The year I turned 18 was a big one. It usually is, I'm betting. For me, though, it was the year I got married, the year I truly discovered what living away from my parents was, the year I graduated high school, the year I discovered the plans I'd had in the works for years wouldn't come to be, the year I moved out of state and the year I discovered just how much I loved my "home" state of Colorado.
I turned 18 in November of my senior year. At that time I was finishing out my last semester of high school (I chose to graduate early) and working at a movie theater in concession, box office and usher/projection. Had I gotten the letter that I had all my credits sooner, I would have skipped senior year altogether. Instead, I'd chosen to take a heavy load, intending to go on to college and, ultimately, medical school.
Not only was I attending high school and working tons of overtime (oh yes, tons, but it was good money), but I was somehow fitting in a relationship with my [then] future husband. He had worked at the theater, too, but had multiple jobs and quit to keep those that made the better money (construction and sales, at that time). I can't quite figure out how we had time to see each other, but we did. And on days when we couldn't, I'd go outside to find a note (or multiple notes, as he typically just had a pad of small pieces of paper in his truck) tucked under the windshield. He'd stick them there if he happened to drive by the theater on his way somewhere. If he had extra time he'd come in and visit me, but if not, he let me know he was thinking of me. You know, in a day and time when we didn't all have cell phones, so you had to actually be creative about staying in contact with people. Those days.
|My senior pictures (the only pic from back then I have on my computer). Dang, I was scrawny.|
On Christmas morning he proposed. My parents had invited him out to our newly annual Christmas Eve dinner at Red Lobster. He snuck them a glance at my ring, but my mom didn't realize it was intended as an engagement ring. So Christmas morning rolled around and he came to celebrate with us. He had certain plans, but my mom looked around when all was done and asked, "Where's that other present? The one you showed us last night?"
Cue my horrified boyfriend trying to signal for her to stop there. I knew something was up, but passed it off to relieve the situation. A little while later we went downstairs (my room was in the basement) and he proposed, quite unromantically (I don't care if that's a real word!). It didn't matter, though. I said yes, and he then went up and asked my parents' permission for my hand. It was in reverse, but he wanted to show them that respect while making sure I'd accept first...
A month later, my dad accepted a job in Oregon (we were living in Colorado Springs). They had to move before the school year was out. Jeff and I decided to move out into an apartment and speed along the process. All kinds of excited, we looked around until we found one we thought we could afford (I believe it was a whopping $385 per month for a one-bedroom in the ghetto). My mom had to co-sign with us for the apartment, but we secured it. I sold off some things for extra cash (making my dad very unhappy, as I sold off a beautiful cabinet that was part of my antique bedroom set...I didn't know they were antiques!). I sold off my ornate wooden toy chest, which I'd been using as file storage (I loved to write even then) and a "sofa" with pillows. Our furniture consisted of a hand-me-down loveseat from my parents, a beanbag, end tables made of crates, a glass-topped coffee table Jeff made, my little TV with the built-in VHS player, a lamp my parents had given us, some dishes we bought at a going-out-of-business sale, two bookshelves and an entertainment center Jeff had made and my groovy antique bedroom set, which filled the entire bedroom. At least we had room to open the door!
Life was good. Well, it seemed that way, despite the fact that we were both always working, four jobs between us, and still not making ends meet. My friends were still in high school, I was living clear across the city, and I was always working, so their lives went on as normal and I stopped getting invitations to go out. Hey, someone tells you they can't every time you try, you eventually stop extending the invite. Despite everything, we were very happy, where we wanted to be.
Luckily, I had savings, and that money got us through our six months of rent and bills, senior prom and graduation (I was afraid I'd regret not having done each...pretty sure I wouldn't have). In July, we packed up a small U-haul and the back of our '76 Chevy Blazer (man, I loved that behemoth), our tiny schizophrenic orange tabby, Malecai, tucked neatly into his single level cat tree, our stuff packed on top and around it. Despite his favorite spot being underneath the brake pedal and one of the retread tires on the U-haul blowing up on us, we made it safely to Oregon, where we were married in a lush, privately owned park on the Grand Ronde reservation. Surrounded by trees and a stream, a hummingbird even hovered behind us as we were being married. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? The crazy stuff that went down at my wedding would make a post of its own, so we'll skip that and pretend it was a movie-perfect wedding. Can you hear the sweeping wedding music?
|Malecai and Maija a couple years ago (obviously not when they were kittens)|
The remainder of my 18th year was spent finding a place to live in Oregon. We ended up moving about two hours away from my parents, closer to where we were married. I managed a theater and hubby did the electrical in mobile homes that were being built in addition to delivering pizzas for both Dominos and Pizza Hut. We got a second cat: sweet, beautiful Maija. She was the foil to Malecai, and calmed him down some, never afraid to put him in his place. I started taking a mail-in writing course through Longridge, writing in the middle of the night once I got off work.
My 18th year came to a quiet, albeit busy, close. Despite the fact that we were always working, I remember it fondly. We seized every moment we could, always trying to enjoy our time off when it came around.
Don't forget to check out Cally's book, The Big Smoke.
Heard of The Big Smoke? How was your 18th year? Would you consider it an overall positive year or a negative one? Mixed?
May you find your Muse.