Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Year 9 of Marriage in the Books

I can't believe it is already time to pen the now annual "Celebrate My Marriage" blog, but here we are at year 9. I am happy to say that I am actually home to pen the blog this year as opposed to being at work on a pool deck somewhere as I have been for at least three anniversaries. I look forward to a great date night with the Mrs. as we take in Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott at the Gibson Amphitheater. Let me now get on with the annual message as it has truly been a banner year for the Carrolls.

Last year as I reflected on marriage from coaches hospitality at Junior Nationals and I shared my dad's consistent mantra that "You've got to find a woman who's going to be in your corner". As I got older, he added to his relationship talks the idea that "You've got to find ways to continue to grow together." This piece of wisdom has not been that hard to follow given that I actually listened to his most repeated note of advice. Finding my "Franchise Player" made it easy to leave family (remember, I'm spoiled), friends, and connections on the East Coast to start a California Adventure on New Years Day 2004. Mrs. Carroll was ready to take over the entertainment industry, and I knew I could teach anywhere, so stepping out on faith was easy. Turns out that "making it" in Hollywood is as hard if not harder than advertised and after realizing that mass mailings and submitting for every audition wasn't going to get her anywhere quickly, the Mrs. set about creating her own niche which would allow her to find a place here all while supporting my desire to teach, coach, and ultimately go back to graduate school for a Ph.D in education. Oh yeah, the Mrs. held down a 9-5 job the whole time.

Fast forward to June 11, 2011, and I walk into Napa Valley Grille for a "small" graduation celebration after receiving my Ph.D from UCLA only to find that the Mrs. has once again gone above and beyond and executed a surprise celebration complete with East Coast and West Coast family and friends in attendance to celebrate the moment. It was a great moment because she managed to assemble many people instrumental in our adjustment to California who shared in our journey and helped us make a way for ourselves. Little did I know when the Mrs.' literary manager, Adesuwa McCalla (aka "The Hustler"), got up to address the group just how much our marriage and congruent growth would be affirmed. At the time that I was reading Freire, DuBois, and writing a dissertation in grad school, the Mrs. made three short films, got her SAG card, and put together a showcase which raised money to combat domestic violence. Spring 2011 had already been a very productive "casting season" and as we sat at the Napa Valley Grille, we were hopeful that this was the year she would make it onto the writing staff of a show. When "The Hustler" finished her speech about the beauty of our partnership with the news that the Mrs. had in fact earned a position as a staff writer on The Finder, set to premiere on FOX in December, we both shed tears because the journey had not been easy, and it had required sacrifices for both of us.

Shortly after I was accepted into UCLA, we made an agreement that at the end of the five year program, we would make a decision about whether or not we would stay in Cali to continue pursuing the Hollywood dream or see where the road to tenured professorhood would lead. As the Mrs. tirelessly worked on scripts and projects, often falling asleep at the computer after a full day of work, and tending to a child who acts like he's been raised on a Five Hour Energy diet, I knew that we couldn't leave just because I was finishing my degree. This meant a limited job search which, for those looking to obtain assistant professor positions is not advisable. I ended up applying to only five places, only got one interview, and not surprisingly, no job offers. While all this was going on, the Mrs. had to keep the 9-5 job which limited her time to work on projects because "swim coach" and "grad student" aren't occupations that allow for financial comfort. Many years, she kept the Carroll household afloat when research money and loans dried up in the summer. So to receive the news that she was going to be able to leave her 9-5 for a career she had been striving for on the same night that I received my degree was only just. It was a testament to our commitment to prop each other up, and my lasting memory of Year 9 will be that both of us started to see the return on our "investment" of time and resources and head into Year 10 in a position to do better than we have before giving us a the financial freedom to do things we haven't been able to do previously. So as I conclude this year's blog, I only say to my friends young and old that you can never lose sight of how you and your partner will reach your individual goals TOGETHER. Think of your favorite sports team, and how often a singular member of the team makes it all happen by themselves. It doesn't. Marriage is no different, and as I watch the size of our friends' families grow, I can only hope that everyone is continuing to communicate like when the rings were first exchanged. I'll catch you guys soon. Time to get dressed for the concert.