16 Years Later, my best decision ever still looks pretty damn good

16 years ago, right around this very instant, a couple of kids got married.

It was a brisk yet only slightly chilly evening at Orlando Gardens on Watson Road. The banquet hall right next to Farmer’s Market, across the street from a car wash and pizza joint. I remember getting out of my best man’s car, taking in a breath of fresh air while getting emotional, and staring out at the street and thinking to myself, “Oh my, if I recall, the bus schedule has a Greyhound taking off in 30 minutes.” HA! I was thinking, “let’s get this thing going.”

After all, Rachel and I were “married” way before that night. No, the moment I am referring to isn’t the very first date where I told her we would get married. I’m not thinking of any one moment actually. It was a series of challenges, both personally and professionally; a sequence of time where we lived in many apartments and made just enough to keep going and get by. You have some fun, pay a few bills, try to stay even. Once we did that for a couple years and didn’t feel like killing each other, I knew this was going to work. Putting on a tux and eating some cake was just extra, I guess.

It was a great night. It was the night that I realized my dad and aunt could cut a fucking rug on the dance floor. I danced with my mom. Bill DeWitt III and his lovely wife, Ira, made a few jars drop by showing up to toast us. I remember Neal Heaton looking like he walked into the wrong room in my groomsmen line. I remember Josh Brown’s speech carrying as much creativity as a Waffle House order at 3am. The food kind of sucked, but Domino’s pizza after dark was fantastic.

I took a bite of pizza and saw a shiny, reflective piece of metal that was placed there a few hours before. Some men probably get scared right then and there. What’s this?! A lock and key. Is there a jar underneath the sink for my balls already? Why is someone else’s name on it?! Where’s the exit?

Not me. 

I was comfortable, ready to shut down the search early. Why mess around if you meet someone you love and loves you back equally? My motto is “less drama” so when Feb. 18, 2005 came along, I was more than ready. Some will say it’s a romantic, and while that’s partially true, there’s more to it. I like coming home to people who are glad that I am home.

At some point in this life, we find ourselves alone. Not completely alone, but a solo act. I felt that when I first got to Mizzou. More than trying to find a degree, I really wanted a partner in crime. Someone to fight life with. Let’s face it: Due to Father Time’s massive right hook or just the way things go, all the people we love will not stick around.

So you need to find one real soulmate, someone that will look at your absolute worst self and not flinch. They won’t be easy to find, so take your time. Please don’t think every asshat like me finds a gem at 20. That’s like guessing right on a fastball and just ripping the bat through the zone as hard as you can. Love is anything but relative. It’s something you build yourself with that person, over years and many fuck yous and you’re an assholes. And for some people tonight, that person happens to share the shape of a large, New York style pizza and loyal animal. Some have a full house and can’t breathe. I have a wife, a great son, and five vindictive, crazy pets. Just right.

We made that official 16 years ago tonight. I had more hair on my head than face, and she looked like a Queen who decided to marry the guy who wouldn’t shut up. As I often say of Bradley Pitt’s decision to leave that very same Mizzou, I think it worked out.

Best. Decision. Ever.

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