Through the Polaroid Lens at Age 25

Mel & RJ - Earth Space Science Class - 9th Grade

Earth Space Science class, our freshman year in high school. It was in this class that I had the privilege of meeting my beautiful wife.

Emotions were racing through my mind that first year at Great Mills High School. I was a bad ass kid at Esperanza Middle School, and I felt I had to carry this image over to high school if I was going to “make it.”

I started the year with that mentality; but that quickly changed with each moment spent around Mel.

We started off exchanging pleasantries on a daily basis. She approached me the first day of school, without really knowing me, and introduced herself.

What kind of person does that? I had to know, so I carried the conversation on with her, which blossomed into this, both of us, year two in our marriage, year 10 in our relationship.

Mel & RJ - Baseball

This picture was taken around our first few months together. We started dating in April 2002, which was right when baseball was in full swing (no pun intended). We already spent many months growing close in our Earth Space Science class, and we reached a point where we felt something for each other.

We couldn’t describe this feeling. I don’t think anyone could describe the feeling. If they try to put words to it, they would fail only to realize such words do not exist for feelings so strong and mature towards another being.

During baseball season, we grew a lot closer to each other as we were able to ride the bus together to each away game. It was tough because we wanted to focus on our upcoming games, but that seemed impossible as we were too busy getting lost in the thoughts behind our eyes; daydreaming of days to come.

Mel & RJ - Prom - 12th Grade

We made it. It was finally time for Prom. We were in the third year of our relationship during this picture.

Three months in a relationship in high school seemed like a long time. Mel and I made it to three years!

We didn’t know why, nor did we discuss the reasons as to why. We just felt close to each other. We felt these vibes that I don’t think were ever discussed between our feelings.

We felt as though we could take on the world. We felt as though we were ready to start talking about life after high school. The conversation probably went something like this:

“Mel, are you going to go to college?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, then I guess I am too. I want to do what you want to do.”

I was terrified, having never discussed my future with anyone. It was always assumed in my head that I would graduate high school, and move on to find a job with my father or mother, the latter sounding like the more viable, less strenuous option.

College was not an option in my opinion. And the thought of doing it alone was certainly not in the cards.

But we pressed on.

Mel & RJ - Out of High School

Here we were. Fresh out of high school with majority of our friends moving off to college, joining the military, or some other ambitious adventure that deep down we yearned for.

We both waited too long to take the SAT and apply for universities in high school, so we were forced to begin our college career at the College of Southern Maryland. This saved our parents money and helped us (mainly me) determine if college was the right path for us.

In my first semester, I found out it wasn’t. I hated English. I hated everything about it. I hated it so much that I was one car ride away from joining the Air Force. I talked it over with Mel before telling my parents, and she understood. She was thinking about our future, while I was still trying to determine mine.

She had her thoughts together and knew what she wanted. She was going to be a teacher and she wanted to transfer to Towson.

I decided to stick out the whole college thing, and the rest of my semesters at CSM were a success.

Mel & RJ - Moments Before the Engagement

Everything was going well, and it was in that moment, on a beautiful night in April, on our five-year anniversary, I asked for Mel’s hand in marriage. The night was magical.

We were both getting to a point where we wanted something more for ourselves and each other. We were jealous in the sense that everyone was leaving St. Mary’s, whereas we felt “stuck.”

In all honesty, it made me feel unsuccessful, like I deserved or was made for something more.

Mel & RJ - The Beard PhaseMel & RJ - First Night in Cockeysville

So we packed our things and moved to Cockeysville, MD, where we still reside. I will never forget the day we moved. We had all of our items packed. My dad and I went to pick up the Budget Rental truck and proceeded to load it up.

Everyone arrived at my parents’ house to set up the convoy. I led the way in my Ford Focus, and everyone followed.

It was the hottest day in August, but we all worked together and got it done. Mel’s family went back down the road and my parents grabbed a hotel to make sure we had everything we needed the next day.

They left us that morning and after tears, our life together, on our own, officially began. We finished unpacking all of our items and made our first meal at our new place, chicken teriyaki.

Mel & RJ - RJ's GraduationMel & RJ - Mel's GraduationTowson was a breeze for me. I went through knowing what had to be done; graduate and get a job.

So I did. I graduated from Towson University on what was a happy day for my family and me, because I was the first in my family to go to college and graduate with a BS (I say Bachelor of Science, you can say Bull Shit ;-)).

I graduated in early January, and Mel followed suit in May. We did it. We (expletive) did it.

And so the time came. In the traditional old-world thought, you graduate college and go to find a job. And that’s what I did. The day after my graduation ceremony, I was calling places and sending my resume out to whoever had an open eye and ear.

I landed my first full-time gig on April 1, 2010, and two years later, I’m still here at my first job out of college, one of the best jobs a fresh college puke could ask for.

Mel found her calling in August 2010 as she was hired for her first teaching job.

We were relived and excited to be making it in the world on our own. And to do it in Baltimore, a town where we felt on top of the world, where our privacy was never bothered and our love flourished, felt great.

Mel and I felt as though we were living the dream. And one of our greatest dreams was about to come true as September 18, 2010 was quickly approaching.

Mel & RJ - The Wedding of the Century

September 18, 2010. The greatest day in the history of days to be documented. There we were, up at the altar in front of people who loved and cared about us; proving to the world our love for each other.

It was a dream come true. And to think we were just two high-school freshmen with no idea what we wanted out of life, or each other. We found it in that moment. We knew then that this was truly our dream, one of our purposes of existence. It was evident that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

We knew what we wanted. We were both young, we were both attuned to our surroundings and we both assumed we wanted to stay in Baltimore.

We’ve made so many friends up here and forged relationships that will last a lifetime. We were both sure that this was it for us. Baltimore was the place to be.

Mel & RJ - Present Day

Which brings us to this day, March 17, 2012. I’m now 25 years old, which in old-man terms is a quarter of a century. I’m older, yes, but wiser, I’m not so sure.

We’ve lived in Baltimore for five years now, two of which we’ve had full-time jobs, and one and a half of which we’ve been married. But where do we take it from here?

Our thoughts are to the future, as that’s how you have to live these days. If you get too caught up in the moment, you will lose yourself within your thoughts.

We both know what we want. Or at least we both think we know what we want. We’ve talked about it, talked about it, talked about it and talked about it.

Our minds, at this pivotal moment in our lives and future seem clear now. It’s like we both had an epiphany.

We’ve pushed away our friends and family for so long from St. Mary’s. We’ve battled with ourselves to tell each other we’re better off up here in Baltimore. We can make it on our own. We don’t need anyone but our own selves.

That’s the mentality that we’ve had. The code of conduct so to speak that we’ve structured our lives around.

We were harassed every trip to St. Mary’s County, “Are you moving back home? When are you coming back home? Are you moving? Are you? Are you? Are you?”


It’s enough to make a sane man want to flip the switch and go ape shit.

It pushed us away. The constant badgering, bickering, the back and forth pushing and pulling, the fighting for us to be somewhere where we were wanted, but didn’t feel it in our hearts.

Until now.

Until this day, when Melissa and I are planning our future. A baby. A home. Buying into our American Dream with what we want, and what we think is best for our future.

And when we run through the pros and cons of our current situation, when we asses our future, our plans to bring another being into the world, we’re tortured by the fact that it may not have the same family bond that we’ve had for so long.

We want our child to experience the joy of staying over at their cousin’s house, spending the day with their grandparents; just being around family that will love the hell out of them for what it’s worth.

We miss that, now. We miss that closeness to our friends and family. We need that in our lives.

We’ve pushed it off for so long, thinking we were the modern-day rebels by living in Baltimore.

To be honest, we thought we were better than everyone in St. Mary’s for that reason. We thought, “Hey, we got outta Dodge and now look at us, we’re making it on our own!”

And we’ve pushed our families into a situation where we’ve called them selfish. Where we told them they weren’t being fair. We had it in our heads that we know what’s best for us.

And we still think we do know what’s best for us. We know what we want, and we know how we are going to go about getting it.

But to put our people who are dearest to us in a situation where they have to swallow their pride and think to themselves, “Alright, I’ve tried; they’re just not moving back to St. Mary’s,” is preposterous.

Why they’ve continued to support us, I don’t know?

Actually, I do know. It’s because they love the hell out of us. And we don’t say it that often, but we love the hell out of them, too.

Which is why I’m comfortable to say, that at the age of 25, after spending the best years of my life with my best friend, my wife, for the last 10 years, it’s an easy decision for both us: We will probably, eventually move back to St. Mary’s County.

It’s what’s best for us. For our family. For our beautiful child that’s yet to be conceived or born (sorry if I mislead on that part). For our sanity. For our comfort. For our future. For our life together.

We’re out of the rebel phase, I think. We’re at a point where we’ve been together for this long, and we can tell in our eyes when we get lost in our emotions; it’s time for the next phase of our lives together.

It’s time to come home.

Mel & RJ - Always Happy

“Come On, Get Up, Romeo…Don’t You Know What the Time Is?” – Band of Skulls

Regards – RJ


6 thoughts on “Through the Polaroid Lens at Age 25

  1. That’s a pretty far drive to make. But we love you guys so we’ll come and visit you wherever you live. (As long as you want us to 🙂 Besides, I’ll drive anywhere to visit babies!

  2. Randomly came upon this site, and it was just what I needed for my Sunday afternoon! Awwwwww – thank you so much for sharing. I think it’s beautiful that you’re putting family first!

  3. I was so glad to hear the news (as if my sudden burst into tears wasn’t telling enough) Just let Ronnie and I know when your ready and we will be there…this time I will actually be able to move boxes and not just wash new dishes! Love You Guys!

  4. Just a follow up,your degree is not BS.You worked your ass off to get it along with help from your ”friends ”.Im proud of both of you.

  5. Tears! RJ this is an amazing story. Never have I thought about any other couple being truely made for each other, and so glad that you two are doing well!

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