I met Stuart while on a “ride along” with the Houston Fire Department. I wasn’t looking, at all!
He was all of 140 pounds soak and wet. Typical bushy fireman mustache. Looking around the firehouse I wondered if that fuzzy upper lip was a requirement for the brotherhood.
Quiet, timid, just there. The fire department hadn’t got a hold of him yet. He was a rookie of 9 months.
After an uneventful evening on one of Houston’s busiest ambulances in the 5th ward, it was time for me to make my departure. He opened the gate for me, and right before I sped off in my little maroon Sunbird, he asked me for my phone number. I was shocked. I sat beside him, knees touching all night, in the front seat of Ambulance 19 and we barely spoke.
I gave him my number, he called the next day and that was all she wrote. Here we are 25 years later living the dream.
In light of recent events I started thinking about what it must be like to love someone like me. I’ve thought long and hard about the life lessons I’ve learned from him. We grew up together, me and my mustached manchild.
When I met his family for the first time I thought they were perfect. I often referred to them as the “Leave It To Beaver Family.” I have sense learned they are just like the rest of us. Human and full of flaws.
Relationships are complex under normal circumstances. Throw in a pregnant 19 year old coupled with a 23 year old man child and well, complex is an understatement.
Stuart and I came from very different backgrounds. His, entrenched in church, mine in chaos and dysfunction. Entrenched in church doesn’t always work out the way parents intend it. Chaos and dysfunction can breed quite the opposite of what you would expect. 25 years ago, two very different realities collided.
I’ve learned much from my manchild over the years. With the exception of the first one, I’ve kept it lighthearted.
2. “Picking” is a love language. (Someone must have left it off the list!)
3. A palomar knot is the best.
4. It’s ok to let go of toxic people.
5. How to catch the heck out of Crappie.
5. “If we can’t pay cash, we can’t afford it.”
6. Park far away when at the grocery store in order to prevent door dings.
7. “Off brand Oreos have no place in our pantry!”
8. Set yearly goals. Reassess at the end of the year.
9. “Always set your drag.”
10. Light tackle makes fishing more challenging.