New Horizons

Oddly, my twenties closed out much like they began. I feel as though I am on top of the world and damn anyone who tells me differently.

Last week was amazingly, how to say this, GOOD!

So much happened. Let me see if I am able to adequately re-cap the weekend:
Wednesday night Jean and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Terri (vmperella), and Tom (tdhartist). Damn if they ain’t just a kick in the pants! We had so much fun, and stayed up so late that we had to get together for more drinks and food on Thursday night too! Oddly, all our similarities didn’t make us hate each other right off, which is a good thing. So now we know at least two other people of like mind in the wasteland of humanity that is South County. Whoo!

Friday, I find out I got a raise of $3k/year. Not much, but it won’t hurt either! I hadn’t even noticed it on my check, which was indeed a bit larger than normal. Turns out, I am the only person in the history of this company to receive a raise since it began 2-3 years ago. (Granted I only got one because it was promised to me when I began as part of my 90 “probation” which never happened, but still. Better late than never, right?)

Friday night we had, as meg would say, “The best dinner EVER!”. We took Craig and meg out to Ruth’s Chris much to their surprise. They knew we were going, but they were expecting to pay their portion. HA! Beat them to the punch! I had to. I needed to say thanks to them and wish Craig a happy Birthday as well.

While at Ruth’s Chris, I was once again validated with regards to my wine palate. We had brought two bottles from home, one an Andrew Murray 2001 Hillside Reserve Syrah, and the other an EOS 1999 Late Harvest Zinfandel Reserve. They were both spectacular bottles which we thoroughly enjoyed (getting meg drunk after ONE glass of the Syrah!). About halfway through dinner, we were greeted by the manager, just checking to see if all was well. While at our table, he notes the bottles of wine, and we begin chatting about the bottles, which indirectly leads to him complimenting me on my choices and that he hadn’t known EOS even produced a Late Harvest Zin. So that makes twice which I have held my own when it comes to wine at high class restraunts. It again made me realize that my palate is indeed refined enough to know good from bad, and not be laughed at when I bring bottles of my own to dinner.

Saturday Jean, Colleen and I went for a mid afternoon lunch at El Torito Grill and drank too many margaritas and ate too much food. But damn was it fun. 🙂 Thank god we have friends who enjoy food and drink as much as we do!
John and Mary were busily cleaning their new house, so we went up to see it, and brought RedBulls and Beer. I’m honestly not sure which were appreciated more 🙂

The house is gorgeous and huge! 2500 sq. ft. with more back-yard than you can shake a stick at. And I tried. My stick waving hand got tired before I could wave at the whole place! The house is well laid out for a party house. I have a feeling the next few years are going to be FUN!

Sunday, I awoke to my cell phone ringing and my furniture delivery guys showing up 30 minutes before the window of time even began! So a bit of rushing around and 30 more minutes and we have a bedroom set and China hutch in the house. The hutch is gorgeous, even if the Oak Grain is not as subtle as I had hoped for. the bedroom set is PERFECT, however. It fits as though it was made for our bedroom. Only problem is the rails for the side of the bed were in the wrong finish, so they couldn’t put the bed together. As such, we are sleeping on the box spring and mattress on the floor until the rails can be delivered in the correct finish.

Jean and I then headed over to my parent’s house so they could take us out to lunch on the pier in San Clemente. Normally, I’d love this. But there were two problems with the day:
1. the sun was intent on burning me, and succeeded.
2. my sister, who was on near best behaviour, still annoyed the hell out of me.
I have realized after spending the afternoon with my family, that I didn’t know everything as a teenager. On the contrary, I know everything NOW. Or at least it would seem. I found myself annoyed at the conversation simply because they would continually repeat themselves from earlier in the day, and comment on the -dumbest- things possible. The entire conversation felt like everyone asking for validation and praise. Which just annoys the fuck out of me. How tacky is it to outright ask for praise and validation? Spend an hour with my family and you will find out.

Ok… I’m done with that. Lets fast forward to getting home. I was drained after the sun forcibly stole thousands of joules worth of energy from me. With not so much as a reach around. :::shakes fist at sun:::: damn you!!!!

Jean and I finished off some laundry and put clothes away in our new bed set, which was very satisfying for such a menial thing.

We finished the night off with a nice soak in the jacuzzi, then passed out on the “floor”.

Ah….. recap is complete. I may have missed something, but if I did, it couldn’t have been that important….

On to more deep topics. I have had a small bit of time here and there where I have been able to reflect.
Well, perhaps not reflect, but rather be slapped upside the head and punched in the face with signs that have been showing me how much my life has changed in the past 5, 10, 20, and 30 years. For the most part, I still don’t believe it.

5 years ago we were just buying our first condo. It was the first step towards where we are today. I was working for a small software company making about $12.00/hour doing technical support. We scraped and struggled like we were used to, to make the payments on a $95,000 mortgage. We had just come off of some seriously dire straights which we wouldn’t have pulled through as easily if it weren’t for my parent’s generosity. We had no idea the truly tough times were just ahead. But we pulled through those without help. We did it on our own, and we triumphed. Two years later, we sold our tiny one bed, and bought a two bed townhome for over twice as much as our first mortgage. But this time we had a substantial down payment. Or at least more substantial. It was only $10K, but it was a lot to us. Unfortunately, some bad issues arose during funding and we saw our rate jump by 2 points in 24 hours. By the time all was said and done, we didn’t even want the place. The next two years were just us occupying an investment as far as we were concerned. Which allowed us to vacate the place in two years without looking back. We had decided in December to really start fixing stuff up and putting it on the market in the first of the year. We had no idea we would end up in a $525,000 house that fits us to a “T”. We had thought we would have to settle for something again, like we always had before. We were used to not being able to afford what we wanted. And this time around we could!

That pretty much takes you to the start of this journal, so I won’t bore you with the specific from then ’til now.

10 years ago, I was just transferring to Chapman University to work on my English degree. Jean and I had been dating for two years at that point and were already serious about the relationship. Everyone who knew us could see it. In the next five years from this point, Jean and I would marry, I would drop out of college to work, and we would find out just how tough it is to be young, idealistic, in love, and poor. We struggled. Both in college, and in life. Jean graduated with her BA, and moved into retail management. I worked security, and began looking at careers in law enforcement. Neither of those lasted. Thank god. We were growing up at this point. Still learning about ourselves, and still very much the idealists we were in highschool. I think we were both rudely woken up during these years when we realized that once you leave school, things aren’t as easy as they seemed.

It was tough. We both worked odd shifts that backed up against each other, so the only real time we had together was during one of our three car rides per day. And carpooling does not a marriage make. We did that for almost a year. Then, we got a second car and saw even less of each other. Sometimes I’m not sure how we ever got through those times. Looking back now just makes me sad for how much life we had missed in those years as we tried to grow up and do what we had to so we could survive and put more chicken, rice and top-ramen on our plates at night.

The last 20-30 years in this time line, are almost not even worth mentioning. I say that because I am almost back to exactly where I started: South Orange County, living in a real house with a yard, mowing my lawn, waving at the neighbors, and living the dream that is California. Growing up in Mission Viejo, I came to see things as marks of success. And let m tell you, condos and apartments were not the mark. So much so, that the past 10 years of my life have been working towards attaining those things which I have grown up perceiving as being marks of success: The House.
(I know many of you will think that my car falls into this, but you’d actually be quite mistaken. My car was a present to myself. An unnecessary extravagance that my parents would have never bought. It is not something I ever grew up seeing as a mark of success. Cars were just simply cars to me. Some nicer, some less so, but really, just cars in the end.)
But now I have the house. I have accomplished what I set out to do 10 years ago. I earned my way back into South County on my own merits (with a great part of this due to Jean’s support and hard work too). We have truly built the life I had wanted.

Granted, there are still things I want to do, have, see, etc. But on the greater scale, I have accomplished my one goal. I’m not sure what to do now. The future is wide open. I still have goals of traveling and living the most of this life that I can, but those are very esoteric and abstract ideas that have no concrete foundation to focus on and work for.

This past month has been very odd for me. I have been riding a high that I had only dreamed of even 2 months prior. Our lives have changed so much since December, I am still reeling from all that has happened. It is very odd. It almost feels as if I have done 5+ years of growing up, in less that 3 months time.

I guess I needed to do some catching up before my 20’s were over and had to rush to get some of that growing done quickly!
I never really saw 30 as a mile stone, until some of these coincidental occurrences began happening at the same time forcing me to look back and reflect for brief moments. In doing so, now it makes me wonder where my next 30 years are headed. Hell, if I play my cards right, I’ll be buying a castle in Ireland in 10 years with the profit from the sale of this place!