I didn't post one damned thing in 2016. Sometimes you're too busy living life to write it down. But this has been a very important year for me. And scrolling back through the facebooks and instagrams has shown me just how little of the important things have been actually captured. I suppose that I always understood how fleeting social media was, but it didn't really hit me how little of what I had been sharing is actually preserved in any meaningful way. (More on that at the very end of this piece.)
So, for 2016's one and only post, I'll try and give a synopsis of what has been one of the most meaningful, wonderful, sometimes difficult, but ultimately the best year of my life... so far...
I started out the year with some serious skiing in January--a sport my girlfriend introduced me to just this last winter...
|The lodge is the most important aspect of skiing.|
|These are the turbinates you're looking for...|
|Stainless Steel, complete with functional oven light.|
|Opening Day in Detroit is a sacred holiday|
|Contrary to popular opinion, I do *not* hate the fuckin' Eag;es, man.|
Other highlights of the spring include visiting a hotel apparently housing a school for mutants.
|The Danger Room is around here somewhere...|
Summer is finally here, and Stephanie and I start hitting the carnival circuit. Her first prize of the year:
|His name is Steve.|
|Coincidentally, his name is NOT Steve. But he calls everyone Steve.|
|I'm on a BOAT!|
|He's faster than me|
In June, I joined Stephanie's family for Sam and Joanna's wedding out in Grand Rapids.
|Behold perfect execution of the parade wave|
|I'm told that I show well...|
|This is what we call "foreshadowing"|
|The first piece of my Iron Man armor in testing...|
|Behind us is the obstacle they ended up removing because of the danger it posed.|
|Seen here without a broken leg|
Aunt Vita came up and we got almost all of the cousins into one picture. Only Ashley was missing.
I got to hang with Dino quite a bit this year. This is at his little brother Teddy's baptism. He has started calling me Uncle Eric, which just makes me giddy.
|Ashley! Where are you?|
|He's my buddy|
|Probably capturing a moment where a very good idea was had|
I took Stephanie for a bike ride on Belle Isle...
|He did NOT go to Jared|
We told only a few close family and friends, to keep the phones from blowing up, and spent the rest of the night on the town. Henceforth in this post she will be referred to as "My fiancee, Stephanie," and no longer "My girlfriend, Stephanie".
|We're not leaving Greektown until we get something from Astoria|
|Relax about the carseats, we've only been engaged 5 days|
We took the Jeep on a little road trip. I can be seen here celebrating with a very tiny bottle of champagne:
|Or perhaps I am a giant|
After the engagement, Stephanie's father asked us to gather both families for dinner in order to celebrate. It was perhaps one of the happiest moments of my life so far.
|My dad, Ed; Stephanie's dad, Teddy; and myself|
|My mom, and soon to be mother-in-law. They could be sisters.|
|Me, Stephanie, and her grandmother and God-parents|
|Lisa and Dad, Me, and Ted|
We scouted some locations for the wedding, and settled on my former place of work, The Henry Ford.
|Lovett Hall, people. Not under the DC-3|
September arrives, and brings with it the fall harvest from the garden:
|This is all basil. Pesto time.|
|Cucumber and sweet hungarian peppers|
Things are moving fast now that I'm engaged. I begin the work of prepping the house I've lived in for 15 years for sale.
|Let the Purge begin!|
|No ladder needed for ceiling paint|
Stephanie and I met up with my old friend Eileen to run a 5k sponsored by the Atwater Brewery downtown.
|This is clearly BEFORE the race|
|U-S-A! U-S-A! In all fairness, Eileen is usually repping the USA in European races|
|After the race with some dear old friends and professors from Eileen and my days at U of M|
As autumn approaches, I take some photos of my oasis - my backyard, garden, pool, and patio. I'm not terribly nostalgic by nature, but I do love personal histories. And I want to remember this place.
|Lots of happy summers were spent here|
|Food. Sunshine. Wine.|
Shaun German got married! And for his bachelor party, we crushed a massive Call of Duty Tournament.
|It was rigged.|
|You can throw away your whole house!|
|Swing by for a "little gathering"|
|You can dress them up, but you can't take them anywhere.|
|On foot. Because we can.|
|It looks even better with kayaks on the roof.|
|The morning started brisk, but it was in the 70's by mid-day|
Stephanie's sisters had a piece in an exhibit in the DIA
We're nearing the holidays, and the house is really shaping up
|The music room|
|The upstairs bedroom|
Ella is chill with all the house activities, as long as we don't mess with her spot
|The best dog that ever dogged.|
Stephanie is ably handling all of the wedding plans (of course!). We need to get some photos together for our Save-the-Date notices. We call up my old friend and former neighbor Josh to meet us in Plymouth. He does an AMAZING job.
|We're outta here|
|She makes me laugh every day|
|This is look she gives me right before she says "You little shit."|
|This is the look I get when I see someone walking a puppy nearby|
All this "life-on-the-move" takes a toll on my though, I end up with a tweaked Achilles and end up in a boot for a while until it heals.
|Sweet kicks, bro|
|Soon to be Home Sweet Home|
Stephanie and I went down to the end of the street and picked out a Christmas Tree for me.
|Dairy Whip Tree Lot. Hoping for a White Christmas soon!|
|I'm dreaming of a White Christmas|
Did I mention that Stephanie is on top of all the wedding plans? Venue, Church, all the details are in place. That woman is amazing. And we even managed to get a preview of the church we're going to be married in when her cousin got married in a gorgeous winter wedding.
|Almost enough gold leaf for my Greek Orthodox side|
|Stephanie's Great Grandfather's name is in the stained glass. This is the right place.|
|The reception had a photo booth.|
At Christmas dinner, my cousins Mark and Libby surprised us with a tremendous honor: They asked Stephanie and I to be God-parents to their first born, Luna Lucille.
|The Godfather (and Godmother)|
|Simich Family Christmas|
At the Lentine Christmas dinner, the kids were treated to a visit from Santa.
|Totally 100% the actual Kris Kringle|
|The. Best. Dog. Ever.|
|The. Best. Babysitter. Ever.|
|The. Best. Lifeguard. Ever.|
|The. Best. Friend. Ever.|
So why did I want to catalog this in a giant blog post, nobody is going to read? Well, first, the aforementioned inability to review my year via all the places I thought I was saving, publishing, and giving these things context. The second was this: just this week I had to help Mom clean up her basement from a failed sump pump. Mercifully, the basement wasn't finished, so there wasn't much damage. However, we did manage to narrowly save some documents we didn't even know were in the basement (or existed, for that matter). We found a treasure trove of official correspondence between my great grandfather and a congressman from Illinois, plane tickets, marriage certificates, applications for visas, and letters detailing the immigration of my grandparents, mother and aunt to the United States.
|Application for Immigrant visa for my mom and her family|
|My Great-Grandparents Marriage License to get my great-grandmother back into the U.S. Possibly they were visiting Yugoslavia to attend my Grandparents wedding in 1950.|
|My Grandfather apparently didn't like doctors, even then.|
There before me, in a dusty old trunk, was The Immigrant Story that's been told a thousand times over in America. In glorious old typewritten pages, or teletyped telegrams. I suddenly felt how ephemeral and absent my own story was this year--a year so monumentally important that I want to share someday with my children and grandchildren. Hopefully, someday, one of them discovers this very post and gets some sense for the kind of people Stephanie and I were and the life we led here at the beginning of our journey to starting our own family. If they do, I hope they understand that they came from a pretty impressive lineage of courage, smarts, hard work, and a commitment to family from both sides of their family tree. I sincerely hope those virtues have been instilled in you, and if they have, I hope you pass them on.