Thursday, May 17, 2012

three years!

Three years ago today, I married my wife Kris at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg, Virginia.  It's hard to believe three whole years have passed already, it seems just like only yesterday it happened! After about a year communicating on Skype (after unintentionally "meeting" on an art website) we decided it was time to meet in person. The Skyping was an interesting time for us, as we had each recently gotten out of a previous relationship and had no real intentions of seriously dating anyone for a while. During this time, we would get on Skype nearly every night for a couple of hours and talk, make art, and "hang out" together. At one point, Kris had even guided me in baking my first batch of muffins via Skype. Even though Kris was all the way in Trinidad while I was in northern Virginia, it felt like she was right there with me, and I over there with her. We talked so much, though sometimes, we just hung out in silence.  Kris encouraged me to step up my game with the art-making again as well, and at this point I had finally ditched watching TV and replaced it with drawing, painting and collage, and it was always fun sitting at my dining table working on something while Kris was making some art as well. Still, Skype was in it's early stages, and while it was the glue that kept us together while our relationship was also in it's early stages, it also would be a pain-in-the neck, as it would sometimes delay, or echo or simply go off in mid-conversation. Yes, it was (amazingly) free, but also very frustrating at times. At this point, it was time to meet Kris in person, if anything more was going to come out of this. I don't think I wrote much about how we initially met, so I thought I'd share some of it today, here, right now, if you care to know. So here goes!

Kris' mom was wise enough to advise her against coming out to visit and stay with me, until I went out and visited her in Trinidad first, even though I had talked to her mom numerous times on Skype. The world is full of shady weirdos, so it made perfect sense. The trouble was, I only had flown once when I was ten, from Pennsylvania to Florida, and I had a bit of an irrational fear of flying. Still, it was time to try something new and far out of my comfort zone. It was time for a new experience and it was time to be a man, smash the fear, and go meet who was to become the love of my life. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I even had second thoughts, second guessing it all, but that was my cowardice and sense of doubt talking. Finally, in October of 1997 I decided to go out and stay with Kris, who lived with her mom and brother in Trinidad, for about a week. I planned my visit to also coincide with a big solo art reception Kris was having at a local gallery/wine bar out her way as well.

At last, I had purchased the round-trip tickets, which would take me from DC to JFK/NYC, then to Trinidad. It was all so confusing and a little scary to me, this flying stuff. As I waited to board my flight in DC, on a Friday night, I started to get a bit nervous, but for a very good reason. As I watched the hours pass, I noticed my flight kept getting delayed. Then, the unthinkable happened. At about 9PM, we got the news that our flight had been cancelled. Cancelled! Did these people know that by seven the next morning I was scheduled to catch a plane to Trinidad from JFK (and had to be at bag check by about 4AM)? You had to be freakin' kidding me? I normally am not an angry, dramatic type and I normally don't have much respect for those kinds of people, but I think I swore out loud more times in a few consecutive minutes than I had in my entire life. What irked me I guess was how the folks who worked at the airline (who I won't name) acted as if they didn't care and provided no real explanation. Thankfully, there was another guy right next to me who was heading in the same direction and needed to to be in NYC just as desperately as me. So, after having to ask the airline company for a refund, we decided to rent a small car and drive. The guy lived in Brooklyn and had not seen his girlfriend in weeks. His name was Frank and he was a documentary film-maker who just spent some time filming in India. By chance, the guy also had the same exact taste in music as me, a rarity in my parts (but not so much out his way), and we had a blast, talking, joking, and playing out some awesome tunes over some strong cups of coffee. We finally arrived in NYC around 1:30 AM, and we were pretty hungry, so Frank took me to an excellent all night bagel shop in Brooklyn, before dropping me off at my crappy little 8' x 10' overpriced hotel room near the airport, where I spent not even three hours and got not a wink of sleep, though I was thoroughly exhausted at this point already. Frank and I kept in touch a little afterwards, and almost met up when he came out here to cover the Obama election festivities. Unfortunately, he was a busy guy, as was I, and I haven't seen or heard from him since. I seriously felt as if some kind of divine intervention took place that night though, despite the flight issues.

After a crazy, speedy, rocky, wild ten-minute ride in the hotel "shuttle" van, stuck in the back with a pleasant, visiting English man as terrified as me, I finally got to the airport by about 4AM. The check in process went surprisingly well however, and I found my way to the Caribbean Airlines section of JFK, where I stood out like a sore thumb, being the only white guy there. I don't remember much from the flight to Trinidad however, as I was too "over it" to even be frightened anymore at this point. It was a nice, peaceful flight if anything, and when I got there, to this charming little Trini airport, I felt a sense of calm finally. After getting through the initial check-in process, which again, went really, surprisingly well, I waited in the front lobby, watching for Kris' mom's car to arrive to pick me up. Kris was hanging work for her big reception at the gallery at the time, and I was to meet her there and help her out. So, I waited, and waited, and waited some more, until nearly an hour had passed. Of course my cell service was out and I couldn't find Kris' number. Now I began to panic all over again, and to top it off, the heat was starting to get unbearably hot and huge dark clouds were descending. I guess I still had a lack of understanding of what my wife calls "Trini-time", which reflects the laid-back carefree nature of Trini-culture, thus resulting in what could also be called a lack of punctuality (and I say this only affectionately, with no malice whatsoever). I on the other hand am big on punctuality, though more so with others and not as much when it comes to myself, which is a bit hypocritical perhaps. I've leaned to mellow some over the years though. Anyway, Kris' mom's car had finally arrived, and after nearly doing something in my pants that I had not done since I was two, I could not have been more relieved and happy. It didn't hurt that her mom is one of the coolest, kindest, funniest people I've ever met! So, it was off to the gallery to finally meet this girl I got to know over the internet for nearly a whole year, in person! Then it started to rain. I'm talking monsoon-style rain, and that got me nervous, on top of already being nervous. Despite the rain, we dropped by a little flower shop down the road from the art gallery where I got Kris some flowers, and I got completely drenched. I could only imagine what she'd think, Kris meeting this guy for the first time, looking like a sleepless, wet rat. When I walked in and Kris saw me, we hugged and kissed right away, and I had felt like I had always known this beautiful person (as I did with her mom as well).  I knew right away this wasn't a mistake, though Kris jokingly admitted to thinking I was taller in person, which she got over pretty quickly, thankfully. After meeting some of her friends, helping some with hanging the art, and picking up some pizza with her mom from none other than Pizza Hut, I passed out on a big comfy couch at the gallery. Later that night, we got some Chinese, brought it back to Kris' place where we talked and hung out a while, as well as chased out a bat and swept out water from the sideways rain, off her living-room floor. Later that night I slept hard, like a baby. I didn't feel like a stranger in a strange land at all, and I woke up the next morning to a beautiful, delicious Trini breakfast prepared by Kris' mom.

After a wonderful week on this charming, southernmost Caribbean island, spent with my future wife and her lovely friends and family, I had to go back home to a very cold,very different Northern Virginia. I honestly did not want to leave, and I've felt that way all four times I've stayed in Trinidad.  Leaving Kris was the hardest part, but soon she would stay with me for a half year to see how "us" would pan out, and I ended up proposing  to her at Ida Lee park later that summer, where we often went to play frisbee, read, walk, talk, draw and take lots of photos.

Since getting married, I had to curb some of my bachelor ways and bad habits I had developed after a fairly independent life, doing things the way I only knew, and preferred. I had to learn to share and to make compromises, which as an adult, can still be difficult. I had to accept and even appreciate opinions and habits and tastes different from mine, and also pay attention to the many many things we've got in common - some very important things. I also had to learn to care for someone other than, and more than myself, which I don't regret for a second, after finally meeting my love and my very very best friend.  I've never met an individual with such a kind heart and generous, radiant soul, full of so much love and life. On this day, I am reminded of how truly lucky a guy I am.