I wrote the below tale a little over a year ago, just a few short months after the pandemic, as we all know it, began. After taking a year or so off from writing, posting, sharing, and really thinking (mainly due to a hectic and demanding work schedule and my priorities being a tad bit out of whack), I stumbled across it while reviewing some drafts and thought it was appropriate to post on the eve of Father’s Day, 2021. It’s begins the story of my life, when it was just mine to have, prior to merging existences with Hugo and embarking on the greatest adventure I could have asked for. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed living and growing through it, reflecting on it, and finally putting this first portion to paper.
Part I – And so it begins.
I love to write and always have. That is one of a couple common interests and themes that have permeated every phase of my life, regardless of where I’ve lived or what I’ve been interested in. My written words have been friends when I didn’t have any and comforted me while physically alone. It has allowed me to escape with my own thoughts and process issues larger than myself. Writing has also afforded me the opportunity to speak when no one would listen, which is exactly what I wanted sometimes. As a middle school student, I took to writing in my journal, as a way to document the trivial aspects of school, friendships, crushes and growing up. In the years to follow, I enjoyed writing in my spare time and as a scholarly pursuit, later finding myself enrolled in AP English in high school, where my teacher, Ms. Martins, was a late 90s example of a pear-shaped woman with attitude who loved her yoga pants, before they were dubbed yoga pants and simply known as leggings. Ms. Martins liked me and I liked her class; before I knew it, I landed an A in the class, nailed the test, and received a little extra college credit I would find quite useful in later years as I pursued my Bachelor’s degree at thirty-four years old.
My diary carried on for years, with short stories, triumphs and major losses documented on the multiple volume series of my life. Those empty notebooks served as one of my best friends growing up, allowing this only child to vent out her emotions in a safe space. I wrote about all of my animals on the farm and how they lived their lives out before my eyes. I wrote about friendships and the happiness that companionship brought to me, most of them later ending in loss as we parted ways, none of my friendships lasting very long, as I moved schools or just moved on from people. Some of my independence stems from being an only child, raised in rural Connecticut – I didn’t need anyone and I knew it, plus a lot of times everyone around me didn’t measure up or make me feel like I was really wanted by them. The other girls were a little bit cooler and just a tad better of friends, so in the end, I was normally left behind. But that was fine by me, because I had my horse and dog, miles of unexplored trails to navigate, and free time to begin writing poetry about it all.
Being alone a lot, slightly by choice but mainly by default, makes you learn a lot about yourself from an early age. I learned to survive and thrive on my own. I learned to be self-reliant, because there wasn’t anyone else to lean on, other than my parents. Even looking back now, I feel a little sad to think of all the time I spent solo. It would have been nice to have true, long-term friends for life but switching schools and moving away tends to tear friendships apart. Plus, my fierce independence resulted in my pushing people away as well. I was basically the perfect storm of singularity, until I found him. Without asking for it, I found my best friend and we have been nearly inseparable since I was sixteen. Fast forward twenty years and I find myself sitting on our living room couch in California, hundreds of miles, tens of years, and what feels like a lifetime from all of these memories we have grown up and away from. Sometimes it feels like a different lifetime I am reflecting on when I sit and reflect on where I’ve come from and how I got here.
As a young girl, I naturally defaulted to dreaming of being married one day, possibly having kids of my own, but I honestly didn’t give any of it much thought. I know some little girls play Barbie and imagine their fairy tale endlessly, but that wasn’t me. Maybe because I wasn’t looking for it, desperate for the dream, I found just that. But we won’t go there quite yet.
In order to fall in love properly, I truly believe you need to have witnessed true love at one point in your life. Ideally, this love story would come from one’s own parents and in my case, it did. I feel bad for people who weren’t raised with two parents who loved one another and had their children as an expression of their love. That is where I came from and as the story has been told to me, I was conceived on the beach in Bar Harbor, Maine in the late summer of 1983. The story has been told and retold so many times, how could I forget. After marrying, my mother and father bought a ten acre piece of heavily-wooded land in rural CT, where they set out to build a home. But they weren’t going to build just any regular house – the young, energetic, earth-conscious hippies that they were, my parents drew up plans to build a passive solar house, where a wood-burning stove would heat their unique ‘envelope’ house, shaded and cooled by deciduous trees through the summer months and warmed by the sunshine as those same trees shed their leaves in the winter. A beautiful place to call home, in sync with the rhythm of the earth while utilizing the gifts she gives us.
My parents’ home, which was my home from the time I was born until I moved out and away at twenty years old, was such a paradise. They built a barn to add to the property when I was entering 3rd grade, so I got the horse I was meant to have and later raised Hampshire sheep, chickens, and a plethora of other gracious creatures. I learned tenderness from all of those beautiful animals and I am forever thankful to my parents for allowing me to experience all of those things on our farm. My dad’s organic gardens were extensive and bountiful, feeding us fully throughout the year and allowing me to sell produce and hand-picked berries to our friends and neighbors at my roadside stand for a premium.
As their only child, my parents raised me with uncharted love and support for everything I did. They pushed me to pursue any dream I had and to this day, I am thankful for the blind love and encouragement they always gave me. Even in later years when I applied to become a police officer in Los Angeles, both of my parents still backed me, regardless of if they were scared to death of their young daughter entering a dangerous profession. Taking a step back, it makes you realize what real love and support looks like – I am eternally used to it in my life, because that is the only type of support I have ever received from those closest to me, but as I process it, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have that in their lives. The same rings true for my spouse – any dream, any thought, any wish I have, he cheers me on and wishes only positive vibes for his wife. What a lucky woman I am, to have never experienced a sexist thought from any of the men in my life and to always have them confidently believe I can do just as good, if not better, of a job as my male counterparts.
But things weren’t always perfect on the home front during my early years. As I reflect back now, I am incredibly thankful my father stopped drinking when he did, which was right around 2002, when I left for college. I remember thinking at the time how I was so happy to be leaving because I hated being at home and around him, where he embarrassed me. What started as my dad drinking at family picnics on the weekends and after a long day of work, turned into drinking to extreme excess where he crashed his truck drunk, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, not coming home because he passed out at a friend’s house from partying all night, and later, falling asleep at 5pm at the dinner table or sitting on the stairs as he took his boots off after work. He began to make me hate him and I think my mom felt a little bit of the same. Feeling like we were up against a wall, the only way I knew how to escape was to physically do just that – leave and not look back. Ironically, it worked. When Hugo and I decided to move cross country together, to pursue our dreams and a life together, my dad suddenly stopped drinking almost immediately. I was primarily thrilled, because he changed his behavior and that was a huge success, but there was a tiny part of me that resented the fact that he finally fixed his issue, right when I left. The thoughts of ‘you couldn’t do this for me when I was living there?’ or ‘you didn’t love me enough to change?’ came to mind. Over time, I put those thoughts aside because the happiness outweighed the anger and I was so happy my father was healed. I am pleased to report that my father hasn’t had a drink of alcohol since that memorable summer of 2002.