Today, though, I want to write about something else. Today is August 12. This is our eighth wedding anniversary. I went back and was surprised to see that I have never written anything about this in the last four years. So I figured I would take a brief moment to address this important day.
August 12, 2000. I remember the day very well. I remember getting up really early. I dropped my car off at Rick Estes' house so that none of my ne'er do well groomsmen could find it and trash it. He had to then drive me around to run errands. Yes, errands. I had already gone to WalMart to get a CD for the reception. With Rick we went to Chick-Fil-A to get breakfast, and then to Terrace Bank to deposit some checks. There was a lot of waiting around once I got to the church. I remember that it was raining right before the ceremony, which Heather actually wanted to happen. The ceremony is a blur - I honestly don't remember much. There are some details, but mostly my brain skips to the reception. I remember the cake. I remember the awesome job the Reicherts did on the food (and that they sent a wonderful "doggie bag" with us to the hotel for dinner). I do remember dancing with my mom and with Heather. I remember missing it when Heather threw the bouquet because it wasn't supposed to happen then. I had gone to change my clothes and was in the bathroom. There are huge gaps in memory - I just know it was a happy day.
But, like Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, the beginning is not the important part. It is the ending - how did everything turn out? I can honestly say that our eight years together has not always been easy. Six different jobs. Unexpected pregnancies. A miscarriage. Financial struggles. Trying to shuffle and organize multiple schedules, dreams, visions, and hopes. We have had six different addresses in eight years - never living in the same place for more than two years. Three kids. Five different churches. Three hurricanes. And things won't get any easier. Next year Heather will start Medical School, we'll probably move again, Natalie will start Kindergarten, and so on.
Sometimes I think the reason I don't remember much about August 12, 2000 is that SO MUCH has happened in such a fast time that it seems a lifetime away. I can hardly remember those days. Sometimes Heather and I will think back to when we used to go the grocery store for fun - just to spend time together. Now a trip to the grocery store is a challenge - keeping three kids happy and under control, watching a tight food budget, driving a cart that won't maneuver right. We think back to dates we had at the movies or at restaurants. Now that never happens. The very few times we get to go, we tote Gabe along.
But, that is not a complaint. I am thrilled to be in this boat. I want to be a dad. I love my kids. My family has been up in Orange Park for the last few days with Heather's family. It is a good reminder of how much I hated being single. I just kind of sit around and watch tv, play on the computer, eat at weird hours, sleep poorly. I feel like there is something off all the time. Last night I was hungry for dinner. For three hours I sat in a chair and thought about eating. I got up a couple times and stood staring into the fridge, stealing a couple of grapes each time. Finally at 9pm, I ran up to Publix to get some chicken tenders and heavenly hash ice cream.
I like my family. I like my kids. And I love my wife. I enjoy being home with them. I don't go out a lot. Maybe once every six weeks I'll got out to a movie after the kids are asleep. Usually I sit with them until bed time, and then watch tv with Heather. The funny thing is, aside from a couple of exceptions [She likes Deliver Me, Secret Life of the American Teenager, John and Kate Plus Eight. I don't.], we like the same shows. We like going to the mall, going to Publix (most of the time), Sea World. Our lives have become so intertwined that it is kind of hard to deal with one without the other. And that is the way I want it. She has her friends. And she is free to hang out with them whenever she wants. I have my friends. But, honestly, that desire is not as strong as being together.
I think that is what it is all about. I came from a home where there were two people living two completely different lives in one house. They did things together, but their interests, goals, beliefs rarely intersected. And I hated it. I hated the feeling that to be with dad meant sitting in the tv room and to be with mom was sitting in the living room. They didn't talk much - largely because my dad would not interact much with anyone at home. I know this for sure - our kids are not going to have those thoughts. They see their parents talking and working together and enjoying each other's company. Sure, we have our moments of selfish behavior. I don't always communicate like I should. But for the most part, we are on the same page.
I love Heather. She is an awesome person. She is a great mom, a supportive and encouraging wife, a brilliant student, and a super friend. I see how people respond to her - and I feel lucky that I get to be around her all the time. She has backed me on everything I wanted to do. I remember that she told me once that before we were married, she just wanted to make me a good home - that it would feel homey, with throw pillows. That was always the image she had - a cozy home with throw pillows. I can honestly say, that through all the changes and surprises - no matter where we were she accomplished that. Even though it has NEVER been "our house" that we owned - it has always been home. I think it is more because of the fact that she is there. She doesn't make it a home with things; she makes it a home by being in it. I know our kids feel that way. And I certainly feel that. Even in my own house, I'm not home without her. I'm a lucky guy. And yes, we do have lots of throw pillows.