Okay, I admit it. I’m not perfect. I don’t like vegetables. I tend to look down on anybody from the South named Earl or Cletus. I sometimes just mouth the words during the national anthem instead of singing. And last month, when a volunteer knocked on my front door collecting for Greenpeace I told him I gave at the office. I hadn’t. What can I say? I’m not perfect.
So when my wife took both our girls recently on a two-week trip out of town, I had the entire house to myself. I have never had that much independence and freedom in the entire 24 years of our marriage. And well, a man has certain needs, if you know what I mean.
While my wife and kids were away, something I am not proud of, well, it just happened. I got swept up by a woman who just wowed me. I started spending time with her each evening, in my otherwise empty house. I would close my blinds for privacy and take the phone off the hook. And then I would just stare at her somewhat awkwardly – usually saying very few words. In my defense, the attraction was purely intellectual. Before I knew it, a most unexpected long distance relationship began. You see, I live in Seattle. She lives in New York City.
As I look back upon my life thus far, I realize just how blessed I am. Two wonderful daughters, a talented portrait artist wife, living in a gorgeous city (Seattle). But you know, it wasn’t always this way. My life story has been fraught with challenging and perilous obstacles at almost every turn.
Much like Jesus, I had a very humble origin. Like baby Jesus, I too was born in a little town called Bethlehem (just outside of Albany, NY). My childhood home, while not quite a manger, was rustic in its own way. While we did not have sheep like baby Jesus, we did have a sheepdog, at our 3,700 sq. ft. suburban split level five-bedroom house. I missed out on the simple joys of attending a public school. Instead I had to be bussed 20 minutes away to an all boys’ prep school for grades 1 through 12. I rarely got a window seat on the bus. But it made me stronger.
I was forbidden to wear colorful shorts, fun t-shirts or high top sneakers to school. Every day I had to wear the same dull grey uniform with a black tie. It was a military college prep school. Every year, I had to march in the Veteran’s Day Parade while the public school kids all had the day off so they could come to the parade to mock me. But I never complained about the injustice of it all. I reminded myself about all the kids in Africa, Bangladesh and New Jersey who had even less than I had.