By the time I met him, Charlie had the confidence that comes from knowing you’re somebody worth knowing. He says I was a diamond in the rough but maybe I just hadn’t acquired that confidence yet.
He was 22 to my 19 and he was not my usual post-grunge artist-type boyfriend. He was always a clean cut, tattoo-free, Southern boy who said “ma’am” and “sir” and knew which color orange was the right color orange.
On his 30th birthday, I threw Charlie a surprise party. Many of the people who read this will remember it, they were there.
He had taken a job with Discount Tire and was a full nine months in and dedicated to the company and the work. It was a Saturday afternoon and I’d asked his boss to let him leave early. But Charlie sent his senior home instead, said the man had kids to get to and all he had was a bar full of drunks.
We laid a long piece of butcher paper on a table and wrote, “In my next 30 years,” across it. Everyone signed with the predictions about what those next 30 years would bring.
It’s been ten years since then.
We’re a third of the way toward those goals we had when Charlie turned 30.
Some of them, our home, our daughter, his career with Discount Tire, have come true. Others, my PhD, my self-employment, our country club membership, were unnamed, unimagined 10 years ago.
So much has happened and so much has remained the same.
|Charlie with the Bretts at Wicker's wedding|
We still have very different hobbies. He’s dedicated to TigerNet and all things Clemson. I like to read novels and write short stories.
He likes to watch TV, any stories they broadcast are good enough for him, especially if it’s the military, history, or National Geographic channels.
I like to run. Three miles, five, seven when I can. I like spin class and swimming.
He likes naps. He’s been known to pull a hat trick (three naps in one day).
We have things we like to do together, too.
|With Hollie at the Orange & White game 2014|
We sneak mini bottles of wine into the movie theater to see blockbusters like Spiderman and Oscar nods like American Hustle.
We play golf on Sundays, teeing off before the faithful can read the epistle and three beers in before the congregation says the last Amen.
We like a really good meal with a bottle of wine, appetizers, expensive entrees, and dessert.
We love our friends and cherish our families. We cherish one another.
This summer we’ve been separated more than we’d like.
There was an eight week stretch where I was gone every other week.
And we knew, before it happened, that it would be tough.
But we did what we always do: we talked through it.
Every minute of it.
What works. What doesn’t. What we can live with. What must change.
He’s forty now and he’s the manager of a store where people depend on him. At home we depend on him. And he’s dependable.
He’s forty now and he’s father to a daughter with an independent spirit and husband to a Lean In career woman. And he’s good at giving us a base for jumping off.
He’s also a soft place to land.
He’s forty now and we’ve grown up together, Charlie and me. When I chose this partner for my life I wasn’t sure what that life would look like. But I’m grateful he’s there to witness it, to influence it, to shape it and be part of it.
Happy birthday, Chuck. On your 60th birthday we’ll roll out butcher paper and write, “Remember When…”
Remember when 30 seemed so old?