I don’t share this story. Ever. Well, that’s not 100% accurate, because I do say something when asked “how did you two meet”. It’s not like we woke up one day and found ourselves married with kids.
Now THAT would be one helluva story, huh?
Our story, however, is anything but a fairy tale. It’s not even romantic. Really, the only word that describes it is crazy. Absolutely crazy. So I have a lot of trepidation about posting this and I hope you will be understanding rather than judgmental, because I think I’ve judged myself enough over the years, and will forever live with the consequences of several of my actions.
After my medical discharge from the Air Force in 2006, I decided to make my stay in San Antonio, TX, permanent. I found myself working at the biggest dump of a hole-in-the-wall bar imaginable on the Riverwalk, and I was damn good at slinging drinks and kicking ass when needed. Trust me, it was needed, thank you military training.
The man who owned the bar also owned three other bars around SA, and thus had two managers, each caring for two bars. A couple of weeks after I began working at the Gulch, my manager took a vacation and Rudy had to care for all four bars. I had no idea who he was when he first walked in and behind the bar, but I definitely gave him the stink eye and was a little less than friendly at his intrusion in my space.
Dood, seriously. Stay outta my space.
We didn’t even say anything. He went down to the basement, did whatever he was doing and then left. I asked no questions, he gave no explanations. He came back several hours later and finally introduced himself, and we laughed about our earlier encounter and how he was kind of worried that I would tackle him thinking he was some crazy thief or something. Ha.
He ended up spending pretty much the rest of the evening at the bar, and I ended up working from open to close, which was over 12 hours. During that time I talked to one of the regulars and established that Rudy was single. I also confessed that he was pretty damn hot, and so this regular decided to try to get the sparks flowing. It wasn’t long before we were both in the basement and I was shotgunning weed off him. It was so sexy to me, and it was the first time I had done that (not smoke weed, but shotgun it).
But it didn’t end there. At one point, a chick I used to work with at Rainforest Cafe walked by the huge window outside and decided to press her butt against it. The window SHATTERED. I’m talking about a 10’x10′ window here. It was a total disaster, because it was already late at night and there was nothing we could do to fix it. Rudy and I both volunteered to stay there the rest of the night and basically “protect” the bar, because there were many bad individuals downtown. Needless to say, we did more than just talk that night.
After that, we would hook up occasionally, but we never considered ourselves a couple, especially since we were mostly doing it in secret. He was seeing other people and I was “seeing” other people. But when we got together, it was always crazy. We partied. Hard. We drank more alcohol than you could imagine and did more drugs than…well…I don’t have a good analogy for that, but we did a lot.
I could easily say I was addicted to Rudy, in a way. I pretty much stalked him. I would text him all the time and call him, and follow him around like some silly lovesick puppy. I wanted him all to myself and I was going to do whatever it took to make sure he was mine and only mine.
I was totally crazy.
Things really changed, however, in May of 2007. I was heading to Spokane, WA, to see my brother graduate college when my car started breaking down in Colorado. Scared of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, I cancelled my trip and headed back to SA. During the trip back I talked frequently to Rudy, and once I got back I realized I had all this time off and nothing to do, so Rudy and I made a spontaneous trip to Port Aransas, TX.
We packed a ton of food and alcohol and bought a tent and pitched it right on the beach, and then we spent five days having what was probably the funnest week of my life. It was Memorial Day weekend and the beach was PACKED with people and the coolest group of super rich farmer/bikers were parked right behind us and welcomed us into their group to eat, drink and just plain have a good time. It was during this time that Rudy and I really declared ourselves as a couple.
The happiness didn’t last. Rudy had a habit of just disappearing for days at a time. Wouldn’t answer his phone and wouldn’t be home. It even got so bad that he skipped town when he owed me some money and my electricity was shut off. It was the middle of summer and I lived in an attic apartment that quickly became unlivable, so I ended up having to stay at his mother’s place for two days and borrow money from her to get my power turned back on. It was miserable and I was angry. When he finally reappeared we fought like vicious animals. But, long story short, he moved in with me after that and things started to smooth out. At least, temporarily.
It seemed like I was the one who took care of everything. I had a steady gig at a Mom and Pop restaurant where I made pretty good money, but Rudy couldn’t hold down a steady job to save his life. I was always lending him money for this, that and the other thing and never getting paid back. He finally took a job as an electrician for a construction company that was working in northern Texas and so he would be gone for weeks at a time.
While he was gone, he would frequently “forget” to call me, or tell me the reception was terrible where he was at, or any number of other excuses when it came time to send me money for rent, utilities or other things he owed me money for. We would constantly fight over the phone and I was on the verge of breaking up with him, but he would always come home at that point with some sob story and I would forgive him.
The cycle continued for a long time. He would disappear, lie and basically take my money, and I would forgive him and take him back. It was a bad cycle. And just when I was getting ready to really cut him loose, I missed my period.
I was pregnant.
I don’t think I was ever so scared. I didn’t want to be a mom. I was on birth control! This shouldn’t be happening, so what did I do wrong?
Telling Rudy was even scarier, because I knew it wasn’t going to go over well with him. And although he was justifiably angry, he stuck by my side. He went to appointments with me, asked questions, and was excited when he could feel the baby kicking finally. And he was supportive of my decision to move back to Minnesota to be closer to my family.
Of course, things did not get easier once we got to Minnesota. Rudy had to have emergency surgery on three hernias, and ended up with internal bleeding that nearly killed him. I was put on bed rest shortly after arriving when I developed diabetes and preeclampsia. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
Afton was born in December 2008, and it was the most amazing experience for both of us.
Seven months after Afton’s birth, Rudy and I got married in my mom’s backyard.
Now we are on our way to baby #4 and although we do still battle like crazy people, the fights are fewer and farther between. We are committed to working hard to stay together, not just for our kids but for ourselves, because seriously, we made it through so much already…neither of us can fathom a situation that could really pull us apart.
So, like I said, our story is anything but a fairy tale. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still have a Happily Ever After, right?