Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magic and Surprises

Dear Dad,

            People always say how their wedding day is a blur and when it’s over just how exhausted they are. I gotta tell you that last Saturday did not feel like this for me. If anything, I was terrified that I was going to wake up and this whole relationship with Kim would be like a Dallas cliffhanger. Everything just flowed like a river as the wedding fell into place. It was a perfect day.

            Mary and I got there right around 8am to set up the tables and chairs. My friend Shawn from school also showed up and saved the day with the use of his mini-van. Dave Westbrook was there to play his guitar and recorder with Kim’s brothers. As Mary and I hastily sat out chairs in a chair straight line, I began to notice the sunlight weaving through the branches of the live oaks. It was at that moment when I realized, we have ourselves a perfect Savannah wedding. 

            Guests arrived, cigars were smoked, and mimosas were passed out. Between the many circles of friends who showed up, I am wondering if any of the passing tourists thought us to be respectable Savannah society.

            Jude arrived with Kim’s brothers and he was my best man. We had a quiet moment where I gave him my groom’s gift. I gave Jude my pocket watch. He was impressed and spent the rest of the morning giving out announcements on the time. I promised that if he took care of this one, he’d get Pop’s IBEW retirement watch.

            I wish you had met Jude and his sister, Roni; you would be as wrapped around their fingers as I am. They are amazing kids with so much love to share. I am just as blessed to have them as Kim.

            I got some pictures of Mom, Mary, and Christine with the kids. They turned out well. I was glad that I got a second chance to share something like this with Mom especially with her getting edged out the last time. I still have a lot of guilt over that and felt like Saturday gave me a chance to make up for it.

            Mom was so beautiful. She would have taken your breath away. Mom was dressed in a light summer suit of navy. Her toenails had been painted to match with a metallic blue sheen. It was adorable and added to Mom’s matronly look. She flitted around meeting and greeting everyone in that way has people loving her the moment Mom leaves them.

            Man, I wish you could have seen Mary. She really has come into her own over the past few years. She and Christine make a wonderful pair and you’d be so happy to watch the two interact. They complement each other so well and Mary is so happy. She defiantly is your daughter and I know you’d swell with pride if you could see her now. Mary wasn’t my Best Man this time but she was in charge of wrangling Jude. She had her work cut out for her and did great.

The wedding started and I felt like a roll bar had come down on some roller coaster ride. I was at the back next to Christine when I saw her for the first time in her wedding dress. Up till now, my world had been spinning in several directions. The moment Kim entered the park in her wedding dress, it all slowed down and synched up with her.

            Dad, you told me a few times about your wedding day to Mom and how you thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world at that moment. It was a concept I always gave you the benefit of the doubt but it didn’t make sense.  I get it now. I’ve never been speechless until the moment I saw Kim and realized that smile was meant for me. Wow.

            Kim walked up in this short-but-not-too-short-white dress. It was simple yet Kim made it seem elegant. In her hair, she wore a white flower that made her brown and green eyes sparkle. Kim’s smile made everyone take notice. She was stunning.

            I know how you always hated it when I made my constant pop culture references but I have to get here for a moment to explain how the rest of the wedding felt to me.

            In 1991, Steve Martin wrote and starred in a movie called LA Story. It was about the life and observations as a wacky weatherman lives in the early 90s scene in LA and then he falls in love. He falls for Victoria Tennant (who was his wife at the time) and there is this astonishing scene between the two.

In the scene, the two are walking through a flower garden at night. As they explore, Martin and Tennant are transformed into children. They begin to run and play as they come across flowers, birds, and various garden statues.  It is all set to the tune of Enya. It was the 90’s after all.

In that moment, Martin somehow captures that feeling of the magic of falling in love. It is filled with a grasp of the beauty around you as well as the magic of a simple kiss. I have never seen a better cinematic explanation of what love feels like.

My world stopped the moment Kim entered Forsyth Park that Saturday morning. We were lost in a bubble. It’s funny because no matter what I am doing, my mind is always racing. Yet at that moment, my mind was calm. I felt like the afternoon tide before it switches when the creek is calm, like glass. All that existed was Kim, I, and Sharla who was marrying us. I not only heard Sharla’s words but felt them too. It was the single most powerful and also the most perfect moment in my life.

Kim and I wrote our own vows. In my vows, I talked about all the “firsts” I had with her and how they added up to a second chance to the life I always wanted.  Surprise. Surprise when Kim’s vows mirrored my own. She also talked about second chances. Kim also had a series of promises about items in our lives that we both value. Kim promised to always support my “brilliant ideas” (Her words, not mine) She talked about birthdays, holidays, books and songs yet to come. She promised to always be my partner in crime. Kim wrapped up her vows with a phrase that would sum up all of this to me. Kim promised me a life full of “magic and surprises.”

I already knew this many times over yet somehow I just can’t get tired of being in love with someone who gets “it” about me. You’d love her. It’s a few days later and I am still amazed at how those three little words can sum it all up with my life with Kim and the kids. Magic and surprises.

Sharla pronounced us husband and wife so the kiss was one. The world disappeared again as our lips touched. All I wanted to do was to feel Kim’s lips on my own. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear Peter Falk talking those other five perfect kisses.

Dad, I know I would have never met Kim if I wasn’t ready to love and forgive myself. Around the time Kim, Roni, and the Judester came into my life, I had gotten my shit together and was living it like I should have been all along. I was finally at peace enough with myself to allow someone inside the fortress around my heart. (Sorry, Sting but it’s an apt description) I ended up letting three people in and though I am not very religious, I can recognize when a guardian angel has been at work in my life.

My life with Roni, Jude and Kim has changed me. For the first time in my life, my brain doesn’t whirl or spin like it used to I am at peace and content in the life worth living. For the first time in my life I feel like I have the chance to become the man you raised to be.

As I write this letter which you never get to physically read, I realize I do for two reasons:  I wanted to share my story about the dream wedding I had here in Savannah, GA to the girl who makes my toes curl. And I wanted to share it with you because I miss you so damn much and wish I could share all of this magic and surprises with you.

That is it, you know. Since you’ve been gone most of the magic and surprises in my world has been gone. You always did all that for Mom, Mary, and me just Pop did the same for you and Grandma. Pop had Grandma while Mom had you as the love of y’all’s life. Now I have Kim. And the kids. Magic and surprises.

I keep hitting the same notes about how I wish you had been there. But as I proof and retype sections, it hit me. The breeze, the rays of sunlight through the trees, the rerouting of the impending hurricane on the way. You really were there. Everyone always says things like, “Oh he is with you in spirit” and crap like that but you really were there, weren’t you, Old Man?
Thanks. Thank you for giving me the perfect day to make Kim my wife along with Roni and Jude as my children. You sly dog

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Retracing My Steps......

            As the big day approaches, we’re into single digits now. It brings me back to habit that I have in regards to figuring out just when my moment changed to put me into the spot where I am at right now.  

            I suppose you could start back in February 2011 when I came across this photo on E-harmony. The minute I saw that smile, I was lost. I distinctly remembering left-clicking the mouse only to think to myself,” She’s out of my league but it let’s give it a shot.” By some miracle, Kim responded and here we are. In two days, we about to become husband and wife.
Isn;t she adorable?

            But, in retrospect, it actually goes back farther than this.

            This is my roommate, Dan. He just moved out and even though I am so excited about my new life with Kim and the kids, I am a little sad to see Dan go. He was the best roommate I’ve ever had and I’ve had some great roommates.

Not only is Dan the most charming individual, I have ever met; he is also one of the kindest. In our three years living as roommates, Dan was an amazing friend.   A few months prior to meeting Kim, Dan set me straight.

            I had dated a few times but without much luck so I just gave up. I was pretty much content with just trying to get my life back after being sick for so long. Translation: I stuck around my bedroom in pajamas while watching reruns of Scrubs. Dan came up to me one evening and talked with me about my current state.

            When you are sick for a long time, it’s easy to get content with just laying around the house all the time and not keeping your social life in motion. Dan pointed out just how well I was doing and it was time to get back into the real world. Basically, I was hiding from the real world. I was.

The effects of kidney disease had made me drop about 6o pounds but that was the only positive after-effect. People used to joke how I walked just like the Big Guy with big meandering strides. That had been replaced by a slow, shuffling limp. My energy levels were also pretty low and the combination forced me to be embarrassed in front of the ladies. Between Dan pushing me and a few others making jokes about my constant wearing of sweats plus an addiction to Tosh 2.0, I realized a change was needed.

            My first few years here, I was always on the move. Between Master’s work and ghost touring, downtown was my place. Yet, here I was sitting on my bed and I couldn’t remember a single name of all the people I used to run around with. I also couldn’t remember the last time I went out on a date.

            Meeting people has never been an issue for me but dating had become a more difficult subject to broach. I had run into the 40s Single Wall, I had heard spoken of in hushed whispers. I had several friends that knew many ladies but...say it with me, folks. Everyone was married or in a relationship or gay.

            I had tried some of those free online dating sites. Well, you get what you pay for. No luck there though I did make a really good friend out of it.

            Part of my problem was the romantic in me kept waiting for someone to drop in my lap and it wasn’t happening. Dan had suggested during our talk to try a paid dating site and I was hesitant.

            A few years before I was married to Satan’s step-daughter, I had tried with some glorious mistakes. After meeting the coked out, bi-sexual, hair metal keyboardist, I was paired with a dwarf. Yes, I said dwarf.

            We met at a coffee shop somewhere in downtown Atlanta. It was the worst date of my life. Oddly, it had nothing to do with size or appearance. She just was a mean, chain-smoking dwarf. At one point, I even tried to talk about our pets because everyone loves chatting about their dogs, right? Nope. My attempts to foster conversation were met with another lit cigarette under some low muttering about her”goddamned dog.” To say that I was not solid on the idea on online dating would be an understatement.

So I began to consider online dating again (but not under any certain terms). Then I remembered my old buddy from YHC, Stuart Ivie. Stu is a neat guy and great friend. He went to Young Harris right after me and was very involved in Quantrek and the honor society that the Big Guy was advisor to. Stu had also lost his dad early on so he understood what our family was going through and was right there beside us.
Stuart Ivie, the Original Dirty Jobs Guy

Stuart had also seemed to hit that Single’s Wall I speak of shortly after my divorce. I remembered how Stuart had talked about using E-Harmony for an online dating resource. He was very pleased with it and even found his soon-to-be-wife. Tiffany is great and I can see how the two make a great team. As I type this, I am happy to share that not only they are married but they have a lovely son, John.

It’s funny because looking back; I had no plans on trying to settle down. My plan was got out with several people and get used to the idea of dating again. I figured a few years into this I might find a not crazy girl to date monogamously. Funny how life happens. I met a few very nice people but then I saw Kim's picture and I was done for.  Here I am about to head down the aisle, not just as a groom but also a father. Didn’t see it coming but I love every moment of it.

But where Saturday began goes back even farther. Our upcoming wedding goes back farther the Dan pushing me and Stuart meeting Tiffany. I now realize it goes back to my parents.
Halloween 1987: GI Joe take Punk Rock Jan to Lunch at YHC Dining Hall

No matter how great my sister and I remember Bob and Jan together, I realize it was not a perfect relationship yet I learned so much from both of them. They went through a lot and were able to keep it all together. Mom and Dad always displayed genuine love between them. . I know that I would be in another bad relationship or stuck in my previous one had it not been for the Big Guy and Mom to show me how a relationship is not just about love but also friendship.

As Mary and I grew up in that house that is now a parking lot next to the Young Harris Dining hall, we unconsciously watched our parent interact on a daily basis. How my father could turn from serious to silly in under three seconds at the dinner table has popped up more times that it should at a certain Ms. Wade’s House in Richmond Hill. Over breakfast, my parents could sit at the kitchen table to plan out their weekly work and social obligations/responsibilities with the same precision Hannibal stormed the Alps. They were in-synch with each other.

It was late summer of 1989, Mom, Dad, and I went to Sapelo Island to scout it out as a possible Quantrek destination. They were ahead of me as we walked off the ferry. To this day, I clearly visualize watching them stroll hand-in-hand off the dock only to slide up next to each. At that point, Mom and Dad walked arms around each other with their hands in the other’s back pockets. I t may have been the sweetest thing I have ever seen. I remember saying to myself, “I want that.”

And thanks to listening to the people who are in my life, I got it.

Come out to Forsyth Park at 10 am on Saturday to see for yourself. I’ll be the one with big grin next to the really beautiful girl by the fountain.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Let Me Explain.....

            Every now and then I am reminded about that whole men are from Mars, women Venus thing. My last blog brought kicked that notion back at me. I had thought that I written a sweet exposition about my feelings towards Kim. It would appear tht this did not come across as I intended. From some of the questions I have gotten, it may not have come across like I had thought. Rule of thumb; never write a blog before bedtime.

            It’s important to stress that I am very excited about being married and also very at peace with the notion. I am in no way nervous but rather, having a peaceful anticipatory feeling because I know it’s going to be a fun day. I can tell it’s going to feel odd to refer to Kim as my wife but I look forward to it.  Even though we’ve been together for a while, I think Kim and both maintain a certain level of independence. When I say odd, it’s not a bad odd but rather just not something I have done a lot and will take a few times to get used to. It’s going to be a long time before I could just refer to Kim as my wife in a casual sense but I look forward to it because this will mean we have moved on to the next stage together. It means we have even more history and experiences behind us. Kim is many things to me but most of all, I just love being around her.

I also want to stress that when I said we have problems, it was not meant in a serious way. I merely meant that we have a great relationship but like other couples, we also have the occasional relationship problem. The cool thing about Kim is that when we argue (which isn’t very often) there is usually a good reason unlike my experience with Satan’s step-daughter.
      Originally I was going to make the joke that our main problem is that Kim is too beautiful and I am too unselfish in bed. I refrained from that because I usually avoid joking about us in that manner because I am not sure if that crosses an unspoken line.

            So in summation, everything is completely awesome. I guess I just need to chalk this up to a lesson regarding points of view. And the view is pretty darn good at the moment  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sold As Is.....

Sorry, life has been busy with the impending nuptials. Two quick bits to share. Both are pretty cool.

1)       My main reason for not writing is that I have gotten my life back from dialysis. I have finally bent over kidney disease and kicked it in the arse. It took me two years but I am finally doing nocturnal dialysis. Fancy way of saying, I do my treatments while I sleep now. Yay for me!

It’s nice getting my afternoons back. I do not have to rush and the treatments are doing a better job than my old ones. I am noticing my energy is up and I am even walking better.

2)      Yesterday I got my contract for next year so I am back at Jenkins for a sixth year. While I was signing my contract I had to also update my personal info. As I looked at the form, I realized it was time to add someone new. I wrote down Kim Wade Richardson. Under relationship, I wrote spouse for the very first time.

Mrs. Blue, the administrative assistant, teased me about being nervous.

That is what so funny. Over the past week, I’ve been getting asked by everyone about pre-wedding jitters. I don’t have them. I feel the same as from the start. Right. It feels right.

Sure, Kim and I have our problems. Yet, our relationship feels very different from anything I have ever had before. I’ve been happy and in love but I have never been at peace.

Kim lets me be myself and doesn’t judge, correct, or change me. I feel the same about her. We are both “Sold As Is” package and I love it. Matter of fact, I believe it’s the fact that we both have some baggage and some flaws that make us appreciate each other so much. We’ve both been through a lot therefore we know what we’ll put up with and not. It sounds silly to say so but that has made a huge difference in how our relationship has grown.

The wedding is fast approaching. I am very excited but this time it’s different than my previous endeavor. I look forward to casually referring to Kim as my spouse and my wife but I am pretty sure it’s going to take a long time before that is a reference I get tired of making.