It is a sunny, summer morning, July tenth, 1981. I am twenty-one years old, and the day is mine. This is a day for just me, and I don’t have to answer to anyone for a change. No parents, no friends, no husband. I am free! I am free to go after my own dreams—at least for a few precious days.
I have been married for two years now, to my “high school sweetheart,” or at least that is how it looks to everyone. The reality of the marriage is not quite so sweet.
Yes, Stephen and I had met through a blind date our senior year of high school. Yes, I lost (or got rid of), my virginity with him a couple weeks later. But he was not the only one I dated, or slept with, and he was not the one I really wanted. He was just in the right place at the right time.
You couldn’t really call the marriage happy, but it wasn’t miserable either. It got me away from home, gave me something to do, and a certain amount of freedom. I had always wanted to escape from my hometown, and since Stephen was in the Navy, I got that chance. The locale wasn’t exactly exotic, but it was out of the boring Midwest and there was a beach to go to on hot summer days. Within a month of our wedding day, Stephen had his first girlfriend, but it didn’t bother me all that much. He went off to do his own thing, and I was left to mine. I had my reading, music, and television. I had my time to myself. I had my fantasy life, and my fantasy love. That was all I really needed.
That hot summer of 1981 Stephen was far away, and just as far out of my thoughts. He had been sent out on a ship for nine months. This was the way with the military, of course, I’d expected it, I’d WANTED it. I thought it was a pretty good deal to have a husband who really wasn’t around all that much. Since Stephen was going to be gone so long, and because my mother had recently had cancer surgery, I quit my dead-end fast food job, put our belongings in storage, gave up our small apartment in Norfolk, Virginia, and moved back home to Kansas City, Missouri. I’d planned to help my mother, and since I had dropped out of college two years before to marry Stephen, I’d also take some classes.
My two summer classes, Algebra and British Literature, met on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this was Friday, and I wouldn’t have to be back to the university for four days. I had told my mother that I was spending the weekend with my best high school girlfriend, Jeane, so no one was expecting me. I had my bag packed, and enough cash to cover whatever might happen over the next three days.
I had never done anything like this in my whole life, but I needed a vacation from being me. I was off on an adventure, but I had no idea what a big adventure it would turn out to be, or that my greatest fantasy was about to become reality, and change my life forever…
This is part of the novel I began in spring 2004; the one I talk about beginning with remembered snatches of a dream. It remains unfinished, and I haven’t even looked at it in a LONG time, but it just had a “birthday,” so I think it needs and deserves renewed attention.