Welcome to the blogosphere!
Jud happens to be my cousin, but more importantly, and in spite of being related to me, he and his awesome wife are very dear friends to me and LW. One of the things I miss about being stationed in California was being able to see them on a somewhat regular basis.
Jud grew up in Florida while I grew up in California, so we only saw each other once every several years growing up. When I moved to Groton for sub school and my first sea tour, Jud was going to NYU. During those first 9 months I lived in Groton (3 months in sub school and first 6 months on the boat), I used to go down to "the city" to watch Jud's NYU hockey team play on Friday nights at Chelsea Piers and then just hang out the rest of the weekend. We had a lot of fun and I really missed him when he graduated and abandoned me for the southwest.
I learned a couple of quirky, trivial, somewhat interesting lessons in life as a result of helping Jud move out of his apartment in Manhattan. First, there was the NY City recycling system. Most of the stuff in Jud's apartment that he didn't want to take with him wasn't of any significant monetary value, so we took it by the armload down to the curb in front of his building. By the time we went back upstairs, grabbed another armload, and brought it down to the curb, the first pile of stuff we had left was already gone! We're talking about the bottom half of a manequin, the wood he used to make his loft-bed, an old beat-up dresser... It gave new meaning to "Gone in 60 Seconds."
Second, it had never even crossed my mind to use the U.S. Postal Service as a moving company before. All of the things Jud valued and wanted to take with him, he packed into about a dozen boxes and addressed them to his new office in Utah. I had my ensign-mobile 1994, 4-door, Chevy S-10 Blazer, and it was like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle fitting all those boxes into the back of the car. We barely squeezed all the boxes in and headed over to the BIG post office across the street from Madison Square Garden. It was a holiday (Memorial Day), so we had to go to that post office since it was open 24/7/365. $330 in postage later, all of Jud's personal belongings were on their way to Utah. Heckuva lot cheaper than the U-Haul option. From there, I drove Jud over to Newark and dropped him off at the airport.
I overcame my feelings of betrayal that Jud left me. God had a plan for each of us. If he hadn't left NY, then I might not have started going to hang out in Boston (too many weirdos in NY), and I soon met LW and started spending most weekends (at least when I wasn't on duty) in Boston. Likewise, Jud needed to go to Utah so he could meet the love of his life, Jill. I was honored Jud came all the way back to Boston to participate in my wedding two years later, and I was very sad that I was on deployment and unable to attend Jud's wedding.
After finishing my first sea tour in Groton, we moved to Monterey, California. We stopped to visit them on our way driving across country. Again later, we went out to visit them. We were out at dinner at a nice Japanese steakhouse, and LW and I noticed Jill wasn't partaking of any tasty alcoholic beverages about the same time Jud and Jill noticed LW wasn't partaking of any tasty alcoholic beverages either. It just so happened that Jill got pregnant right around the same time LW got pregnant. Several months after that, we all met up down in Pismo Beach on the central California coast for a "babymoon" (last hoorah getaway before the trials and tribulations of parenthood consumed our lives) and had a wonderful weekend together down there.
Jill and LW in Pismo Beach, Spring 2001
LW went a couple of weeks past her due date, and the doctor agreed to induce labor based on the fact we were supposed to leave Monterey for Groton again in 4 weeks. It just so happened that Jill went into labor early, and by some bizarre coincidence, our first born sons were both born on the EXACT same day.
For the next few years, we were stationed in San Diego and periodically visited with Jud, Jill, and Ethan. It was just so cool to watch ES and Ethan growing and developing considering they had been born the same day. We visited them in Utah a couple of times, and they visited us in San Diego several times. Plus we all met up in Long Beach for my sister's wedding. We had a fun little quiet-party sitting in the hallway of our hotel outside our rooms drinking some tasty beverages while we waited for the boys to go to sleep in the room with the lights off.
ES & his pal Ethan after a long day at Sea World in 2002
I have very much missed living close enough to Jud & Jill that we could visit them more regularly, but we continue to keep in touch thanks to the wonders of the internet. We have each had a second son (not born on the same day this time, but still pretty close in age). I hope our paths will cross again soon so Jud & Jill can meet YB and we can meet Max.
Anyway, so much for the trip down memory lane.
In addition to being a dear friend and relative, Jud is also a fantastic photographer. He's earned all sorts of awards including the 1999 Thompson Newspaper's Photographer of the Year and the Society of Professional Journalists Photographer of the Year awards in 2004-2006. You can check out some of his awesome photographs on his website at www.judburkett.com, and if you'd like to check out his new blog, click here.