As a teenage girl, living with a single older father had its challenges. One time I got in trouble because he found a razor in the bathtub, and asked me if I was shaving my legs. I was in ninth grade.
We were living in Oregon at the time, and I hated it. I was going to a strange new school, and I had no friends. The first day of ninth grade, I met a girl in the cafeteria who asked my name. When I told her, she laughed and said her uncle had a dog named Loretta. That was also the school where I was teased for having “chicken legs” because I was so skinny. I wanted to go back home to Michigan.
My dear sister Linda is 15 years older than I am and like a second mother to me. She came to my rescue and told our father that she was moving back to Hart. And she was taking me with her. I was elated. We packed up her car and her three young boys, and headed back home.
That’s when I met Greg. He was two years older, my brother’s best friend, tall and blonde and so sweet. We hit it off immediately and before long we were dating. I was happy and busy with a new boyfriend, school and work.
By the end of the school year, I was living on my own. My job as a waitress was enough for me to afford a small apartment in town. It was also a place for Greg and I to be together, and so we were. There was one problem with that situation though.
When Greg turned 18, it all changed. By then, Dad had moved back to Hart. One day the Sheriff stopped him in town and said they were going to bring Greg up on charges of statutory rape if my dad didn’t do something about us living together.
So being from a long line of young brides, my family suggested we get married. As a 16-year-old girl in love, I thought that was the perfect idea. I made my dress and Greg’s shirt. I picked Queen Anne’s Lace and we put them in jars of food coloring so I could have pretty flowers. And we got married.
We stayed in my little apartment and had friends over and acted like a married couple. But it was slowly falling apart as I finished school and worked, while Greg hung out.
We tried moving to a bigger city, in hopes of Greg finding a job, but he never did. I felt the weight of all of the responsibility on my shoulders and it was too much to bear.
At 18, I knew it would never work out. And so, I left. I moved to Oregon, and I didn’t look back. I filled out the necessary paperwork, and we got a divorce.
And I didn’t tell anyone for the longest time. I was ashamed, so I kept it a secret.
Until I met Jeff…but that’s a story for another time.