Wednesday, July 25, 2007

how young?

In response to Moonrat's curiosity.....

I've always wanted a family, so I wasted no time in starting one, getting married right after finishing high school. The plan was to get married, continue working and start college. Life had other plans though. Two months into it, I was pregnant and sick as a dog, husband lost his job, yada yada yada....

So anyway, by the time I was 19 I'd been married for a year, was a new mother and waiting tables to make ends meet. I kept telling myself it was only temporary. But year after year, kids I'd gone to school with would come into the diner after a night out in the clubs and give me the update on how great college was...all the crazy parties...then before long, all the great jobs they landed with their degrees.

"So what's new with you," they'd ask. "Written that great American novel yet?"

I'd always cringe, knowing they had no interest in the fact that my son was growing up, the car had only broken down once and we'd managed to make rent. I hated to tell them that unless you counted the lines scribbled on napkins or scraps of register tape, I hadn't written much of anything, much less the great American novel. I guess that's what always bothered me about people having such high expectations of me, it seemed I was forever letting someone down.

After I turned down countless invitations to go out partying because I had to work, or had to get home to the baby, or simply didn't have the money, folks finally just quit asking. (As if it wasn't bad enough that I'd turned down the same invitations during high school cause I had to work or was going to a debate tournament!)

Before I knew it, I was 23, still waiting tables in the same greasy little diner, had a four-year-old son and was a widow. Life was not going at all as I had planned.

I worked in a doctor's office for a couple years after that before I was able to talk a newspaper into giving me a job writing. I went to my 10-year class reunion, ready to answer that dreaded question, "so, what's new with you?"

"Well, my son is halfway grown and I'm the editor of a small town paper and yes, we own our own home."

Others in the room were still unmarried, worried they'd never get married or have kids or be able to even afford a family and home on top of their student loans and credit card debt. They were living in tiny apartments and a lot of them had moved back in with their parents.

"Want to go out for drinks after this," several of them asked.

I just grinned and shook my head. No, I needed to go pick up my son so we could go home.

How young is too young? Hell if I know. When I was 19, 20 years old, I desperately wished I had no responsibilities, nothing keeping my feet firmly rooted to the ground. Ten years later, I'm thinking I only have seven more years before my son is 18. While so many of the folks I went to school with will still be changing diapers or checking homework, I'll be going out for drinks and I may just be old enough to appreciate it!

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