Very rarely in this life have I gotten what I wanted.
Almost without fail, however, I’ve gotten what I’ve needed.
Some how, some way, whatever higher power or cosmic force is out there has seen fit to provide for me with no less and no more than exactly what I need. There’s an old saying, “God takes care of fools and small children,” and I can’t help but think I probably fall into the former category.
Nearly 30 years ago, I didn’t want to leave home and go away to college. To me, Troy had everything I could possibly want. It was safe and it was comfortable. If I did go to college, I certainly didn’t to the largest institute of higher learning in the nation. I wanted to go somewhere that reminded me of my hometown. The vagaries of life felt otherwise, however, and I ended up as one of 50,000 or so students at Ohio State.
It would turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me, as I met lifelong friends and had a series of experiences that I couldn’t possibly have had at any other college or university. It played a huge role in making me who I am.
So influential was my time at Ohio State that when I moved back home and started working at the Troy Daily News, I wanted out just as quickly as I could. I felt the bright lights and the big city were waiting for me. Once again, however, through time, I found out life had other plans for me. After 22 years here, I’ve settled my roots here and can’t possibly imagine having any other job than the one I have.
Of course, part of the reason I feel like I was meant to be here is because I met the woman of my dreams — who was the complete opposite of the type of person I saw myself spending the rest of my life with at the time. When I was much younger (and significantly more wild), I always thought my soulmate would be someone who was willing to howl at the moon all night alongside me. I figured I needed someone who could match me and my unpredictable lifestyle. That’s what I thought I wanted.
It’s not what I got. Instead, once again, I got what I needed. I found a calm, gentle soul who was patient enough to stick with me through those aforementioned wild days. I needed someone who would round off my edges and make me a quieter, better person.
Of course, my amazing wife and I would eventually decide we wanted to have children. Once again, I had visions of what I wanted my children to be. I wanted them to be as obsessed with sports as I am. I wanted kids who would be willing to watch college football games with me, breaking down every play. I wanted three-sport athletes who would succeed where their father failed in his lack of an athletic career. I wanted bold, confident kids.
Or so I thought.
Instead, I got exactly the kids I needed. I have two children who, on a daily basis, force me to look at things in ways I never before would have considered. I have two kids who force me to not only be a better father, but a better husband and a better person, as well. I have two children who have forced me to stop being such a kid myself (well, to a certain degree, anyway). They have changed my world view for the better.
Through all of those changes, however, I figured there was one thing that would remain constant in what I wanted — or, in this case, didn’t want.
Heading into 2018, I was pretty steadfast in my belief that I didn’t want a dog in our family. I didn’t want the mess, the responsibility, the financial investment or the time commitment.
I think you’ve probably figured out by now how this story ends.
In late May, our sweet little Millie Jo, world’s cutest beagle-spaniel mix, entered our life as a result of a promise I made to our daughter that if she broke the Troy Junior High School record in the pole vault, I would finally give in and get a dog. Seven months later, I can say — as has been the case so often in my life — just I wrong I was. Millie has been good for the entire family, probably me more than anyone else.
She has been a calming influence over my oft-turbulent soul. No matter my mood, which usually can best be described as “churlish,” she is always there, ready to put her head in my lap or climb up on my chest and lick my face. I used to wonder why anyone would want a dog; now I wonder how we ever got along without one.
As 2018 comes to a close in a few days, we’ll ring in a new year. I hope 2019 brings you health and happiness, loyal reader and true believer. But I do not hope you necessarily get what you want.
I do hope, however, you get what you need.
David Fong appears on Thursdays in Miami Valley Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong