Whenever I meet someone new, I find myself wondering “what’s your story?”. I wonder what their background is, how they grew up, and what experiences made them into who they are. And while I’m curious, I find myself remembering that their story is not their own, and might not be theirs to share, as that’s what I’ve found in my own life. While my life and experiences are uniquely my own, that doesn’t mean that they don’t overlap and draw from others stories. Others like my mom, my dad, my (ex)step-family, my (half-)sister, my friends, my husband… They all have effected my life, and in doing so, have made my story part of theirs, and vice-versa.
Because of that, sometimes I struggle with being real and vulnerable in my blog posts, because I do not want to overstep bounds, and because I want to protect those in my life. But I do want to share my experiences with you, so you know what has made me, me. And so I want to share with you this new series, entitled Behind The Curtains. Because in this series I’ll be sharing with you my experiences and childhood and things that ultimately touched and changed my life, but are things that perhaps I keep “behind the curtains”. I’m unsure what the layout is going to be right now. I want to share facts, and I also want to share thoughts and feelings, and I’m still trying to figure out how to mesh the two together, without the post being completely unreadable. So bear with me as I work through the first few posts.
I hope you enjoy getting to know me a little better, and that I might even inspire you to share your own story.
First, a little background. My dad is from Utah, and my mom is from London (yes, England). They met in their church congregation while my dad was attending the Royal Academy of Ballet in London. They were married, and made their way back to the states within a year or two.
I was born 5 years later, in August 1989, while they were living in Florida. About a year after that, my dad came out as gay, and my parents divorced. My mom and I made our way across the US to Utah, to live with my paternal grandmother. At that time, my grandma owned two homes, and operated assisted living facilities at both of them. My mom and I lived at both — not sure about the timing of when we lived at each one — from the time we moved to Utah until the time I was about 4. My mom worked for my grandma, assisting her with the day to day activities of caring for elderly women.
During this time I became so fond of these dear old women. My grandma’s father, my great-grandpa who I referred to as Poppy, also lived us, and I adored him, even as a young child of 2 or 3. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the elderly, and I’m glad I was able to be surrounded by these wise women (and man) while in my youth.
When I was 4 or so, my mom and I moved into my great-uncle’s basement (my paternal grandma’s brother), and I believe it was around this time she got a job at a birth-to-three program as a service coordinator. My mom would wake up very early, get ready, get me up, and we would drive the 25 minutes to my grandma’s house, my mom would drop me off, then drive the 40 minutes to her job. She would then reverse this at the end of the day. I started kindergarten at a school near my grandma’s — in kindergarten I rode the bus, and in 1st grade my grandma would drop me off and pick me up.
My mom made so many sacrifices for me while we were growing up. Her love of me and the Lord were so evident. She set the greatest example for me of service and sacrifice. I’m sure her life wasn’t easy, but she was always cheerful, and a great mom to me.
A year or so after that move, we moved into a room in my mom’s friend’s home. She had a large home, and rented out a couple of her rooms to friends. We had one large room, with an adjoined bathroom/walk-in closet. We probably lived there another year or so.
I was naturally very shy. If you’re familiar with temperament types, I am very very very much shy/inhibited. I hated answering or calling anyone on the phone (still do) and I had a hard time making friends because I was so shy, even though I love being surrounded by people, and am very friendly once you get to know me.
But because of all of the moves I went through growing up, I had to learn how to make friends, and be the one to reach out. If I didn’t, I would never have had friends. I’ll be writing a post just about this later, but suffice it to say that moving around so much helped me learn how to overcome my shy nature, which is a huge blessing.
When I was 7, we moved into an apartment of our own. A friend of my mom’s owned it, and offered it to her at a cheaper rate than she could have found on her own. It was also around this time that my mom was able to petition to move me into the elementary school next door to her work (which was not in the same school district as where we lived). Her petition was granted, and I started 2nd grade at a new elementary school. My mom and I would drive the 2o minutes to her work in the morning, and I would walk next door to my elementary school to eat school breakfast before school started. After school, I’d walk to my mom’s work and do homework and read for a couple of hours until my mom was finished with work and we would drive home.
This change heralded in the best 4-5 years of my childhood. We were settled in a 2 bedroom apartment, we belonged to a wonderful church congregation, and I loved my elementary school, and had made two best friends who I was constantly having sleepovers and play dates with. My mom moved up a bit at her job, and, from what I remember and understand, we lived comfortably. We had enough for the necessities, if not too many extras, and we were happy. My mom cultivated a bright, happy, loving home for me. Our home was filled with beautiful pastel colors and classical music, and had the most calm and peaceful atmosphere. I loved it.
I saw my dad for about a week in the summer every two years. While we weren’t necessarily close, we had fun together and he would take me out to a lot of fun activities while he was in town. We also talked on the phone fairly regularly, and of course would send each other birthday and other cards. It was a little strange growing up with a dad around, when everyone else had one. This was in the 90s, and there were not as many divorced and/or single parent families as there are now, so I was generally the only child from a divorced and single parent family in my classes, but I didn’t mind. It was all I knew, after all, and I was in contact with my dad, too.
A few more things to note: We were able to visit England to visit my mom’s parents a couple of times (once when I was a toddler, which I don’t remember) and once when I was 6, which I have faint, but fond, memories of. My paternal grandmother (she was just Grandma to me), that we had lived with, passed away when I was in 5th grade (my grandfather having passed away in the early ’80s, before my parents were married) and oh, I missed her. I still wonder what our relationship would have grown into, should she have been around a while longer. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May, and passed away in November. It was a sad time for me. I was her baby’s baby, the youngest grandchild, and I spent a lot of time at her house. To watch her waste away was hard, but even then, I knew that I would see her again. And when I was in 6th grade, my mom’s parents passed away within a week of each other (my Granddad from an aneurysm, and my Nanny from cancer), which came as a shock, and brought another trip to England, and a double funeral. It was sad being without grandparents by the time I was 12, but such is life sometimes.
And so, that was my childhood. While there were quite a few periods of transition and moving, overall, my childhood was very, very happy.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my life, and how I grew up. I’m excited to share more with you over the next few months!