And here it is: my history, in five-year increments.
1972: I was three years old, so I don't remember much of anything. I suspect this was the summer that I got burned from fluid that blew out of the family car's radiator, but I don't remember. I only know about it from my siblings and a few pictures of me with my legs wrapped up--not from my own memory.
1977: I turned eight. I was a voracious reader by this time and couldn’t get enough of the Young Lives biographies. I used to spend a lot of time gazing into the third grade classroom. They did cursive in third grade, and by golly, I wanted to do it, too!
1982: I felt so awkward in middle school. I was tall and gangly and one of the smart kids. Some of the burnout girls wanted to beat me up, but I became friends with Maria, who was much tougher than I was and not at all bookish, and she scared off the bullies. Maria passed away soon after high school graduation, and I’ve never forgotten her loyalty and kindness to me. I was really into gothic romance novels at this age.
1987: An overnight trip to Boston with Cae! Senior prom! A vintage 1930s dress! High school graduation! I spent the first half of the year madly in love with the boy who became my first husband. In July we broke up, but I had fun with my school chums. I went to community college because I couldn’t afford a four-year school (I paid my own way through college, although my folks bought my books…they might have spent less on tuition!!). I was working part time as a bank teller with a second part time job at a pharmacy. That November Neal and I started dating—he took me on the best first date I ever had.
1992: I was in my second year of marriage. I worked as a bank teller and encouraged my husband to quit his full-time job to pursue his music career. I was frustrated because I felt unfulfilled by my job, but I made one of my best friends at that job. Cheryl and I used to bike 8-15 miles after work every day. F. and I moved into the apartment where we would live for nine years and gave up television, which lasted 14 years for me. I began to make quilts and found great joy in playing with fabric. I got my first tattoo.
1997: I finally finished my bachelor’s degree. I published my first essay and a poem. I was happy in my marriage. My oldest sister gave me a gift of funding for my last semester of school so I would be able to concentrate on my classes without working at all. For the first time in my adult life, I felt that I was capable of fulfilling my goals.
2002: I turned 33 and had the best birthday of my life: my sister flew up to New York, and she joined me and F. for a day in Manhattan followed by dinner at my favorite restaurant in Peekskill, Zeph’s. That weekend, I took a call that was pivotal in changing my life: F. was offered a European tour. I worked hard that year to help him to save the money to go on the tour (despite what someone not in the business would think, it’s not a money-making venture; breaking even is a good thing), but when he came back, things were different. In October I began talking to him about separating so that we could get our heads straight. By Christmas I no longer knew the man I had loved with my whole soul.
2007: I’m on the verge of marriage to a man I adore and who loves me with humor and zest and devotion and loyalty. I’m nearly at the point of completing my MFA in creative writing, which brings me to a point in my dreams and goals that, five years ago, I would not have imagined possible. I’m living in Connecticut again—not loving it as I believe I’m a New Yorker at heart—but happy to be with my man, near my folks, and close to my girlhood best friends. That depth of friendship is precious. I miss my dear friends in NM, but I talk to Dana about once a week (she totally understands that I can go on for an hour about the final episode of Sex and the City), and I’ve started a new knitting group…it won’t replace the one I left in the southwest, but already I feel more settled. I feel more at peace with myself than I have in a long time, and I’m excited for my future—both as a writer and as a wife.