It’s pretty hard for me to admit this, but there was a time when I first met Tom that I took what he knew how to do for granted. I had known him a week, and we’d had one date. I was setting up my single girl apartment, me being recently separated from my kid’s dad. Tom came over to my new apartment for our second “date” having asked if he could help. I said, sure and he said, “I’ll bring my tools over.” He brought his tools, and I thought, “cool, a handy guy.” Then about a month later I saw his electrician van.
Let’s just say, I totally underestimated what he was capable of.
It was (and it still is) super embarrassing how much I underestimated his skill level, what he could build, and the kind of tool and construction/building know-how and experience he had/has. When I saw his electrician van for the first time it hit me-“um, duh, lady.” I was so embarrassed, and he never knew it. But of course I had to tell him later about my gross underestimation, because keeping things secret is NOT my strong suit.
My favorite memory from that evening when he helped me is that after he helped me put my new table together, we watched Gran Torino, a movie we’d realized we both love through texting. He asked if he could bring me anything. I had just taken my daughter and her girlfriend home to Portland, and I was tired. It was a Sunday night. I said “guacamole and chips.” And he brought me over guacamole and chips because I love it and asked for it. I learned later that he would NEVER eat guacamole unless it was the last thing on earth to eat to stay alive, and then maybe he’d still rather die than eat anything remotely avocado. It was romantic (and still is) as hell. And before he went home he laid a kiss on me that I still remember. Like I can still feel his lips on mine.
Like I said, romantic as hell.
And yeah, he can’t take a compliment (neither can I) so no worries. I’ll keep keeping it to myself. He only reads this now and then, so I think I’m safe being all touchy feely here.
So this first weekend of June, 2018 we built a deck. Or rather-he built it and I handed him screws. It’s kind of amazing to be witness to his talent, and to be lucky enough to be the recipient of this kind of love and kindness.
Tom’s older brother Mark, the one that gave him his given birth name Tommy Ray, was here today to take Ella bow hunting on their other (middle) brother Dean’s place in Sweet Home. Mark jokes to me and Ella, “Tom always has projects, he doesn’t know how to have fun like me and you, Ella.” Tom was at Jerry’s at the time. I remember saying, “well, he needs to be done so he can work in his shop.”
Thing is, Tom and I are the same. We’re so the same. I am always happier when I’m working. There is nothing wrong with work, working hard, making a change in your life with your hands and your brain. It’s honest and true and from the gut. It is the best thing I feel I can do. It is grit. It is real. I remember watching this in my dad growing up. I’m sure mom did this work thing, too, but I don’t remember watching her. You tend to idolize the parent you see less. My dad was pretty much gone 1/2 of my childhood working on the restaurants. It sucks for the hard working right there all the time parent, but it’s true, he was the “hero.”
My dad would work hard on something outside, usually building something. And he’d finish and then stand back and stare at his hard work, yellow can of pull-tab Coors in hand, and just take it in. Watching him watch what he did was so captivating and huge for me. I somehow managed to soak that up and make it part of me, that hard work and then looking over the accomplishment with pride.
Well today, I look at what we did with pride. Me handing Tom screws and once in a while screwing in a board and Tom measuring and designing and problem solving. I have learned after 2 1/2 years with him how to anticipate his moves, and to hand him what he needs next as quickly as possible. Sometimes I fuck up, sometimes I get it. It usually takes an hour or two for me to groove with his movements.
Today we had a good rhythm going, but then we got exhausted and we just had to call it a day around 6:00 pm.
I love this life. It is not always easy at all. We make each other plenty insane almost every day. But we so so so love each other. It is so worth it. It is so worth it. It is so so so worth it. I have never known someone so much like me. We get each other for the most part. About 20% of the time we have some really hard shit to work through but usually, it’s just him and me, working and being pretty stoked we can work.
I’m lucky as fuck.