Thursday, March 3, 2011

Milestones and Mini-Skirts

This photo was taken in 1976, the year I turned 30.

I was starting college for the first time and I enrolled in night classes. I was scared to death. I really had no reason to think I would do well in school, but I wanted to try it.

I was also engaged to be married, (again). I had no reason to suspect the marriage would be successful, but I wanted to try it. I really hoped to give my crazy life some stability and my children some security.

The two things (school and a marriage) collided a little. I unexpectedly fell a little in love with my English professor, (a very soulful and sensitive young Muslim man), about two weeks before I was due to get married. He and I had a "moment" or two, but I did go ahead with the wedding.

(Although my professor and I stopped being an "item" after I was married, surprisingly I still got an "A" in his class.)

I married a man 23 years my senior, and a high-level manager at Chevron. My husband was also a cowboy, a hunter, and a general outdoors-man. I thought I was the luckiest woman in the world despite the fact that I was not an "outdoors-type" woman.

Little did I know that I was perhaps making the biggest mistake of my life. My new husband wanted me to change completely right after the wedding. No more mini-skirts! No more make up! No more high heel shoes! (You can see where this is going, I'm sure.)

I was working full-time, going to school 4 nights a week, and trying to fulfill wildly divergent roles. I was a mother, a new wife, a student and a working woman. Something had to give, and it did. Not only did I continue to dress as I pleased, I also neglected the laundry and cooking because of my heavy load at school.

My husband became a brutal drunken lout. He was also physically abusive enough to land me in the hospital on more than one occasion. I had experienced rocky relationships in the past, but broken ribs were never an issue before.

I quietly arranged for my children to spend the year with their dad and his wife. They were happy to do so. In the meantime, I considered putting an ax through my husband's head when he was sleeping, or shooting him with one of the many guns he kept around the house. (I could always claim I thought he was a prowler.) Instead, with the help of a dear new friend, (who happened to be a lawyer), I filed for divorce.

My husband did not take this well. I had to get a restraining order to keep him from getting anywhere near me. I was actually afraid that he would kill me as he had threatened numerous times.

The good news is, I finished my first full year of college with a 3.8 GPA. I sold my wedding ring and got enough money to take my children to Disneyland for a week, and I got a promotion at work.

My dear new friend turned into a boyfriend, and yes, I am playing around a bit with the timing of this relationship transformation. My new boyfriend did not mind my mini-skirts and high heels in the slightest.

Imagine that.

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