My first kiss

I have noticed lately that Facebook has been asking me a lot of questions.  They say they wanted to help people get to know me.  I find that humorous because I totally overshare on Facebook.

Most of the questions are benign.

Like,

In case anyone was wondering-

1) Too many to quote but anything from Love Actually, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls will do the job.
2) Hoodies and mugs from places I travel, especially Starbucks You Are Here mugs
3)  No

And then Facebook thinks I should tell people about my first kiss.

Excuse me, Facebook?  That’s kind of personal, eh?

My first kiss was not exciting but this question felt like it crosses so many boundaries.

After I was done being put off by the nosiness of Facebook, I decided to share my first kiss on my WordPress blog.  Because WordPress didn’t press me for the information.  (See what I did there?  The pun was intended).

But yeah, my first kiss.

I was a late bloomer.  I was a shy teenager, at least when it came to boys.  I had very little confidence.  I did not have a boyfriend in high school or most of college.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and give my younger self a pep talk to increase her confidence.  But she will eventually get some confidence, though it will take years.

Anyway, it was a Saturday night during my sophomore year in college, meaning it was 1998 or 1999.  I was wearing overalls that I bought at Wal-Mart and my hair was in a ponytail as I let a friend do a box perm (also bought at Wal-Mart) on my hair in the dorm bathroom and all it did was create a frizzy mess.  So my hair was in a ponytail that whole year.

I wish I had a picture.

You may be reading this and cringing.  Or laughing.  Trust me, I am cringing and laughing as I write this.  I wish I could back in time and along with the pep talk, I wish I could give my younger self a lesson in style.  Because 20 year old Kerry has her assets at their best, she just didn’t know how to accentuate that.  And that there are more options of places to shop at than Wal-Mart.

Where was I?

Right.

Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm.  I was chatting with a guy named Dave in my friends dorm room.  I don’t remember his last name (or maybe I never knew it) but it began with an “S”.   He was a friend of a friend and he didn’t attend college.

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We were alone.   Maybe it was 1999 and everyone else was just partying like it was 1999.  It was one of the few nights that someone did not pull the fire alarm which usually happened at least four times a week in my dorm.  I spent many Maine winter nights outside freezing while waiting for the fire department to let us back in.  Eventually we learned to just go to Dunkin Donuts when this happened.

The caffeine never bothered me anyway.

Frozen

This Dave guy and I were talking.

I remembered we had identical cars.  We both drove green 1998 Saturns.

(I miss Mean Green.  Drove that car for 10 years and 240,000 miles.  Even took it out to Indiana at around 219,000 miles when it was leaking some sort of fluid.  Probably not the best idea but the car got me back to Maine before she was retired.)

Where was I?  I keep getting distracted.

Right.

Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm, etc.

So this Dave guy that drives an identical Saturn as me and doesn’t go to my school kissed me.

It was not exciting.  Actually it was very anti-climatic.

I saw where this was going.  I did not wait a long time to just be some hookup on campus.

A voice inside me told me that I at least deserved dinner.  Heck, I probably would have settled for one of those stir-fry sandwiches made by Scary Gary from the Crack Shack.  (Okay, it was called the Snack Shack and there was a guy named Gary and everyone, and I mean everyone, called him Scary Gary.  I may have called him that to his face when I was drunk one night.  I am sure I wasn’t the first.  Or the last.)

I wish I had a picture.  I wish smartphones and Facebook existed back then.

But maybe 20 year old Kerry was more of a bad-ass than I give her credit for.  She was not desperate for male attention.  After all these years of thinking she had low self esteem, maybe she knew her worth all along.

I told this Dave guy that we needed to get to know each other better.  Dave verbalized his understanding.

He had nowhere to sleep that night.  I made him sleep on the floor on the flip and f*ck.  (Which is now in my old bedroom at my parents house).

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Flip and F*ck- mine was green. A staple in any 1990’s college dorm room.

He snored.  Loudly.

Dave and I never went on a date.  I continued to wear those overalls and I never got another perm.  I didn’t kiss another guy until my senior year in college.  And that guy did think I deserved dinner.  And I liked Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.  And then we saw 101 Dalmations.

Okay, I still do like Pizza Hut Pan Pizza…occasionally.  But  now I would not be impressed if I was taken there on a first date.

Eventually that relationship ran it’s course.  It was evident that this guy did not ever want to get married.

Looking back, I can see a lot of red flags and problems but my younger self had to learn for herself.

A little over two and a half years into that relationship, 24 year old Kerry listened to a voice that told her that she deserved to be happy.

So she broke it off.

Oh and if you are wondering, their first kiss was not exciting either.  No fireworks in that relationship.

I began to get involved in politics and met many new friends.  One friend was like an older brother to me.  One time we were driving to a political event and this friend was trying to give me dating pointers.  One thing he said to me was that if a guy took me to a chain restaurant on the first date, then there shouldn’t be a second date.

At first my friend’s advice seemed harsh but then it made sense to 27ish-year old Kerry.   I mean, her college boyfriend took her to Pizza Hut and there was zero passion in this relationship.

It took several years and several frogs but I did eventually meet a special man.  A man who thought I was worth steak dinner.  And fancy Italian dinner.  And quality dinner of many different cuisines.

The relationship with that man had so much passion.  No anti-climatic kisses.

For eight years, that man loved me.  We were married for four of those years.

For eight years, that man worked so hard to give me, and later our daughter, the world.

It took awhile to find him and I had to kiss some frogs but I am thankful for the love he showed me.  For thinking I was worth it.  For setting the bar high on any man that might come after him.

I don’t know what the future holds but at least, thanks to Bryon, I can go into it knowing what love is and not to settle for anything less than what I deserve.

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Waiting

“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

~ Alfred D’Souza

I have always been a person who has always been waiting.

When I was a child, I was waiting for high school because from what I observed by watching Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, high school was real life.  Because after sporting events and lame school dances, it was all downhill.

When I was in high school, I was waiting until I could go off to college because college was real life.  I would be out of my small Maine town and I would study abroad in Europe.  I could immerse myself in the subjects I cared about such as History and French.

When I was in college, I was waiting for graduation because that was when my career was going to happen and possibly I will would meet my future husband.  I was going to earn some real money.  And life was going to begin.

When I was finally out of college, I was waiting for my career to take off and to meet that husband I dreamed about meeting.  But none of those things came with a college degree so I kept waiting.

Once I was in a relationship with Bryon, I was waiting to get engaged because then I would be planning our wedding and my life would begin.

When Bryon and I were engaged, I was waiting to be married and when I was a wife, then life would begin.  We could put the stress of wedding planning behind us and we can focus on our happily ever after.

Once I was Bryon’s wife, I was waiting to buy a house and become a mother.  We would become a family and raise our baby in our little house.

Once I became a mother, I was waiting to have our second child so we could be the perfect family with two kids.  Bryon had been working hard on a career as was I and we would buy a bigger house.  Then life would begin.  We would raise our two perfect children, maybe three and take them to whatever sports or lessons they had.  We would get a family dog.  We would go on family vacations.  Bryon had plans to become 1950’s dad and make our daughters dates uncomfortable.  Then the kids would go of to college to wait for their lives to begin and Bryon and I would grow old together.

Only life as I envisioned it would never begin.  I never once thought “once I become a young widow, then my life would begin.”  But my life is happening and for once, I am not waiting for anything.  I know I have a long life ahead of me but for the first time in my life, I am not eagerly anticipating the next phase of my life.  I don’t even know what I should be waiting for.  I don’t even know what my next phase of my life is.  I know I will see my daughter grow up but Bryon won’t be there.  I hope to be in a position to help people but I am not sure how I will get from here to there.

During my grief process, I have felt like there is a lot of waiting.  I am waiting for the pain to subside.  I am waiting for things to get settled.  I am waiting until I can think about everything that happened and not feel like I am being punched in the stomach.  I am waiting until I can talk about what happened without having my voice shake and tears welling up in my eyes.

I don’t know what to wait for.  My life has so many paths it could take.  I am not looking forward to the prospect of someday dating again.  But if I did, my life would follow a certain path, a path I am not ready to consider at the moment.  For the time being, I am actually looking forward to my time alone to figure out exactly who I am.  But since I don’t know who I am right now, I don’t know how to envision a future alone.  There are many facets of my personality I wish to explore and depending on which ones I develop could affect my path.

I spent 37 years waiting for my life to begin.  But I have been living my life this whole time and not living in the moment.  I spent my years with Bryon looking towards the future and that future never materialized.  I spent so much time waiting and not enjoying the life I was living and that life is gone.  I can’t go back and focus on those moments in the present.  I only have memories.  Memories, a future I am not waiting for and the present.  It’s a shame it took my husband’s death to teach me how to live in the present.

Brunette Catholic, blonde Buddhist or somewhere in between?

I always thought I had a strong sense of who I was.  And I never questioned my own authenticity.  Yes, on the outside I am from a small Maine town but many people don’t realize that I spent the first 14 years of my life in the Boston area.  I spent a semester abroad in England when I was 21.  Besides Boston, I have spent time in London, Paris, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Houston, New Orleans, Vegas and many other cities.  I am fairly educated and worldly.  I just try not to be pretentious about it.

I have always been a rule follower whether it was my Catholic religion or sitting in school.  I was not a kid who got in (much) trouble.  I did get caught daydreaming a lot but there was a whole world outside whatever window I was looking out of.  I can’t say I never broke the rules in high school but I pretty much did as I was told.  I did not drink in high school or go to gravel pit parties.  I rarely stayed out past curfew (though my parents were pretty lenient as long as I called) though sometimes I stayed the night at my best friends house because she did not have a curfew. This created a kind of late night loophole that I would take advantage of. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)

I stretched my wings a little bit when I was in college.  A few weeks into my freshman year I decided to get an eyebrow ring.  It was 1997 and it was before they became popular.  It actually looked good on me though I don’t think any picture exists.  I didn’t think it through because I was heading home the following week and figured I would just take it out when I was around my parents.  My parents never saw it (though my brother saw it and he kept threatening to tell them).  I realized that I was never going to have the guts to wear it in front of my parents and I couldn’t handle the pressure of living a double life so the eyebrow ring didn’t last.

And of course, there was the road trip my friends and I took to St. Stephen, New Brunswick just so we could go to the bars when we were 19.  I remember walking along the Saint Croix River, pointing to the Maine side and laughing because we “couldn’t drink over there but we can drink over here.”  I always think of that trip every time I hear “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies.  I wasn’t a saint but I kept myself out of trouble.

I was a very hyper and annoying kid and somewhere along the way, I figured that I had to bottle up my true self to fit in with people.  I would just sit quietly because I didn’t want to become hyper and weird and annoying.  I chose to only open up to a few.  I liked to participate in structured activities so I only had to discuss the topics on hand.

After college, I started dating the guy who would later become my ex-boyfriend.  I think of him as kind of an anti-Bryon because he was the exact opposite of Bryon.  One could argue that Bryon was the over correction of this guy. I could probably write a whole post on him and what I learned from that relationship.   In very general terms Bryon was a Catholic, Republican, manly-man who loved sports while the anti-Bryon was a Protestant, Democrat, non-manly man who preferred science fiction to sports.  Another big difference was that Bryon actually liked me while the anti-Bryon did not.  I think I was someone who paid for dates for two and a half years.  He never embraced me for who I was and I spent two and a half years trying to be the woman he wanted.

After I broke up with the anti-Bryon, I got absorbed into the world of politics and most notably, the Young Republicans.  I embraced the lifestyle of Republican politics and I wore suits, heels, pearls and the Sarah Palin hairstyle.  I loved politics because it was like I was an actress playing a role.  I didn’t have to worry that I was shy and awkward.  Politics gave me a way to relate to people.  It was also during my time in politics that I learned conversation skills and poise.

Politics led me to the best years of my life.  My years with Bryon.  The years where I became a wife and mother.  And like everything else, being a wife and mother provided me with a role that I was more than happy to assume.  Bryon did love me for me but relationships are always filled with give and take.  Bryon had the successful career and I pretty much was content to live in his shadow.  It might have caused some contention between us at times but I don’t regret it. Especially since he apparently wasn’t meant to be here as long as the rest of us.

I have heard that during widowhood, you begin to question everything you once believed.  I thought I had myself and the world all figured out.  While I learned that I am much, much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, I also learned just how much Bryon overcompensated for my weaknesses.  I don’t have him to cover for me anymore. I have learned that I can count on my family and I have also learned which of my friends are actually my family.  I have learned who I can’t count on (some were surprising) and which friends really weren’t friends. I learned that you can’t put all your faith into the healthcare system and that the healthcare system can fail you.  And I learned that God  doesn’t care if you did your best to be a good Catholic girl for over 30 years.

All those years of trying to fit into roles and groups has left me with a repressed free spirit.  I have always had a free spirit that gets antsy and wants to see the world.  It used to drive Bryon nuts when I wanted to day trip to anywhere, as long as it was out of Albany. He usually indulged me. I also have a creative side.  I am still in the process of trying to let those parts of me out.  I have been running.  I have been travelling.  I have been cooking new recipes and putting together furniture from IKEA.  I have been reading about Buddhism to try to stay Zen.  I have been in the process of changing over to natural cleaning and beauty products.  I plan to have a garden this summer and learn how to can vegetables.  I tried to dye my hair blonde but that didn’t work.  And don’t be fooled if you ever see all the books on my nightstand.  You might see titles that consist of history, religion, politics, business, memoirs, parenting and grief/self help but the last two books I read consisted of one by the Long Island Medium and the other was Jodie Sweetin’s memoir.  Candace Cameron Bure’s memoir isn’t proving to be nearly as exciting as Jodie Sweetin’s memoir.

I realize that I was just afraid.  I have been afraid of success and I have been afraid of failure.   I have been afraid to let people see the real me.  I had a clearly defined past and I have been afraid to stray from the expectation of who I am supposed to be.   I have been afraid that if I tried something different or learned about something different that it might change how I think.  And if I continue to be afraid, I will never fully live and I must fully live to be an example for my daughter.  So my daughter can grow into the woman she is supposed to be.