Ten Years Ago in
In the year 2000, my parents were going through a severely difficult time in their marriage. My father was Honorably Discharged from the Army due to medical problems and he began to drink heavily. The Army had been his life for the past fifteen years. My mother was trying to cope with his drinking and be a stay at home mother to home school my brother and I. It certainly was not the easiest thing to do in the world.
That year one of our dogs had developed prostate cancer and he had to be neutered. We noticed that Shadow had become sick and we took him to our Vet in Fairbanks and he told us that Shadow had little less than two days to live unless we did the surgery. My mother was beside herself and my parents, together, decided to neuter Sam, our other male dog, to ensure that nothing like this could happen again.
So far, the year had been crazy, draining, and heartbreaking for a number of reasons.
Finally, my parents came to the conclusion that they needed to separate. My brother and I were devastated. It was not easy at ten years old to hear that my parents were getting a divorce and that we had to move from the only place we had ever known as our home to Atlanta, to be near my mother’s mother, my Granny.
The day before we left we said our goodbyes to our friends and it was hard. I had accepted that I would probably never see them again and they were like my siblings. We cried all night long.
On August 4th, 2000 my mother, my brother and I boarded the plane in the Fairbanks airport and said good-bye to my father. We were able to take Shadow with us; he weighed in at a whopping twelve pounds. We had to leave Sam with my father, however, because he weighed over one hundred and twenty pounds and they could not ship Sam at the moment. Shadow was able to stay on board with us and not have to go into the luggage department of the plane.
We arrived after an 18 hour delay in Seattle in which my brother got lost in the airport and my mother almost worried herself to death trying to find him. She found him, standing next to another bathroom, crying and holding a man’s hand while he looked for the description of my mother in the crowd of people that was given to him by DJ. DJ was only eight at the time, so you can imagine the description and we did not have a cell phone back then.
My grandmother greeted us happily in the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, though admittedly sad considering the circumstances.
We, my brother and I, were getting ready to start school in a couple of weeks which I was excited about. It had been three years since I had gone to public school and I wanted to make some new friends in a very different, culturally speaking, area.
When I started school I was shocked beyond belief. I had been raised completely different from the kids I had to go to school with and had never heard a child even think about uttering the “F” word at my age. I mean, I had never even heard of a lesbian before. Then again, I was raised in the Army and I was always around people with the same beliefs as my parents. You just did not talk about that stuff in front of the kids.
The way the kids acted towards the teachers was mind-blowing. They were so rude and disrespectful! Many of the kids acted like they had been raised by heathens and did not understand why I did not want to participate in the activities that they did. They were not very nice either. They called my names and tried to bully me because I was a good student and did not like to disobey the teachers.
They made fun of me because I was put into a remedial math program because I was behind. It was ironic though, because their best friends were in the same program, which I never seemed to understand why they picked on me. Maybe it was because the teachers liked me and asked me to talk in classes about Alaska and the Northern Lights. I will never know.
I came home one day to find my mother talking happily on the phone and she said, “Oh, she’s home now. I’ll give her the phone.” It was my best friend Emma, from Alaska. We talked for a good hour and we cried because we missed each other so much. It was hard. We kept calling each other for a few months, but then it dwindled down to no talking at all. We have not talked since.
In September, I turned eleven. I also began hitting puberty pretty hard that year including having my first menstrual cycle ever. Lucky for me, my mother was a nurse and knew how to talk to me about it. My father sent me some birthday money and called to tell me he loved me. He put Sam on speaker phone and I started crying because I missed my dog so much.
In October my father emailed my mother and told her that he missed her and loved her very much. He promised us all that he would quit drinking and he wanted us to be together again. My brother and I were so excited; we were going back to Alaska.
My parents told us that we were not going back to Alaska but that dad and Sam were moving to Atlanta. We were happy that our father and Sam were coming home, but we desperately wanted to go back home.
In November Sam and our father made it to Atlanta safely. It was a change. Dad stopped drinking for a while and it was better; it was happier.
Mom got a job as an LPN and dad started working at Toyota doing claims. They found a house and we were all doing really well.
That year my brother broke his nose, near Christmas. I have to say, that was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen before. He had been diving into a pool, which specifically said “No Diving”. I suppose that it what he gets for not listening to the rules. He still laughed when he thinks about it.
The year ended better than it began. We were all together and my parents were doing really well. Sam, our Husky mix, missed the snow but he liked the large yard he could romp around it. Shadow loved the heat and probably was very happy that there was no snow.
That year, outside of my High School years, was probably the hardest year I have ever had. I lost my home, my friends which were like family, my town. I coped with it, as any child does, but it was never easy.
Looking back it was probably for the better. If I had never moved I would never have met my husband or my parents’ marriage would have ended worse.
I am glad though for the things that happened that year. I learned a lot about myself, as a ten year old, and I learned a lot in public school that the teachers would never teach you. Only the kids could teach something. I even learned what a penis looked like in a bathroom stall.
2000 was a memorable year.