Remember the summer of 1999? We’d just started dating and you came to my apartment nearly every night after work. We’d pass the time eating, talking, making out, watching TV, making out. You often didn’t leave until 5:00 in the morning, giving just an hour or two before you had to be at work again.
These days we see 5 a.m. from the other side. A two-year-old calls for you in the darkness. You go to her and offer to cuddle in the hope of falling back asleep. Instead, she asks you to turn on the lights, find a cartoon for her to watch, and pour her a bowl of cereal. Meanwhile, a baby stirs and I help him latch on in an attempt to keep sleeping and remain ignorant of the existence of hours so early.
How did we get here, I wonder?
Year One: Worland, WY. Our only friends were the children next door. If I had been interviewing us as a potential Big Brother and Big Sister our choice of companions would have been a red flag warning that kept us from being accepted as volunteers. We met a couple living on the other side of the Big Horn Mountains–potential friends! We’d been socially repressed for so long that we made drunken fools of ourselves visiting them at the ranch where they worked. I fell into the two foot wide creek during each of our three crossings of it going to our campsite after bidding them goodnight. You picked me up each time. I don’t think we ever heard from those two again. Fortunately, we still had each other.
Year Two: Missoula, MT/Florence, MT. You moved to Montana a few weeks before me and found us a home. Home here should be loosely defined as “slum lord’s tenement.” But dogs were allowed, as were the two cats we acquired shortly thereafter, and I didn’t notice the holes in the floor beneath the washer and dryer until the day we moved out and onto 20 acres in the Bitterroot Valley–God’s Country if there ever was such a place.
Year Three: Florence, MT/Anytown USA/Big Sky, MT. We bought a camper, put our belongings in storage, left the little house on the dirt road with the gorgeous view, and travelled around the country for a few months. Poor Scout, our first baby, injured her knee, so we had to return to work–you building vacation homes and me running ski lifts for the rich and famous–in order to pay for the surgery. While doing so we lived in a double-wide trailer sharing land with a run-down, out of business brothel.
Year Four: Big Sky, MT/Anytown USA/Dominican Republic/Missoula, MT. On June 10th, after a snowfall, we left the cold for a cross-country journey followed by a month in the Dominican Republic. The ten days we rented a motorcycle and rode to the beaches–which ones? all of them!–will forever be among my fondest memories. Getting stuck camping on the wrong side of the river during a hurricane-inspired flash flood? A real fool move that I hope to never repeat. We made it out, though, and eventually back to Montana where we rented the upstairs apartment of a house that would become the bane of our existence–and one of our greatest blessings.
Year Five: Missoula, MT. We were both working and in school. There were lots of parties–loud, neighbors-calling-the-cops kinds of parties–on that second floor deck that became our own when we purchased the
house money pit in July. A close community of friends helped turn a house into a home.
Year Six: Missoula, MT. More school for you. More work for us both. I’d finished my Master’s in environmental education at the end of the previous year and promptly went to work at the beginning of this one as a phlebotomist. When I’d tired of poking needles in veins, there was trail work, and then an opportunity to use my degree. You left for the summer to do forestry things, and by the time you returned I knew I had outgrown being away from you for work, as we’d lived in different cities and states over the years about as much as we’d lived in the same house.
Year Seven: Missoula, MT. We met as college sophomores, but it was not until now that you finished your Bachelor’s degree. I was proud of you, but even more so I was relieved to not have an unfinished college education hanging over our heads anymore. We were then free to get on to other business, like baby-making, which we did a short three months later.
Year Eight: Missoula, MT. You cut off your thumb and took a $15,000 plane ride to Seattle. I drove there to meet you, and we spent a week in the hospital together. That was the last time we took a vacation just the two of us. Maisie showed up two months later, rocked our worlds, and melted our hearts. I always knew you were meant to be a dad.
Year Nine: Missoula, MT/Montgomery, TX. Decisions, decisions. We weighed the pros and cons of making a life-altering move. The pros won, and we loaded ourselves, our baby, and our dog and cat into your truck and headed to the land of George W., Rick Perry, and redeemingly, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, George Strait, and Lyle Lovett. Only time will tell if this was the mistake of a lifetime. Then again, how could it be, when at the end of this year our own little Texan was conceived? The card I made for you read: “To the best father I know. Ready for round 2?”
Year Ten: Montgomery, TX/Our New Town, TX.
“I wish I was there to hold you,” you said at 2:30 in the morning when I called to say my dad was dead.
“If you really like it, go ahead and make an offer.” I forged your signature on the paperwork at our realtor’s suggestion.
At 1:42 on a Saturday morning in September: “You really did know it was a boy!” (Of course. Haven’t you learned by now that I’m always right?)
In spite of ourselves, we’ll end up sittin’ on a rainbow. Against all odds, honey, we’re the big door prize.
Happy 10th, my husband, my friend, my love. I can’t wait to find out what we have in store for ourselves next.