When I was a little girl, I didn't really think much about what I wanted to be. I thought I would live in a huge house with at least 10 kids, and my husband....well, actually, a husband didn't really factor in. I wasn't one of those little girls who really had crushes. When other friends were crushing on New Kids on the Block or Kirk Cameron (omg....look how he turned out!) I fell asleep each night imagining I was a Princess of a far off Planet that had been put on Earth for safe-keeping until my real, ROYAL, family, could come back for me and unlock my life's destiny. Seriously. I was weird.
But surprisingly, that's not how things turned out. I sort of had a typical, atypical childhood, mostly ups, some downs. My teen years were somewhat difficult, my Mom moved across the continent and I fell into clinical depression. (Not due to her moving so much as the actual chemical make-up of my brain). I got out of my teen years and entered my twenties with not a whole lot of motivation beyond not being depressed, and having a good time.
I'm pretty sure I was just barely 21. Klondike worked the door of my "home base" bar, you know, the one that's like home away from home, where "everyone knows your name." He says he knew as soon as he met me that he loved me. I took a bit more convincing.
But we definitely became great friends. Klondike lived in a house right behind the bar, and I worked 3rd shift at the local Food Bag. On the weekends, I got off work, woke Klondike up at his house, and we took his parents boat out on the lake with a couple other people. One time I slathered myself in so much baby oil that that night at work I was so sun poisoned I thought I was going to die. We had such great times out there on the water, and one thing that Klondike always made me feel was safe. None of that overtly gross "hitting on" stuff. Klondike was a gentleman, but he was also a bit shy. I gathered maybe he had a crush, but he wasn't obvious about it or putting any pressure on me.
Through the years, Klondike remained a constant supporter even though I went from one doomed, mismatched relationship to the next. He always stuck by me. He never made me explain myself. He took me at face value, and that meant a lot. I was, in short, a hot mess. Klondike never made me feel that way though. He waited in the sidelines, waiting for me to get my shit together. He proclaimed his love for me only once, on the way home from a Max Creek Show in Hartford. I remember it like it was yesterday. I told him not to bother, that I wasn't any good for him, that I had no idea what I was doing with my life. Still, he waited. Even through months of no contact, during my dark years of addiction, he waited.
Eventually though, I did grow tired of the lifestyle I'd been living. It was a hard, chaotic time, but I somehow got back to Klondike. I was newly single and we just started where we'd left off, as friends. We went to movies and shows. Out to dinner, played pool. He slept over, but on the couch. The first year anniversary of me being clean, I invited him to Christmas at my sisters house. My parents were there...it was the first Christmas I think I had spent with my family in years. In the demise of my last relationship, things had ended badly, with me losing many "things" and pieces of me. One of those things was a portrait I had commissioned in better days of my beloved pugs. The artist had since moved away and I had no way of finding him again. I had told Klondike only once that that picture was the only real thing that I regretted losing from that other life.
After dinner, we were sitting around my sisters living room .Presents had been opened and it was almost time for me to go to work. Kevin said, "I have something for you." He brought out a wrapped, large rectangular package. My sister and parents watched as I opened it. It was the picture of my pugs. Klondike had remembered my mentioning it. He had found the artist, and had bought the portfolio copy and had it framed.
I never in my life had someone do something that thoughtful for me. I cried like a baby. I was so moved. I just, couldn't really believe it. My dad pulled me aside and said, "Don't fuck this one up." Coming from my dad, who doesn't really get too involved with the love interests of his daughters, it meant something.
That right there sealed the deal. I knew I would never meet or know someone that thoughtful, that loyal, that decently kind and wonderful. Mutual friends were not so sure. There was lots of skepticism, especially from his friends, about whether I would stick around or just run his heart through the mud. Truthfully, I couldn't blame them. My track record wasn't exactly stellar. I was still pretty fresh off the train of destruction. But here we are, almost ten years later.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Klondike, you can never be replicated. There is no one more right for me than you. Whatever you saw that first day you met me, I am grateful that you sought it out time and again and waited for me. Men like you are few in this World. I can only Thank-You, from the bottom of all that I am, for letting me know in this lifetime what real, unconditional love is. I know I still have many flaws, but just knowing that you will stick by me through all my ups and downs allows me to keep working on it without fear. Our boys are the luckiest kids on the planet to learn from their father what real love looks like. Happy Birthday, forever I will be here to say that, and thank you, thank you, thank you.....