May 7: Matthew Allen
How this character arrived in my life: In hand-me-down clothes (he’s child #5 in a family of 5 kids) at age 6. He’s been there since before I knew how to read. We went to school together from Kindergarten through 12th grade and spent the majority of our elementary/middle school years as next door neighbors. We shared teachers, we shared friends, we shared smart ass glances during awkward times, and I’m guessing he wrote “don’t change” in my yearbook somewhere between 1988-2000 a time or two. I would’ve written it in his yearbook but as the 5th kid, I don’t think his parents actually bought yearbooks by the time it got to him.
My favorite memory with this person: Our high school graduation day we were in cap and gown lined up and ready to march in to our seats. Matt knew I hadn’t passed all my senior proficiency exams, which wasn’t critical for graduation (or anything really) and I’d argue no indication of my overall intelligence thank-you-very-much, but it did require me to go to school an extra week and take final exams for my last classes with the other poor souls who also failed the science portion of that exam. Matt knew this was a sore spot for me and made a very flippant remark before we walked in by saying “hey, what if they had everyone who passed their proficiencies stand up?” – I proceeded to shake my head and Matt continued to laugh at his own joke. Approximately 30 minutes later I hear someone from the school administration praising the class of 2000 since we had such a high number of students who passed all of their senior proficiencies…yes, they asked those students to “please stand and be recognized.” Matt turns around to look at me and says “hey, I think I just saw your Dad flip you off.”
One word to describe this person: Shyster
What I admire about this person: Family comes first. His wife and their 3 kids are his #1 priority.
Fun facts that makes me love this person so much: Matt had a full size batting cage in his backyard during the same years I had a full sized balance beam in my living room – we connect on an athletic level and have to use little words to describe the dedication it taught us and the hours it took of our lives. He played baseball in college. He is so dedicated to his Catholic faith. He saw Garden State with me in the theater 3x the summer it came out. He knows my family and asks how they’re doing often. He was my sidekick for most of 2004-2005 while we transitioned from college students to real-life adults. He’s got a pocket full of smart ass remarks just ready and waiting anytime we talk. He grew up as the youngest of 5 with parents who were near retirement age who ate dinner at home every night oftentimes using ingredients from their garden. His Dad was retiring the same year at the same company where my Mom was just joining/starting her career. We grew up having clubs, playing on the levy, and building forts. Matt let me call him a lot after college when I would drive places and not listen to him the first time when he gave me directions, he’d patiently tell me directions over the phone with a subtle undertone of ‘told ya so.’ He has a quick wit. All the boys in his family look exactly like him. He can hold conversation for hours. He’s a hard worker.
Matt hugging my mom at my wedding
May 8: Kimberly Lee
How this character arrived in my life: Called “wife” by my Dad, called “step-mom” by me. Kim arrived in my life when I was 12 years old. She was nice, she was a teacher, she had a yorkie puppy, and she had really pretty eyes.
My favorite memory with this person: When my Dad and Kim were getting married, I rode to the wedding dress shop with her to pick out bridesmaids dresses. My Dad’s car must have been in the shop or somewhere unavailable, so for whatever reason he talked Kim into letting him use her car while she used his Mom’s (my Grandma’s) car. I think that car was a stick shift? I can’t remember the gory details of how we ended up in that car, I just remember sitting in the passenger seat while Kim tried to get us out of that parking lot – we kept going up the hill and rolling back down, up the hill and rolling back down, up the hill and rolling back down.
One word to describe this person: Loyal
What I admire about this person: I admire how good of a wife and partner she is to my Dad. She extends unconditional love and support everyday – this year will make their 20th wedding anniversary! She supports all of his goals and dreams, like his recent adventure of building a golf building to teach indoor lessons, and as an extension of that love she’s always supported everything I’ve done too. She is so loyal in her love I’m pretty sure she would do anything in the world for my Dad, my sister, her parents, or me. The word “nice” feels like an understatement when I describe her, but in the words of my Dad, “Kim is seriously the nicest person anyone will ever meet.”
Fun facts that makes me love this person so much: Kim is so kind. She is a Christian. She has supported me in everything I’ve ever gotten into. She’s really good about taking pictures during holidays and special times in our lives. She bakes good cookies. She’s an awesome Mom to her daughter/my sister. She’s so easy to talk to. She likes to shop. She’s close with her parents. She’s pretty! She’s strong. She’s sensitive and likely to cry during emotional movies. I think she asks for the same things every year for Christmas – earrings and slippers. She’s really good at her job. She’s always a positive spirit in a group – she’s never the one complaining or bringing a room down. She always has good smelling candles lit around the house. She laughs at my jokes. She’s a great listener.
May 9: James Michael
How this character arrived in my life: Jamie sat 1 aisle over from me when I first started working at the Dayton Daily News. We worked in different departments but I could always hear him talking and he just sounded….fun. I would later move into the same department as him, we would move into a newly renovated building, and we would sit smack-dab beside each other until I left the company to move to Columbus.
My favorite memory with this person: Before I ever really knew Jamie or talked to him (when I was still new-ish to the Dayton Daily News), I came in one day to find a “Happy Birthday” sign hanging over my desk in between my cube and his. I got there before him and when I saw the sign all I could think was ‘Man, I can’t believe these people knew it was my birthday?! I mean, it’s a day early and this sign is backwards but how nice are they? Did Jamie hang this for me last night after I left?!’ I actually stopped and smiled and felt so loved. I logged onto my computer and waited for people to get in the office so I could start the whole “Aw, did you guys do this? That is so nice!” type of comments. A few minutes later, Jamie got in the office and someone walked up behind him and says “Happy Birthday, Jamie.” Apparently his birthday is a day before mine. I waited 3 years to tell him I thought he put the sign up for me.
One word to describe this person: Silly
What I admire about this person: Jamie is fun! He never seems to have a cloud of stress around him. He always seems to take things in stride with a positive attitude.
Fun facts that makes me love this person so much: He is the only other person on this Earth who absolutely loves the 2007 Miss South Carolina speech at Miss Teen USA as much as me – I seriously don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder and longer with anyone than I did with Jamie when that “speech” happened. After 5 years of trying to sell my old house and cycling through several realtors, Jamie (who became a new realtor during that time) sold the house for us in 90 days! He laughs at everything. He answered the same questions I would ask over and over when I sat beside him at work. He’s up for anything. He loves Black Friday shopping! His relationship with his wife always seems fun! He’s always there to cheer people on for whatever they’re going after. He has a positive demeanor and is easily approachable. He is fearless, quitting his previous job and diving head first into building his career as a realtor. He introduced me to Trader Joe’s. He’s a great Dad to his son, Noah.