Friday, September 25, 2009

My Greatest Gift Turns 31

On Christmas night in 1977, a young married couple found themselves to be “in the mood.”
The problem? They were at the wife’s mother’s house for the holidays, and because they didn’t expect to be “in the mood” there, they hadn’t brought adequate protection.
“Come on,” urged the husband. “We’re careful every single time. Surely just one time without a condom won’t hurt.”
The wife agreed. After all, what were the odds? They gave in to their urges.

Exactly nine months later, Mr. W came into the world. Twenty two years after that, he came into my life and changed my world for the better. Today he turns 31. While this is an easier birthday to handle than 30, I’m sure a part of him is still freaking out. As he works today, he is probably thinking about his life and wondering what he has accomplished.

I have seen Mr. W transform from a stubborn boy into a wonderful (though still stubborn) man. I am so grateful he’s allowed me to be a part of that transformation. I see him work 40 to 50 hours a week, take college classes, and work every day to better himself. It’s no secret that he hates his job, so I try to make his home life as pleasant as possible. He comes home to a wife and a dog who shower him with kisses. He’s on one of the most important journeys of his life and, while it will end with him finally working in a field he is passionate about, the journey itself is rough. But he never complains.

Mr. W would just as soon hang out in the background in social situations. I’m a social butterfly, running from person to person, talking, and dancing as soon as my 2nd drink hits my bloodstream. Mr. W is perfectly happy with me in the spotlight. But on his birthday, it’s all about him. Every year since I’ve known him, I try to do something special for him on his birthday.

Last year he turned 30. I knew I wanted to pursue writing full time and that my income would diminish, so even though we had just been a few months before, I took him to Mexico. We both love the Riviera Maya area and can never get enough. As a birthday gift, the manager of the resort set up free horseback riding on the beach for us.

As we rode the horses across the sand and into the jungle, I thought of how fitting it was that Mr. W had started and ended his twenties with horses. When I met him, he was a cowboy from Montana who loved rodeos and country music. Now, you’d be more likely to find him in Silver jeans than Wranglers and listening to Nickelback and David Cook rather than Garth Brooks. But even though he is a completely different person, the part of him I fell in love with… the fiery passion, the good heart, the great love he has for his family and friends…that is still, and always will be, a part of who he is.

As we rode through the little stretch of jungle that day, we heard a sound. We looked up and saw a lemur just a few feet away from us. Neither of us said anything. We just stared at the little guy, in awe, while he stared back before scampering away. I thought, how amazing… when I met this crazy cowboy at a Shari’s in Yakima, Washington when I was 19, I had no idea we’d one day be riding through the Mexican jungle looking at lemurs.

Of course, there will be no horses, no lemurs, no white sandy beaches or mojitos for us tonight. We’re having dinner at our favorite gourmet Italian restaurant and hanging out with some friends. But I know Mr. W will be just as happy with this birthday as he was the last one. He’s another year wiser and another year closer to reaching the goals he’s set for himself. And that’s one gift that is priceless.

Happy birthday my best friend, my partner in crime, and the great love of my life.


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