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<Warning: Long, possibly boring life story / relationship stuff>

When I first met my husband I had just turned fourteen. I had just transferred in to a new school from Virginia, and we moved to Florida over Christmas break. I was a complete fish out of water; a driven, cynical girl of 14 going on 41 in the midst of a nasty abusive situation at home, who had moved from Miami, to small town Virginia, to rural North Florida over the past 2 years. I wasn't a country kid, I was planning to go to college, and I had just been dropped into a backwater school in a backwater town where the apparent educational goal was to raise Future Rednecks of America.

DH was the junior aide for my gym teacher. Because I had arrived midyear, I didn't realize he was in high school, and thought he was a college junior doing his student teacher's assignment. He seemed much older than he really was, and had told a few of us girls he was engaged to be married. I had the usual school girl crush/flirtation. I was on crutches the first couple of weeks I was at school so I sat out the whole "let's play softball" session in gym. So I sat behind home plate and harassed the umpire: "that guy". Every so often, I'd be walking down the corridors and someone would knock my hat into my eyes (it was the early 80s). I'd look up and see "that guy". I don't even think I knew his name that school year.

After a summer of group dates and double dates, I was a 14 year old sophomore. Although I had transferred in the year before, I still often ate lunch alone. One day, I sat down outside to have lunch and a guy came over and began to flirt with me a bit. We chatted for about 20 minutes and I thought he was cute for a redneck. The redneck introduced himself, and so did I, and then he asked me how old I was. "Fourteen". He beat a hasty retreat after muttering something about "jail bait". I was left speechless. So when I saw him and "that guy" sitting in the stands at our first high school football game, I grabbed a girlfriend and headed up to find out what the story was. I ended up spending the whole evening with "that guy" instead. Talked through the whole football game, talked and kissed a bit in his car through the whole dance afterwards, talked more after we took the very drunk redneck home. Somehow, he managed to get me to tell him about the abuse at home when I had told no one else at this point. More over, he believed me.

The next day he drove me home from school. When we noticed my father was home, and I'd be alone with him, he invented an errand and invited me along. He became my self-appointed protector.

We dated the whole fall. That guy became DBF. It turned out he was now 18, nearly 19, and a senior in high school. He pre-enlisted in the Air Force shortly after we met, and then once we had begun to date, he broke off the engagement with the girl in Georgia. After Christmas break, he had enough credits to graduate and left school and headed off to basic training. My mother was worried about us dating so seriously, made me promise to date others while he was gone. I didn't. We wrote several times a week and he phoned as often as possible. He returned in the summer and got an assignment about a four hours drive away. He would drive home every payday for the weekend.

Now fifteen and a junior in high school, I enrolled a program to take classes at the local community college. We continued to spend every other weekend together. I had a work study job at the college and babysat on the weekends DBF wasn't in town. we continued that way for the next two years. He traveled a bit with his mobile unit, I earned an Associates in Arts and got my degree the week after I graduated high school.

My parents had always told me that my college education was all provided for, but as I began to fill out applications, I was told there was no money. Now with no time to prepare, I had to switch gears. I applied to University of South Florida and got enough scholarships to cover books and tuition but not room and board. DBF asked his parents, who had recently moved to Tampa if they'd put me up rent free. A big request for a couple who had just emptied the nest of their fourth and last child the year before. So at seventeen I left home and began at USF as a junior. I lived with DBF's parents for a year until his father was transferred to Baltimore. DBF continued his visits every payday weekend, driving six hours to Tampa from Macon, GA. When I'd be left homeless by his parents' move, he paid the rent on an apartment near the school.

He first asked me to marry him when I was sixteen. I had the good sense to say I wouldn't consider it until I graduated from college. He gave me an engagement ring for my 18th birthday. I was a senior in college by then, so I said yes.

We married when I was 19 and he was 23. I hadn't quite graduated, because I had a couple of classes give me a bit of trouble and delayed graduation. By this time he was stationed in Germany. I continued taking classes part time over there but switched majors.

So basically I met the guy I was going to marry at 14, dated for 5 years, during which he took care of me in ways that are far over and above the usual boyfriend things, and we were married when I was 19.

It seemed like a lifetime.

We've been married for nearly 22 years and have a 17 year old son and a 12 year old daughter.

I'm now 41. There are times when I look back and think "Oh my God, I was so very young", especially now, as I watch my daughter approach the age I was when we met. However, I can see I had a very non-normal childhood and sadly was forced to grow up far too fast.

There are times I wished I had waited until I was older and more mature when I married. I'm certain I've had a different life than many. There are roads that I didn't choose to go down because of youth and inexperience. If I hadn't married when I did, I may have really followed through on going to medical school. The fact that I didn't is a deep regret, but I also know I've had a very good life so far.

Now in our 40's, there are times when it's clear we've grown in different ways. He's quite an introvert, I thrive on interaction with people. I eventually finished my BA degree and went on to graduate school. He never went to college but did put in 20 years in the military, first as a communications/telecommunications operator, then progressing into computer operations, and then into programming. When he got out of the military he has continued a career in software engineering. I've been a stay at home wife and mother. Our lives aren't perfect. We're dealing with some serious marital/relationship issues, however we've found ways to work around most of our differences. Even with all our issues, I can't image spending my life with anyone else.

There's no telling where the road will take you.

Always ;-)
Hunzi
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