So it’s my birthday today, I’m in my early sixties and not for the first time in recent years I’m thinking how fricking lucky I am.
I’m certainly not as healthy as I was 30 years ago, but I am in good health. Hell, just the fact I’m alive is pretty lucky. I’ve had two good friends, one my age and one younger than me, die in the past couple of years. Of course, everything could change with one bad diagnosis or one driver falling asleep at the wheel, but that only makes me appreciate my health more.
I’m able to work full-time as a writer. I’ve been doing that since the start of the century, when I went to work as a reporter for a paper back in the Florida Panhandle. Landing that job was lucky; finding enough stuff online since I left it to pay my share of the bills is even luckier. So is having a wife who earns considerably more than me (my flexibility in dealing with contractors, vet trips and errands helps me contribute in other ways). Again, this could all fall apart at any time, but it’s pretty amazing it hasn’t cracked up in the decade-plus since I moved up here to Durham, NC.
Then there’s the fact I’m married. By the time I met TYG (short for The Young Goddess — she’d rather I not blog about her by name) in 2008, I’d accepted I was going to die alone. I’ve never been great at love and the like and those times when I had it together, I got turned down anyway. Then I met TYG at a Mensa National Gathering in Denver. I’d joined Mensa to meet women, became friends with several but had gotten nowhere romantically. TYG and I talked a couple of times during the gathering and I liked her (smart, dark-haired, bookish — just my type). Due to a screw-up in my schedule, however, I had to leave for Florida before getting any contact information.
I was pleasantly surprised when she contacted me via LinkedIn. I hoped she was flirting — she wasn’t — so I responded very quickly. We moved from LinkedIn to email with me trying to flirt and her not noticing. Then she noticed, so she asked a friend of hers if I was, indeed flirting. He said yes, she was pleased, we moved quickly to talking on the phone and a couple of months later met at a regional gathering in Atlanta. It went well, and more long-distance get-togethers followed before I moved up here in 2010.
Knowing she was a little nervous about me leaving my job and my friends, I unexpectedly proposed before the move. I figured that way it would be easier for her to say no. She didn’t, but she froze so long with surprise that I really thought she would.
All of this could very easily have not happened. I’d visited with friends in Colorado Springs before I arrived in Denver and one of their toddlers had given me stomach flu. I spent several days with both diarrhea and vomiting and if it hadn’t cleared up before I reached the gathering I might have spent all weekend in my room. TYG had been sick before her trip and if it had lasted a little longer, she might have canceled. Obviously, if she hadn’t contacted me, things would have gone nowhere (at best, delayed by a year or two as we kept running into each other at gatherings). And neither of us freaked out about discussing marriage (yes if it worked out) and kids (no) on the first couple of phone calls. TYG was slightly freaked out when I mentioned in passing that necrophilia was legal in 37 states, but she got over it (do I know how to sweet-talk women or what?).
And then in 2014 we adopted our dogs. This wasn’t really luck; it took several months hitting the Durham shelter before we found the right ones, and then we showed up on adoption day way early to make sure nobody else got them. Now we have Trixie, chihuahua/cairn terrier seven years old —And Plush Dog, who’ll be nine or 11 this fall depending on which age estimate you go with.
As you can see, he looks quite different depending how heavily trimmed he is. He’s been very shaggy this past year as the groomers have been off-limits (we shaved it almost all off a couple of weeks back).
We did get lucky in that they got along well, and are both wonderfully sweet dogs. It’s the first time I’ve had dogs of my own because I’ve always been worried about paying vet bills if anything happened. The past few years have proven that was a valid worry, but fortunately we can afford it now.
Then three years ago, TYG found a cat giving birth in our compost bin. We tried to have a rescue service catch her and her kittens but she moved them first. Eventually, though, “Wisp” showed up back here and we trapped her for neutering. Surprisingly, she came back after that.
We started feeding Wisp, though she wouldn’t touch the food if she saw us watching through the window. After a year, she declared herself open for petting. Then she started coming inside. And now she sometimes sleeps with me in the spare bedroom (if the dogs wake me up moving around in the master bed, relocating is the best way to get back to sleep). We’re working to convince her that inside full-time would be her best kitty life (and way better for the local wildlife) but it’s a work in progress.
So all things considered, things are working out pretty well. I can only hope the coming year will follow in that spirit.