Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Just Another" Holiday Weekend . . .

Today is the unofficial-start of the weekend that unofficially marks the middle of unofficial summer.

That must me just one thing . . . it is hot and sweaty out and we are in Wichita! While it is time to do some swimming, to blow stuff up and to enjoy some family time (my parents went home yesterday and we are missing them already) it is also a time for me to be reflective of what this holiday has become to me in terms of importance.

This July 4th weekend will likely be like the last four July 4th weekends Joy and I have shared in terms of how fast it flies by and how eventful it all seems.

Our first July 4th together (2004), Joy and I were still living seperate lives (me in DC, here in Baltimore). Joy and Vinu had a July 4th party at her house and it was the first time that our social circles mingled in a party setting. I still remember my brother Patrick's friend, Jason, playing a drinking game where you drew circles around your face and talked about "the moon has a big nose, two big ears and . . ." Carrie Clancy was there. Jess was there. Ben was there. Joy's "Baltimore Crew" as we described them (some of them were just short of thugs (smile)) was all there. Joy and I had no idea that the next three months would see us engaged, moving in together and going through our first true "crisis" as a couple. For that fleeting weekend - all we cared about was barbecue, beer and buddies.

By a year later, we were married. We were in Newport, Rhode Island for my college roommate Bruce's wedding and we were preparing for my second attempt at having gastric bypass surgery. That was the last time that Chris, Tom, Bruce and I were together - something that, on the three year anniversary of that occassion, seems really bizarre to me. For all the time we spent together and for as much as those boys mean to me . . . life has truly gotten in the way of what was once "our time." Interestingly - on the drive up - Joy and I decided to just "enjoy" the rest of 2005 and get through my surgery and to do NOTHING important or major in 2006.

So - move ahead one year - SO MUCH for our decision . . . we had sold our Baltimore house and we were living in Connecticut. I was working at IBM. My surgery had been cancelled. My weight was at an all time high. Oh and we were going to be parents. We arrived in Wichita at 1:00 AM CT on July 1st in 2006. We had driven from Connecticut to await Ava's birth here in Wichita. I swam, alone, in Mom and Dad Terry's pool at 1:30 in the morning to celebrate being here and to shake off the anxiety I was feeling. By the next day - we were in full-blown holiday weekend mode. With the rest of the family - we swam and drank a few too many beers and mixed drinks and we ate Sonic and we blew stuff up and just waited, anxiously, for the birth of our beautiful baby girl. We had no idea, as anxious as we were the first few days, that we would have to wait until July 27th to get our hands on our bidders but - what a weekend!

Last year we flew out to Kansas, with Ava, and spent July 4th weekend house hunting. I had already lost 115 pounds since my surgery and I was a "new man" and we were starting to move ahead on the new life that came with a new man. We wanted to start living our life on our terms. That had to mean shaking off Joy's misery in Connecticut and getting Ava in an environment where she could have more space than our matchbox Bethel home and where we had more of a support system than my parents, five hours away. Wichita seemed like such a magic place for Joy and I. We had so many great adventures here and memories of our visits and we had family and freedom and excitement.

So - here we are - July 4th weekend, 2008. I weigh 245 pounds. I've lost almost half of my body weight. I have a new job. We have a huge and wonderful house. Ava will be TWO in a few weeks. Joy is well on her way to finishing her degree and she's the happiest now she has been in the five years I have known her. We are the strongest we have ever been as a couple. We are hitting our stride as parents. We are taking care of ourselves and each other and Ava like we always wanted to and always vowed to.

I guess it is overly symbolic of me but I am starting to think they call it Independence Day for very different reasons than I always believed.

Now - let's go blow some stuff up!

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