At that statement, you either just rolled your eyes or smiled and nodded. Perhaps a little bit of both.
I’ve been away from home for work the last few weeks, and I flew home to spend this day with my husband. But instead he’s in Oregon with his family, as his Dad’s been in the hospital. So ironically, I’m spending today all alone at home with my two cats.
But. That’s okay. I don’t need this day to tell me that my husband loves me and that I love him. I don’t need roses and chocolate to know we are each others everything. I have our history, our today, and our future to tell me that. I have a solid base of friendship that we’ve built upon over years. I have the dreams we dream, both big and small. I have the knowledge he’s only a phone call away, no matter what.
But more than that, I come from a long line of love. I knew when I said, “I do.” it would be for life. I would draw from the strength and lessons learned from all those loves before me and around me. We got married in the same church my parents and grandparents got married in… and today we have the support of friends and family to lift us up any time we hit rough patches.
And rough patches DO happen! Be they between us or around us.
Take today as an example. Having a sick parent is HARD. Especially when they are all the way across the country, dictating us be apart. A big stressful thing of it is that I can’t be right there to support my husband, and I know there’s been countless times all he’s wanted is a hug.
But we’re pulling together nonetheless with all the nuances of life around this, and we have been able to lean on friends in the spaces between to help us take it one day at a time. We’ll get to the other side of this stronger and having learned from it.
Learning from our past and each other is huge to build a solid future. No, we can’t predict the future… what events are to come or how we will react to them. But I do know I have one heck of support system — that long line of love — to lean on as anything and everything comes our way. And that’s priceless.
It’s all of THAT love that I pause and honor today.
I debated sharing this here, but I might as well. Anyone who knows us in real life has asked us, “So how did y’all meet?” And they’ve received that really uncomfortable silence, because its not an easy story to tell. Nonetheless, when SheKnows Media did a call out for unorthodox relationships that work, I decided to submit our love story.
I know better than to read comments, but in response to one of the comments on this story, I suppose having conversations over dinner with my parents are considered stolen moments. I’ll make sure and tell them that. Ha! Anyway, our story is ours and I love it, even the “ugly” parts.
“Howdy!” I said into the microphone, praying my voice didn’t crack.
The room instantly grew silent and a resounding, “HOWDY!” came back at me.
“That’s so cool!” I said under my breath.
It was April 21, 2008, and it was the first time I chaired Muster for the Middle Tennessee Texas A&M Club. It was also the first time I addressed a large group of Aggies at one time. My hands shook, and I hoped what I learned in public speaking in college eight years prior would come back to me as I went along. Little did I know, this was only the first of countless other events I’d find myself in front of Aggies over the next several years.
My journey as an Aggie started long before I was born. My grandfather (on my dad’s side) and my uncle (on my mom’s side) both worked at Texas A&M in the mess hall (cafeteria to other universities.) Later my dad attended Texas A&M, pursuing an Accounting degree.
I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a healthy dose of maroon and white in my wardrobe. My high school happened to be maroon & grey, and Fridays we were encouraged to wear the school colors. I’d guess a solid 90% of the time (the other 10% were high school days in band and color guard) I wore something Texas A&M to school.
I. Bleed. Maroon.
The ONLY university I applied to in high school was Texas A&M. It would have been considered foolish had the top 10% rule not applied then, and I was guaranteed acceptance. But I am pretty sure had that not applied, I would have still only submitted ONE application.
While I did opt to attend Temple College for two years first (a financial decision I am very grateful for today!), through friends who went straight to A&M, I still got to experience some key things… like the candle light walk and Midnight Yell after Bonfire collapsed in 1999, and “the 12th Man’s Finest Hour” when we, going in as the underdogs, came back to defeat the Longhorns that November day.
While at Texas A&M, I worked at the school newspaper, The Battalion, and, ironically, that was the extent of my involvement as a student.
Oh I attended Yell and football games. I did make it to one Silver Taps, and Muster was something I could not miss. I got tickets to a few shows with MSC Opas. And of course there was E-Walk, and Elephant Walk.
I was standing with my fellow Aggies in the MSC when I found out about the towers falling on 9/11. I sat on George Bush Drive in the gridlock that night, trying to get to Reed Arena for memorial that night (eventually giving up and going home). I was in the red section of the Red, White and Blue Out game.
I lived off-campus, actually opting to drive an hour one-way for most of my time at A&M. Gas wasn’t so expensive back then, and I chose a new truck over an apartment. (I even had personalized A&M plates!)
When I graduated, I wrote “Happy Hour” across my cap. An ironic foreshadowing of my days to come as a bartender? Perhaps. But it was a proud moment when I walked across that stage and shook hands with Robert Gates, who would later become the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense .
Since I was a transfer student, I didn’t receive my Aggie Ring until after I graduated… but it stands as one of my most prized possessions. I never leave home without it on, and I stare at it now and then in awe that I have it. Its one of my favorite things to photograph. When I sent it off to be fixed, when the band cracked, I felt naked without it… and the day it was shipped back to me I slept on the couch beside the front door so I could be RIGHT THERE when it came home.
You’d have to be an Aggie to understand all it means.
When I moved to Nashville, the only friends I had were ones through my (future) husband. And while I was so grateful for those friends, a big part of me was determined to reach out and make friends on my own. My first place to look: the local A&M club.
I was disappointed to find the club was disjointed, and barely even able to be called a club at that time. Through a series of emails, I finally reached out to someone who was trying to bring it back to life and he invited me to join him and some other Aggies to watch the Texas A&M vs Oklahoma game that weekend. With my fiance on the road for work, I set out all by myself with a GPS in my new city to find new friends. Without a doubt one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever done… and without a doubt one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Over the course of the next year, I slowly immersed myself into the club… gently taking over many of the reins. I pretty much made myself an officer, and before I knew it I felt I had a very solid group of Aggie friends to call my own.
It all led up to organizing Muster in 2008, and every single year since then. This year will be my 9th year as chair.
But every year, our club grew. Every year, more Aggies started to appear and become friends. The year we hit over 100 Aggies in attendance for Muster was the year I thought, “Wow! We did it! This is huge!”
Texas A&M joined the SEC.
To say that day didn’t leave me in something of a cold sweat would be an understatement. Because it meant SOMEDAY, Texas A&M would be coming to town. And I had placed myself right in the hot seat of planning all the events around their game versus Vanderbilt.
Suddenly that first, “Howdy!” was a distant memory and not such a big deal after all…
In the mean time, another door opened for me in the form of a golf tournament. I don’t golf. I don’t know a darn thing about golf. But I know bartending events. I know photography. And I love, love, love helping others.
The Nashville ACC-SEC Leadership Counsel came into my life, and it brought with it more friendships. I found myself embracing the opportunity to spend time with the amazing people of this group… and I marveled over the respect I received from fellow SEC alumni. I was able to represent my university and put my own talents to work to help an awesome organization: CASA.
I’ll continue being part of this group as long as possible.
News came Aggies would be coming to Nashville in 2015. Quickly this became the game the Association of Former Students started getting the most inquires about attending. Nashville being the “It” city that it is, Aggies were going to travel to visit.
Fast forward through stressing and planning, and building an extremely solid group of amazing Aggies around the execution of the events we were to put on… the day came.
A year of planning. A year of worry. A year of logistics all came down to the night we hit capacity at Wildhorse Saloon and Aggies started to be turned away — no one could have even fathomed that large of an attendance. No one.
Over 2,000 Aggies packed the three story venue. And even as my heart broke over the Aggies being turned away, I felt myself overwhelmed with awe of my University… the very University I was born to attend some day.
The next day’s tailgate was just as overwhelming and amazing. By game time, I found myself wanting nothing but to sit in silence and take it all in… take in every second. Process every success and every failure.
I opted not to go to the game, instead sitting just outside of the stadium listening to the game as the Aggies shut out the Commodores.
At one point, a group of girls seemed to appear out of nowhere and join me at the firepit we had at the tailgate. These ladies were just what I needed in that moment. They had passion and excitement for all it meant to be an Aggie while also clearly being on the path to being professionals in their fields. They made me smile, and they grounded me from two days of madness. Making sure these women and all the Aggies visiting Music City had a good time was what it all meant.
As I hugged the necks of the representatives of the Association of Former Students, saying good bye to these new friends I so respected and appreciated, I felt relief but also a lot of sadness that it was all over. I wasn’t ready to say good bye….
But silly me. Two weeks later we found out the Aggies were coming BACK to Nashville for the Music City Bowl. Hey, lets do all this over again, but plan it in two weeks with Christmas right in the middle. I felt myself pressuring myself to do even better that last time.
However, this time, the Association took the lead, and I was able to relax a bit more and enjoy. Plus, since we had JUST done all these events, we knew better what to expect and how to handle it all. (By the way, though, a bowl game versus a regular season game… two totally different beasts. I learned SO MUCH about the bowl process this year!)
December 30th, I said a much more definitive good bye to the Association representatives. Okay, more like, “See ya later” but still… I definitely felt sad to see them leave. I truly enjoy them as people, and I hope to maintain friendships with them for years to come.
As we drove away from Nissan Stadium that night, I found myself feeling like my Aggie journey had lead me to that moment. We did it. We pulled off hosting Aggies in our city TWICE in less than six weeks. That was huge…
I truly believe everything you do in life is getting you ready for the next step. Life lead me to Texas A&M. The last nine years prepared me for the game day events, as every Muster taught me something more about event planning.
Then the Vanderbilt game and the Music City Bowl lead me to learn how to delegate and give direction versus doing it all myself. It taught me to let go and trust others to do the job they have agreed to do… something I had always had a hard time with doing.
Finally, I have made connections and contacts that I will hold dearly and respectfully for years to come — both personally and professionally.
My Aggie journey began long before I was even born…
…and it has a long way to go.
I can’t wait to see whats next. Gig’em, y’all. And God Bless.
It’s been a month since I last blogged… a busy month. I chatted with my brother on the phone last night and he asked what I’ve been up to since Christmas and I was a bit stumped on how to respond. What HAVE I been up to in the last month?
Well, first off, Christmas was wonderful. I love my family, and it never seems like enough time together when we all see each other. ESPECIALLY when its a rare time that my husband is off the road and can be there.
It was a warm Christmas down in Texas! Dig my red socks there? Yeahhhh… In a similar vein, this happened before Christmas:
Santa remembered us. See? He IS real.
Anyway, after Christmas it was time to focus on all the Music City Bowl events in Nashville. I’m still planning to do a whole blog post JUST on this, but let me just say that even though A&M lost the game, I feel like I won so much through the experience. I didn’t know it was possible to love my University any more than I already did, but I totally do after all that I got to do with it in 2015.
I then rang in the new year with friends… with a special highlight of it my oldest friend — besties since around Kindergarten — was in Nashville with me for the game and to celebrate New Years. First time in about 30 years of friendship for that to happen! And on top of that, it was 14th time my husband and I rang in a new year together.
My first task of 2016 was to stand up for myself… and it felt really good.
I do some light web design work for a few people. It’s not something I promote much, mostly because its just… I’m not keeping up with all the new stuff in web design enough to feel confident in calling myself a web designer. But, if you ask me to do it, I’ll do it and I’ll give it my all. On top of that, a by-product of my journalism degree, I guess, I never miss a deadline set by someone else. (I miss my personal deadlines all the time, LOL, but if you ask me to do a job by x-day, it might be completed in the 11th hour, but it WILL be done by deadline.)
Well, I won’t go into any details, but I ultimately quit a client over what I am considering a personality conflict. I don’t handle being micromanaged very well, I suppose. I got the job done, though, and I walked away. And I haven’t second guessed that decision once. Proud of myself, actually, for standing up for myself.
The deadline of this project was actually the same day at my wedding anniversary. 9 years, y’all! NINE!
We celebrated using a gift card we got for Christmas from a friend. Dinner at Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse in Nashville is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but that chilean sea bass was worth it. That, and getting our waiter to relax a bit and chat with us after we told him he could be twins with another friend of ours.
After dinner we met up with a couple we haven’t gotten to hang out with in a long time… in a nice smokey dive bar. Back in our comfort zone. LOL!
Since these back-to-back-to-back-to-back things… I went through a brief phase of being lost. I suddenly didn’t have something demanding my attention RIGHT THIS SECOND and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I found myself obsessing over bills and the fact that January is ALWAYS a lean month for us.
But, I found my stride after awhile, and my focus has definitely turned to our future. The business plan is pretty much done for the bar we are planning to open. We should get it in the hands of investors next week.
My husband has been driving Lyft while the bus driving is at a stand still.
If you’ve never tried Lyft (or Uber), its a rideshare service. Think of it as a taxi, only cheaper and you’re riding in someone’s personal vehicle. Creepy? Not at all. All drivers undergo a rigorous background check before they are approved to be part of the Lyft service. They also have to keep a higher level of care for their vehicles. No junkie clunkers allowed! AND riders and drivers rate each other after each ride. If either the driver OR the passengers ends up with too many low scores, they’re kicked out of the system entirely.
I set up a Lyft code through my husband’s account for the Music City Bowl that is still good to use. So if you want to test it out, use the code MUSICCITYAGGIES for a discount on your first ride!
My husband went on his first bus drive of the year this week, though. It felt really good to be back surrounded by tour buses for awhile when I tagged along for the pre-trip of the bus. It really felt like suddenly the year was back on track. Things were back to normal.
I feel this odd peace sitting in the middle of a lot full of tour buses. This is normal. Right? #roadwidow#tourlife