When I was a young man I used to imagine myself someday becoming one of two things…
a committed mental patient or a homeless guy. I know that sounds absurd and that most kids will envision themselves pursuing a career in medicine, aeronautics, or professional sports. But for me, nope, it’s been either indigence or insanity for as long as I can remember. I’m not proud to admit that my childhood aspirations could’ve been so bleak. I just always thought that one day the weight of the world would crush my soul beyond repair and I’d permanently throw in the towel. Call it a fragile disposition or inherited psychoses (I come from a long line of coo-coo birds), but it’s been this way since grade school. During finals I was an insomniac mess, someone didn’t like me and I’d fall to pieces, a neighborhood bully mocked my stutter or handed me an ass whoopin’ and suicidal thoughts would appear. Even to this day as I walk passed undesirables on the street I’ll think to myself, “Hey, I’m just one or two bad choices away from being you, buddy!” My many accomplishments mean nada. Pathetic huh? Just another wonderful quirk of being me.
Living with a twisted psyche like this day after day can get pretty overwhelming, to say the least. It can make you forget to smell the flowers, taste the air, experience a melody, or even unaware that there are people who need your love and attention and are counting on you to make them smile. As life moves on with its endless stressors and deadlines sometimes whole days can go by and I won’t even realize that I’ve been cold and extremely distant to the one person in existence who matters to me the most… my wife. Being so wrapped up in my meaningless worries of money and mortality can make me forget to gaze upon her beauty or even appreciate the myriad of ways she has rescued my spirit. Why I just can’t snap myself out of it and realize how much good I have in my life, I simply do not know.
What I do know is that somehow, I have no idea how, but I was able to convince an angel from heaven to spend her life with me till death do us part. Here’s a girl who could’ve had any guy she wanted… Johnny Maserati with the amazing career and house in the Hamptons, or 6′ 4″ Donnie Dumbells with the bulging pecs and washboard abs, or even Tatoo Lou with the rockstar hair, perfect sideburns, and full sleeves of badass ink. Yet instead she chose Mr. 5′ 8″ drug addict, afro wearing, Grateful Dead following, space cadet dreamer to hitch her wagon to. Her name is Gina Louise and you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already know her. But there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to my wife. Underneath that petite unassuming exterior lies the most kind and loving person I have ever known. Never once have I heard her badmouth another human being and she would literally go to the ends of the Earth to help someone she cared for. Even after a decade of witnessing my incessant lunacy and path of self-destruction Gina has never judged or stood on her soapbox. She was just always there to pick me up when I fell and tell me everything was going to be alright.
Friends would constantly tell her to give up on me, some of her family members said the same. Hell, even I told her to get far away from me a few times for her own good. And just when I thought she would head for the hills after I fell off the wagon for the umpteenth time, lost another job, or blew all our savings on a pipe dream… she never once considered giving up on us. Because in her own words, “Family doesn’t give up on family!”
And here we are 20 years later and still by each other’s side. She has seen me at my absolute worst and my most triumphant. She has wholeheartedly believed in every one of my cockamamie dreams from being a rock star, to a published author, and even the latest of becoming a motivational speaker for troubled teens. She even left her whole life behind and everything she knew to help me pursue this thing in a camper with 4 kids and two dogs. Why you ask? Because ever since she met that stoned out goofball kid in the SUNY Cortland dormitory she’s had glimpses of the man I could be… the man I am slowly becoming right now. If not for her, maybe I might be that hopeless vagabond muttering on the street corner. Who knows? But as of now I’m the luckiest man in the universe to be able to call Gina my best friend and true soul mate. She adores me for all of my many faults and has given me four incredible children that fill my heart with joy. All that I am, all that I have, all that I love is because of her. She keeps me calm, she makes me want to be a better man, she helps me live~