I was laying in bed thinking last night about how long it has been since I have written a blog. With this business growing without employees really being added, time is something that is not a luxury around here. So, in turn, things get dropped. Our blog was among the casualties. In the same "laying there without sleeping" time, I was also thinking about my dear husband. The man is just plain good. --A good, lovely, unassuming treasure of a man. He is selfless, so talented I can't even take it, giving, a hard-as-hell worker, and a great father. He is also not superhuman. And, these past few months have taken a toll. Yes, on all of us, but the poor man works a normal 9-5 and then continues to work his tail off at this business. HE HAS NO TIME FOR HIMSELF. He is pulled in 1000 directions.
I laid in bed (Bob was downstairs, of course, still working on the computer) and thought about our history, our beginning, our story. It made me weep silently in our bed. It brought out the tears, emotions and exhaustion of the past few months. There I was, our little girl asleep beside me, silently crying in my pillow-- crying because I am SO UNBELIEVABLY BLESSED... crying because I am so mad at myself for letting the stresses of parenting, work, business owning, daily life happenings mask these blessings for the past few months... crying because I have not been loving him the way he has needed to be loved... crying because, well, because of it all. I am sure most can relate.
And so my mind went, my tears rolled, thinking about our journey together. How we met, how we got married, how we landed in Charleston. And, for some reason, I wanted to share.
SO, HERE IS OUR JOURNEY:
Bob and I met in 1996. I had just turned 15, Bob was about to be 17. We met at Young Life camp in New York, both traveling far with groups from our schools. I am from Wheeling, West Virginia. Bob is from Cleveland, Ohio. On one of the first days at camp, I saw him. He was in the hot tub, his long hair (yes, it used to be longer!) and ripped abs caught my attention in like 30 seconds. He was dreamy. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so. I distinctly remember a dear friend of mine yelling out "He's mine!" and another fighting her on it. I joined in. No, ladies, he was MINE. And, well, we all know how that turned out.
I didn't think he noticed me at all. But then, a day later, when I was making a beaded necklace, he came up to me and asked me to go on a walk. And, this was the beginning. I always say that he didn't even speak 2 words during that walk. He always says its because I never gave him the opportunity--A spot-on look into our dynamic.
That week was an incredible whirlwind. And, by the end, I was in love...A crying mess when his bus pulled away, taking him back to Ohio. That was 3 hours from where I lived. An eternity to a 15 year old girl in love.
So, we bought calling cards (yes, this was way before cell phones, or at least cell phones in West Virginia) and wrote letters back and forth (yes, this was before email). He illustrated each envelope he sent and I eagerly waited for the mailman every day. He started to visit every few months. (I laugh typing this because he drove an old Dodge Charger. We called it the 2+2. That car was a piece of shit and he had to stop every so often and let it cool down on the side of the road before continuing on.) At first, he brought his best friend, Steve, who took a liking to one of my friends at camp. But, that relationship soon faded so his trips would mostly be by himself.
The next year was high school love bliss. Bob was a senior in Cleveland and I was a sophomore in Wheeling. By then, I was driving there as well. Our families had met, and our little hearts were over the moon. We would call each other on pay phones during school. We were done. Completely done.
Of course, there has to be a sad part of this story...
When Bob went to college, we continued dating. During this time, we would break up and get back together like the best of them. Him needing to experience college life, me dating others in high school. yada yada yada.. same old young love story. But, the whole time, he was still very close to my family, particularly my mom. They would still talk, even if we weren't on speaking terms. It was during one of these break-ups that my mother got married.I was a senior in high school. She married the most amazing man, Warren. And, even though I was dating someone else at the time, Bob was still a groomsman. That is how close they were. Little did I know what this would mean, how precious their relationship was on many levels.
That next year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. If it wasn't for my sister, she might not have even had a fighting chance. My oldest sister, Annie, was a hair dresser. My mom went in to get her hair done and Annie felt a bump on her head. If it were ANYONE else, nothing probably would have been said. But, since it was her mother, Annie joked that she had a weird bump on her scalp. My mom had no clue and happened to have a doctors appointment soon after. She brought it up to the doctor who looked and took a piece to biopsy. And, that was that... melanoma. Already spread into her lymph nodes.
Fast forward through many months of pain and then joy that she was in remission. This was when Bob and I decided that we shouldn't even physically talk anymore. We both still loved each other but we needed to let go to fully live our lives. I distinctly remember my heart breaking into a million pieces. A pain I never thought imaginable... This was also when I decided to leave West Virginia and move to Los Angeles. That year before was one of the worst in my life.. I needed a change. And, so, I went. My mom encouraging me to follow my dreams, not look back. I got on a plane, enrolled in Cal State Northridge and started my new life out west.
And, soon after, her cancer came back. But, being the person she was, she didn't want me to know how bad it was. She wanted me to live my life. She wanted me not to worry or change my life to be with her. She knew that I wouldn't be able to handle it. And she was right.
But, she just couldn't fight it. And, eventually, the cancer won.
Fuck you, cancer.
And that was the night. The worst night in my life. The night when I was actually out celebrating my best friend in California's remission (she was battling Lukemia. Sadly, cancer beat her too. I got her long enough that she was in our wedding and even visited us in Charleston).. I came home from that glorious celebration to my roommate meeting me at the front door. She said my stepdad was trying to call all night. She knew it wasn't good. And then, the phone rang again. And, it was him. And, I was drunk. I was completely intoxicated. And I hear, almost like in a hollow tunnel, my world spinning "Kris, your mom passed away tonight".. and I remember dropping the phone, sobbing as my boyfriend and best friend, Courtney (who we were celebrating), picked up the pieces. They let me sob and selflessly packed my bags. They packed everything as I lay on the floor.
I only remember this night in snippets-- I remember them talking to Warren on the phone and making travel arrangements, I remember arriving at the airport, them having to physically walk me to my gate because I a. was drunk b. was just told my mom, my everything my whole life, was no longer on this earth.
But you know what I did have the sense to do during all of this? I had the sense to call Bob. He was the first person I called. I hadn't talked to him in awhile. That combined with the fact that it was in the middle of the night probably tipped him off. He answered and I told him that she was gone. And he cried. And he told me he would meet me at the airport.
And, that was it. The moment I saw him again I knew. We both knew.
Yes, this sounds mellow dramatic. I know this is slightly ridiculous. But, this is our true story. (Well, besides the fact that my "still a little bit drunk" self had to take a taxi from Columbus OH to Wheeling WV because my flight couldn't land in Pittsburgh.. details)
I walked into my home in Wheeling, our house full of people there to be with my family. And, there he was. And from that one hug we both knew that we were each other's future. I still had a steady boyfriend in California, poor soul had no idea. Bob, I am sure, had some bimbo in Pittsburgh. All of that didn't matter. He was by my side during those awful days of visiting hours and funerals. Without words, he knew how to comfort me. He was my rock. He still is my rock.
After the break ups with our other significant others, Bob landed a job in San Diego. And, out to Cali he moved. We would visit each other on the weekends and within a year he was moved into my place in Los Angeles. And, well, he put a ring on it.
In 2004 we got married. I was 23. Bob was 24. We decided that it was time to leave Los Angeles. It was time for a new journey.
And so, we did what any couple would do when trying to decide where to start their married life together--We got out a map of the United States and chose our new life... And, we picked Charleston, SC, neither of us ever visiting the city. It seemed like a good fit. So, we packed a u-haul, drove 3,000+ miles and landed in our new city. We got a storage unit, put everything in it, went to West Virginia, got married, went on a 3 month backpacking journey through Europe (well, it was supposed to be 3 months but we ran out of money within 2 months). And, then we came to our new home. And, we have been in Charleston ever since.
And since 2004 we have: rented 2 places, bought 2 houses, worked 7 different jobs combined, had 2 kids and birthed this amazing company.
AND, THE MOST PRECIOUS PART OF THIS STORY IS THAT OUT OF TRAGEDY CAME OUR FUTURE. That the love my mom had for my high school boyfriend would be the catalyst in bringing us back together.
I love that he knew my mom. That he was in her wedding. That she was his biggest fan.
It is an ironic thing since my mother, the same woman who encouraged me to travel the world, experience everything, was also the person who guaranteed that I would end up with him. She said that since I was 15. What mother says that? It was the complete opposite of what she taught us. But, she knew it. And, she was right.
So, now I am appreciating it and hoping never to let this history be masked because of its normalcy in our lives.
And, there you go.
Continually being written....
A Valentine's Tribute.