Day 3 – Ribbon of Love

Sean’s Journal: Dad/Vince, this morning on my way to Mt. Rushmore, I got to thinking about family. Dad, you and the girls are always in my prayers. This all makes me think about my plans for marriage. I do want to find the right woman and get married. I know my parents had a good relationship.  And, Vince, you need to tell me more about Marie and your life together.    

BTW: The pick-up has been running well. Midday, I stopped for a meal at Burger King. I know it’s “fast food,” but I love the smoked taste of a Whopper and they’re cheap. I got that new sandwich with double meat, cheese, bacon, and jalapeños. Oh yeah! I’ll get a salad for lunch tomorrow, I promise. The restaurant was crowded, and a young couple invited me to sit down with them. It’s quite interesting that, after my thoughts about marriage this morning, our lunch conversation turned to a discussion of their plans and a struggle they’re having with “being in a relationship” versus the idea of getting married. We had a good chat. They sound a lot like the couples back at college. It seems that their biggest concerns are: how much money should they have in the bank before they settle down and, if they have kids, just how much will parenting detract from achieving their personal goals. I look forward to getting Vince’s wisdom on this. I think he has quite a few kids and grandkids.

I decided to spend the night in Custer City, near Mt. Rushmore. I found an old motel that is clean and cheap. I feel like I need a mattress and TV tonight, so I’m livin’ the good life. I’ll be heading into town for some South Dakota barbecue, could be buffalo. I’m sure there’ll be some potential journal entries, but I can’t promise these will all get written down. It will be fun to just hang out with the locals—cowboys and tourists, I presume. Not to worry. You know that I know how to have some good clean fun and when it’s time to leave the party, I do. 

About geography and the countryside, southern Wyoming was rather stark. And, I already know what to expect in Nebraska: farm houses, red barns, and corn fields. I’ve never been to southwestern South Dakota. It’s beautiful…mountains and lots of pine trees–my kind of country. I’m proud to be an American.

Vince’s Response: Howdy, pardner. I read your journal entry last night. It was succinct and straightforward, and I’d like to include most of it in my blog post. Yes, southwestern South Dakota is beautiful, and Custer City is the perfect stop on the way to Rushmore. 

About those young couples struggling with the idea of getting married or not, my thoughts will probably seem old-fashioned, but that’s what my bookend represents—the older voice of tradition and perhaps some wisdom. You know, I married a young woman I met my first year at college. As you know her name is Marie. When your young friends said they were worried that parenting might interfere with meeting their personal goals, I was intrigued. Wouldn’t it be a great personal goal to get married and have kids? That was my and Marie’s first agenda item as we fell in love and contemplated a future together. Our so-called personal goals would be to achieve fulfillment in life all wrapped around the dream of the family we hoped to have. We waited a couple of years before we “tied the knot.” Now, there’s a bad old metaphor. No wonder marriage sometimes gets a bad rap. I should say: “We waited a couple of years before we tied the ribbon of love, with our marriage vows.” 

As for the concern about money. Marie and I each had good scholarships. I had a job at the local Texaco gas station making $1.00/hour. Of course, the rent on our studio apartment was just $60/month. A year after we were married, a baby girl came to join us. There was no better incentive for me to be both frugal and ambitious than to hold my baby daughter in my arms. Marie and I, we two, were just a “couple.” With our daughter, our threesome was a family. I think, if Marie and I had waited to get pregnant until I finished grad school, got that first good-paying job, leased a BMW or a Tesla, and put $50K in the bank, we’d have a better financial portfolio today, but we would be poorer in ways money can’t measure.

I’ll be interested to know how your night with the South Dakotans and tourists turned out.

Bookends: (1) Marriage is potentially a most-worthy personal goal and not a distraction from your personal goals. (2) Have some good clean fun and leave the party when it’s time to leave. (3) Let’s all work to make our American pride a reality.