I think it’s only fitting that after experiencing the joy and wonderment of my daughter’s wedding last week that I reflect on my past relationships. All the way back to the days of first kisses, drama and heart aches that plagued adolescents in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Back in the days when things were simple; before social media dating and before kids claimed to identify as cats or fairies, at least publicly.
Pretty sure my first kiss took place at an infamous boy-girl party in junior high. If I remember right, it was the result of spin the bottle and took place in a coat closet. The precursor to junior high dances. In those days, school dances were held in the gymnasium with the bleachers pushed back and chairs around the perimeter. Couples would find a dark corner and kiss for hours. I bet chaperones and teachers today wish all they had to worry about was kissing teens!
Growing up in a rural area, there were lots of boys in my neighborhood. I was always a bit of a tomboy and enjoyed being with the boys; the girls were either babies or drama queens and I didn’t have the patience for that. In the summer, we rode bikes and played softball or baseball in one another’s yards. I was terrible at sports but I showed up. I’m not sure if it came from being small and left-handed or if I was just born that way. In fact, I was so small in junior high that George Mendoza picked me up and put me in a trash can upside down. That might have been his idea of flirting with me but needless to say he was dead to me from that point on.
Through most of high school, I had a boyfriend. It was your typical off again, on again adolescent relationship. There were a few others in between but most of my memories include him. Homecoming, Valentine’s dances, prom, my first concert with a boy, etc. I went to the cabin with his family and hung out at their house frequently. We ran into each other off and on over the years and I often wondered what life would have looked like for both of us if we had stayed together. I think everyone has that person. Sadly in 2015, he took his life. It’s hard to imagine the young man that I spent so much time with ended up feeling that hopeless. I can’t imagine the pain that his family must feel.
Right out of high school I was working at the local grain elevator as the accounts receivable clerk when a particular customer seemed to take interest in me. He was farming with his father and came from a well-known family in the area. He was nice and funny; but a good deal older than I was, and he was very persistent. New Year’s Eve was approaching and I was out of high school and living at home. Not looking forward to spending the evening with my parents. The high school guy was still in the picture but it was becoming clear that wasn’t going anywhere. So, when the funny farmer asked me out for what felt like the 100th time, I broke down and said yes.
Not wanting to show up in the farm truck, he borrowed his mother’s car. (Remember that; it will resurface another time; wink, wink.) He met my parents and we took off. As we headed out, I asked where we were going. He indicated that his friends played in a band and that we were going to a New Year’s Eve party where they were playing. A local bowling alley/bar. There was only one problem with that. I was eighteen and the drinking age was twenty-one. I wasn’t going to be able to get in. He was twenty-seven. We managed to find somewhere else to go and we continued to date. By summer we were engaged and by October we were married.
Marrying young, I was in no hurry to have children. Our friends were having babies and that was enough for me for a while. Not to mention that we married in 1983 and interest rates for agriculture were nearing 18% and land values first rose then drastically dropped. I never dreamt of staying home and being a full-time mom; which was a blessing because most of my married life I worked two jobs to help keep things afloat. The farm put a roof over our heads but family living draws (wages) on the farm were near to non-existent. I never minded, I was as committed to farming and agriculture as he was. Farming is something that is in your blood for life. It takes a special commitment to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to put seeds in the ground and hope the weather and markets cooperate.
Eventually the bank determined they had invested enough in the farm and they were pulling the plug. I’ll never forget my son’s reaction; he was about nine at the time. He was on his bed sobbing. “You mean we aren’t farmers anymore?” It’s as painful today as it was back then. “No honey, we are still farmers, we just aren’t farming right now. You will always be a farmer.” We managed to sell at a time that values were just starting to rise again and we saved the main farm. We built a new home adjacent to my mother-in-law and attempted a fresh start. We raised our children and maintained our friendships but it wasn’t the same.
In simple terms, I would say that our marriage never made the transition out of farming. In reality there were many things wrong. I think it’s human nature to want to help our friends and family when they are in unhappy relationships. What I learned is that only you can make the decision to end things. Only you will know when it’s time. I still struggle being in the same room as him; feeling ashamed that I have no feelings for a man who I shared a bed with for over 25 years. I’m a pretty tolerate and giving person but when you finally break me, I don’t flex back easily.
As difficult as divorce is, if you aren’t with your person, it’s a necessary thing. I lived most of my adult life never knowing what a perfect match felt like. I had a good life with a great career and raised two terrific children. I made more friends than any one person deserves but I wasn’t with my person.
Now that our children are all married; I just pray that they are fortunate enough to have found their person the first time around. I don’t want them to have to wait 50 years to find their perfect match. My son has purchased the home we built back in 1998 and I’m hoping it will prove to be the perfect place to raise his family. While the miles might separate me from my friends and family, the last year has convinced me that I’m where I belong. It’s been hard, scary and everything in between but not for one second have I regretted my vows; this time around.
3 thoughts on “Young Love – 80’s Style”
Making that outfit did not make you a geek!
Sheryl, this was wonderful! I remembered my firsts…. Sports/boys.
I cried about the borrowing hundreds of thousands and hoping prices and weather cooperates, even thou we’ve never had a huge problem. I laughed about not wanting to be in the room with your ex (me add or state!). Then my heart swelled up with finding your forever guy, best friend, partner and adventurer…. Thanks for helping me to slow down/stop and remember !❤️ Let’s both keep enjoying our blessings! Hugs❤️
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There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing that a story is relatable. Having worked with Jim, I know you have a keeper in him too. Enjoy life! Thanks for reading!