20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago this month I returned home from my years in Connecticut and New York. My friends east of the Hudson all warned me against coming back here, and the “cultural wasteland” to which I was consigning myself. They all said I would regret it. They meant well, but I’m still waiting for the regret to set in.

The most significant thing that happened in January of 1986? I went to a kegger at a friend’s house–good old Johnny Butler–and there in the kitchen I met the woman who I knew, almost instantly, that I had a future with. Her eyes were, and are, of darkest brown, her skin ivory, her kindness and intelligence consummate. Me? I was broke, unsure of myself, but determined to write worthwhile novels, and eventually immerse myself in the art world–meaning the art world west of the Hudson. I was brimming with passion and insecurity, and had NO intention of staying in KC.

But I met her and stayed–at least as much as I ever stay in one place. Eventually she accepted my proposal of marriage. I’ve been grateful ever since. Friend, lover, confidante, wife. Also a wrangler of endless toil, like me. There is no way I can thank her enough, or love her more. She drove away my loneliness, helped me raise two fine sons, and taught me much over the years. She’s also been incredibly open-minded, has understood my need for freedom, and how trying to own me only backfires. At the same I’ve always tried to understand her, and to give the things that she needs. My journey would have been so much tougher without her, and certainly far less worthwhile.

What did I do to deserve all this? That’s what I’m still trying to figure out.

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