This letter will be epic in length, so please allow yourself plenty of time. I suggest a bathroom break before beginning. Or if you’re really smart, you’ll just skip reading this bad boy altogether and simply comment something like “have a happy new year” or some such nonsense.
The end of 2011 really wasn’t official enough to report in last year’s Christmas letter, so here’s the wrap up. As I had mentioned, I filed for divorce in 2011, and the final divorce decree arrived in my mail, signed by the judge, at the beginning of January, 2012. I honestly celebrated the day it came through. Things had been bad for a long time… years, and the events of last summer put a fork in it. Which was good, because I was going to need a back transplant if I kept sleeping on the pull-out sofa in the basement much longer. It seemed a bit silly to have a three bedroom home which I was paying for 100%, and be relegated to the basement. But as Proverbs 21:9 says, “Better to live on the corner of a roof, than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” My roof was too slanted to sleep on, so the basement was it. I hoped there was something better waiting for me around the corner, and that corner just happened to be the new year. Very convenient actually, when your fiscal year and calendar year align.
2012 was a year of changes. In fact, almost everything in my life changed in the course of one year. All for the better. I had spent about 2 weeks right before Christmas emailing on eHarmony to a girl named Nicole, who I knew was a nurse, was smart, compassionate, and who had a daughter, but who I had no idea what she looked like thanks to her microscopic photos. Literally, the large versions of her photos were about 20 pixels across. But I liked her from the conversation, and we had a first date on December 30, 2011. I realize that should have been included in LAST year’s summary, but at Christmas it hadn’t yet happened. It turned out, much to my delight, that in addition to her numerous positive qualities, she was also the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Sparks flew that first night as we closed down Bo Lings and walked together to our cars where we would share what would be the first of countless kisses.
On New Year’s Eve 2011, I sat at my parent’s house texting her, and she was at her house hosting a “kid party” (not to be confused with a Stewie Griffin “sexy party”) and texting me. January 2nd, we had our second date, this time at Cheesecake Factory. I would later find out that it was after this second date that she was sure I was the one. I was sure after the first date, but don’t tell her I said so. After that second date, we were virtually inseparable. We saw each other the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th…. and every day after that. One of the more momentous occasions was on the 14th when I met Lu and Momma White for the first time. Little Lu had NO idea that I would end up being her dad. I will admit, I had a hard time biting my tongue on the whole “I love you” thing with Nicole. That cat got out of the bag on the 13th. Yes, I realize that’s only two weeks. I wanted to tell her on the 3rd, if that makes it any better… Thankfully, she reciprocated, and the rest is history.
My “friends” told me I was crazy and that I was stupid and that it would never work. Ironically, the friends who made these dire predictions are hopelessly and permanently single. Perhaps there was a bit of projection happening? I digress. January included an outing to the T-Rex Cafe’, numerous trips to Research Medical to have lunch with Nicole and the nurses of the Transplant Institute, and a first trip to a new church, Gashland Baptist. On the 28th (yes, we’re still in January), I bought a ring, but she didn’t get it just yet. I knew it was a good sign when Nicole asked if I’d go with her and Lu to Florida in April and take Lu to Disney while she was at a nephrology conference. I took that to mean she thought we’d still be together in April, and that she trusted me with her daughter. The beginning of February is a bit of a blur to me, because a random virus gave me a 103.5 fever for 7 days and landed me in the hospital to get IV fluids. Nicole was by my side, keeping my parents updated and watching over the activities to make sure they didn’t kill or maim me on accident. Fortunately (for me anyhow), I recovered and didn’t have any lasting issues. My white count came back to normal after about 2 weeks. Once I was finally healthy again, I was ready to pop the question. I snuck into the Transplant Institute at Research and gathered her coworkers in the conference room. Her boss, Becky, called her to have her come join the “meeting” and then I walked in, flowers and ring in hand. I got on one knee and prayed the answer would be yes. And it was.
The next day, I officially moved into her house in Liberty, leaving my Olathe house to be destroyed by my “roomies” (or rather, the people who lived there but didn’t pay rent, let their pets destroy everything, and then skipped town instead of being an adult). My “roomies” left a cat to wander the house and pee, poop, and scratch everything in sight, virtually ensuring it would cost a fortune to sell my house. The wedding plans commenced immediately, with most of the details arranged and deposits posted before the end of February. We booked the Pilgrim Chapel and the Event Space at Nara for our September wedding. Nicole pushed for a fall wedding because she “wanted to make sure I wasn’t a psycho pretending to be nice.”
March was filled with bonding activities for the soon-to-be family. We spent the first weekend at Coco Keys indoor water park where we discovered the joy of an 11th floor walk up. Two days later, we went roller skating. And by roller skating, I mean Lu skated on the carpet, I skated like a boss, and Nicole fell on her butt and bruised her tailbone, rendering her unable to sit without screeching in pain. The weekend before St. Patrick’s day, we went to the Snake Saturday parade where we donned our gay green apparel and enjoyed the nice weather. In the interest of keeping up the pace, the next weekend, we visited St. Louis to enjoy the sights and let Nicole meet my extended family. It also gave us the opportunity to use the City Museum as a litmus test, since that’s where Nicole’s first engagement from several years ago ended. Thankfully, I passed the test and we made it through the museum without breaking up. On the 22nd, Nicole had to assist at a surgery, which gave Lu and I an opportunity for our first solo date. Needless to say, we went toy shopping. What else would we do?
The 30th of March, Nicole and I spent the day at Children’s Mercy with Lu trying to determine why she was having double vision. It was a scary day, but it turned out to be eye fatigue. We also celebrated three months together, meaning I had passed another of Nicole’s tests – apparently a psycho can only pretend to be nice for three months. With that test under our belts, it was time to get crazy. Nicole applied for a job working in Obstetrics, and not surprisingly, was offered the position, which she was to start the first week of May. Needless to say, that rendered the nephrology conference in Florida completely moot.
The second week of April, we decided to scrap our big wedding plans, and elope to Florida, using the tickets we’d already bought for the conference. We spent the following two weeks making plans and tiara shopping, and on the 27th, we hopped a plane to Orlando. We spent the 28th at the Magic Kingdom, which should actually be called the Crazed Cattle Chute from Hell. It’s basically a 140 degree parking lot stuffed with people and $95.00 bottles of water. Even Amber was like “Disney isn’t really that great.” Fortunately we had fun plans for the next day. I woke up on the 29th at about 3:30 AM and got dressed to meet with the hair stylist who was coming to do Nicole and Lu’s hair. At 5:00 AM I met the minister and went out to t