It was his birthday last week and since I make fun of him, I mean, talk about him so much on this blog, I thought you might want to get to know him a little better. Also, I think I owe him that much since I scheduled a colonoscopy for the day after his birthday. His birthday wasn't pretty.
Have you ever wondered about the paths, the circuitous routes, that led you to your friends, lovers and husbands (I say husbands with an "s" because I've had more than one)? Well, OK, maybe you haven't, but that's the kind of crap I think about. One different turn, one different decision and your life might have turned out much differently.
I think about that writing this post, because Hubby and I couldn't have had more different lives growing up. We didn't grow up in the same town, we didn't even grow up in the same country. We didn't go to college together, we didn't meet at work.
We met on one serendipitous morning in Big Sur, California.
But let me back up a bit and talk about me for a minute, because after all this is MY blog.
I grew up in Western Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan. I lived in the same town from birth to 18, and we only moved once, when I was seven, and we only moved about five blocks closer to downtown. My parents also grew up there and lived there all of their lives and my paternal grandparents lived across the street.
Hubby, on the other hand, was born in Oakland, California and lived in Suriname, El Salvador, Turkey and Jamaica before attending college at the University of Virginia when he was only 16.
Who knew that little homegrown Michigan girl would eventually meet the world traveling little boy and that Seattle would take us full circle?
Hubby's Dad's family immigrated to the United States from England in the early part of the 20th century. Hubby's Grandfather came first and his wife and three children followed in 1921. They settled in Chicago where Hubby's Dad, Bob, at the age of seven, was riding on the back of a bike when he was hit by a truck. It was one of those old trucks with hard wheels, and it ran over his right leg, which had to be amputated above the knee. Because of the accident, there was a monetary settlement which enabled Hubby's Dad to go to college, the only member of his family to do so. A horrible accident with a happy ending of sorts. He became a chemical engineer specializing in sanitary engineering and water resources.
Because the accident happened to him early in life, Bob was able to adjust to a prosthesis and life went on for him. Hubby always said he thought his Dad having an artificial leg was cool and he would proudly show it off to his friends by giving it a kick.
Around the same time, Hubby's mother, Ada Frances ("Fran") was growing up in Springfield, Missouri, a doted-on only child of young parents.
Fran and her parents and Bob all moved to Seattle during WW II for better opportunities and that is where Bob and Fran met and were married. Hubby's sister, Pam was born in Seattle, and when Bob secured a job with the State of California, the family moved to Berkeley. Hubby was born in Oakland.
Bob was later transferred to Southern California and this is where things get fuzzy.
Here Fran is imitating Jackie Gleason, "Why I oughta...to the moon!" much to Hubby-to-be's delight.
It was never clear why Bob signed up for overseas posts with the U.S. State Department, but some conversations I had with both of them led me to believe Fran wanted to get Bob away from something or someone, not to mention the lure of the good life that was available to people working for the U.S. Government and living in Third World Countries during the 1950's and 60's.
Hubby always got a kick out of this official State Department picture of his Dad. So serious and so unlike him as a man.
Bob's specialty was setting up water systems in Third World countries.
The first posting was to Suriname (Dutch Guiana) for four years.
Hubby was three when they arrived.
And he was seven when they left. They stayed with his maternal grandmother in Springfield, Missouri (home of Brad Pitt and Kathleen Turner). This would be the pattern over the years between postings, and Hubby would get a taste of life in the United States, going to school briefly there waiting for the next posting.
When Hubby was eight, they were in El Salvador for two years
and at ten, the family was posted to Ankara, Turkey for two more years,
followed by less than two years in Kingston, Jamaica.
By this time, Hubby was 14 and begged his parents to let him go to high school in the United States. The next post was going to be Brazil, but they relented, and Bob was able to get a transfer to Washington, D.C. and the family moved to Springfield, Virginia, a suburb.
Because of his education abroad, Hubby skipped several grades and graduated from high school when he was only 16.
I also have to add that Hubby growing up overseas in less advanced countries from the age of three to 14 meant TV was not very prevalent. So he amused himself by reading the World Book Encyclopedia and memorizing capitals and square miles of countries and states, among other things. He also liked to count the number of panels in his comic books and rank them - which ones had the most panels. Hence his dominance in Trivial Pursuit (except TV shows of the 1950's and 60's of which I excel) and a decided nerdie trait he passed on to his children.
So now Hubby-to-be is back in the States, graduated from high school and it's the late 60's.
Hubby discovers rock concerts (he was at Woodstock) and the ladies.
He was accepted at the University of Virginia and entered the engineering program there when he was still 16.
Alas, what's likely to happen to a young sheltered boy off to college for the first time? P-A-R-T-Y!
He made it through the first semester of his second year, but due to low grades - and maybe because there were no women at the University of Virginia then? - Hubby and the school decided it was best if he moved on.
So what do you do when you have flunked out of college and you are only 18?
Why you open a "head shop" with your parents, sister and her husband, of course!
Hey, it was the 70's!
For those of you too young to know what a "head shop" is, let's just say a "head shop" sells things for your "head," along with water beds, hippy clothes and the like.
They started "Joy Wind," the first "head shop" in Charlottesville, which became the center of the counter culture scene there, until Hubby's sister and her husband decided Colorado was where it was at. They eventually drifted to the Monterey Bay Area in California, and Hubby, after a failed marriage, followed suit.
And this is where I enter the scene.
Like I said, I was born and raised in one place. I graduated from high school while Hubby was still overseas (I like younger men),
and dutifully went to college, getting married young along the way.
Can you tell I was a theatre major in college?
I, too, heard the lure of California and went out there right after college.
Other than a brief stint back in Michigan where I attended Library School, I lived in California for the next 30 years.
So here's the "meet cute" story, which I related briefly in a blog post where I reviewed the remake of "Endless Love."
For those of you who missed that, I will tell it again...with a bit more detail.
I was 34, happily married (I thought), had a great job as a library manager and had just had my first child, a little boy. I was working and putting my husband though college, only to discover that he had been having an affair with a young co-ed the whole time. There I was, 34 years old with a two year old son. I couldn't help but think, "I didn't wait until I was 32 to have a child only to raise him alone." My world fell apart. It was bad. I made some very bad decisions trying to stay married.
But after the stops and starts, I pulled myself together. A friend of mine let me live with her while I healed and eventually I started to feel better. My friend was also going through a break-up so we helped each other, going out and having fun.
What can I say? It was the 80's!
We planned a weekend at Big Sur. My son was with his Dad for the weekend, so my friend and I were going to go down there together and be "free, independent, strong women." To hell with men! Who needs men!?
So that's what we did.
We stayed at the Big Sur River Inn, laid out in the sun on the grass by the river while my friend tried to teach me to play bridge.
We had dinner at Nepenthe where the chef chatted us up and said he wanted to meet us at a club down the road. We were feeling cute, very free and happy.
We went down to the club and a band was playing. (Clubs actually had live bands in those days and people actually danced. Can you believe it)?
One of the guys in the band also chatted us up and we had a good old time, but I discovered I had a horrible sun burn from lying out on the grass all afternoon, so we went back to the room without waiting for that chef to meet us.
That night my friend was sick (food poisoning?), and I was suffering from my sunburn so we had a bad night.
The next morning we crossed the road to get some breakfast, and as we walked in my friend said under her breath, "There's the band."
We sat nearby at which point this cheeky, balding guy (Hubby-to-be) struck up a conversation with us, eventually asking us if we were "models or actresses." After much giggling on our parts, he asked our names and I said, "I'm Rosy" and my friend said, "I'm Janie," to which soon-to-be Hubby said "Well, I'm Chucky, this is Sally, this is Stevie and this is Joey." Again, much giggling ensued and we found ourselves outside in the sun once again whiling away the afternoon with the band, me hoisting up the back of my shirt to show them my sunburn.
Later, they invited us to go down the river (I wonder why - wink, wink). To do that, we would have to take their cars.
Now right here, the story might have changed not to mention what could have happened to us getting into cars with strange men. Don't try this at home!
I saw Hubby-to-be take a minute to decide who he wanted to ride with him, but he nodded my way and in I hopped. Strong, free women, right? I could have been a statistic...and I almost was.
Not for the reason you might think, but to my credit, I did say as we were trekking down the river, "This isn't like 'Deliverance' or something, is it?" Half joking, half wondering if this was such a good idea.
We set up camp down the river. There was a six-pack in the river cooling and when Hubby-to-be asked me if I wanted a beer, I said "Sure," and he tossed it to me. As I looked up to catch it, the sun was in my eyes and the full can of beer landed on my head! Blood ensued. All I could think at that moment was "Medic!" and my worst fear would be realized. My son would grow up without a mother. Hubby-to-be came over, dabbed the blood and was not particularly sympathetic. I could feel the hole in my head, but we were out in the middle of nowhere with total strangers, so what was I to do? Well, continue partying.
Hubby-to-be and I talked and talked, discovering that we shared the same values. We kissed with our glasses getting stuck together, we joked, but when I found out what his SAT scores were, I knew he was for me.
That night he came over to my apartment and we continued talking through the night, even singing a boozy rendition of "Endless Love" together (hence, the "Endless Love" connection mentioned above - it's "our song.").
I was working as a medical librarian in a hospital at the time so when I went back to work and had them check my head wound, the doctor said, "Must have been some party." I could see him envisioning a brawl with beer cans flying all around so I was going to try to explain that it wasn't like that, but then, I always did want to break that mousy librarian stereotype. I didn't reply, trying to maintain a bit of mystery and an aura as a party girl.
Hubby-to-be had been planning on moving back East to live with his parents and go back to college, but he pursued me, he loved my son, and a year later we were married
and a year after that our daughter was born.
Hubby went back to college, but this time, folks, I did not put him through. He worked and went to college at night earning a degree in Computer Science and becoming a part of the Silicon Valley tech world.
We have been married for over 30 years and have gone through the usual ups and downs that all people experience. We lost his sister, Pam, to cancer at only 40 years old and both of his parents died soon after moving to California to be near us. We wish we could have enjoyed them longer.
Hubby still plays music and my career as a librarian lasted for 40 years.
So in a nutshell, that's Hubby's story and how despite growing up thousands of miles apart our paths crossed.
I am not a proponent of marrying your opposite. I think happy marriages are based on some crucial sameness. Despite the miles and exotic locations, Hubby and I were raised very similarly, so there were no religious issues, no values issues, no personality issues. The core understanding was there.
I met Hubby at a very low point in my life - the lowest in fact - and he lifted me up.
And he lifted up my son, too, by treating him as his own. He coached his baseball teams, followed all of his sports, helped him with his homework and was there for him every step of the way.
And I believe he was a huge influence on what a wonderful father my son now is who in turn will lift up his own sons.
Thank you, Hubby.
I am glad we found each other.
Happy Birthday...And cheers!
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday for
(Yes, you heard me...)
The Week in Reviews
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