Friday, April 4, 2008

Flashback Friday - No. 4 - 1997

I was 19. It could have been the worst decision of my entire life.

If I were my own kid I would have kicked my own ass.

But first...

I was finishing up my freshman year of college at UW-Parkside. I had a cute, fun boyfriend. He didn't go to college. He worked at a retail eletronics chain and made a lot of money. He brought me little gifts and we drank had a lot of fun together. I decided after that year, most of which included him driving down to see me every week, that I would move back to the Milwaukee area and go to school at UW-Milwaukee instead.

But first, I spent the summer of '97 living at my boyfriends' mother's house. That's how much I didn't want to (and couldn't) move back home. To make matters worse, the company he worked for promoted him to manager and sent him to Virginia for two weeks for training. The living arrangements were awkward to say the least. Teenaged girlfriend - sleeping in the same room as the teenage son - Mom's a drinker - you fill in the blanks. When he got back home I pressed him to start looking for an apartment.

We found one in a big complex with a crappy pool ("Hey! We can swim and have pool parties!") with low rent and signed a lease. The apartment manager explained that we could move in quickly but that they were going to replace the carpeting first. He gave us a key and said we could start moving stuff in, but that it had to be stacked in the areas without carpeting. We began to cram as much stuff into the kitchen and bathroom as we could.

Imagine the smallest apartment imaginable. One bedroom, one bath, small kitchen with 'passthru' window looking out into the small living room. That's it. The kitchen didn't even have a full sized oven - it was a mini version, about half the width of a normal stove. We didn't care. It was ours.

Finally the day came that the carpet was in place and we went to the apartment in the evening to start putting things in place and spend our first night there. The futon was set up, the TV in its place on the floor opposite. The tiny space was a maze of boxes and we couldn't find anything when we wanted it. We were debating which sheet should be hung to cover the large picture window in the living room when his Primco phone rang.

He was offered a permanent manager position. In Green Bay. 120 miles away.

I sat down on the futon and cried. He tried to comfort me by saying that maybe he wouldn't take it.

I told him not to be dumb, that it was a great opportunity for him. He called his boss the next day and accepted.

Shortly thereafter the fall semester started and we were back to the same arrangements as the spring semester. The only difference was he was driving in the opposite direction to see me. It was the only time in my life that I lived completely by myself and had nothing to contend with each day except getting to class, getting to work and coming home to decide what I'd eat for dinner. I remember feeling really weird ordering a pizza for just me.

He still paid his portion of the rent and utilities, but neither of us wanted to keep living that way for very long. He went to the apartment manager and told him he was required to move for his job, and they let us out of our lease.

I decided that I'd finish up the fall semester in Milwaukee and move to Green Bay.

That fall, the company my boyfriend worked for paid for him to stay in a hotel. It was a new store they were opening in Green Bay, and he had interviews to do as well as store set-up, and he spent so much time working that it didn't really matter he was living out of a suitcase. But when I decided I was going to move to be with him, we spent a weekend looking at apartments.

We settled on a two bedroom upper in a home on the city's west side, close to his work. The home was owned by an 87-year-old woman named Pearl. She frowned at the fact that we were unmarried and living together, but as long as we were willing to do the yardwork (on any day but Sunday - that was God's day of rest) and keep quiet she felt fine taking our money.

As we went back and forth visiting each other that fall we moved things into the duplex. Eventually I was living in very sparse quarters in Milwaukee. On the day of my last final in December, he came down to pick me up with the rest of my stuff. (I don't remember now where my little red convertible was. But it made the trip to GB with me eventually.) We were pulled over on the freeway because his truck was so loaded down with stuff the cop was worried we couldn't see where we were going. We were let off with a warning when the cop saw the mirrors and back window were free.

I hadn't wanted to be lonely in Milwaukee by myself. Little did I know that 1998 would prove to be a very lonely time in a city I did not know with only my boyfriend for company.

Next week...1998.

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Suzie said...

Wow! Sounds like a hard time. Cant wait to hear what happens next.

THopgood said...

oooo....another sinner! Sounds alot like the days when my hubby and I were starting out. We lived in sin too....but Grandma doesn't know.

Melissa said...

Hi Colleen! Glad you like the NaBloPoMo badge! Good luck with posting every day in April (and might I say that as a NaBloPoMo newbie, the badge does indeed make you look very cool! ;) )