I chose this picture for a reason.
I think its probably the most honest picture of me ever taken. I don't remember the circumstances of its being taken, not even one drop. But I like the look of it. It's just, me. Not looking head on at anything, gazing off, almost, in a way, contemplating my future. If only that girl knew...
Alright. On with the show.
I was born 40 years ago, February, the third of three daughters to Ray and Joy. At that time, Ray was working in a Tire place in Central California, and Joy, she was staying at home, raising her daughters. I had the standard upbringing. We moved a few times, Dad found better, and better jobs, and my Mom? Went back to work around the time I was in kindergarten, maybe a little before, part time, and then, full time. My sisters are four and six years older then me, I was the last hope for the boy they never had. I did fairly well in school, with a few speed bumps, (kindergarten teacher wanted to hold me back because I couldn't cut with scissors in a straight line, or count as well as she wanted me to. I STILL can't cut in a straight line, honestly, but I can count).
When I was in 4th grade, we moved to the house my parents still live in to this day, in Valley Springs, California. A town of 500. (its a bit bigger, now). It was a fairly easy transition for me, harder on my older sisters, but we survived, somewhat intact. I was lucky, that we stayed in one place for so long. I made friends, some that I have to this day, and went to the same schools un-interrupted. It benefitted me.
I wasn't a rowdy teeenager, I had my quirks. I was a slightly above average student, depending on my mood. I HATED math (thanks, kindergarten teacher) and did the bare minimum of it I needed to. That came back to bite me in the ass, later. I briefly went with the wrong crowd at school, got intoxicated a few too many times then a 14 year old should have, and after one BIG drunk (bordering on toxic) saw the error of my ways (through the eyes of a massive hangover, and being grounded FOREVER). I pulled my head out of my ass long enough to have actual fun in high school. We even had a foreign exchange student for a year my senior year, and that was really a blast.
I did (and probably still do) have a tumultuous relationship with my Mom. I can freely admit that I was an independent, mouthy brat. Sulky and sullen at times, like a typical thwarted teenager. We lost our communication skills. I was convinced she didn't, and would never understand me. At seventeen, I made the decision that I HAD to be out from under at eighteen. With their permission, I joined the Navy delayed entry program. I graduated high school, and ran away to be a sailor. Probably the wisest decision I had made thus far.
Boot camp SUCKED. It didn't kill me, but it sure tried. I was a girl from a small town, thrust into a company of more ethnicites than I had ever seen in my life. I heard language I'd never heard. Girls are foul mouthed, yo. Don't let anyone tell you different. And who the hell agree's to go to bootcamp in Orlando, Florida, in AUGUST? Damn. But I survived. Right out of the gate, I was sent overseas, because I asked to go. I wanted to go to Europe, (there is a big Naval base in Holy Loch, Scotland). Instead, I went to Japan. For two years.
I worked on a tugboat, where I had my first experience with gender discrimination. And abuse. One of my 'bosses' hated having a girl (and I was a girl) on his boat, and made my life hell. He even took a swing at me once. But I survived. I escaped him, and went to work in another division (but same tugboat). Probably the second best decision I made. I got to be outside. All the time. I worked hard, and I loved it.
I was a young, crazy girl, who knew not much, those two years in Japan. I dated Marines, learned how to line dance in the country bar, and discovered I could drink responsibly. (I hadn't really had a drink since that big drunk). Of course, I didn't always drink responsibly, hell. I was a sailor. But I hated being hung over, so I erred on the side of caution, usually.
Then, I fell in love. With a Marine. A Marine from the opposite coast of where I grew up. He was a Catholic Boy from Rhode Island. This was that young, giddy love. The chirpy birds and floating hearts, the heat, the fun. We were inseperable. I gave him my young, foolish heart, and to this day, I still feel he gave me his. We got engaged, right before he left Japan, six months before I did. He ended up in the first gulf war. I got transferred back to California, onto a ship. The week he came home from that war, I left for it. We did not physically see each other for over a year. Dumb asses we were, we got married when I came home. I loved him. But at that point, I didn't know who he was, anymore. We'd both been to a war, me on a ship, fairly safe. But him? In the thick of it. It changed him, it changed me. We still loved the idea of each other, and tried to go on that. We lasted less then three years. During that time, I got out of the Navy, we moved to Tennessee, then Rhode Island, and then I came "home". To Valley Springs. To live in my parents house. You see? I did not escape. I had less than thirty dollars, and a suitcase full of memories, and a broken heart. I didn't even have a drivers liscence.
If I thought my relationship with my mother was tumultuous when I was a TEEN living in her house, you should have seen it when I was a WOMAN living in her house. Dayum.
The divorce really hurt me. I tucked into a shell, went to nursing school, (where my lack of math skills came back to bite me in the arse) and avoided men like the plague. I worked as a cashier at a small mini mart while I went to school, and relied on that small paycheck, the GI bill that I'd signed up for (Thank GOD) and, the generousness of my parents to get me through school. I moved out, as soon as I had a decent job with wages. Still avoided men. Most of them. I needed to learn to be happy with just me. So I did. I worked, I had friends, my relationship with my mother improved greatly, and all was well. The few men I tried to meet were just not for me. My dating life sucked. I wasn't ready. So I got a cat instead. I was doing well.
Except, I hated where I lived. One day, I went internet shopping for a nursing job, where I could transfer to. I was hired over the phone, and in less than one month, I needed to find a place to live, and get settled, so I could start orientation at my new hospital. I did it. Another GREAT decision.
So, I transferred to this pretty little town I'd been to, ONCE, and never looked back. I felt like this was home immediately. I made some great friends, lived through a winter with snow for the first time, and began to feel ready to see if I could find someone that could tolerate me. Hesitantly, tentatively, I started to date. Very few and far between. Lots of toads. Lots of fun internet shopping for men. Then, MM came into play. And all was right. This love, is different from that youthful, bird chirping giddy hearts and flowers "all or nothing" love. Its deeper, it flows. There is no question. It is not volatile, it does not take for granted. It just is. I would not have this without having that first love, the one I have no contact with. The one that altered me, for good and bad. I would not change a thing.
So now I am, at 40, happy, content, a homeowner, a partner, a parental figure to an awesome young lady. We have fish, cats, dogs, each other. A jeep. A hammock, debt, fears, anxietys, love, like, laughter, exhiliration, exhaustion, and a booze ball.
Happily ever after?
Yeah, I think so.