Dear Diary …
Just kidding, of course I don’t write diaries!
Then again, there are a lot of things I used to say I’d never do, and by now, I have done ’em all, at least once, some twice or even thrice, if not more.
Well, let’s start with me getting married. YUP! This maniac here recently tied the knot for real. I NEVER thought I would. And if I did, I never thought I would wear a wedding band. I think those things are ridiculous. For me. I don’t mind them on a lady, I got my girl a big rock for her finger, and love seeing it on her.
She was all sad and pouty when I told her there would be no ring on me. I told her I’d consider a tattoo on my ring finger with her name and all, if the face she made then would have been audible, it would have been a buzzer. MWOP MWOP MWOOOOOP- wrong answer! I hate disappointing my leading lady, done too much of that already. Guess what? Yup. Happy wife, happy life. She picked out a ring for me and I am wearing that thing, day and night, everywhere.
I also always said I’d never be a father. Ha. That same girl, man, she made me a daddy – not really planned by either of us, but seriously, I always heard other men say it was the best thing that ever happened to them, and I swear I thought they were full of shit! Instead, it’s me over here eating crow again. I love it. It changed me, and for the better. Our little man is gonna be 2 soon, and we’re expecting another one already this Fall, another boy, and I am crazy-excited. Nope, number two was also not planned. My engagement present to both of us, I guess, cos that’s when we both think it happened. Kinda funny really.
I never thought I’d ever date a girl like Sophie, let alone fall for her hook, line and sinker. She is almost the exact opposite of the type of women I used to prefer, and none of those did me any good, but Sophie is so down-to-earth, so real, she changed my life without even trying – for the better. I used to love the fake and skinny chicks, bleach-blonde hair, perfectly styled, perfect makeup and outfits, expensive taste. But it is Sophie I am crazy in love with now, so much that this former eternal bachelor changed his ways and slapped a ring on her, not once, but twice, since I fucked up the first engagement, then I married the shit out of her when it came up. Best of all, it was MY idea. The engagement and moving in together at least, the wedding had been kind of a joint effort on account of baby number 2 incoming before we were ready. One kid out of wedlock is one thing, but with a simple, small-town girl from a big, close-knit family like Sophie, baby number two just didn’t feel right without some nuptials. I had always been the one leveling up our relationship, if I wasn’t crawling back to her after screwing up big time to the point that she kicked me to the curb, that is. Several times actually. It took me a while to realize it, and twice as long to be willing to admit it to myself, but I legit love her. She is THE one. Another thing I used to think was total bullcrap. Nope, it’s a real thing. I’d do anything for her. ANYTHING. She has nothing left to prove. She helped me so many times over, even when I didn’t deserve it. But she was there for me, saw me through and never asked for anything in return.
She managed to get me clean. Sure, it took me REALLY hitting rock bottom, getting arrested with big fanfares, a strict, unamused judge, some shrinks and several months of court-ordered total-lock-down style rehab, one a lot stricter than all the rehabs I had been to too many times to count since I was a teen – I recently turned 30. Yeah … just something about Sophie showing up for me – despite of everything I put her through – her being there, staying there, the way she spoke to me, knowing she’d wait for me, somehow that made all the difference. Not to sound like a Lifetime movie but I credit her for me FINALLY realizing my dream and becoming a household name. Stryker Hayes.
Every man, woman and child knows me now, even if they don’t like my music, but they know me. I have a kickass crib, in a town like Windenburg, also something I never thought I’d say, but I love it here. I think had I moved to some big city I may have slid back down in the addiction slump. I notice that when touring, temptation is everywhere, all the damn time, and I was addicted to so many things. Booze, drugs, sex, … it’s hard. Besides, had I moved into some fancy shed in San Myshuno, Del Sol Valley or what have you, no doubt I’d be living there alone, no way Sophie would have finally given in and moved in. If we didn’t have kids, I’d probably take her with me on tour, then again, no matter how luxurious a hotel is, it’s still only just a temporary place, and will never feel as good as home does.
Ha, home. Another thing I never really knew before Sophie taught me what that word really means.
Sometimes she travels with me to award shows and such, she has fun, but I can tell she’d be miserable living in a concrete jungle permanently – not to mention she would go insane being away from her family for too long. I get it, too.
I love her family! Call me fuckin’ crazy, I mean, which man loves their in-laws, but I do. More than my own damn mother, not to mention that father I never even met and those half-siblings whom I couldn’t pick out in a line-up if my life depended on it, because I never once met any of them. I think it’s three now, two around my age or close to and one toddler-aged, cos that moron is still divorcing his wives when they get past a certain age, then finding a twenty something to marry, all probably while screwing his current young and pretty assistants on the side like he did my mom, only to fire them if they get pregnant and refuse to abort. Sophie’s family is nothing like that, her dad is the shit! Like the father I always wished I had. Seriously some cool dude, I swear I have some sort of man-crush on him! He and I had some really good man-talks. He treats me like another son, just like he does with his other son-in-law, Connell, and even Ezzy’s boyfriend Michael, we’re all considered family members, not some random dudes his daughters dragged in for him to deal with. Yes, I know what you are thinking and yes, I DO know that I got lucky with all of this. I never really belonged anywhere. Sure, my two best friends, but the three of us are not too much alike, it was more that we had the same dreams and the same problems that brought us together. Like a dysfunctional relationship that somehow evolved into something real. With the Camerons I was accepted, with all my flaws, they are not shy to call me out on bullshit either and I am loving it. During family events I am just one of them. And that feels fuckin’ fantastic to this guy!
Even more amazing because I didn’t exactly leave the best first impression with Sophie’s family, oh, all the shit I pulled, man, it makes me cringe even now, but he never once gave me that typical dad-spiel ‘blah blah not good enough for my little girl … blah … I’ll be watching you .. blah blah …’ not once! Maybe it was because he was like me once, broken, screwed up childhood, became an addict and nearly died, turned criminal, he even was in prison a bunch of times, ended up with burns disfiguring 70% of his body after trying to rescue his half-brother from a burning house but couldn’t, even though years after the funeral said brother showed up very much alive demanding to see his kids with Jay’s wife, whom Jay had been helping raise from birth on. He KNOWS how messed up life can get; he totally gets me. Like me, he got a chance because of the Camerons, he fixed his life and never went back. He’s my idol, for showing me that is really IS possible, but to be perfectly honest, also cause he learned to control his addiction demons enough to be able to drink booze again and know when to stop, took him many years, so I am hoping I can get there one day cos this kiddie drinks bullshit is getting old fast! I like booze, the taste and all. Just gotta learn to control myself better first. I’ll get there. Dreaming of the day I get to crack open a cold one with Jay. THAT will be the moment I know I made it.
I actually get along with my mother now. Not the greatest love of all, nothing like what Sophie has with her folks, but a fuckload better than what it used to be. At least I can be in the same room with her now for extended periods of time without wanting to rip her head off. I always tried to keep in touch, even before Soph, but it was a chore and really rough. What my mother and I used to have was bullshit, from both sides. She and I both screwed that up big time, not just me. Actually, she screwed up first, which is why I ended up so messed up in the head. Anyway, now the old lady even gets invited to Thanksgiving and Christmas and shit, and she was at our wedding. You guessed it, because of Sophie.
My mommy dearest surprisingly is a pretty decent grandma to our Spencer, he loves both his grammies, which – to be perfectly honest – gives me conflicted feels. I mean, I am happy that my son gets to have both his grandmas in his life, I never had any, don’t ask me why, my mother would never speak of her family, all I know is I never ever met any of them, no idea if I have living relatives, or who and where they may be. I barely ever had a mother to care for me, but clearly, she knew how to be a mother, so why wasn’t she like that with me? For Spencer, she was there from the moment he was born and a blind man – even I – can see she loves her grandson. Here is a pic of her holding him as a baby.
And now that Spence-man is a toddler, walks and talks, he actually asks for her, she asks to see him or comes by to visit or we drive out to Newcrest, and these two are just thick as thieves. That woman will smooch the color of my kid one of these days and he is loving every second of it, while I feel like I am in the completely wrong movie on opposite day! You gotta know, my son looks like I did at his age, so watching him with my mother is like a wayback machine into an alternate childhood for me, M. Night Shyamalan style.
He gets excited to go see ‘grammy T’, the T is for Theresa, mommy dearest’s name, Sophie’s mom Abigail is simply ‘grammy’, and my damn mother makes cookies for him, always has toys and new books to read to him from. I never got any of that, I was lucky if she served me some stale cornflakes and cold milk, while for my son she makes a science out of serving him anything without testing the temperature a dozen times! Wonder if she keeps that up for the second kid too? I guess so, last we talked she was looking to move to Windenburg! I kid you not!!!
I mean, seriously, evidently, she had it in her all along, unless she secretly went to grandma school while I was in rehab for all those months or some crap like that.
Anyway, so we had a blast of a wedding at Sophie’s parents’ estate, and afterwards we went off to our honeymoon while her family took turns watching our son. We were already taking our next kid with us, like I mentioned Sophie was already knocked up again. She kinda had wanted to wait with the wedding till after the birth and all that, but knowing us, she may well end up knocked up again, so we just said Eff It, let’s do it. She had her wedding dress let out to fit our growing baby in, and we did it, her at almost 5 months along. She loves kids and wants a ton, she’s a great mom, I don’t care if we stopped after this one or have a dozen more. It makes her happy, being a dad is something I surprisingly am not too crappy at, and somehow, we always get into some zone of sheer lust and desire where both of us screw up the whole birth control thing. Don’t be fooled, Sophie may be shy, but once we’re alone in the bedroom and the mood is set, I have no reason to complain! The silent waters, always!
When I met her, Sophie was still a virgin. I didn’t know, not a CLUE, I didn’t even think those still existed over the age of 15 unless you raided a convent or it was some serious scarecrow of a chick, some paperbag-over-the-head kinda situation; never would I have ever imagined to be any girl’s first, let alone at 27 years old. But I was. To think back then I just wanted to get laid and move on, I hate to admit it but somehow I think even if she had told me, it wouldn’t have made a difference to that old Stryker. I genuinely was a serious douche! I often wished I could do that time over and make her first time special. Then again, I fathered a child with her then, doesn’t really get any more special.
Sophie’s really pretty too, a natural kind of beauty on a regular day, when she’s dolled up, she’s downright gorgeous, even though she can’t see it. She is so hung up on her not being a size zero – how could she be? She’s a frigging chef and a damn good one at that! – that she completely misses what the rest of us see. If she is made up, hair done, in some fancy outfit I frequently have to eye-whip other dudes into shape, daring them to even try making a move on her and live to tell that tale! Here’s proof. See what I mean?! Yeah, that’s my wife. WIFE! Still sounds crazy to me.
Occasionally I get served that shallow “Stryker, why settle down, when you could have ANY woman … models, fellow musicians, actresses, …” bullshit. Yeah, maybe, now that my bank account and level of fame finally match my ego those airhead golddiggers would probably even stay with me for a while, unlike the wham, bam, thank you man kinda stuff I used to do all my adult life. I just don’t want them anymore. I have dated my fair share of skinny model-types and I don’t need those control-freak drama-queens with their eating disorders and negativity anymore! Sure, there are some girls that are super-pretty and nice, like Drake’s wife Christina, she is gorgeous and super-cool (see below pic) but the majority … nah. Nothing I would ever risk losing what I have with Sophie for. Been there, done that, never again.
Plus, I’ll admit I love regular meals. Maybe the old adage is true, that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. All I know is I don’t miss the old days filled with anxiety of having an empty stomach, empty wallet and an empty fridge. The times I have eaten things praying the expiration date wasn’t too far in the past to kill me.
Then again, all the damn drugs I did back then, nothing but a bullet to the brain probably would have. The doc in rehab told me at some point in the beginning I had more dangerous chemicals in my system than are present in most weed killers! Yeah. So, I once was the bullied fat kid, then the skinny addict, and now my little chef wife feeds me too well that I have to watch it or I’ll have to change my stage name to ‘Flubber’. Not there yet, but I have filled in a lot since she and I met.
In the two years and change since our really odd first time, during which we created our son, she has gone from ‘what’s sex?’ to pouncing on me, tearing off my clothes, whenever I get home from a tour. Dreamy, except she’s very fertile, I evidently shoot sharp, so all it takes is one birth control slip-up and she is pregnant, evidently. I know a lot of people try for ages. Not us. No no. Plus, all the men in my life that I genuinely admire are big time family men. Blaine, Chase, Jay, Drake, Nate, Sophie’s brothers, … They make it look fun, even those who already have grown kids, and I am actually REALLY interested to see how the spawn Sophie and I hatched turns out, what they choose to do with their lives. Spencer is a brilliant little boy! And I know I am biased, but we’re gonna have to watch this future ladies’ man. With those bright blue eyes and black hair, he’s already the hit with all the moms at any playground. I am not religious at all, but I would pray that he doesn’t end up like me one day. Or his unborn brother. Oh, I so hope the boys will soar, not crash and burn like their father has so many times. There is a reason the term Phoenix has such great meaning in my life …
Here’s to hoping our boys take more after her side of the family. Also, I KNOW for a fact we’ll be trying again for another kid eventually, once the dust of the next one has settled, cos Sophie really wants a girl. All fine and well, except for the part that multiples run in her family, so you just never know what another pregnancy might bring. We may just end up with a lot more than we bargain for. Luckily are we kinda rolling in the dough now – yeah, this guy is seriously wealthy now, even though, according to my mother, I still look like a drug-addicted hobo. Well, as long as my wife wants to hit this, I don’t care what the old lady yaps on about. If it’s not this, it would be something else. She always finds something. Anyway, Soph and I have a great support system to help out, if need be, no matter how many rugrats we ultimately end up with.
Back to topic. I really trailed off there.
Our honeymoon was awesome.
We couldn’t make up our minds between lazy beach vacay or fun in the snow. I kinda also threw a jungle expedition out there – sounds so much fun to me – but Sophie’s facial expressions derailed, plus, she is pregnant, so … ya know. Finally, I got tired of Sophie’s pro and con lists and decided we’d go freeze our asses off in the snow first, then take a Sulani trip later that year in late fall or winter, after our second son was born and Sophie had time to recover. Plus, Windenburg will probably be under the annual blanket of ball-freezing ice and snow then, so a sunny beach vacation may be what the doctor ordered.
Originally, I had wanted to tack it on after Mt. Komorebi, but was booked for another tour AND had my next album to finish. I didn’t even have all the songs completed for it, and Blaine was breathing down my neck something bad. As nice as all the cash was, my life did get very busy and stressful. I even had my guitar with me to work a bit while on the honeymoon.
Man, I always wanted to try skiing and snowboarding, but we both were god-awful at it, after we both were uber-frustrated and tired of starting on our legs and finishing each run on our butts, we called it quits and booked a professional instructor for the next day to REALLY learn how to do this shit!
But we didn’t go home to sit on our aching asses, NOOOOO – we went to the Bunny slopes to sled. Sophie’s idea! Yeah. I thought it was a bad joke at first too.
Not the fancy shit from the Olympics, NOOOOO – the kiddie crap. I was soooo embarrassed, two grown people sledding down a hill, but Sophie had a blast and her joy was contagious!
All I can say is that at least we could do it already on our asses, cos mine was black and blue from falling on it so much trying to look cool on a snowboard.
I bet I didn’t look cool at all wildly flailing my arms while screaming like a little kid knowing I’d be kissing the slope again. If it weren’t for helmets, I’d be slurping my meals now through straws.
We also went hiking several times, whenever we were tired of all that snow. Also Sophie’s idea. It may come as a shock to you but as a city boy I am not the most outdoorsy type. While Sophie grew up with parents and grandparents that took her and her 4 siblings to Granite Falls frequently or at least to Everett Heights for family barbecues, the only walking I did growing up was when I missed another bus. When Soph dragged me to one of those info boards with the hiking trails on it and told me she wanted to exercise our swollen, aching butts even more and venture even deeper into the snow, I thought she was screwing with me.
She wasn’t. Damn serious again, when I told her ‘no way’ she pushed out that pouty bottom lip, her eyes disappointed and I realized what Connell meant when he welcomed me to the ‘Pussywhip Society’ as he congratulated me after the ceremony. I thought bro was tripping balls, turns out, he knew what he was talking about, probably cos he had been married to my wife’s sister for almost a decade now. Sophie was onto something though. Hiking wasn’t bad at all. Very scenic during sunsets, since there was one trail not far from our rental cabin.
During our vacation, while looking for restaurants, we stumbled across some hiking trails down in the valley. Complete change of scenery – and temps! It was balmy and Spring-y and really nice, the walks were relaxing and just perfect.
FYI – I DO look cool on a snowboard now, that instructor was good and we practiced SO MUCH, on the last day I even attempted the crazy difficult Slope – and made it in great form. And on both feet. Might have needed a diaper change, but I did it and I looked damn good doing it!
Meals were always eaten out, usually in nice sit-down restaurants, but sometimes even out there right by the Slopes, like Asian fast food. Mostly to give my little personal chef Sophie a break from cooking, we did have a full kitchen in our rental, and she did insist on cooking us breakfast before starting our days. That Mt. Komorebi food was cool, not bad, but between us, I much prefer Soph’s cooking over that crazy ass shit they were feeding us. Half the time I had no concept of what I was even eating, and honestly, I think I don’t WANT to know either.
There is something to be said about snowy nights. Good thing Soph was already pregnant, or she would be now! That is ALL I am going to say about our usual evening entertainment.
And then it was already over again. As sad as it was, I was kinda excited to start our new life, even though it probably wasn’t so different from before, but having a Mrs. Hayes, who wasn’t my mother, was kinda cool. And this time I was going to be there for the entire pregnancy, I missed a lot of Spencer’s, but at least I was there in the end, and for his birth and ever since. I’d be there for all of this son’s and for any other kid we may have after.