It's been a while since I've written anything worth reading, and I can only hope that people can forgive my lack of blogging lately. I'm still determined to meet my goal of 365 stories in 365 days, but that means I have some serious catching up to do. Well, now is as good a time as any to get started!
Every year, after about the age of 25 or so, we find it part of our human nature to try and fight the hands of time. We long to turn back the clock. We notice our skin isn't as tight as it once was, lines begin to appear around our eyes and mouth, and gray hairs begin to shine in even the dimmest of light after a couple more years. At this point I've been coloring my hair so long I have no idea what percentage gray my hair is. That's right, I color my hair. I'm in my 30's now, so I can admit it.
I'm in my 30's now. Well, for the past year I've been telling everyone (but only when I'm asked) that I'm barely 30 years old. As of Saturday that will no longer be true. On Saturday I will turn 31, and I won't be just 30, I'll be IN my 30's at last.
Since I was about 15 years old, I've had a strange run of birthdays. It always seemed one year after another something always happened or came up to really destroy any hopes I would have at having a good birthday.
On my 15th birthday, I came down with a fever of 104.2 and could barely stand on my own. My parents both had to work so I laid on the couch down stairs in the family room and cried hot salty tears most of the day without realizing it. I tried once to get up for a drink and fell down. I ended up having to crawl back onto the couch where I moaned in misery, convinced I was going to die.
On my 16th birthday, things should have been great. My friends at school brought me gifts and wished me a happy birthday. My parents even drove up to the school with a sack lunch from Wendy's, and we sat out in the car and ate. I confessed to them that everyone was being very kind to me that day, but something was amiss. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew deep inside something was wrong. I had no idea what it was. I was just very sad for some reason; very quiet and melancholy. That night I discovered that my mom's father, my Grandfather had died early that morning.
On my 17th birthday, I was staying with the Tolmans. They were good people, but all I wanted was a real home with a real family. Right then, that was the closest thing I could find. They were poor, but loving and kind. My favorite gift that year was a black backpack purse that I just adored. When I went back home to my own parents, my Mom made me give it back. She said I didn't deserve it.
On my 18th birthday I was holding a plane ticket to Arizona. I was running away from home for the last time and trying to find a way to tell my parents. Since I was 18 years old, nobody could force me to stay anymore. I was getting out of that horrible state and making my own way through life. My fathers final words to me on the way to the airport were that he and my mother had talked the day before. She said she gave me 6 months before I went crawling back to them, and he gave me three. It was 11 years later before I asked them for any help.
On my 19th birthday I was once more very ill. I was curled up in a ball on the front seat of a Chevy S10 pick up truck for 36 straight hours in the freezing cold fighting double pneumonia while the man I would later on marry drove me from Arizona to Arkansas, and to the place I would call home for a few years. By the time we reached our destination, I could barely move at all and my legs were so cramped they jerked about uncontrollably from involuntary muscle spasms.
On my 20th birthday I was confined to my bed because of a difficult pregnancy that came up out of nowhere. I had just survived being kidnapped and lost, after being abandoned on the side of the road by my grandmother upon the advice of my own father. I went back to an abusive home and husband because I had nowhere else to go. I was miserable, depressed and completely alone out in the middle of nowhere.
On my 21st birthday, I had a new baby screaming his cute little head off at the drop of a pin. I adored him, but I was severely depressed. I had 42 stitches and 22 staples recently removed and was well over 200lbs from being bed ridden for so long with little to no motion for 8 months. I lived in a dry county, so I couldn't even try alcohol for my first time when I was 21, I would have to wait.
On my 22nd birthday I had just gotten a divorce. I couldn't afford to survive on my own and moved in with a friend of mine. I searched for work, but in that small tourist town it was nearly impossible in the off season. When I did finally get a job it was on Mothers Day the following year, working at a restaurant for $2.85 an hour plus tips. The tips weren't much, but I could at least afford food at last.
On my 23rd birthday I had just moved to California from Arkansas. I knew I would never make anything of myself as long as I stayed there. I wanted to see the world! I wanted to travel, take in the sights, try making a living off of my artwork and go to college finally. I had high hopes and dreams. It was within 2 months I realized that I had a long, hard road in front of me. College and traveling would be the least of my goals.
On my 24th birthday I was still in the same place I was in when I first moved to California. I was bored with my life, tired of working (yet again) as a waitress because it was the only work I could seem to get. It was all I was really qualified for. I wasn't even a waitress at one of the nice restaurants, but rather at a mediocre place called Macaroni Grill. I was lucky to clear $50 a night in tips, and it was hard work. I was only given three days a week and I just wasn't cutting it. I couldn't survive on that.
By the time my 25th birthday rolled around, I had finally moved and was living in a MUCH worse part of town. Once more I was working as a waitress, wishing for anything better. I had started working at a Kinko's store as well as the restaurant, but I was living in the basement of someone else's home and I knew there was no way I could keep going the way I was. I dropped weight from working 12 to 16 hour days between the two jobs and became skin and bones. The year leading up to my 25th birthday was when I finally got into modeling. I weighted a total of 120 lbs and was far too thin to be healthy.
By the time I was 26, I had moved back to where I started out for a few months, and then moved again to my own room subleased by my roommate. He had a monster crush on me and it made the entire living situation nerve wracking on me. I stayed in my room most days and hid, pretending to sleep or not be home. Someone in the world had finally taken a chance on me and I got a job as a "Data Entry" person, dispatching calls in a small office. I felt like I was finally going to be ok.
When I turned 27 I was still in that job and that apartment. I had managed to climb the ranks though, and ended up taking over as the head of Sales for North and South America for the entire company while the original head of sales went on maternity leave. It was quite a leap for me. I suddenly went from making $9 an hour to $32,000 a year. It was the most money I had ever made in a year in my entire working life - and it was still poverty level.
By the time I was 28 I was engaged to a man I thought I would be with forever. He was helping me to get into the Highway Patrol, which was what he did for a living. I worked in Private Security for a while after leaving my sales job He made very good money at it and I could almost see the dollar signs in his green eyes. He loved the idea of a double pay check, not of being with me. When it was discovered that I would never make it into the Highway Patrol, or any other police agency for that matter, suddenly I was washed aside like yesterdays news.
Around the time I turned 29, I was fed up with life and everything I had to endure. I ended up going back to Utah for a couple of months and trying to figure out a way to start over. I looked for work everywhere I could. I knew I would take whatever job came my way. After all, I had been the head of Sales for a company in California. Surely I would get another good job. Eventually I did - as a waitress in an Applebee's. I was completely miserable. It's no wonder I didn't stay long. I moved back home to California within 2 months. On the way, my uhaul trailer was stolen with everything I ever owned. I was starting over from scratch.
My 30th birthday, my birthday just a year ago this coming Saturday, was an interesting birthday. My own family (other than my wonderful Uncle Roger who sent me an adorable kitty card) cast me off to the side and completely forgot about me. When finally they remembered that it had been my birthday, they sent me a book that I had accidentally left at their house when I moved away and a western cut shirt with sleeves too short for my mother or myself, then said they simply had the address wrong. I knew the truth. I had been forgotten. It didn't matter though. I wasn't going to let it bother me. I had proven time and time again over many years that I didn't need them. I hadn't expected or wanted anything for my birthday but to be remembered. Instead I was showered with gifts from friends and strangers. People everywhere had heard of what I had gone through with my uhaul being stolen. I had taken a job as Private Security again and had promoted through the ranks at rocket speed. I finally had my own place with no roommates (other than the cat) for the first time in my life in a nice neighborhood. I was making $34,000 a year. Though that was still low by most standards, it was once again the most money I had ever made in my life. I finally felt like I was going to be OK.
Here it is again, that time of year. While wrinkles seem to line the faces of other 31 year olds I see, I still get carded for cigarettes. I don't worry about gray hair because I never see it. I still worry about money, but I know that I'm not stuck waiting on tables and bringing food to people who think waitresses don't deserve tips because they get paid hourly wages too. I recently got what a friend of mine called a "Life Changing" raise, so money is a little less of a concern to me these days.
On Saturday I'm going to be 31 years old.
And I'm OK with that.