On April 21, 2007 my oldest brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  I was pretty much the de-facto head of household but this made it official.  At the time I was living in Atlanta and his death required me to make numerous trips back and forth to San Diego.  Eventually I decided that my 80+ year old mother was eventually going to need someone there full time so I made my 4th move in as many years and came back to what is really my home anyway.

Fast forward a year.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sure that everyone in the family was OK.  It didn’t help that 13 days after my mother died, my other brother crashed his plane killing his 7 year old son.  It was nothing short of a miracle that my brother survived.  I was home packing my bag for a much needed trip to Puerto Vallarta.  So burned out I could barely figure out what to put in my suitcase, after I got the phone call I carried my bag into the closet, dumped it on the floor, and began packing for a colder climate; my brother lived in Anacortes which is about 100 miles northwest of Seattle.

Two enormous tragedies in a very short period of time and an inordinate amount of responsibility fell on me each time.  I forgot how many texts, emails and phone calls I got after my interview ended up on CNN.  So when the smoke finally settled, frankly I was depressed.

For many months I sat inside day and night, pretty much drank every night, and became a complete hermit.  I had no plan to redeem myself but I wasn’t terribly afraid of what might happen.  This was the longest I had ever gone dark like this but grief is a bitch.  I needed the time.  God took care of the rest anyway.

A good friend of mine either moved to San Diego or lost his job; not sure of the details, but he was determined to start working out and put on some muscle.  He approached me about helping him because, at one time I had been super-fit.  Actually for most of my adult life I had been pretty fit and by the time I hit 45 I’m told I looked like a porn star.  The previous 4 years had taken some the gloss off of my figure but I wasn’t completely deflated.  My friend and I began working out together pretty much every day.  Exercise is the cure for depression.  We hit the gym hard.

Now fast forward several months.  August 21, 2008.  Other than going to the gym and hanging out with my workout buddy or my roommate, I had not gone out in public for over a year.  With my newfound bulging biceps and 31″ waist, I decided it was time to venture out.  But I had also come to terms with the fact that a 51 year old Gay man was probably not going to have the kind of Jack & Jill relationship that I had dreamed of.  In fact, in order to truly be happy I had to let all of that go.  I was determined to be happy and single.  LOL.  That lasted one night.

The morning of Aug 21, 2008 I picked up a gay newspaper that was sitting on my desk and thumbed through the current events page.  I saw a fundraiser/wine tasting event being held at Bourbon Street that night.  I tore out the ad, called my workout partner and told him we were going and that began my march to fate that continues today, ten years on.

We started next door to Bourbon St at a bar/restaurant that is no longer there (neither is Bourbon St) and I can’t remember the name.  I’m not a big wine drinker and I wanted a little buzz before I dove into my first public event in ages.  We got warmed up and headed to the event.

When you walked in somebody stuck a red ribbon on your shirt.  Not sure what that was all about and I’m really not clear on how this worked, but if you didn’t win anything at the silent auction, you still had your red ribbon on.  We were getting ready to leave when I spotted a guy across the room.  He was cute.  Not weak in the knees cute, at least not that night (weak in the knees happened a few days later) but my old instincts kicked in and I walked up to him.  My come on line is probably one of the worst in the history of man.  He had his red ribbon on so I said “So, you’re a loser too?”.

We chatted for a bit then he turned and left me to go back with his friends.  Damn, I thought, he’s not interested, so my friend and I left but as we walked out of the bar I stuck my card in his shirt pocket and asked him if he wanted to play racquetball sometime.  We left.

Hours later I got a text.  He remembered I had told him I was an entrepreneur and his text started “Hey Entrepreneur”.  It was cute and light but definitely let me know he was interested.  It also meant I had his phone number now too.  We exchanged phone calls and I believe it was the following night when we went out on our first date.  Dinner and a Movie followed by a long talk at the La Jolla Cove.  He dropped me off at my apartment and I walked in and told  my roommate that I thought I had met someone.  He gave me that “oh God” look and I went to bed.  I was smitten and over the next few weeks it only got worse.

Tim and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday.  We didn’t do much, just a nice dinner at Et Voila, but we aren’t big on anniversaries and birthdays.  Our life has been pretty much nonstop adventure with some unfortunate bad stuff.  But, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that is true for us.  In December, 2015 we got married.  I will never forget the smile on his face that night. (Picture below)

2015 was a big year for us.  We purchased a home just before we got married which meant another move for me at first, then a few months later once I had our nest ready for occupancy, Tim moved in.  We had lived separately for all those years because Tim loved his little home, and we are both big personalities.  It worked for us.  Fortunately moving in together also worked for us.  We figured it would since we had spent months together in hotel rooms and seldom bickered at each other.  And I would be lying if I said we never fought but we both knew that we wanted to stay together no matter what so we worked it out.  Now I can’t even remember the last time I was angry at him.  It’s pretty damn good.

So, why am I sharing this?  Well, first I want to shout from the rooftops that Tim and I have made it 10 years with no signs that we won’t go another 10.  And, on top of that, I met Tim following a pretty low point in my life when I was determined to not meet anyone.  Well, I’ve never been blown off my feet like what Tim did to me so maybe this is a warning to those who think they are invulnerable to love.  Watch out.

We have a good life.  Some people would say that we have an amazing life.  We love our home, we love each other, and our dog is something out of a cartoon.  A red doberman pincher female that makes us laugh several times each day.  We aren’t buried in debt like so many other people, our 4 cars are paid for, so even when there are financial hiccups, and believe me they still happen, we sit down together, go over our budget, and come to the conclusion that we are good.

And we are good.

Let yourself love.  It’s an amazing experience.  Kind of like those bittersweet candies.  Sometimes they make your face pucker up but you can’t stop eating them.

Joe Jeter, August 22, 2018

Wedding Photo 12/14/2015