There’s so much sadness right now, so thought maybe my story would make you smile a bit….happy reading!
When my college boyfriend asked me to move to Georgia, I didn’t bother looking the place up. The internet was still a couple of years from being common and I never paid attention in Geography class. To be honest, I was just happy to be getting out of Indiana.
In college, one of my many majors was Radio, TV & Film, so before heading South, I’d applied at a few of the local TV stations and scored a job with the morning news. Work began at 4 am, ended by 9, and the pay was awful. From there I would head to the local T.G.I Fridays and wait tables from 10 am to about 3. It seemed no matter how many hours I worked, there was never any money.
Augusta was a small military town and mainly consisted of lower end bars, chain restaurants and the famous ‘Masters’ golf course. I remember the OJ Simpson trial was always on TV at the restaurant, it was the talk of the town. There wasn’t much to love but I was having a great time and making friends was easy. The boyfriend and I weren’t getting along so he accepted a job in another state and I rented a one bedroom dump in the ghetto for $200 a month. The locks were broken, my only furniture was a mattress and after a while, the neighborhood gunshots became normal. The area I lived in was a huge step down from the place my college boyfriend and I lived and it was very similar to where I grew up. Not much opportunity to grow and it seemed your only choices were to get pregnant, waitress forever or get out! I was hopeless, broke and had no idea how to get out of Augusta, I just knew that I wasn’t going back home.
Then I met Bill, he was rich, handsome, married, 17 years older than me and lived in California. He traveled to Augusta quite often for business and had set his sights on me. Now let’s be clear about something, fooling around with a married man was not something I was proud of. Him and his associate happen to sit in my section at the restaurant and left me a $72 tip on an $18 lunch. I tried to give it back, but he insisted and invited my coworkers and I to dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town. We went, he worked his magic and so began our very long affair.
Bill was honest about everything. He told me he was happily married and that I wasn’t the only ‘side girl’ in his life. His wife was beautiful, fit and their sex life after 15 years was still better than ever. But Bill truly believed that it was impossible for a man to make love to only one women forever. This obviously didn’t help me with my insecurities but for some reason, I was never jealous over him.
At first I felt a bit guilty for what I was doing, but he kept showing me a world I never knew existed, it felt as though I was in a movie! If you remember from my past blogs, I was a tomboy, never wore dresses or did my hair and certainly had never been to fancy, expensive places. Bill changed all of that! He helped me to get a great sales job with AT&T, taught me about wine and good food and would buy me clothes that girls wear, not boys. Eventually that job would be my ticket out of Georgia and into Orlando Florida, where everything was about to change.
Most of my wonder years were spent shooting guns, playing in the woods, building fires, and beating up boys, but dating boys, ew! I played with them, not kissed them. Around 14, in 9th grade, one of the pretty and popular girls invited me to her slumber party. Now you’ve seen the black and white Junior High photo of me in my last blog, I was not about to be nominated for the prettiest girl in class and I certainly had no sense of girly style or friends. Talk about nervous! Of course some of the hot football players decided to crash the party and that’s when I met my first love.
What he saw in me and my 3 inch think glasses and boy clothes, I have no idea, but I was so happy. He was shy, but played football so he hung with the cool kids. We dated all through the school year until he broke my heart for one of the hip girls. But within weeks, we were back together until summer, when I broke up with him after I woke up one morning with boobs and contacts. All of a sudden boys were noticing me and I liked it! Being single was short lived as I met another young man that summer from the rival high school with a convertible and muscles.
Now you may think bullying is a new thing, but you are very wrong. We started high school in our Sophomore year which was a combination of the 2 local Junior Highs. Since I had ditched the glasses for contacts, grew out my hair and found a sense of style and confidence, I was hardly recognizable. Within days, the cool girls in school made my life hell. They would push me down, knock the books out of my hands, corner me in the bathroom, threaten and yell terrible things at me and spread rumors to make everyone think I was the town slut! I was far from it and was happily dating my handsome man from the other high school. At one point, it was so bad, I refused to even show up, almost 2 weeks I think it was. The principal had to come to my house and make a deal to get me to come back. It never stopped and I spent many Saturdays in detention from getting in fights that I never started. It was always the girls from the rival Jr, High too, the same click, none of them liked me and to this day I have no idea why.
But I persevered, made the dance squad, got a job, played on some sports teams and had a few good friends who knew the real me. It was hard though, everyday as I walked the halls I never knew who was going to give me grief. Why? I had a boyfriend, kept to myself, didn’t bother anyone, it wasn’t fare.
I even got into body building at the school gym, was going to compete one day, wanted legs like Cory Everson. I was benching 145 pounds on the free weights.
After calming from my panic attack, I drove to the beach, parked, walked over to a bar, ordered a double and found a palm tree to chill on. After taking in the magnitude of what I had just done, I dialed both my parents. Dad of course never worried, he thought I was indestructible, like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, (he actually said that) and figured I would be fine. Mom was cool, she always worried but I was 43 and she had grown used to me giving her gray hairs.
Throughout my life if when there was something I wanted to do, I typically made it happen. They weren’t always the best decisions but I was stubborn, had been on my own most of the time so no one was telling me what to do. I was either running from one boyfriend to a new zip code or following another to a new state. Often I would move for a job, or have no job at all, just an a photo of somewhere awesome I wanted to live. If there was too much thought put into it, I would talk myself out of it. That’s how I made it from growing up in Indiana before moving to Illinois, Georgia, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten and eventually seeing the world. Usually with only a few bucks in my pocket, a small truck full of stuff and a dumb idea.
See, at 43 everyone in yachting would have told me I was nuts if I had said I was quitting a perfectly good job to work on yachts. I new it too! As a Crew Agent, I learned all about how it works. Typically once the aspiring yachtie graduates college, they pack a bag and head for the nearest crewing agency to apply for work. The hierarchy is similar to the military, there are ranks and usually the higher you are on the food chain, the older you are. Now that’s the norm for yachts with 4 or more crew, anywhere between 100 and 300 plus feet but the boats under a 100 feet ran things a bit differently and age was not a big deal. Especially for me because I was in the best shape of my life and could run circles around some of those young girls.
As I was sipping my adult beverage and having a good cry, all of this occurred to me and it scared me to death. I immediately text the owner of the yacht I had just worked on but he specifically told me not to quit my day job because there was no guarantee he could keep me busy. It was summer time in South Florida, the slowest time of the year for yacht charters and he was a private owner, didn’t use a broker. But of course, I didn’t listen so here I am, again, back to square one. Even though everything seemed hopeless at this point, I still felt relieved and so glad I left that job.
Let me start from the beginning…
I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring and snow falling in the winter. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports, building forts, burning bonfires and carving out trails in the woods.
Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV show’s like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always delicious.
Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of tree’s and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all! But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!
Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school. That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were older and had better things to do.
That was OK with me because there were lot’s of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns, the woods, motor bikes, forts, kick the can, ditch on bikes and TV tag.
The one thing we didn’t have was parental supervision when at mom’s during the week. I also had to figure out boys and dating on my own and that was disastrous, even to this day, I still can’t figure out how to have a successful relationship. And style?? Forget about it!! There wasn’t much money for designer clothes and even if there was I had no idea what to wear. My hair was awful, I wore super thick glasses because I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of my face, was not popular and an OK student. 9th grade most of the girls had hit puberty sporting their new boobs while I was flat as a board. I did experience my first love though, he was sweet, we dated the whole year and broke up by summer.
I wasn’t sad anymore either about the breakup because out of no where my boobs grew, mom saved up and bought me contacts, my friend got a car and I had a job at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the boys were noticing me and it was AWESOME!!
10th grade was coming and it was scary because our Jr. High combines with the other Jr. High in the High School building. What if my friends didn’t have the same lunch hour or the older students were bullies??? I’ll tell you what, High School was not fun, I was bullied from day one and did nothing to deserve it….