Next week I celebrate 26 years of marriage to my best friend and wonderful wife. The picture you see here of Janet has been altered because I did not want to dilute the beauty of my bride on that wonderful day with my countenance as I would show that picture for the next 26 years. It has been a great honor to be married to her and if I had not taken the opportunity that was presented to me 27 years ago, I might not be in the position that I am today as her husband and father to our son.
Let me take you back to the days when I was a 33 year old bachelor, living a rather structured life. Typically, my life looked like this:
- Wake up
- pack my cycling gear or running gear
- go to work
- drive to North Park and either run or ride with my posse of friends
- summer time- Tuesday night road cycling time trials
- summer time- Wednesday night road cycling Criterium races at the Highland Park Zoo parking lot
- winter- run trails with lights
- winter- ski every weekend
- eat at the “dump” ( a local greasy spoon) or the default Italian restaurant with my cronies
- go home
- lay on the floor and watch HBO until bedtime
- get up and do it all over over again – the next day or weekend
This was very easy to do and all of our crowd would know where we all were every night of the week or every weekend. The routine was great and I was getting used to not doing much in the evening but resting for the next days athletic activities. I had an old TV that I pilfered from my mom and dad and got pretty good at laying on the floor and changing the channels with my toes because I had no remote. My townhouse was pretty low maintenance and whenever I left for a race or a ski trip, I just locked the door and went my merry way. Life was good and my friends were faithful and held me accountable to work out.
One day, my future mother in law, whom I have known for many years, asked me what I was doing lately. ” How is your love life,Patrick?” I would tell her I was like a cactus in the desert with an occasional tumbleweed passing through on a late night windstorm. She laughed and said that Janet ( I have known her since she was 8 years old- that is another story), was going to a party with her flight attendant friends and maybe I should go to meet all of them? I responded that I would like to do that and when the day came, I was laying on the floor, watching the tube, comfortable after a shower, toeing the TV, and wondering if I really wanted to go seeing that I had big ride scheduled for the next morning. But I thought, “what the hell, might as well go. You never know who you will meet and take advantage of the opportunity”. Well, I went to the party and sure enough, the most attractive girl was Janet. I was a slave to fashion at the time( not) and picked up all the girls in my Blazer with my baggy shorts, my grandfather’s fishing shirt, and running shoes. Janet later remarked that she called her mother and told her about my crazy outfit. I still wear that type of stuff today. But as we talked at the party, I began to scheme how I would attract Janet into going out with me.
The long and the short of it was that I took her cycling. I picked up her bike at her folk’s house and when they asked me what I was doing, I told my future in laws that I was fixing Janet’s bike. They asked if I knew that she was dating a guy she worked with and I said,” I will make her forget his name.” They laughed about that for years and our dating career started at the Park. Janet was a little intimidated when she saw the sea of lycra, helmets and road bikes but I assured her that we would take a little ride and then go get something to eat. Fast forward, Janet has been subject to all of my passions at the park and on the slopes and has handled it with grace. She has had some mishaps as of late with a broken elbow last summer while hiking and a broken humerus ( not humorous) on a rails to trails ride this summer. I have taken her skiing in the freezing rain, blinding snowstorms out west, bullet proof conditions at Whiteface in the Adirondacks, and various other adventures that she might have never experienced had she not met the 59 year old kid. But the best adventure for me was taking the opportunity to go to that party and experience how a kind and loving person could enhance my rigid life.
I guess the point of all this is that if you don’t take opportunities in your life and stick to the mundane and the routine, you might never experience life to it’s fullest potential. The operative word for all of us should be ” yes” because you never know what might present itself, what great place to be experienced, what wonderful people you might meet, and what life changing experience might unfold right before your eyes. I have had a lot of experiences in my day because I was crazy enough to always say “yes”. But the best experience for me was the day that I took an opportunity and said,” I do.” Thanks for 26 great years Janet. Thanks for reading.