It’s an image I’ll never forget and was as symbolic and prophetic as any I’d experienced.
Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized | ∞
It was the first official day of our honeymoon. Standing on a sunny sidewalk in Athens and blinking my eyes against the glare of the sun and effects of jet lag, I watched Renee pull the heavy backpack onto her back and begin marching ahead – even though she wasn’t quite sure where she was going. I remember smiling and thinking to myself how perfect it was that this was my new wife. Independent and strong – and ready to head into a new adventure.
That pretty much sums up our life together ever since.
Today is Renee’s birthday and I’m dedicating this long overdue post to her.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve now known each other for nearly 16 years and have been married for more than 14 of those years. Although it’s much more common today, Renee and I were actually one of the early (and novel) love stories that emerged from the foundering Internet (actually AOL at the time). We met in a Seattle chat room and instantly hit it off. We met IRL (In Real Life in Internet lingo) only two nights later on a magical first date that included drinks at Palomino’s and dinner at Dahlia Lounge. It’s a night I’ll never forget. After spending weekends together watching football (and that was HER choice, not mine), I knew that I had found a truly unique and special woman: a woman beautiful enough to be a model (she did some in her early 20s), funny enough to hold her own with me and my friends and adventurous enough to move on her own to Seattle from Florida – sight unseen. We both shared the same values, dreams and sense of adventure. And so we got married May 17, 1997.
LIfe today is obviously much different than it was when we met. There is no way either of us had any idea what the future would bring with both highs and lows. And throughout the relationship, I keep going back to that image in my mind of Renee hoisting on the backpack and beginning our honeymoon trekking throughout Europe.
I can’t thank Renee enough for all she has done and brought to my life. She’s thrown on the proverbial backpack many times and joined me on many adventures – some more fun and successful than others. We met in Seattle, moved to California together for my career and again returned to this area when I convinced her that this was the area we should raise our family and where I could again be a successful entrepreneur. I wanted a beagle as a pet for years – and Renee bought me one as a birthday present the first year we were married. And Frankie became our first practice baby. And even though she was initially against the idea, she relented when I insisted on getting a second dog as a companion for Frankie. And so Rusty was part of our family.
Renee and I both always wanted children but little did we know what a challenge it would be for us to actually become parents. We persevered together as we had to go through the incredibly emotional process of fertility treatments. Not once, not twice, but three times. This is where I again saw the grit and determination that makes Renee so special. She wasn’t going to let anything stop her from being a mother – no matter how painful and inconvenient the process as. And it paid off with the birth of Stone and Ty – our treasured twin tornadoes.
Not long after Stone and Ty were born I was still struggling trying to get GreenforGood off the ground. In order to help me continue my dream of building this company, Renee decided to go back to work fulltime and focused on a job that included strong benefits – since this was such a huge priority with twin infants. She quickly targeted the Gates Foundation as an ideal employer and as she so often does, decided that she was going to get herself hired. And that she did – and this job (and benefits) have been a lifesaver for our family as I moved from GreenforGood to a full time job (with no benefits) to again being an entrepreneur. And never content to simply “have a job,” Renee has pushed herself at the Foundation and has received four promotions and numerous recognitions since she was hired.
I couldn’t be more proud of Renee – both professionally and personally. And its high time I acknowledge her and all she has been as my friend, wife and partner. I want her to know and feel how special she is not only to me, but to so many others in her life.
I know that speaking for myself, my life wouldn’t be nearly as fun, funny or fulfilling without her in it.
So on this, her special day, I want to say thank you for being so special Renee – I look forward to bringing you many more days (and years) of happiness and adventure in the future!