Something that struck me the other day is that you will only know me as the person I am now, and will be in the future. You won’t know me the way your mom knew me, nor will you know me the way my mom knows me. And that’s OK, but I think it is important if you know more about who I was when I was young.
I grew up in a few different places. First, there was the little red house in Reynoldsburg where your Uncle Jordan and I lived with your Grandpa Rauch and Grandma (GM) Whitt. We had a lot of woods in our back yard where we would play with the neighborhood kids, and a church softball field where we would play baseball. I remember we would use big rocks as bases because the church would remove the bases when they weren’t being used. My two best friends were Eric Fryer and Trent Spangler. Trent’s grandpa had a baseball field named after him in Reynoldsburg, and Eric and I played baseball together for a few years, and he went on to play a little in the pros.
I also liked playing Nintendo, lining up Matchbox cars with your uncle Jordan and racing them from one side of the table to the next to see which was fastest, and watching football with your grandpa Rauch.
We moved to Hollywood, Florida after my mom and dad got divorced when I was about 9 or 10. I remember being angry about it for a long time, but as I grew up and saw how much happier each of them turned out with where their lives would go, I came to understand things a lot better. We moved to a city named Coral Springs, and it was more baseball and hanging out with my friends Zach Weiner, Johnny McPherson, and some kids around the neighborhood. We would rollerblade, play basketball at the park, listen to alternative music and wear Airwalk shirts and wallets with chains. I was a skater kid who could barely skate, but it was fun for me.
Also in Florida, your Grandpa Whitt came along and married your grandma. This was a big change for everyone, and I think I had a hard time with it for awhile because of the initial divorce. But I liked your grandpa Whitt and I knew your grandma liked him, and we eventually became friends. He ended up being one of, if not the most important people in my life. He showed me what it means to work hard and not accept things if they don’t fall in your favor. I hope he and I both can teach you those same things.
I came back to Ohio after a few years and moved to Gahanna where your Whitt family lived (and mostly still live). Around this time, your grandpa Rauch and grandma Anissa got married. Seemed like everyone was having babies, and your aunts and uncles (Tyler Paige, Mauri, Rese) all came about in those next few years. I think it was a unique thing to be the age I was and have all these new brothers and sisters in my life.
Baseball (again) was where I found my place, and between that and just meeting people in school, I made my group of friends. Middle school was a lot of fun. I would meet up with friends before school and play 2-on-2 basketball in my buddy’s driveway before walking to school. I learned to play saxophone, which led me to teach myself guitar.
High school was another fun time. I started playing golf and was on the golf and baseball team all four years of high school. My best friends were James Rice and Chris Nighland. They both played baseball and golf too, and we would hang out on the weekends. Chris lived with his grandparents who had a lot of woods in their backyard, and we took four-wheelers out to a campsite we made and camped out every warm weekend we could. We had parties out there, and I got into a little bit of trouble a few times, but mostly we just wanted to hang out and have fun.
I had a lot of jobs, too, when I was in high school. Your grandpa Whitt thought it was important for me to work hard, and I think that it helped me grow a lot and taught me responsibility. Some of my jobs (I probably can’t remember all of them) included carpet cleaner, bus boy, Abercrombie stock room worker, Gap salesperson, fence builder with your grandpa Rauch, Abercrombie warehouse worker, Uno Pizza cook, Lowes garden center worker (like, two times before I quit), and maybe some other ones in there. Some jobs I liked, and some I hated, but I always showed up and worked hard, and tried to keep a happy face while I worked. I learned a lot about a lot of different jobs, but more importantly, I learned how to work with a lot of different kinds of people.
As I grew up, I found that the most important things to me were friends, sports, and family. I learned that my parents cared about me, and when they wanted me to work or wanted me to get straight A’s in school (sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t), it was because they were trying to show me how to be successful in the “real-world.” I know that I will expect a lot of the same things from you as you get older, but I promise that I will only push you because I believe in you, and I will only expect from you what I know you’re capable of.
I had a lot of fun growing up. I had many crazy adventures and did some things that I look back on and think, “what was I thinking?!?” I took some chances, and was smart enough to say no to other things that I knew were not good for me. I hope to share with you as much of those stories as you’ll hopefully want to hear someday, and I hope that you share with me all of the fun and adventures that you’re sure to have as you grow up.
Right now, you’re only 4 months old, and there is so much adventure ahead of you. The most important thing I’d ask of you as you grow up is to have fun, be confident in yourself, and keep your mom and I as involved in your life as possible. We will be your biggest supporters for the rest of our lives!
Love your biggest fan,