NOTE: this turned out to be a much longer story than I had originally thought (as life has a habit of doing.) So, I’ve had to break this story into parts.
Let’s jump into the way-back machine and I’ll tell you a little story about the first really life-altering change(s) that happened in my life and set me on the path that I still trudge today.
I was about six months out of high-school and just sort of living in that limbo state between teen-ager and grown-up(ish.) I knew college wasn’t an option for me then, I’d always been a horrible student even though I loved learning… But frankly, I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t see the point… I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going and none of that was changing with any velocity. I’d put together a few part-time jobs so at least I wasn’t at a complete standstill. In truth, my life was a mess… these jobs didn’t engage me mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally… and the guys I was dating at the time didn’t either. (Just thinking about some of them now causes me to shake my head and wonder at the insanity of youth.) I was drinking, partying, and up to all kinds of trouble just to try to feel alive. So, there I am, at the ripe old age of 18, face to face with my own stagnation… it was all over and it hadn’t even begun yet!
And then he walked in (why do so many of my life-changing moments start that way?) the door of the health club where I was working. It was not a co-ed club and I happened to be working on one of the men’s nights…. Which rarely ever occurred. (Come to think of it… that may have been the one and only time I ever did….???) I looked up from my god-awful “call-list” and the first thought that ran through my mind (still so frighteningly crystal clear after so many, many years) was that this was the man that I would marry and spend the rest of my life with…
Holy crap and hell’s bells, where did that come from!?!?!?!? And he just smiled at me. Well, there will be none of that!! All of my alarm bells and warning systems went off and I put as much distance between us as I could… and refused to talk to him to the extent that I could without being rude. (Damn that southern belle upbringing!!) But he was not to be deterred and he was charming… and needless to say after a few weeks of calling and even enlisting the help of my mother, I went out with him. He gave me jewelry on our first date. (Who does that!??!) Over a period of months, including me trying to warn him off of the insanity that was me at the time, we fell head over heels in love… the way only two 19-year olds can.
He was already working buying and selling computer chips between all of the major suppliers and the burgeoning computer companies, (Keep in mind, this was the mid to late 80’s) with plans to start college the following fall. Seeing all of this made it very plain to me that if I didn’t go to school; the health club, the plant store, and waitressing was all there was ever going to be. I got my first glimmer of the idea that my life could be different… and that I could do something to make that happen. So, off to summer school I went… I’ve always had a problem with diving in to the deep-end when I decide to jump.
By the following spring, I had followed him back home to Austin where I’d enrolled in 24 credit hours of classes at the local community college. (Again, see the “deep-end” comment above.) We were living with his mother in this incredibly beautiful split-level amazing house near Zilker Park. And all I had to do was go to school, and be in love… or so I thought.
His mother was an interesting woman. She had lived all over the world, raising him on her own, had her own career, her own company, and by then was about two years sober in recovery. I had very little idea what any of those things meant back then, but I knew that I learned so much from her during our long talks over countless cups of coffee. She talked to me about real things, not the “appearance” of things that everyone in my life had always talked about. She talked to me more as a peer than an authority figure, which is the only way I’d ever been talked to by an “adult.”
I was growing by leaps and bounds, both inside and out… but nothing like what was in store for me. In other words, to be continued…