A little about us, as a little about me will inevitably by default include the us part of me:
My name is Carol. Steve is my spouse. The town where we live in Northwest Arkansas is a town I never, ever wanted to live in, but it’s close to the town I wanted to move back to all the years I lived in Southern California (15+). We go into that town, the one we both lived in when a person could still afford to live there, for pretty much every errand, because it’s what we know. I do like the people in our neighborhood, the ones we know, and we know quite a few.
Steve is the youngest of 3 brothers and moved with his dad and mom to Northwest Arkansas a year or so after graduating from high school and never looked back. He’s been here pretty much his whole adult life. He is 4 years younger than I (5 years younger for a little less than a month) and in his later forties. Steve’s dad was a Methodist preacher, and by every account of every person who knew him, a unique and wonderful man, and by much of what I’ve heard about him and heard in the recorded sermons that remain in existence, a bit of a mystic. I so wish I could have known him… Steve’s mom is an angel!
Steve and I ran in the same circles in our twenties and knew each other but not well. He was a tall skinny guy with a long red ponytail who looked like he could be 12 or 15 – but certainly not older than 16 while in his mid-twenties. He still looks young, but he’s every bit a man now – and yet the essence of childhood playfulness is never far from him. It astonishes me now how the thought to think of him “that way” would not have occurred to me as a thought to think back then.
My history is a little more difficult to summarize. It will have to come to light in bits and pieces as I can handle going back to it. I was born in Mississippi, the youngest of 2. My mom and dad were older when they had me 11 years after my brother: Mom was 38 and dad was 44. When Mom said to Dad, “Alison, I’m either pregnant or I have a tumor” he replied, “You’d better have a tumor!” We moved to a very rural community outside of a very small town when I was 4. I went to the same school from 1st grade to 12th and grew up with the majority of my classmates, and it was not easy. I was a target for a lot of cruel pranks and even crueler words until about 10th grade when I decided it was better to sit alone at lunchtime than be some people’s personal jackass – the price of admission, it seemed, for the sad wisp of a hope of maybe getting to hang out with this group or that for half a day and actually be included, accepted. When I decided I didn’t need that and didn’t need them anymore and grew out of my awkwardness, things changed. No one picked on me after that, and high school got a lot more fun.
I wasn’t diagnosed with a learning disability until my mid-to-late thirties, but when that verification did finally come, it explained a lot and let me know that the difficulty I had “getting it” was a real thing…validation that Mom and I both needed all those years ago. Once I learned what it was and learned to work around it, learning became a hunger, and I prospered at the community college, and it was a very life-affirming experience – the complete opposite of grammar through high school. After graduating by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, the last thing I wanted was more school, so I took the 11-month course in Cosmetology right out of high school and thought I was a pretty big deal when I landed a spot right out of school at a very high-end salon.
The very unfortunate thing was while working my way through beauty school at the bowling alley, I met a man, 10 years older, who latched onto me like a leach and did not let go until divorce finally severed us after 5+ years. Resentment is a feeling that became a pretty constant companion during those years. I knew it was the time when I was supposed to be having the time of my life, but that miserable sot cast a shadow that sucked pretty much all of the joy out of life. A month after the divorce – which took a year to finalize – I started singing with a band, and a month after joining the band, started dating the guitar player who would end up being the XY contributor for my one and only child, my son who is now 24. That is a painful subject that is likely to come up a lot. For you see, when he was just 5 days old I placed him in the arms of his adoptive parents and out the door they walked with my flesh and blood – and the biggest piece of my heart and soul. They are good people, so far as I know, and, best I can tell, he has a good relationship with his parents. My son and I started corresponding 4 years ago and reunited a couple of months ago. It’s been something! He is a beautiful person with a kind heart. What more can a mother ask? Nothing more. He is intelligent, articulate, and I couldn’t be more overjoyed by person he’s become. He’s had his own set of challenges, which, of course, breaks me right in two, but that’s all part of the risk one takes when one brings a person into this world. They have troubles. They have hard things. They have heartaches. And there’s not a thing in the world anyone can do to keep their children from whatever of all that will come.
Steve has been the bright spot that has given the hope that was needed to make it to this point. When I think I couldn’t love him more, here comes another wave of love. We have had our share of challenges. There are advantages to marrying later in life – and there are distinct disadvantages. We’ve been hard on each other at times trying to adjust around all of our idiosyncrasies and spectrum maladies, neuroses (mostly mine) and life’s general tendency to be a real ass-kicker. … And then we remember, “Oh. There you are! Hello again! Oh yeah…oh, wow…I love you!” The I love you part has, at times, gotten out of focus in the bit of surviving from one ass-kicking to the next. Life on Planet Earth: No one gets out of this thing unscathed.
And, oh yeah…As of this month I am officially post-menopause…Yaaaay!! It’s great in some ways, and in a myriad of other ways…not so much. Every woman, if she lives long enough, eventually arrives here. If I may just say: Getting old is NOT for sissies!!