Saturday, June 25, 2011

new name for an elite group of an experienced crowd.

"The yard" as it's called, as they're all called, was seven feet by thirty feet. Cold, mold-covered and entirely unromantic mortared brick shot up on all four sides several stories, interrupted once by chain-linked fencing spread roughly across the top. It served to discourage any climbing urges as if any were possible--not just denied by the physics of the enclosure but also by the ages of the four men that paced and stood in the small area.
The air was fresh, not filtered by air conditioning and consequently much, much warmer than the cells inside. It was also virgin lighting, if you could call the x-shaped patterns of shadows on the ground that. Light. Light and interaction, maybe. For whatever reason men need to be able to see the sky, albeit through a fence, each day. In this country anyway.
"Can we get some coffee out here?" The question was posed to the young male that stood behind me, tattooed arm holding the door that had no outer handle on it in front of me open.
"Probably" was the quiet, calm answer of a passive person. Which I immediately found ironic, as it would be difficult to end up here because of a passive act.
My orange clothing moved in flopping motions as I stepped into "the yard."
"What size are you?" they'd asked.
"Extra-large or double-ex-L?"
My hands moved to my now brightly-clad hips and I lifted the orange pants up slightly as my feet dropped in the puddle one after the other.
"What are you in for?"
I looked up and waited for a moment, thinking carefully before I answered. Not in any literal sense, but when men first meet each other, as I'm sure is the same with women, they measure each other. This was a completely foreign and unsafe surrounding, which was paradoxical as it was the most protected environment anyone who isn't a world leader can experience.
"FTA" I said, then glanced at the other men who were standing around gathering first impressions of their own. I didn't need to expound, it would've been as pointless as trying to walk back out the door that'd just closed behind me. Of course every one of them knew what it meant, a failure to appear was as common here as neon-colored apparel.
"Aw, that ain't nothin" he said coldly. "I've been in here for four months. Allen here's been in for fourteen. We're both named Allen. Allen's my middle name, it's his first. What's your name?"
I was no idiot. Had I made a previously stupid choice to not follow through with the court as I should have? Yes. That didn't mean it was a pandemic of bad choices that needed to be made daily. I had been clearly given the answers to the exam, there was no reason not to get an A or pass, however the grading system here worked.


Friday, June 17, 2011

and they're off.

One of my really good friends grabbed my shoulder at the bachelor's party and shook it as he spoke, in effect tripling the sincerity of his words. "James, marriage is the best thing that ever happened to me. Apart from Jesus, I mean. But you knew that. I know you're ready, you're going to love being married. You got this."
It was a man moment. Encouragement from a man, to a man, and there was no debate, denial or affirmation needed. That was all, Shawn had spoken.
And he was right.

No one really says anything more than "it is weird, waking up next to someone else." They don't mention about not wanting to go to sleep until he or she is there with you. I hadn't been priorly introduced to the small facts about watching someone else wake up, or even finding out who woke up first. Or who shut the lights off. Who slept on their side, and who snored like the soundtrack opening to a Steven Spielberg film.
As if waking up next to your brand new spouse isn't a unique enough experience, I woke up the next morning after the wedding looking at my wife of one day who was staring at me, exhausted and shaking her head as she asked "do you know what you said last night?"

I looked at her with what I heard later were still fevered, bloodshot eyes. "No, what'd I say?"
"Well, you were delirious, for one" she stated matter-of-factly, "and when you weren't singing made-up songs about how much you loved me, which was really sweet, you said things that made no sense."
"Like what?" I wondered, out loud enough for her to hear.
"You said "I'm so sick of that Stitch, always ruining the pictures." No sense!"
My murky, throbbing mind paused, then brightened a little. "No, it does make sense. Remember how in Disney World we had to stare at a spot on the ground and pretend like he was there because the Disney people-gnomes were going to add him in afterwards?"
"Well he wasn't really there. I was mad at the time because I thought since it was Disney World he should really have been there. I guess I was saying that."
She paused, unimpressed. "I accidentally called 9-1-1 last night while you were hallucinating you know."
I let the silence hang, mostly because my head felt like it had all four hotel pillows shoved in my cranium.
"I'm sorry sweetie, were they mad or something?"
I've never heard of a 9-1-1 operator being mad. Ever. Over anything. Not sure why I asked that, maybe it was the four pillows in my brain that I was finding out also had throbbing abilities.
"No, they were fine. I just hung up."
"Not good."
"Oh, not good."
"Right. The hotel desk called me back and they were mad."
"Not good."
"They were all upset and asked if everything was alright up here, and I said yes, it was an accident I didn't mean to call them, but my husband was really sick with a high fever and I asked if they had any tylenol or aspirin or anything. They had Tylenol PM, so I gave you some."
On my wedding night at midnight my wife went downstairs to the hotel lobby and got Tylenol PM for me to take so my fever would go away, then the day after her wedding drove for the first five hours of our road trip.

We made it to Florida in the wee hours of the next morning, a gigantic team effort that would've made Mega Python and Gatoroid proud, and over the next few days enjoyed the beach, finding the most leathery tan on a live human being, throwing fish food at house church meetings of alligators, and eating at restaurants with personalities such as "Sunset Grill" and "Barnacle Bill's."
If you're married, I give you two thumbs up. Way up. Isn't it awesome?
If you're single, I highly recommend getting married. But not too soon, take ye yer time!

In the wise words of the elderly Chinese gentleman of the Millenia, "pick not you someone who isn't the best of the chopsticks. Instead hold fingers out to the sun waiting for the rain to fall as little rice kernels into the open mouth of your water buffalo to see what tastes you smell in utmost discernment."
Or as the American translation goes, "Wait for the right one. Otherwise your life will suck."

That's why I married Jessa. Not only because she is an incredible woman of a caliber rarely seen in mere mortals who serves relentlessly and has a soft, gentle heart, but also because I get to pick which translation I like best, which in this case would be the Chinese one.

If the first week of our lives was any indication for the future, our life together will be an adventure with plenty of difficulties along the way. But I couldn't ask for a more perfect bride to take on the world with. God is so good.

Just a future reference for those who "prepare" the car for newlyweds. 
Baby powder all through the a/c vents is hilarious, little stashes of it on the visors is a riot, and I roared with laughter when it came crashing down on my laptop. But when I opened up the gas door and it poured out...
You see, there isn't a way to get it really completely out from around the lid so that you can unscrew it without any powder getting in the tank. Fear not, no damage was done. But in the future, in order to maximize the laughs, you might think about filling the newlywed's trunk with manure, or the back seat with dead fish instead.