Let me start off by saving you some trouble and admitting right off the bat that I already know that I’m crazy… and my Wife is not too far behind me on the nutty highway. It’s good to have things in common. Even if it’s a lack of sanity. This is likely not new news but it helps the following story make sense.
The moment I met my Wife nearly 18 years ago I was positive she was the one for me. She, on the other hand, was a bit skeptical of this traveling dufus with a highly responsible yet difficult to describe non-traditional career, a less than savory relationship resume, a somewhat shady sounding home life, and an unpredictable propensity for being either the life or lump of the party.
Luckily her two cats quickly approved of me so she figured I could not be that bad. To be closer to her, and the felines that helped get me in the door, I moved from breezy beachy Florida to ocean-less scorching northern Texas (that little strip of mostly industrial gulf seven hours away does not count) thus proving the extraordinary lengths I was willing to go to be forever at her side… and front… and back…
During that first year together, the real world tossed some ugly stuff at us to handle but through it all the cat’s love for me never wavered so she hung in there with me. Eventually there was a 10-month engagement and a non-traditional wedding on one of those sunny Florida beaches. Thus, were the humble beginnings of our goofy little adventure together.
Not sure of how long we were going to be living in the area, we picked as our first home together a pseudo-permanent non-committal semi-luxury apartment with a strict lease. Because we wanted to be able to leave the sliding glass balcony doors open so the cats, who I owed a huge debt of gratitude to, could hang out on the porch without supervision while simultaneously not letting the joint fill up with a Texas-sized hive’s worth of flying, buzzing, stinging, Dan-hating insects, after way too much contemplation and debate I made my own screened in porch with a couple of rolls of fine woven mesh wire screen and a staple gun. Then we just hoped the crazed fine-issuing landlord didn’t complain about our modification or bill us for the several hundred staple holes. They didn’t.
It was important to me that I kept the cats content. I might not have won over my wife without them. Luckily the porch modifications were a hit. The cats were happy. Which means my wife was happy. Which means I was happy. Then we moved.
The longer we lived there the less semi-luxurious it felt. Five years of not wanting to make a commitment to staying in the area caught up with us. We desired something more real. More permanent. More grown-upy. We built a house.
As the house was being constructed, we checked on the status at least every other day. After work, we were constantly driving 40 extra minutes out of our way to stare blankly at stuff like stakes in the ground, a bare foundation slab and the initial plumbing. We didn’t know what we were looking at or for, but we figured looking was better than not.
Then the wood frame went up to our future home, our protection from the elements, our biggest investment, our shelter to help satisfy one of the most important oldest basest primal human needs. Unfortunately, it appeared as stable as toy castle built of chopsticks by an antsy three-year-old in a Chinese restaurant high chair waiting for their egg foo young dinner to be served. I was sure this feeble card-house like structure would topple over with the first gust of West Texas winds that blew through town. It didn’t.
After we moved in, I was never really comfortable in a big storm. I know mentally that most houses nowadays are built the same way but I usually do not see the flimsy guts with my own two eyes. All worked out well except it lacked a screened in porch for the cats to hang out on unsupervised that would not let our brand-new abode turn into a Dan despising Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Bug Kingdom. That would make the cats happy. Which would make my Wife happy. Which would make me happy. It did.
Eventually out back in our huge yard with the unobstructed view of the sunset over the varmint-laden army corps of engineer forest, we built one. Or should I say, since my wife saw my handiwork with a staple gun at the old apartment, we grossly overpaid other people to build one. Then we decided to move.
OK, we lived there for 9 years and had the porch for almost 8 of those but after nearly a decade, the world changed. Our world changed. The city caught up to our far-off quiet suburb with a Wal-Mart and strip malls replacing the farmlands and cows we drove by on the way home. Our jobs changed, tripling our commute time. Our neighbors changed too; as our brand-new neighborhood became the ‘older’ subdivision, like the slightly weatherworn houses themselves, the folks around us started looking less fresh, kinda rough around the edges and a little more run-down.
The wife and I packed up our three different cats and dog, to move the opposite direction of everyone else. We bought an even older house in a closer to town suburb very near our jobs. You would have thought we would have learned our lesson but the new house did not have a screened in porch for the four-legged ones to spend time on unsupervised and not let in the swarming slews of anti-Dan city bugs. That was not going to do, so even with moving into an older place that needs a decent amount of other major projects addressed, very soon after moving in we had the folks that built the last porch come back and charge us even more for another one. I guess my wife still remembers the staples because there was never even a discussion about Dan heading out there with a pile of tools.
I know still that I might not have been in the picture were it not for the cats so I respect the priority of that project. Luckily the new outside area made the animals happy. Which made my wife happy. Which made me happy.