My step sister uses the phrase, and I might add, way too often, “The cats out of the bag”.
She did this when she thought my son was seeing a girl she thought he shouldn’t be seeing. He was actually doing something legitimate like homework. No matter, it was what she uttered accusingly at him whenever she thought he might be with the girl. Dumb.
So now that’s our inside joke for any and all assumed revelations. So begins my story.
Long ago, 50 years or so ago, I was a young girl enrolling in college. I had been out of school six months and decided it was time to further my education. My mother was unworldly and uneducated for the most part, no help there other than she thought it would be a good idea. So, here I was at registration doing my best to fill out the required forms.
I’d not been a good student, not because I wasn’t smart enough, no it was more the stress of my living environment. My mother married a guy whose five children were all in foster homes. She thought it noble to take them all in, so she (they) requisitioned for them to live with us. One was adopted out to his grandmother before the other four were finally released to us.
Here I am a teenager in high school and our family is expanding. As it was, I had a brother and two sisters already, so adding the other four made us eight. Our parents four years later, would have one more child between the two of them. I was the eldest and I had just turned 16. Mother worked and her new husband was shipped off overseas. There was already the whispering of war ahead, but I was so unaware until Kennedy was shot.
The little ones came to us two at a time. I fell in love with the first two. They were four and six years old. They had lived in Boston, so had the cutest Boston accents.
It would also be the year I would lose my “virginity” willingly.
The other two kids arrived six months later and were not as pleasant. They were 11 and 5. The five year old had a chip on her shoulder a mile wide and the other one was obnoxious. I would be in charge of them all. My list of duties were not unlike those of any parent. I was the parent. As I kept house and cooked meals, my homework went by the wayside. Needless to say, I escaped whenever possible. I went to football games and sneaked out whenever I could. Was I a bad girl? Well, in my heart of hearts I think I knew I wasn’t but like a good many teens I acted out sometimes, “looking for love in all the wrong places”. My self esteem left a great deal to be desired in those days. In truth, I was overwhelmed in every possible way.
There were times I thought of myself as unworthy and as stupid as I imagined everyone else thought I was. Deep inside I struggled to convince myself that I was more than the sum of my parts or than what lay on the surface. I relied on my good looks more than my brains. (Sorry- camera’s weren’t that great then – BF do you remember taking this?)
I remember one time, mom and I got in this big fight. Name calling was what she did best. So, at one point, I’d had enough and left home. My boyfriend at the time had a friend, whose sister lived alone, so I crashed with her, cooking and doing laundry in exchange for room and board. I was good at both those things. During those months, I got straight A’s. I remember one of my teachers saying, “I always knew you were smart. What’s different?” I told him and he was sad. That was short lived however and I, out of concern for my siblings, would eventually move back home. I learned from one of them that with me gone, there was no one to run interference for them and they were miserable. It was what I did. Fight the bad guy.
So, when I graduated high school my grades were less than optimal. I didn’t actually think there was any way for me to go to college. We had no money and my grades were abominable. Then I learned that if I could maintain good grades in Jr. College, I could earn my way into a four year college. I thought, why not?
That is where and how I met K. It was a late enrollment, so there weren’t as many classes open and I was having a hard time deciding what to take. I will never forget how he popped in from out of nowhere to help. That he noticed me was a mystery. He was charming and beautiful and I’m not exaggerating. He of course, got me into two of his classes, Business Law and English which would later become his profession teaching.
I had just gotten over a horrible breakup with the aforementioned boyfriend, who I thought I was in love with. He had up and married unexpectedly, leaving me in the dust. I guess I should have expected it. He had graduated with honors and was attending a four year college and I was … hard on myself. I was devastated and K was so… what I needed.
I poured out my heart to him and he was a good listener. In those days he was quite the surfer dude, always looking for the best waves and places to go for them. We did a lot of fun things together. He was so easy to be with. We were friends.
During spring break, a group of us planned a trip to Mazatlan. As it turned out, of all the girls planning to go, I was the only one who made it there. Here I was with K and several of his friends. They surfed and I’d lay in the sun. We drank tequila shots with beer, ate raw oysters and drank lots of pina colada’s and margherita’s. Hell, it was spring break!
We hitch-hiked everywhere. Actually, I’d get out in the street and put my thumb out and when someone stopped, the guys would converge on the vehicle and we’d all hop in. I don’t think anyone seriously minded. They all thought it was fun, having this hot girl hitching for them. Yes, I was hot and… I would never have hitch-hiked in the states!
We also rented a jeep for those out of the way places like a lighthouse, (me moving a “formidable” rock in our way) and we
rented horses and rode on the beach. My nethers hurt so bad from riding as I’d never ridden a horse before, but it was so worth it. That must be why our daughter loves horses. So, yes one thing lead to another.
If I thought K looked like a Greek god before, he looked even more so on the back of a horse.
I didn’t actually know I was pregnant for some time and by then K had gone back to Maryland and was no longer in my life. Interestingly though, when we decided to take a train home, a little old indigenous woman on the train came up to me/us and said I was with child which we thought ridiculous since we’d just done it. I was fairly naive and thought I was suffering from a stomach bug, barfing all the time.
After our daughter was born, I got a job as a flight attendant and would marry a pilot and change my name. Unbeknownst to me, so did K. He went back to his birth name, so in the end neither of us could find the other.
Tina, in the meantime grew up and later married.
Move the clock forward 34 years later and we would accidentally come across one another via the internet. When his sister told him she had found us. He exclaimed, “How? I’ve been looking for 34 years!” That was good to know.
She got to meet her grandmother and aunts for the first time when she was 35 or 36. I got to meet them as well. They said as far as they are concerned, I’m their “sister” in law. His mom was 96 or 98 at the time and would die just shy of 100, not long after.
Shortly after he would meet his daughter in Amsterdam and later take a trip to Bali and begin celebrating birthdays from the point they were reunited onward.
As for us, we have not seen each other since we parted. I know I wasn’t the love of his life nor was he mine. We were “just friends”.
Would I want to see him or he me? Good question. We’ve seen pictures of one another but not spoken except through emails and through our blogs.
I am currently married to the best person for me. My hubby was able to help me heal in ways that no one else could and it couldn’t get better than that.
As for K? I know he’s single. Been married twice and lives far away.
When our daughter first met him, to paraphrase her, she says to me, “Oh mom, I know now why you fell for him, he is so charming.” LOL
Yes, he is that.
She also asked me if the song “Monday, Monday” meant anything to me.
One of these days if we live long enough and if he ever returns to the states, maybe someday we’ll meet again. Who knows?