us and keep Stuart out of it but she kept telling me how horrible I am to Stuart and so disrespectful. Stuart’s son doesn’t like her but at least he is respectful so why can’t Mary and I act like that? I tried to explain how Stuart says horrible stuff to us and she just lets it go. My mom responded with, “You’re a man and have to learn to fight your own battles.” I fired back with how I understood that but every time I tried to, she would call me down. “You’re being rude, Robby”, mom would say. I can’t win either way so why be around anymore?

            At this point, I realized how my mother held me responsible for everything bad that had happened and even for the fight Stuart tried to start.  I walked away from the porch of my grandparents’ home straight to Gideon’s car. We left a few minutes later and I have not spoken to my mother since.

I do not deny that I have added fuel to the fire of Stuart mine’s mutual hatred. My mouth is quick to lash back with sarcasm and witty but hurtful replies. I wish I could call it gift but I am good at channeling “assholery.”

            Kim kind of changed a lot of that for me when she came into the picture. First of all, her love took a lot of my anger away. Secondly, she pointed out when I was being the asshole and I was doing the wronging. Finally, she made me understand the only way to beat Stuart at his game was to be the bigger man. From about this time last year up until now, I have done my best to remain silent and just ignore his jibes and veiled insults.

Stuart began to up his game. He is very good at being passive aggressive and began to lash out about my friends and even to my friends. Stuart even told inappropriate jokes to Roni and Jude or used racial slurs. I was very proud of Roni when my eleven year-old told Stuart that it’s very wrong to tell kids jokes like this.

 It got to the point where many of my closest friends didn’t want to show up to anything Kim and I would host. Everyone’s first question became,” Will Stuart be there? instead of “What can I bring?” That is fucked up.

            I’ve been carrying this with my for now about 4 months and it’s been eating me alive. I am afraid that it’s begun to affect the way I look out at the world. I have this amazing life with a wonderful woman and two awesome kids yet I try to avoid looking at the side with my mom like a bad spot on an apple. I just eat around it.

            A few days after the last blog, I wrote my mother an invitation on my special stationary and told her they I wanted to her to come to the wedding. After a couple of days, I got a reply stating she’d love to come. I felt like a bit of headway had been made.

            I began to realize this silliness had gone on too long. Too many people were being affected because of my choice to cut out Mom. I decide it was time to man up and try to mend some fences.

            That was until I checked my mail yesterday. I recognized my mom’s handwriting and immediately thought she was thinking the same thing. “I bet she wants to have dinner at Sweet Potatoes and talk,” I thought. Man, was I off base.

            Her note was only four lines long but it simply stated because I did not invite Stuart and recognize they were partners then Mom would be unable to attend my wedding. She wished Kim and me the best then signed it with “love, Mom” Who the fuck signs something “love” after rejecting an invite to their child’s wedding?   

            So here I am. Thanks for letting me vent. I do feel better. But what do I do now? Where do I go? One minute I am full of sadness followed by long moments of rage. I honestly don’t know if I want mom at my wedding at this point or in my life. Everything that involves her, brings me nothing but hurt or disappointment or both, so why bother anymore?

            I am open to suggestions that do not involve heavy drinking or taking up smoking again.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Kellogg's Variety Packs, Politics, and a Early Wedding Gift

I always talk about how my favorite childhood memories of Savannah entail walking down to get the paper with my Pop as he’d tell me stories about his childhood growing up in turn-of-the-twentieth-century-Savannah. But I’ve never gone into what would happen next. As I go through my internal dialogue, it seems the appropriate way to go about setting up today’s blog and will probably explain much to my beautiful fiancée’.

            Pop and I would fetch the paper then return to the house where he’d brew coffee to make any barista at Starbucks feel inadequate. He had this old metal thing that was tall with a long spout like a tea pot. The coffee pot made these loud gurbling sounds that I loved to listen to. It reminded me the baby stegosaurus, Glump, on one of my favorite cartoon at the time, Valley of the Dinosaurs.

            When the coffee was finished percolating, Pop would pour us both cups but added lots of cream into mine. I’d grab the milk and a bowl while Pop got the Kellogg’s Cereal Variety Pack. Grandma always got the ten-count for me because that one had Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks. It was child nirvana.
I still buy these on occasion.

            I always faked having a hard time opening those little cereal boxes. Pop would lend me his little pocket knife with worn pearl-like handle. Nothing is cooler to a seven-year-old than having an actual reason to use a pocket knife. I’d slice into the cardboard and pour two boxes into my bowl. (As I write this, I remembered I have that knife and guess I should talk to Kim about handing it down to one of the kids)

            We’d sit at the kitchen table and drink our coffees, I’d read what Pop always called, in that old Savannah accent, “the funnah papers” while he read the paper front to back. We didn’t talk much which is why I think I love slow starts to the morning where I can read and sip my coffee. Pop was not a conversationalist when reading his daily dose of the Savannah Morning News. My favorite part was coming.

            Pop became his own political analyst when hitting the Opinion page.

“Goddamn Republicans, ruining our country.” The grumbling had begun. I’d brace myself for the onslaught.

“They are taking money out of my pocket!” Pop would roar. I knew what was coming next. Usually a slur on some Republican in office, state or local would do.

“Damn Rousakis. Mealy mouth Greek!” (For years I had no idea what this meant until Mom explained how Rousakis was the Republican Mayor of Savanna and thus my Grandfather's mortal enemy) At this point, Pop would overhear my giggling and knew that small ears might repeat these bold statements with a strong probability, in front of Grandma. Pop moved on to Sports and we’d talk about a safer subject like the Braves.
I went through all this to explain how I have become much like my Pop. The Savannah Morning News sends free copies to our high school every day. Part of my morning routine is reading the paper, front to back, during slow moments in class.
At first, it was just Accent so I could read what passes for the Funnah papers these days followed by the crossword. They say you become your family so it was my destiny to repeat my grand pop. I am also addicted to the Opinion page now. I have to read the political cartoons, Letters to the Editor, and any nuggets about education. I find myself getting whipped up in frenzy when I read what stupid ideas the government, Board, or elected officials are trying to pass of as representing the people. I catch myself, shake my head, and then laugh at myself. It could be worse.
This is Mark Streeter, Savannah's resident Political cartoonist. He is awesome.
While I am not the yellow dog Democrat my Pop was, I do get increasingly frustrated with how the government runs as compared to how it was set up by the framers of the Constitution. Don’t misinterpret. I love my country yet I am frustrated with how the government interferes in aspects of daily life where they have no business except to tax.
Kim and I decided to have a wedding. So obviously we have to pick somewhere. Now I am guessing that it’s common knowledge how any church will collapse upon my entry so scratch that option.  Besides, we are two unique and interesting people. We need a venue that reflects our character.
Many people suggested Tybee Island without realizing my history with Satan’s Step-daughter, B.K. (Before Kim). Frankly, I feel it is bad luck to get re-married at a previous spot. On top of all that, the fiasco at the beach taught me a valuable lesson regarding outdoor weddings. The beach is not only very windy in Savannah during springtime. It’s not very understanding of the “Big Day.” It was like a sandstorm on Tattooine (Only Star Wars purist will get that joke).
Forsyth Park came up very early on. Kim and I loved the idea because this place is the perfect backdrop to hold our small wedding. Kim looked into it. Apparently, we have to have a permit even though it’s a public place. Ok, Tybee charged the fee too. It came out to be about 50 bucks. Very reasonable.
The permit fee was ridiculous. Well into three digits. I was raised in believing how it’s tacky to discuss money matters in public so I’ll leave it at that. I will point out how the City of Savannah wanted to charge a rental fee on top of another fee because it was a holiday weekend. This is followed by a security deposit and I also have to rent a police officer. Now, if this was back in days of living in Atlanta, I could see the need for an officer due to some of our wedding antics that have occurred historically. We are all in our late 30s/40s and go to bed around 10 or 11 these days. Security? You have got to be kidding. On top of all that, my “Pop” moment hit me when I realized how Forsyth Park is supposed to be free and open to the public to come and go as they please.
My buddy and U.S. History co-teacher, Steve Freenor went through the same thing when he got hitched to his lovely bride, Shelley. Steve suggested just taking over a square and have the ceremony. No fuss, no muss. Kim was fine with this so we began to look at different squares.
Initially we picked Warren Square. Warren was part of my old ghost tour route so I know it well. It’s always been a favorite of mine with its low hanging Live Oaks filled with Spanish moss. Smaller old house are crammed around it so it’s not as big of a tourist draw but reflects why I love this city so. I showed Kim some pictures and she agreed.  
My roommate and unofficial wedding advisor came up to me a few days ago with bad news. Dan had been out with some of his buddies over at Bar Food on Habersham. Dan shared my wedding ideas with his friends. They, in turn, reported how the local residents of that square can be down-right bastards in reporting anyone assembling there to the police.
Younger Robby would have welcomed that moment to point out the social injustices/violations of the Freedom of Assembly. Older Robby recognized how he wants to give Kim a perfect day so the chance to fight the power might not go as the perfect wedding present. I called the city and faxed in the application.
I spoke to a wonderful lady at the City Hall who was quite helpful. During our chat, I made the command decision to check on the availability of Forsyth Park.  If I am going to do this, I am doing it right.
Sherman gave Lincoln the city of Savannah as a Christmas present during his siege back in the Civil War. I am following suit. I am formally announcing on Saturday May 26th, from the hours of 8am to 11am I present to Kim Wade, her early wedding gift of the Forsyth Park Fountain. Opps, I mean Kim’s Fountain, which will be located at spacious Richardson Park. Come and join us. I am setting up stakes right at 7:59am. Enjoy Starbucks Coffee and pastries over the Roni and Jude’ Café while we enjoy our park and await the arrival of the most beautiful bride in the world to accept her gift and grant me her hand in marriage.   

Bring your own chair and get there early. Rumors are flying around on Facebook about giant cherubs and a flash mob forming to Pat Benatar’s, “Love is a Battlefield.”
I love you, Texas. Until the End of the World…….

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Which We Learn There is a Bigger Picture To This Wedding

            My first go round with marriage was a disaster from the get go. It might come as a surprise but when one marries the step daughter of Satan, it’s not a smooth ride. Due to those circumstances, I have dodged and parried with Kim to avoid having a wedding. On top of having some personal family issues that I didn’t want to have to face, eloping seemed the right idea.
Not a far stretch from first go around

            About a week ago, Kim decided she wanted a wedding. I surprised myself by not even hesitating a bit when I responded, “Sounds good.”  It was what she wanted and besides we’d be able to include the kids thus making this about the four of us. It felt right. It is going to open some items I preferred to ignore, but having a wedding will be the first official act bringing the Richardsons, Yanceys, and Wades together.

            From the day one, Jude has been informing me he should be the best man. Barely an hour after I’d proposed to Kim, way back on December 23rd, I was alone with Jude on a bench outside halfway to Ruby Tuesdays where everyone was waiting on us. We were thumbing through the Bass Pro Shop pictures taken of the proposal.

            Jude was curled up next to me while viewing the pictures. :”So you are marrying my mom?”

“Looks that way. You OK with that?”  I felt a little head nod against my shoulder.

“Who’s going to be your best man?” asked Jude.

“I responded,” Don’t know yet, Little Man. I haven’t gotten that far yet.”

“I think I should be your Best man.” Jude said very seriously.

“Yeah?  Why is that? Do you have any qualifications for the job? I asked.

Jude’s response sat with me for days. He was so serious about it. “No, I am just the best man. “  We left it there. But all along he kept bringing up how great of a best man Jude would be.

Since this conversation back at Christmas, Kim and I have asked Roni and Jude to stand up with us and be our Maid of Honor and Best Man. Jude’s first question involved the possibility of him wearing his Han Solo outfit as we get married. I was trying to find the words to let Jude down softly when I heard, “Why not?” from Kim.

She really is the perfect woman for me. What other woman would be willing to share her special day with her son by wearing a 70s era sci fi costume? Yeah, I couldn’t figure out one either but I love it.
Ladies & Gents, meet the Groom and his Best Man

Kim called me last week. She had taken the kids to Dairy Queen before going to their weekly church thing they do. Jude and Roni were quite animated as they talked about the upcoming wedding. Kim decided to tell them how it’s the Maid’s and Best man’s responsibility to give a toast at the reception. Jude never missed a beat.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank Mr. Robby Richardson today for logging onto E-Harmony and meeting my Mom. If he had not done that we would not be here today.” The kid has a knack for words. I wish I could say he gets that from me.

Roni followed Jude’s cue with, “I’d also like to thank E-Harmony because if they weren’t around Robby and my Mom wouldn’t have met and we wouldn’t be as happy as we are now. “

I’ve been to many wedding and even gave a few toasts. Some I thought were pretty good but there is no way I can top that. I’m not surprised though. These kids are pretty sharp and they hit the nail on the head. We are all happy.

Looking back, I realized that my heart was in the heart place about eloping because I didn’t want outside factors to stress Kim and myself. My last go around was a nightmare and our “dream” wedding became a dramatic production on epic proportions. I was foolishly worried about that happening again but I know that Kim would never take advantage of me wanting to give her a special day and me getting to share in that.
This is what happens when a 7&11 year old plan your wedding

Kim and I are very affectionate but not in any sort of creepy way. It’s mostly playful. I have no problems walking into the kitchen and grabbing her just kiss or hug her. Sometimes we get the “Ohh gross!” from the kids but I’ve noticed more and more that it’s quiet. Rather than getting hassled, I see two approving faces with big grins. They like seeing their momma happy. Who can argue? I feel the same.

 They have the same look on their faces that I can remember having with my sister when we saw the Big Guy and Mom together. So many of our friends were going through their parents’ divorces that it was reassuring to see that our parents were still in love.

            I was also wrong in thinking it was just about Kim and me. I have two other little factors to consider. Roni and Jude have just as much to gain or lose in this venture as Kim and I do. I was wrong to not allow any of the focus to fall on them and give them their chance to celebrate becoming a family.

So it’s official. On May 26th, we are going to gather at Forsyth Park and proudly proclaim our love and strong desire to become one big happy family. The plans are going so smoothly that I find myself enjoying it. Rumors have even popped up of a flash mob forming. What makes this go around so much better that it’s not me laughing the hardest about this but my fiancée. One more reason why I know that it's right this time.