Monday, January 4, 2010

Letters to my daughter: A decade in the life of Daddy

Dearest Addison,

Every letter that I have written you in the past has been about what you have accomplished in life thus far. However, as we have left the first decade of the millenium and have stepped into 2010, I'd like to take this time to share with you what has gone on in your Daddy's life in the past 10 years.

Looking back at 2009 and the first decade of the 21st century it amazes me to see where I am now in my life. I try to imagine my y2k self and looking at who I''ve become and saying "you've come a long way baby!". Here's a brief recap of this past decade my ups and downs, my joy and pain.

In January of 2000 I rang in the new millenium mending a broken heart. We had just returned from a short south american deployment aboard the USS Reuben James. While out to sea, I received a "Dear John" letter from the person who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I greeted the new year a bitter and broken man.

Soon however, after reuniting with some old friends who were also stationed in Hawaii I came to realize that all I needed in my life at that moment were good friends and a caring family (you know who you are Rick, Mailon and Mary). I wasn't going to let a broken heart get in the way of me becoming who I had always dreamed of, a Naval Aviator. I applied into the navy's BOOST program a commissioning path for enlisted folks like me who wanted more out of their career. I got an acceptance letter while on deployment in South East Asia early 2001.

I arrived in Newport, RI in August of 2001. Talk about a change of scenery, growing up in Honolulu and San Diego, I was just not accustomed to life in the northeast, particularly, seasons. Highly overrated if you ask me. I was in a new place, absolutely terrified of what I had gotten myself into. BOOST was a very challenging program mentally and physically. It was like going to boot camp and college all at the same time. To take a break from the stresses of the Monday-Friday routine, we left the base every weekend to go do what sailors do best, get drunk and chase girls around. =) On one of those particular weekends we went to SUNY Stony Brook for an Asian American Student conference. 3 guys on a mission to find a hottie... MISSION FAILED! It didn't help that the three of us combined had less game then a baseball team with no pitcher. We left SUNY Stoney Brook rather defeated, but to all was not lost just yet. Our friend Jessica drove us to Danbury, CT to see her friends who were performing at a benefit concert. It was there that I met your mommy. She was totally checking me out from the get go. No really, ask her.

Because of your mommy, I decided to stay in the northeast and finish my training at SUNY Maritime Academy in the Bronx. It was there that my Naval Career started to teeter on the edge. I began suffering from severe anxiety attacks, sleepless nights, and thoughts of suicide. I finally approached my advisor about it and was immediately sent to therapy. My grades began to suffer and eventually I was dropped from the program due to my anxiety disorder. I was suffering from a form of seasonal depression. (SEASONS!!!! OVERRATED I TELL YOU!) I was transferred to the Naval Reserve Center Bronx to await orders for redeployment to the fleet. So here I was again at rock bottom questioning the very foundation of my being. What am I going to do now? Is there anything I can do without screwing it up? I felt absolutely worthless. The only light in this dark time was mommy. She always had an encouraging word, an affectionate kiss. Sometimes she would just hold me. I began to see that She was who I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

October 2003 I proposed to your mom. Thankfully she said yes! As we were paying for our own wedding and wanted to have a big celebration with all our family and friends we decided to have long engagement to allow us time to save for our dream wedding. This is where the seed of becoming a professional photographer was first sowed. We didn't think photography would be a top priority on our list of must haves so went with a photographer who took photos that were just OK but had the right price. We booked based on price alone and continued about our wedding planning.

In 2004, my career in the Navy ended. I was told that I had the choice of getting out or getting stationed on a ship based out of Virginia. I knew that I didn't want to stay on the east coast if your mommy couldn't be with me. She was still 3 years out from finishing her PhD and would not have been able to come along. It was time for me to make a life changing decision. Should I continue my career in the Navy or start anew with my soon to be wife. I hung up my uniform for the last time on October 10, 2004. I began a working in the civilian world as a Field Engineer in the semiconductor industry. Although rewarding and challenging, it still sorely miss the camaraderie that I had in the Navy. And although I am now a small business owner, it is this job that pays most of the bills and has become just as much a part of me as the Navy and my photography.

May 29, 2005 your mommy and I were married in Danbury, CT. It was a perfect spring day, warm with not a single cloud in the sky. We had family fly in from everywhere! Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, California and the Philippines. We were truly blessed to have so many of our loved ones with us on our most special day. The food was fantastic, the music was great, the people were amazing but the photography was so-so. Mommy began her quest to find a great photographer who could give us what we now realized we wanted from our wedding photography, someone to capture who we were as people, not just posed figures in front of an alter. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but when our proof book consisted almost entirely of posed photos it really made it difficult to remember all that went on that day.

Late summer 2005, Mommy is pregnant! We were so overjoyed and excited about our soon to arrive baby. We began preparing for the arrival of our little one. Tragically, towards the end of her 1st trimester she miscarried. We were both devastated and struggled to cope with what was presented to us. We prayed everyday that what had happened was really not a miscarriage and that baby would arrive soon enough. We didn't try getting pregnant again for over a year... that was you sweetie.

For our first anniversary, your mom booked an anniversary session with Frank Amodo, an AMAZING wedding photographer based out of Oahu. We had such an amazing time with Frank. In his attitude and style, we knew with much regret that he was what we were looking for in a wedding photographer. I wanted to be like Frank. Using his personality and photographic skill to bring out the best in people and capturing that with the click of a shutter. That's what I wanted to be as photographer, thats who I wanted to be at our wedding.

The early fall of 2006 I felt an sense of absolute terror coming over me. In your mom's depression over our wedding photo's she volunteered us to be models at a wedding photography workshop in New York City. ABSOLUTELY.MORTIFIED. However, it was the best decision she ever made for us. We made some new friends that day (Kim, Trevor and now Henry) and also met some really cool rock star photographers. So much talent, such great people... I saw how wonderfully friendly the wedding photography industry can be, who wouldn't want to be part of that group? I wanted in this club bad.

After assisting and second shooting for various photographers in the area, we shot our first wedding in September 2007. J. Castro Photography was born. 2 months later you arrived and changed our lives forever.

If I had to choose, the single most important event in the past 10 years of my life, it would be the day you were born. You have brought a perspective to my life that I have never had. Having you makes me see what is truly important amongst the busy minutia of life. Family matters most. My photography, though I truly love, is still a distant second because without you and your mommy there is nothing. You two are the ones who define my existence and make me who I am. Without you there would be no photography for it is the love of you and your mommy that inspires me to capture that same love that others share with one another. I am no Frank Amodo, but i sincerely believe that I'm a step closer.

This past decade has truly been a wonderful experience. All of it. Good and bad. You can't have good without the bad otherwise, how would you know what was good? I am thankful everyday for what I have. And I am extremely excited about what's to come in the future. I am blessed to have such a wonderful wife and daughter. I am blessed to have such caring friends. I am blessed to have met people that have inspired me to be more than anything I could have ever dreamed. I am truly blessed.

Happy New Year Addi!

Love Always,


1 comment:

  1. Your letters always inspire me, Jaymie. Happiest of New Years to you and your lovelies.


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