THE RACE IS RUN
Christine and I continued to date. When thoughts of my fragile mortality intruded into my psyche, I was able to think of her, and overcome my self-destructive impulses. Instead of attempting to gamble away my life with behavior that was bound to catch up with me and kill me before cystic fibrosis could, I took care of my health. I knew that I couldnít afford to make my life a non-stop whirlwind of late nights and excessive drinking. I wanted to hang around for as long as possible, and I wanted to spend that time with Christine. She was the motivation I needed to live beyond just the day; to make plans for the future, and to improve myself to become a better man.
She opened up her heart to me and accepted me as I was; my braggadocio, my eccentricities, my love for her, and my eventually fatal disease. Only a courageous soul would take that tragic burden on and live day to day- hoping for the best and enjoying each moment as it came. Yet, she embraced me- and when I proposed to her on bent knee, she accepted the ringÖand even the marriage proposal.
Shortly after Christineís June graduation we were married at the home of local timber magnate who attended the same church as we. The home was large enough to hold the wedding indoors, but as fortune would have it, the day was beautiful- which is an iffy proposition even during the summer in coastal Washington state. Christine was radiant in her wedding gown, and I looked pretty damn sharp in my black tuxedo as we exchanged our vows.
My father and mother were in attendance, and, of course my grandparents and a variety of our acquaintances from church. A few of my close friends showed up, also. Shawn Mrowiec was my best man, dressed in a Tuxedo for the second time since he exchanged vows with his wife, Mary. Max, and his wife Shannon showed up right after the vows were exchanged; but I was easily able to forgive him since, though I had introduced the two of them, I skipped their wedding altogether. Though Max doesnít drink, he managed to find a bottle of sparkling cider, which he promptly uncorked and began carrying around with him- taking swigs whenever he felt a thirst coming on. I considered this a classic example of Max.
As a symbol of my love and respect for Christine we held off on having sex until after we were married. It was the ultimate test of discipline for me, but I felt that strongly for her, that it was a small sacrifice to demonstrate my noble intentions. ÖAnd, I have to admit, she was worth the wait.
Though I had been working regularly at a cabinet makers shop, in which my grandfather owned part interest, my funds were fairly limited. My health didnít allow me to work as regularly as I liked, and though I wore a dust mask when working, sometimes the particles would still get to me and Iíd have to take a little time off while my lungs recuperated. It was a far cry from the easy money of bartending, when big tips would roll in from big drunks, - or drug dealing where the profit margin was huge and the customers plentiful. I didnít mind doing honest work, but I realized that eventually I was going to have to get entrepreneurial in order to have a job with enough flexibility to accommodate my bouts of sickness with cystic fibrosis.
To take the pressure off me, my grandfather offered to retrofit the barn and build part of it into an apartment for Christine and I. Using some of the funds I won from my surprise beating outside the grocery store, we built a small double level apartment, where Christine and I lived. This gave us a place large enough for the two of us to comfortably live, that was paid for. I didnít have to come up with a monthly rent, just enough for us to cover food, utilities, and entertainment.
Christineís creative impulses couldnít be contained and she contracted for several jobs painting murals, and worked part time keeping the books at a small internet provider based out of Smokey Point. The proprietors of the shop were basically teenage computer geniuses, who knew little else- and needed someone with organizational abilities to keep things running while they took care of the hardware and software.
Really, these were the happiest days of my, often times, miserable existence. I was satisfied with my life; I was in love; and I was making plans for my future. I lived in a state of blissful shock; shock because I couldnít believe that my life had worked out into such a happy state. It was a state that I wished could last forever, I enjoyed it while it lasted, but it was to prove all too finite.
My entrepreneurial adventure came shortly after Christine and I were married. She tolerated and even played some of the tactical miniature and role playing games that I had enjoyed for years. I set up an account with Games Workshop, one of the leading manufacturers of gaming miniatures and began soliciting orders from acquaintances who enjoyed gaming and probably would be spending some money on miniatures anyway. My hook was that I would give thirty percent off the suggested retail prices.
I set up a small rack of gaming paraphernalia in the entry to my apartment, but mostly I pre-sold my orders, so I didnít have to invest a lot of money in stock. I rapidly began to build up a clientele of hardcore gamers that were happy to get thirty percent more bang for their buck in an expensive hobby. Enough money was coming in to ease the monthly financial crunch and keep us from dipping into savings. Though my company was just fledgling, I could see my customer base building to the point where I was going to be able to make a good living. Unfortunately, I became a victim of my own success.
Local retail stores caught wind of what I was doing and