Updated on January 18, 2006
My Horizon Eyes
I just woke up. It’s a little after noon. I was up all night seeing that 58 more people made it home. And they did. Yeah! I had to be at the manifest site at 0330 this morning and was there until they left at 0545. Everything went pretty smoothly though and I went back to my room where I commenced the most recent military operation to combat terrorism: Operation Zzzz!! One may ask how that combats terrorism. Well, if I don’t get my sleep, I’m prone to random acts of senseless violence, usually directed towards small insects and any rodents I can find. I can smash an ant like it’s going out of style.
I’d like to dedicate this post to how I met my wife. A few people have asked me this question, so I’ll answer it here. It’s a very heartwarming and touching story so grab your tissue now. I’ll wait………
As I’ve mentioned, my father was in the Navy. As a Navy brat, I’ve had the opportunity to see many places. I’ve been to Hawaii, Alaska (although just for a few hours), Japan, and many states. In 1991, well into my senior year of high school, my father got sent to Japan. I got to finish out my senior year at a new school with people I didn’t know. It was very frustrating and I was constantly angry because of it. When I was in high school, I belonged to the heavy metal crowd. My friends consisted of punks, castaways, drunk, druggies, and losers for the most part. I fit in somewhere in there. I had gone from a class of more than 300 to a class of about 40 when I moved from Florida to Japan. So, the clicks that I established in Florida didn’t exist in Japan. There weren’t a lot of people that listened to the music I listened to, didn’t dress the way I did, didn’t like the things that I did. It was a very difficult transition for me. I got in a lot of fights and pissed off a lot of teachers. I started drinking very heavily to calm down and take my mind of things. It was at this time I also started using humor to get past my anger.
I had always been a humorous guy (at least I always laughed at my jokes). I made a good friend named Jeremy Pritchard there who was sort of an outcast as I was. He was a very eccentric guy and very smart. One of my downfalls throughout high school was the lack of a challenge. I didn’t do a lot of homework. When I took the time to actually study for a test or put effort into it, I scored very high. It was the lack of homework that almost undid me (and probably the fact that I was drunk). Jeremy and I would go out in the streets of Japan and perform little comedy routines with a camera and microphone. While we probably thought it was very funny, I’m sure most other people thought it was obnoxious. I like obnoxious. Obnoxious is good. Before each “show” we would go to Dunkin’ Donuts (mmmmmm……Dunkin’ Donuts) and drink about 2 pots of coffee to get psyched up for our day. Anyway, we did a lot together. I was a bad influence on him. His parents really disliked me and they had good reason.
In October 1992, Jeremy and I were at the PX (it’s the military version of Walmart, only smaller, more expensive, has less variety, and the people are not as happy; so I guess nothing like Walmart) shopping for makeup for our Halloween costumes. He was going as Death the Lawyer and I was a Serial Killer Clown. While we were there, he ran across a girl from his English class, a pretty lass named (and I’ll never forget it) Emily. What a hottie!! She had (still has) the most beautiful eyes I’d seen. Unlike most guys, I don’t usually get any further south in judging women than their eyes. Hers were just captivating and nicknamed her Horizon Eyes. It was like looking a clear blue sky just before the sun came up, brightening your day. That’s what she did for me. I graduated high school that summer so I didn’t have the pleasure of staring at her for an entire hour while the teacher rambled on about subjects, verbs, and prepositional phrases (and let’s not forget those predicates!). What a lucky guy he was!! In my memory, what hasn’t been secreted through my sweat glands, she was looking for clothes and had asked Jeremy for his opinion about a sweater she was looking at. Ever the one to stick my foot in my mouth and use stupid pickup lines, I told her that she’d look good in anything. Now, I think Emily would remember this conversation slightly different, but we’ll never know unless she posts a comment to this post (I’ll have to unplug the internet connection at home).
I soon found out that Jeremy liked her and I made a feeble attempt at trying to hook them up. Actually, I did honestly try to hook them up, but she didn’t like him that way. While trying to do this I was able to slyly get her phone number. She and I became friends and later started dating. I asked Jeremy if he’d mind if we dated and he said no. And so was born the greatest relationship known to man (not withstanding that whole Pitt/Anniston thing). We dated for about a year and then my father came down on orders to move back to Florida in 1994.
Here’s where I’m gonna get beat to death when Emily reads this. Thankfully, there’s no one I’d rather to be beat to death by than her. Anyway, before I left we were at her youth leader’s house kind of talking and I had asked about the possibility of getting engaged. She was giving us some advice and told me that if I ever asked Emily to marry me that she had to be around to see it. Little did they know that I had the ring in my pocket. I pulled it out and asked Emily to marry me right there in her youth leader’s living room. I was only 19 (Emily was 16) and that was about the extent of my knowledge of being romantic. As is typical of girls, they both started crying and Emily said yes. Not long after that, I moved to Florida leaving the love of my life in Japan.
In a few months of separation I somehow (actually I know exactly how) racked up an $800 phone bill that I couldn’t pay for. I was working at a restaurant (The Olive Garden) as a cook and pasta maker. Then I started working at the Taco Bell drive through as a second job. I quickly realized that I was engaged and working at Taco Bell!! I knew that my life needed a new direction. I moved to San Antonio, TX to live with my biological father. I joined the Army and started working at Blockbuster Music in the meantime. About 2 weeks before joining the Army I got fired for having purple hair. Can you believe that I got fired from a music store for having purple hair!? It was insane. All the customers loved it. But the management didn’t. I’ve had a bad history of dying my hair at the wrong time. For Emily’s prom, I dyed my hair red to try and match my purple/black suit that I wore. Emily was completely embarrassed by it. I thought it was an awesome suit, but having the fashion sense she did she thought is was tacky. The hair didn’t help much.
I joined the Army in January 1995 and went to basic training with purple hair (mistake!). When I got my first haircut, there was still a little tint of purple there and so I was ridiculed by the drill sergeants and called Barney. Luckily the second haircut removed any trace of my rich follicle heritage and I gained a new nickname, Mighty Mouse. I got that from a pugil stick competition. Everyone was paired off according to height and build but since I was one of the last two (because I was a platoon guide, I had to wait until last) I was paired against Andre the Giant. I ended up beating the crap out of him with my pugil stick and was given the nickname. In PLDC (primary leadership development course or sergeant’s school) I was given another name: Chickenhawk. It stems from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons where Henery the Chickenhawk always picks on Foghorn Leghorn and the dog, both twice his size. The name kind of stuck.
Emily and I kept in contact and wrote often. The mail was kind of slow since it was going between Japan and Basic Training. After basic training I went to Monterey, California where I studied Spanish for a year. While I was there, Emily’s father retired and moved to Montana. After six months of Spanish I went to Montana and brought her back with me. We got married by a justice of the peace in Pacific Grove until we were able to have a more formal marriage. If we didn’t rush into that, we would have had to wait another 6 months to see each other and we had already been engaged and separated for a year. We got married on September 8th, 1995 and had our first daughter 9 months later. The rest is history in the making……