We had always lived in big town - outside Seattle, in Huntsville - and so to move to teeny tin Mt. Vernon, Iowa population 3,000 or so... was a change, to put it mildly.
It was lovely sheltered little place where people *really* didn't lock their doors. All the popular girls spent their time on their backs with the Senior guys. There were lots of parties and booze.... I did none of that. I was ... not very interested in spreading it for some 17 year old with sloppy hands and eager fingers. I wasn't sure *what* was in my future, but I was certain I didn't want to leave pieces of me in back seats across that small town.
So, I was a bit of a loner at times. I had friends ... but I never really "fit in". It's hard to go from living in big city where you are *well aware* what gang violence is because you've seen it while visiting your Godmother who lived in Oakland at the time... and then sit in a "History" class that covered 'current events' for the first 30 minutes each Monday and the class actually refused to believe the stories of teenagers being shot for their Air Jordans there are in the magazines at the time. The concept of colors - as in Bloods and Crips - was something of fiction to them - and any knowledge of it meant that I was a fabricator and a liar... because in a town where no one locks their front door, where people leave their keys in their ignition... you can't fathom someone shooting someone else for their shoes.
I wanted to *kiss* John Singleton when Boys N The Hood came out.... no. Really.
So.... I wasn't the most popular girl in school.... *they* did not understand me... and while I understood that their "sheltered" lives weren't bad because they were nice people, they weren't ignorantly 'sheltered' - it was just that they hadn't been exposed to things and experiences that I had. How could they? We still owned our Commodore 64 at the time - CNN was just coming into it's own and social media was actually still just a notebook that my BFF Carrie and I would pass back and forth to each other through our friend Matty at the time. We would spend all day writing entire novels to each other and then Matty would swap them out for us - because we went to different schools and Matty saw Carrie in the afternoon.
I kind of miss that, to be honest.......
Anyhow. I was always a little too grunge for the 'in' crowd in Mt. Vernon. I liked dirty skater boys and even had a Powell Peralta Tony Hawk deck in black with a hawk head on it... my Mom tossed it out when I moved to London... sigh. that's worth so much money now. lolol
I was never a proper betty - I just liked to watch. I'm scared of heights and speed... which is a bad combination if you're going to try to ride a skateboard. (for the record, The Boy can scale the 12 foot bowl and fakie like a pro and The Girl.... oh - The Girl loves to skate, she has her own deck with matching pink pro helmet and can ride up a 3 foot bowl).
In 9th grade I wrote a story... I still have it somewhere... I don't remember the assignment, but I think we were supposed to write about where we thought we'd be in ten years or something like that. So I wrote this whole story about how I was going to marry Tony Hawk, who would become a huge professional skater and we would tour the world and end up living in the UK. I drew this kind of morbid front cover for it with blood on a shower... something about The Cure at the time...
The teacher loved it - she said I had a 'natural' writing style and I should think about taking more writing classes. The class, however... wanted to know who the hell Tony Hawk and Metallica were.
Yes. True Story. I had *no* idea that ten years later Tony Hawk would be *the biggest* skater and I would be living the UK.. just not married to him. Shame that... lololol
After a few years of small town livin'... I had had enough. Really. Enough. So my parents moved me to a bigger school in Cedar Rapids. Where..... after 3 longs years of being the round peg shoved painfully into a square hole.... I finally fit it in for the last 2/3 of my senior year.
I signed up for Journalism and quickly found myself as the chief photographer for the school newspaper... which is pretty much where I learned everything about photography. Honestly. Mr. Lindsey taught me everything I know but most importantly he taught me how to be a *good* photographer.
I had taken this great photo of this kid in the cafeteria - and he was talking but getting ready to take a bite of a banana at the same time: the peel folded down the body and draping over his hand ala' Curious George style. He was leaning over with this animated look on his face and his mouth gaped open - it was a hilarious shot. I was pretty proud of the 'moment' I had captured.
Mr. Lindsey scolded me, he said it was a good moment, but it wasn't a good "photograph". He said, "Your job is to take pretty pictures of people - whether they are pretty or not. You make them that way and you will always get hired for the next job."
So I didn't run the blow-job banana photo and... and I never took another photo like it again. To this day, I always try to take nice pictures of people that make them look prettier and skinnier and happier... that's my job. It's crazy to think I built an entire career out of that... but it's true.
I settled into the new school quickly, finding my skater boys and heavy metal boys and grunge friends.... I kind of hopped around a little bit of everywhere... I felt at home. It was amazing. That senior year I had a huge crush on my friend Rob, but I was already dating his friend... so it never went anywhere. sigh.....
The week I turned 18, I celebrated every single day. My two BFF's at the time were Robin and Jada who were from Mt. Vernon. Every day at school I celebrated my birthday in a different class and then Friday Robin, Jada and I went "cruising" and I collected 18 kisses on the cheek. I was such a prude... seriously. Then that Saturday night... *that* night was the talk of school because I had made friends with the kid who owned our indoor skate park and he agreed for me to host a Birthday Mosh there. Rob and I had made Ren & Stimpy posters and hung them all around school and well over a hundred people came.
Three bands played and I wore this way-too-short mini dress made of suede that was from the 1960s. It was epic. Like EPIC. Grunge was only *just* starting to make it to Iowa back then... so my desire to wear my Doc Martens under my dresses was *finally* getting accepted. Finally.
That week... I met my first serious boyfriend... we'll call him Del. He was older, in his second year at the Community College and frankly... that's big stuff: dating a college boy. He was a drummer in a band, he was tall with dark brooding eyes and floppy black hair and a collection of flannel shirts that made me swoon in places I wasn't yet aware one could swoon.
He was yummy.
We "dated"....as you do in Iowa. He took me to watch planes land while laying on a pile of blankets in the bed of his giant silver truck. We went to the movies and either of the two malls in town. We went to his shows.... I was smitten kitten and when he bought me a .25 carrot diamond promise ring not long before graduation... I thought I had found my future husband. (Again... 18, living in middle America - settling down at that age isn't really 'unheard of'.)
It ended the summer after senior year... my first *big* heartbreak. The kind of breakup where you forget to eat and you stop showering and stop leaving your house for days and weeks on end because just leaving the house seems to hurt. The kind of *first* heart break that every parent knows is coming and would do anything to stop...but can't.
I had ended things... but the break up got nasty. Really nasty. I kind of knew that forcing myself into a place where I didn't really fit in wasn't going to be a good life for me.... I didn't know where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to be brave enough to call it off and find my own way. Still... hurt like a mother....
The Bubbie was at wits end, Del was calling all the time - leaving nasty messages. One day he loved me and wanted me back... the next he was screaming at The Bubbie to "F*ck off". To which ... my hand to G*d, The Bubbie replied, "If you wanna' f*ck me little boy you can come on over... but don't go making me promises you don't intend to keep." After that I had to move back into my parents house because Del had broken into my place and gone through my things and he started showing up at my work and at friends houses... stalking well before it was a "thing". My parents made me move home.
Poor sweet, Iowa Farm Boy.... he was *not* expecting that answer from The Bubbie. lololol
A few weeks after I moved home he made me a mix tape... of sorts. There were a few songs on it - he had recorded it on his dual cassette boom-box. Remember the kind where you could play a tape in one half and then record that tape onto a blank tape on the other half? Anyhow.... there were a few songs, but mostly it was just him talking about how much he loved me and how much he wanted me back. It went on for 90 min - a full 45 minutes on both sides of the cassette.
My parents (still owning their Commodore) had an answering machine - the kind that ran on those itty-bitty little tapes.... and The Bubbie finding Del's poetic prose to be too much to resist - found the most embarrassing. blubbering, crying 45 seconds of the tape and recorded it onto the itty-bitty answering machine tape.
For over 6 months, whenever you called our house, if you got our answering machine you would only hear poor sweet Del's voice telling you how much he loved you and how sorry he was that he refused to buy his own coke at the diner and it was wrong to make you share your diet Coke because it was *was* stealing to just keep getting the free refills and he wouldn't be so cheap down the road if you would just take him back....
Hand to G*d. True story. However... after that he stopped showing up at the house and at my job.
During that time, Tante Louise called - she knew my heart was broken. She told me to go to the movies. She said, whenever you're sad, whenever you can't take it anymore - just get in the car and go to the movies. It'll be a two hour break for your brain and your heart. It's a safe and cheap way to tune out the pain - it's an easy way to have a reset button. So I spent a lot of time at the dollar theater... I saw Cool As Ice with Vanilla Ice soooooo many times that summer.... man: I wanted to be Kristin Minter so bad. lolololol
Over time... I began to heal and a few months later the opportunity to move to London presented itself and so with a whopping $100 in my pocket, I boarded a plan to London with a one way ticket: no return. (*note* I have Right of Abode in the UK and can live there as a citizen and did not require a visa of any kind).
Anyhow.... I look back now, so grateful for the movies. So grateful for the time that it bought me... I didn't spend my time hunting around for the next 'Del' to make myself feel better. I didn't look for the answer to my future inside the eyes of every guy I met... which, is frequently was immature girls do (just ask Yoga Girl). I just kind of.... escaped. And yeah - escaping into a world of Vanilla Ice wasn't exactly the stuff dreams are made of ... but it worked.
Fast forward to the heart break that would redefine the words "emotional pain" for me.... there always seemed to be too much to do. As more things have gotten ticked off the list... divorce: done. House: sold. Children: have shelter/food/love, done (for now... anyway). Blog: up and running (though doesn't pay a dime - this b*tch is just for the love of doing it! ololololol) The Book: done, dusted and published (and making me less than $2 a book - lolol).
The only thing left is...... me. I'm the last project I have to take on and it's really hard this time. I'm sans the perky tits of days gone by that did (on at least a few occasions) open a few doors... and I'm sans the pep and youthful hope that tomorrow holds amazing promise and a Happily Ever After....
Instead, I'm the poster child for the virtual 'Walk of Shame' one does after their husband leaves them for a younger, slightly thinner, gummier version of themselves..... sigh.
So, what's a girl to do? I spend *a lot* of time .... at the movies.
It really started with Twilight. I have worked so hard to bring everything together... I *literally* sleep less than four hours a night - between the kids and home-school and teaching and client jobs and the blog and the book... there just isn't more time to sleep. So I don't. I don't mind..... I don't want to miss out on this life by sleeping it away. I'll sleep in twenty years when the kids are grown and happy and whole... then I'll sleep.
Anyhow. I was *really* looking forward to the Twilight marathon. 12 hours, just me. Me and Edward and Bella and Jacob (and some pretty sketchy acting in the first two hours for sure.....) - but I can lose myself in the story as it unfolds. Love it. Love it. Love it.
I'm not seriously waiting for my "Edward"... I know that vampires don't really exist and I get it that marrying someone after knowing them for three weeks wasn't my best plan to date and I don't think I'm going to just meet my "Edward" and life is going to be great.... BUT., aside from warm comfy hours of escape.... it has brought to my heart and mind the idea that I settled a bit. I never had someone who protected me. May be he didn't love me enough to want to protect me... may be he just didn't know *how* to protect me.... whatever it was: it won't happen again. I won't settle for that a second time.
I have a few friends who think I should already be dating... I think if they were in my shoes, they would already be dating. I have no desire. I think I need more time to sort through the betrayal and the pain... but - more importantly, so much of this has taken away from my time with the children, I can't imagine spending time away from them getting to know someone else. That seems... emotionally irresponsible.
So.... I go to the movies. It's a place where clients can't call me, email me, text me, IM me on facebook.... it's a place where no yells from down the hall, "Moooommmmeeeee - I'm done!" and I have to wipe someone's poopy butt. It's a place where I don't have to talk to anyone... about anything. I don't have to talk about El Capitan and the sh*t show my life has turned into... *most* importantly: I don't have to think.
G*d bless movies and music for giving me the ability to just tune the f*ck out and lose myself in whatever they are pitching me. 115 minutes of Edward and Jacob and Esme and Emmett... and I've totally gotten into Nikki Reed now.... They can talk to me, talk for me, entertain me, and help me slip away from my own maddening, heartbreaking thoughts... and just *be*.
I can just sit in my seat... in my Team Edward sweatshirt, under my Breaking Dawn II Edward fuzzy blanket, drink my diet Coke (with light ice) and breathe..... for 115 minutes I can breathe.
I'm so grateful for that. Grateful for kids who go to bed and for movies that start at 10:15pm so I have time to get there... grateful for a theater manager who doesn't always make me pay because I've been so. many. times. Plus... I think she knows who I am and reads the blog (hi there!)... lololol. Sometimes pity *does* pay... bwahahahahaha. :)
While learning how to accept the catastrophic demise of my own Happily Ever After... it's oddly comforting to me to watch someone elses come to life and play out before me. I'm grateful to Carter Burwell whose music is... so peaceful and moving. The title of the chapter in The Book where I find out about Yoga Girl is titled "So Hold On" - which is from the Robert Pattinson song Never Think, which appears on the first Twilight soundtrack - that song has brought me an immense amount of peace on some truly hard nights.
If I'm being honest... the first time I heard it I thought it was crap.. I could hardly understand what he was singing... then I looked up the lyrics and the song seemed to fit my life to a T. Odd that... very odd.
So...today I am grateful for the chance to still breathe - even if it's only 115 minutes at a time. It's a stepping stone - and eventually it'll become a bridge to a better place for me - and if I can get to a better place, then the kids will be there with me by default. I don't think the answers to my life are in Twilight... which is probably why I still have never read the books... I just like to go the movie. I just need my 115 minutes to be. That time for my brain to stop thinking and just.... relax. It gives me time to just rest and be and not think, not answer to people or clients... of even my own tortured self... but just be. More time of just being means a calmer Elle - who can get up the next day, shake off the fears and the pain and question marks that still loom over my now d-funked marriage - and start fresh each day trying to rebuild this life on my terms. Again... I'm a crazy twihard for sure.. I'm Team Edward all the way.... *but* I'm fully aware that my life is built on my terms, not some Hollywood fantasy. Trust me, I got that message loud and freaking clear. lololol
It's just those 115 minutes are a sacred time of peace and calm and pleasantness and to that I say: Thank Edward and Bella and Jacob and Stefanie Meyer. In the craziest of ways... you have become a lifeline to myself.... it sounds more than a little cray-cray... but it's true.
Here is the Robert Pattinson lyrics - you should buy the song... it's brilliant. :)
I should never think
What's in your heart
What's in our home
So I won't
You'll learn to hate me
But still call me baby
So call me by my name
And save your soul
Save your soul
Before your to far gone
Before nothing can be done
I'll try to decide when
She'll lie in the end
I ain't got no fight in me
In this whole damn world
So hold off
She should hold off
It's the one thing that I've known
Once I put my coat on
I coming out in this all wrong
She standing outside holding me
Saying oh please
I'm in love
I'm in love
Girl save your soul
Go on save your soul
Before it's to far gone
And before nothing can be done
Cause without me
You got it all
So hold on
Without me you got it all
So hold on
Without me you got it all
Without me you got it all
So hold on
Without me you got it all
Without me you got it all
So hold on
You can find it on Amazon HERE. :)