by Linda McKenney
August 14, 1964 — seventeen, approaching senior year in high school. My plan — attend college and teach Algebra. I’ve turned down the opportunity to travel to France as an exchange student, afraid to leave the familiarity of my family and small town. Going away to college fills me with similar trepidation.
Ultimately my goal is to marry. Many women, at that time, attend college to find a husband. Then they drop out to raise a family. Domestic Engineer becomes a popular term.
I’m not optimistic about finding a mate. Throughout high school, I’ve been mostly boyfriendless. My only-a-few-months boyfriend dropped me when I didn’t “put out.” It was fun for a while though. He’d pick me up after school in his white Plymouth convertible. I was sure that all the girls were envious as I walked down the steps in my pleated skirt, mohair sweater, and white canvas sneakers and climb in next to him.
A few months into senior year, in the Sweet Shop, my future is determined. Noisy with tunes from the jukebox, on the small dance floor, only the girls dance the Cha-Cha, Twist, and Jitterbug. Boys and men watch, among them — my future husband.
I nervously accept an invitation to sit in his booth. He’s four years older, handsome, and finds me attractive. I’m surprised. I don’t find me attractive. Must have been my dance moves.
Eventually he proposes, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to go away to college. My parents say I’m too young. I argue with them. Eventually we agree that I will marry when I’m eighteen.
February 17, 1967, married with child, living in my grandmother’s home. Husband’s in the Navy, and only home on weekends.
Still haven’t gone to France. Graduated from college in 2002. Hate Algebra.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken on the USS Constitution during a school trip to Boston. I don’t know how I got up the nerve to ask to have my picture taken with one of the sailors or why I wanted to. Perhaps it was an omen, as my first husband was drafted soon after we met and he joined the Navy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McKenney is a Personal Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Writer, specializing in Mindful Living and Eating. She continually reinvents herself, and her new adventure is writing creative non-fiction. Her most recent work is published in Behind the Podium, Silver Birch Press, 101 Word Short Stories and The Survivor’s Review. You can join Linda on her Mindful journey by visiting her blog –- majokmindfuleating.com. She also has an alter ego at Susanbanthony.live.