My life as a young adult was very different than most of my peers. My ACT score was excellent, but I did not apply for scholarships. I was in the top of my rather large graduating class, but I did not fill out college applications. I knew in October of my senior year that college was not in the cards for me. At least not immediately following high school.
Like the source of most teenage girl stories of angst, mine too was caused by a boy. A boy that I meet in the 3rd grade. By 6th grade, JD and I were “dating” as much as twelve year olds could date in rural Arkansas in the 90’s. This meant playing games on the playground and sitting together on the school bus. We were separated for a while -my mother home schooled me for a few years. When I rejoined public school, our friendship was easy. JD and I simply picked up where we left off. Not long after my returned, we began dating for real. During our junior year of high school, JD and I became engaged. It was around Valentine’s Day. He handed me one of those disgusting, chalky conversation hearts during class. It read “Will you marry me?”. I answered, “Yes”, without a pause. JD whispered back, “I am serious.” and I said, “So am I.”. Just like that. Bam! Engaged! Right in the middle of American History class and we were the only people in the whole world that knew it. We did not tell anyone for several months. JD and I were not stupid. We knew exactly how this announcement would be received. We suspected that people would tell us that we were just kids. That we would never last. That we could never truly understand love at our age. JD and I knew that this would prove true for most teenagers in our situation but not for us. So we made plans to tell our parents of our engagement in the fall of our senior year after we both turned eighteen. We would get married right after high school. We set a date of July 25, 2004.
In mid-October, our well laid plans took a little detour. I found out I was pregnant. JD and I told our parents, which was terrifying. We made our engagement official to family and friends soon after that. I was unable to keep my pregnancy quiet as the school year progressed. My guidance counselor told me that I had no hopes of ever going to college with a child. So many of my classmates were shocked that quiet, studious, and surprisingly non-virginal me was pregnant. Plenty of rude, inappropriate, and personal questions were asked by my peers. I had teachers that said that they had expected more from me and that I had ruined my life. While other teachers were incredibly supportive (shout out to Mr. Billy Ivey and Ms. Sharon Rondone for being awesome). I never missed a single day of my senior year due to my pregnancy. I graduated high school at 36 weeks pregnant with my National Honor Society medal resting on my massive stomach as a great F-U to all those who expected me to fail. Two weeks later, our oldest son – Joseph, was born. We were married on our originally planned wedding date, July 25, 2004.
Having a child at such a young age, meant that JD and I had to make decisions about what to do with our lives quickly. We had no one to support us financially. We worked hard to secure our future. We had grow up fast. JD slept by day and worked at night. I attended college during the day and slept at night. We juggled Joseph between us as we came and went. Our friends went off to college, stayed out all night, partied, and explored the world. We temporarily put our lives our lives on hold. By the time we were twenty-one, I had completed my college education and was working in a high in-demand profession. My husband had an excellent and well paying job. JD and I owned our own house and two cars. Oh, and we had added, Dante, our second son and last child to our family
Looking back, I am so happy that things happened they way that it did. I have both a family that I love and a job that brings me joy. With all of that background information behind us, this article is not about how hard that I had to work to get to this point in my life. It is to explain how I have reached a point to where I am utterly clueless about the things going on around me. It is about attempting to take back one of the things that I gave up while working to reach our goals. I want to know what is going on in pop culture. (Not to be confused with nerd culture because I am still well educated there.) I have not listened to a radio for approximately a decade. I do not know any new songs, unless I am buying a newly released album from an artist that I already know. I do not understand the purpose of apps that my friends and younger co-workers love. There are cartoons that baffle me but have a huge fan base. I do not understand my sons’ vernacular at times or why they play certain games for hours on end. I have noticed that I am eerily close to becoming like my mom when she did not grasp why it was so important for me to wear purple lipstick and have butterfly clips all over my head in the 90’s. I have decided that it is time for me to remedy my detachment from pop reality before I begin to believe that there is a devilish demon messages hidden in songs. My sons are now twelve and nine. With their help and the help of friends, I am going try to educate myself and share what I learned with my readers.