In the Beginning

Ten years ago in July 2004, I sold some shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods, ate too many cookies at Subway, and drove to Richmond to meet Amanda for dinner. We went to Five Guys. We ate burgers, devoured a greasy bag full of fries, and made it rain with peanut shells up in that joint.

Later that night, I asked Amanda to be my girlfriend.

She said “yes.”

And then I sang a Kelly Clarkson song.

I know it’s hard to imagine this story getting any more romantic, but it did:

All this took place in the middle of an office complex.

It’s been quite an adventure since then and we’re still not very classy. However, we are still together and our relationship is stronger than ever.

I know a lot of guys like to show affection by referring to their wives as their girlfriends. I won’t do that because I think it is a little weird. Plus, my wedding ring and life insurance policy say otherwise. However, I still like this lady a lot. I never dated anyone before Amanda. Sure, there had been dates, but I never had a girlfriend because I was waiting for the right lady:

I found her.

The Unexpected

Younger Us: April 2005

In the Beginning

 UVA’s Graduation Day, May 2005:

UVA Graduation

In the Beginning

Ten years ago today, I went to work. I had just finished my third year at the University of Virginia and I was a baller earning $7.25 an hour selling sneakers at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I spent most of my nights watching Seinfeld, eating ramen, talking to friends on AIM, and studying for the LSAT.

The night of June 4, 2004 was a little different.

I went on a date. A first date.

Her name was Amanda Alward.

We had been friends for about a year. However, it was a very weird “friendship.” It was one of those relationships where you both like each other, but the timing is off and no one wants to bust a move. Thus, our pre-dating story is very complicated and dramatic, largely due to my own immaturity, so I’ll save it for another time. Amanda even told me a few times during that year that she hated me. Ouch. Despite all that, before our first date, I knew she would be the girl I would marry. Amanda felt the same way about me.

On our first date, we went to a drive-in movie just outside Charlottesville, got Slurpees at 7-11, and sat on the steps of the Rotunda and talked for hours. Amanda was supposed to bring a picnic dinner, but was afraid of bringing the “wrong” kind of food, so brought nothing at all instead. On our first date, we told each other that we’d get married someday. On our first date, we wondered aloud what our kids would look and act like.

All on our first date.

People, don’t do that. That’s crazy.

Unless it works.

The funny thing about love and relationships is that there is no guide. No blueprint. No roadmap. I think the fact that we talked about getting married and having kids on our first date is nuts. We were 21 and didn’t know anything, except for the fact that we knew we were on the start of an amazing adventure. Although we didn’t know where the Yellow Brick Road of our lives was leading, we knew we’d be walking the road together.

Of course, at the time, we thought that road would be straight and easy. Despite all the happiness and joy that saturated the start of our relationship, there have been many mistakes over the years and we’ve almost bailed a few times. Of course, ten years ago, we would never have thought anything like that was possible. But it happens. That’s life. Although the tough times have been frustrating, humbling, and challenging, they have helped make our relationship so much richer and stronger.

I’m thankful for a God full of hope and mercy. I’m thankful that Amanda said “yes” ten years ago. I’m thankful that I had 50% off coupons for the movie because “Starsky and Hutch” was terrible.

(Almost) Ten Years Ago
In the Beginning

In the Beginning - II

Our Kids in Front of the Building Where We First Talked About Them. Ten Years Ago.

Rotunda

Bye, Weekend.

What’s up, November?!  You kind of snuck up on me, bro.

Although I had to work quite a bit and UVA’s football team continues to crush my heart each Saturday, it was still a fantastic weekend.  I hope you can say the same.  Here’s what I loved the most about this past weekend:

Bye, Weekend.  I Miss You

1.  I got to rock out with three amazing friends on Saturday.  Like the typical DC weekend, we made a rap video.  Other than my twin babies, it is my favorite thing I’ve ever made.  Seriously.  I’ve done a lot of cheesy musical performances over the years.  This one is actually good.  I hope.

2.  Halloween candy is still plentiful around our house.

3.  We had some folks over on Thursday for a non-party Halloween party.  It was fun catching up with old friends, meeting some new ones, and eating way too much food.

4.  I’m a 30-year-old attorney.  I spent Friday night playing a wrestling video game with two other legal professionals who are also present/future fathers.  Yep, we’re a mature and classy bunch.  Oh, and I also got to hang out with my super fly goddaughter.  Unfortunately, her parents separated us because I was “allegedly” teaching her “bad” things.  Whatever.

The Reach

5.  I caught up with a remarkable friend from dear ole’ UVA.  Seriously, he is the coolest and most interesting guy I’ve ever known (other than Justin Timberlake).  Hopefully we will break our streak of only seeing each other once every two years.  I hate it when life gets so busy that you can’t truly enjoy life.

6.  I got some new kicks.  I know the Bible says idolatry is bad, but I think Jesus would make an exception for Jordans.

Jordans7.  Speaking of Jesus, Pastor Dennis crushed an awesome message at Capital City Church about reaching the potential each of us has inside us and not being burdened by the heavy, confusing, and complicated yoke of religion.

8.  Our dear friends Eddie and Paul had a killer Halloween party.  I met so many wonderful people, ate so much incredible salsa, and plowed through twenty Double Stuf Oreos. I regretted two of those decisions the next morning.  Paul, who is a creative genius, had the fun idea that we should be Bert and Ernie for Halloween.  Although we looked like nightmarish versions of those beloved Sesame Street characters, it was still fun!

9.  The Patriots won.

10.  We’re one day closer to college basketball season.

Have a blessed week!

Satisfication

Amanda and I went to Memphis a few weeks ago.  We had a great time experiencing rock and roll history, eating lots of barbecue, and waking up without an alarm clock.  I’m convinced the latter is one of life’s greatest, and rarest, joys.

Satisfaction

There’s the baby bump making its debut at Graceland! 

Our Memphis trip also served as an important reminder:

(1)  there is no such thing as too much BBQ;

(2)  a city full of awesome all-night rock and roll bars and clubs is a great place to visit with your friends, but maybe not with your pregnant wife (“Oh, it’s already 9:30pm. I’m sleepy.”); and

(3)  the things we often strive for the most will usually leave us feeling empty.

Elvis is everywhere in Memphis.  The dude is probably the most famous person of the 20th Century.  He was loved by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of fans.  He was a baller and had more money than one could imagine.  Elvis had his own racquetball court and the walls, floor, and ceiling of his living room were covered in green shag carpet.  Despite all those wonderful things, his story ended tragically.  He was divorced, he was addicted to drugs, and he died a premature death.

Those sobering facts made me think a lot about the types of things that can bring true satisfication.  These are the things that won’t:

1.  Money: I think it’s silly when people say that money can’t buy happiness. Oh, money can definitely buy my happiness.  Temporarily.  Burritos make me happy.  A speedboat makes me happy.  A Sodastream would make me very happy (FYI – Christmas is coming soon).  All those things require money (or generous friends).  However, I don’t think any of the things money can buy will ever truly satisfy you. They are only temporary.

2.  Clothes: I love clothes. A lot.  Yes, you might feel fly when rocking some new Jordans or hot pink pants, but those feelings will eventually fade.  Your shoes will get scuffed and your slim-fit pants will eventually become no-fit pants.

3.  Popularity: Whether you’re thirsty for Facebook “likes” or the admiration of your peers, it’s not going to bring you any long-term happiness or satisfaction.  A photo of your dog got 1,000 likes on Facebook?  Cool.  Now what?  You were prom king in high school?  No one cares.

4.  Legos:  Little plastic blocks will never . . . .  wait, nevermind.  Legos will definitely bring you infinite satisfication.  (Again, Christmas is just around the corner.)

5.  Sports:  I would do anything to see the Nationals win the World Series, UVA’s hoops team win March Madness, or UVA’s football team win any bloody game.  That would be thrilling, remarkable, and would easily crack my “Top Ten Moments of My Life” list.  But then what happens the next day?  Yes, I’ll order a championship hoodie, but then life will go on as normal.

All of those things are amazing, but none of them will ever truly satisfy you.

So what will?

I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with working hard, serving others, travel, faith, Chihuahuas, and family.

Oh, and Legos.