My twenties were a mix of things. Looking back, it should have been the best time of my life. While my friends were still going to bars and trying to hook up, I had settled down. Married at the age of 24, we owned a house and had started down the road to adulthood. I had a good job, a nice house with an inground pool in the back yard, decent neighbors, and everything he had promised. The only thing missing was happiness.
I didn’t know it at the time, and even if I had some subconscious notion of not feeling happy, I would have and probably did suppress it. My twenties were a facade of happiness to everyone. Had anyone cared enough to look closely, they would have seen beneath the mask I wore daily.
My twenties were not much different than in my teenage years. I worked hard, sometimes two jobs. I turned 21 and my boyfriend, soon to be fiance’ wouldn’t let me go out and party with my girlfriends. I spent the evening with his family.
I got married in my twenties. My first husband was a sweet gentleman with an old fashion ideal of how married life should look. This perspective often came across as controlling. In my twenties, that didn’t bother me, yet. We had dated since I was 18. I entered my twenties with thoughts of engagement and marriage and thanks to his financial intelligence, purchasing a house I had never thought was possible. I walked down the aisle beside my father at the age of 24. I knew on that day it was a mistake. I remember looking at my father, ready to confess my feelings. He saw the look on my face, smiled at me and said, “how does my hair look?” I smiled back, took a deep breath and said, “it looks great, Dad. You look amazing.”
Our friends made our home at the party house. Every New Year’s Eve was spent at our house, drinking and listening to music and watching the ball drop in Time Square. It all seemed slightly perfect if you didn’t look closely. I spent my twenties working and taking care of the house. I had many different jobs in the quest to move up the ladder. I wasn’t sure what ladder. I wasn’t sure I wanted to move up any ladder. My husband wanted me to go into computers. However, I wanted to study psychology. I did as he asked. I took my first dBase class at 26. All the “1’s” and “0’s” made my head spin, and I failed that class miserable. He was disappointed. The next class I took was psychology. I passed that class with an “A”. He was disappointed.
On April 27, 1992, I was woken by the phone ringing. The neighbor of my parents, Ann, was like a second mother to me. She had been there through many of our troubles. The most significant of which was our house catching fire and burning to the ground. Nothing good rarely comes from a late-night or early morning phone calls. Anne was telling me that Dad was going to the hospital, and I should come and meet my mother. I remember asking her if I should take a shower and pack some clothes. She responded with a quiet ‘yes’. I was 27 years old when my father died. He didn’t always say it, but I always knew he loved and was proud of me. He had his issues like most of us. He wasn’t my hero as much as he was just a really good Dad. At 27 years old, but life changed forever.
At 28 years old, I became pregnant. It was a surprise. I know a lot of women say that, and people roll their eyes and make a joke about how folks get pregnant. We weren’t planning it. My husband was going to school, and he wanted to finish before we started a family. When I gave him the news he didn’t hide the fact that he wasn’t thrilled. We stumbled through the first three months, wondering what we were going to do. Then, I felt the baby more. It was the slightest trimmer that came from inside my belly—an awakening for me. The life in me was real. The baby growing was moving and letting me know he was there, and I needed to wake up and pay attention. And so I did. Two months later, five months into the pregnancy, I started bleeding. After waiting to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, I headed to the hospital. And it was done, my baby was gone. There was no real reason given. “These things happen,” was the standard response when my guilty self asked why this had happened. Had I not loved him enough? Was I not attentive enough? Should I have eaten better? All the typical things people ask when they are expecting a birth and get the opposite.
The loss of my first baby changed us. We didn’t have a storybook love affair, to begin with. Busy with work and school and taking care of the house, we were going through the motions. Our sex life was obligatory. Not hot, romantic, the fairy tale. Just obligatory. Looking back now, I know we were never the same, and we never would be. I left the hospital, went home to bed, and cried. He left to go to church and pray for me. It never dawned on him to stay with me. It never dawned on me to tell him that is what I needed him to do.
At 29, toward the end of my 29th year, I became pregnant again. This was planned and hoped for. I was ready. I wanted to do it right this time. That I did! Allision Rebecca was born on May 31, 1995. I was 30 when she was born. While I got pregnant with her in my twenties, she came to me when I was 30. And she has been my light ever since.
My twenties were pretty crappy. I left the twenties and entered my thirties with the most beautiful baby ever. There was still crappy stuff that happened in my thirties, but she made them a little easier to navigate.
Allison Rebecca (about a year old)
Allison Rebecca (about 21 or 22 years old)