I made it to the end of the spring semester, 1994. I didn’t go back for the fall.
I was tired. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. I was spent. I had nothing left to give anyone. I was so pale. Sometimes I look at pictures of me from then and think, “I look like a ghost”. I’ve never had a really good tan or anything, but then? You could see right through me.
Like I wasn’t even there.
I started to if I was crazy. Seriously, like really crazy. Like, “do I need to be in a mental institution?” crazy. Everything was so, so wrong but I kept trying to convince myself it was okay.
It was not okay.
I talked to him about all my problems. I told him everything, even though I never got the sense that he cared.
I told him my fears, my worries, and that I wanted to marry him.
Surprisingly, he was somewhat amiable to marrying me.
I mean, he was what, like 18 or 19? Most guys at that age aren’t thinking about marriage, I think.
When I was 19 or so I went to a jewelry store and found a ring that he could afford. I told him where it was and what it looked like and how much it cost. I’m amazed I didn’t just buy it for him.
Yes. I know how lame that makes me sound. Or makes me. Or whatever.
It is what it is.
Even then, I knew. I look at my diaries and they are full of, “I don’t know why he does this. I love him so much and he won’t pay any attention to me. Why does he hurt me like this?”
He asked me to marry him in March, 1995. Well, he didn’t so much ask me to marry him as he sort of told me he had already bought the ring after I was already upset at him for something else. He didn’t ever ask me to marry him, now that I think about it. And he couldn’t tell his parents. He gave me the ring and then one day just held my hand up and showed his mom. He never said anything to his dad, that I am aware of.
His parents were not bad people. They were really different than me and really different than anything I was used to. I grew up poor. These people were Super Poor. They had NOTHING. They had HOLES in their floors.
The odd thing? They didn’t seem concerned by this. They were resigned to this, as their life. They lived in a shack on the side of a hill. I don’t even know how people could get into their house. You had to walk down a steep hill. It was horrible in the winter. His dad was disabled. I honestly have no idea how he didn’t plunge to his death time and time again, trying to get down that hill.
I am not saying I am better than them. I’ve never thought I was better than them, or anyone.
But I cared. I wanted out. I didn’t want to be poor. I wanted to have all these things that I had always dreamed of…and most of them weren’t expensive things. I wanted a house. Not a mansion. Just a house. I wanted a baby who would grow up and be my kid. I wanted a good job. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to be a wife.
I wanted to be normal.
And I wanted this from someone who didn’t want to be normal. Someone who didn't have the ability or desire. Someone who had no idea what normal was.
I went back to school, enrolling in a two-year program. I just wanted some skill. Writing, as I was told a million times, wasn’t a REAL job, not a REAL career and not something I should ever pin my hopes and dreams on. I had to be able to make money. I worked full-time, but I didn’t make enough money. It was never enough money.
So I went to school and became a Dental Assistant.
It’s funny to me now. Not that there is anything wrong with that job, at all. It’s just not me.
My parents were moving away. My dad’s job was taking them to North Carolina. Although I was engaged to my boyfriend, he was in no hurry whatsoever to get married. I was living with my parents, so unless I went with them, I would be homeless.
I stayed behind.
Maybe I would have met Jason then. He was already in North Carolina, waiting on me.
I don’t know. I can’t speculate on what could have been. I don’t even want to.
I was my class speaker when I graduated in August, 1996. My fiancée didn’t come to my graduation.
A week later was my rehearsal dinner.
My fiancée didn’t come to that either.
To the rehearsal dinner. For our wedding.
He couldn’t be bothered.
I remember that night at the church. My aunt got into a fight with the preacher. His parents had bought barbeque for everyone. They all sat together, talking and laughing and I sat at a table, alone.
Alone at my wedding rehearsal.
It should have been a sign. But I was not ready to see it.