The Psychology of Being One Hundred Pounds Overweight

For the majority of my adult life I have found myself refraining from participating in many activities. I avoid most social events. I even manage to avoid family gatherings. It seems quite senseless; however, I am unable to make myself convinced of that.

When at the gym, I would avoid eye contact with other people at all costs. Going to places, like the fair or a theme park, can become an absolute nightmare. There is this continual fear of being “too big” to fit in the rides. Once, several years ago, I actually had a situation where the restraints on a ride did not fit me properly because of my size. I was horrified during the entire ride that was I was going to slip out of the ride. I could literally feel my own body siding back and forth due to the fact that the ill placed restraints did not have me secured as they should have. I was actually even small then than I am now, and at this point, I make any excuse I can think of to refrain from attending any such park. I absolutely cannot endure something like that again.

At work, I had friends. My fellow coworkers would invite me out to lunch with them. Also, often times, they would all make plans to go out after work and have dinner or go out for drinks. I was never blind to the fact that I was the largest person that worked in out department, and I would therefore, be “the fat one” at the table or out in the clubs. So, it just made more sense that I would politely decline their offers to join the gang for a fun outing. Luckily, I did live farther away from work than anyone else did and I had a substantially longer commute home, so that always made for an easy out, and provided me an unquestionable excuse when I constantly declined the invites.

Being in a relationship seems to be the worse. My husband truly loves me, of that I do not question or doubt. My problem is, I can never convince myself of why he does. I am older than him and feel most days like I weigh twice as much as him. He always has an uncanny knack for getting romantic and wanting to try out various things. You know, to “keep the spark alive.” However, I am so incredibly insecure about myself and have little to no confidence it is damn near impossible for me to be comfortable exposing much of myself to him. No matter how much I know that man loves me, my damn insecurities about myself keep this wall up between us that only causes more turbulence than I can describe. When I feel insecure and reserved with him that way, it, in turn, causes him to feel insecure in our relationship. He begins to question the validity of my attraction to him and begins to convince himself that I am not comfortable around him intimately, because I am not attracted to him. It really is a vicious cycle and hurts everyone.

Going clothes shopping can be one of the greatest nightmares imaginable. I tend to avoid going shopping if at all possible. When I do go, I generally refuse to use the dressing rooms. I cannot really explain it, but I have the crazy idea that if I try on clothes in the store and they do not fit, I will become depressed and leave with nothing. I cannot say that it entirely an idea. I have in the past taken my stash of carefully picked out items to a dressing room, only to try on the items before me in absolute horror, as not a single thing in the pile would fit. Or if they did, it would be a mere one or two pieces. It is devastating. Therefore, I tend to prefer facing that fear and wallowing in my self disgust alone at home. I have also, so many times, picked out clothing in a store in the sizes that I was convinced I would need, only to get home and realize that I was too generous in my thinking. Nothing will damage your pride more than allowing yourself a size, or even two, bigger than the last time you bought clothing, only to realize even the larger sizes are not large enough.

Fun family outings can turn into a nightmare when faced with being that size. There is a constant fear of having to be squeezed into a carnival ride, or worse, that the security bar/belts will not fit around you and you are shamefully escorted off of the ride. Even while eating a salad, the very idea of eating in a public place will send you into a near-panic attack. I once was eating a granola bar as I drove from work to school, knowing that I did not have time between the two to stop for any type of semblance of a meal. While stopped at a red light, a man in the car in the lane next to me looked over. I was overcome with shame. It was a simple granola bar, it is not like it was a foot-long hot dog or anything, and it had been the only thing I had eaten in well over six hours. Yet, the very idea of someone seeing me eat, when I was already so overweight was nothing short of mortifying.

Society’s tendency to “fat-shame” can place an unnecessary amount of stress on someone who is already battling internal demons of mammoth proportion. There are times when those fears may be legitimate, as in, there may be situations whereby you are unable to ride certain rides at the fair. But, more often than not, the majority of those fears are irrational, and bear no legitimacy. The person in the car next to you at the stop light, may in fact look over at you as you are eating your granola bar. However, that in no way means that he finds the whole idea of you eating as disgusting. He could simply be looking around to try and find a pretty lady to smile at. Or perhaps, he is searching the faces of other drivers to see if anyone looks as miserable about commuting in traffic as he does. Perhaps, even, he has had a very bad day, and is just hoping to find one person to smile at him and make his day seem just a little bit better. When you go out to eat with your family and friends, most of the people inside the restaurant are too busy with their own friends and family to be worrying about watching you eat.

Yes, fat-shaming is real. And, there are instances in which someone will gawk at a heavier person and make fun of them or make cynical comments toward their eating habits. And most definitely, being one hundred pounds overweight at the gym can be an incredibly awkward and embarrassing experience. Yet, those are not always the norm, but as the heavier person, we tend to let out minds always draw from the worst case scenario and whether people look at us condescendingly, with disgust, or simply just glance up at a fellow person walking by them, we draw from those fears of what others think and in our own minds, we assume what we believe they are thinking about us. It is a dirty trick that our minds play on us.

What I Look Forward to Most of All, About This Fall.

Ah, Fall! Just the word alone drums up images of vibrant colors abound, the cool, crisp air, and the smells. You can literally smell the pumpkin, just thinking about it. Where I come from, fall is a very prominent season. In fact, it may be the most revered and highly loved season of all. I should dare say, I believe it may well be more loved than summer. I love fall. I always have. But, I believe this year, it may hold a more dear and special meaning than ever before.

For me, no matter how much I loved fall, there was always something not quite fulfilled within me. There had been this unsettled sense of longing for so many years. The first time I stepped out of my car in Biloxi, Mississippi, I learned what that was. The smell of the salty air, the warm coastal Gulf breeze, and the sound of the gentle waves lapping as they made a continual reintroduction of themselves to the shore. I was a beach girl at heart. I had never really been to the beach, save for the local homemade beaches at the lakes around my area, but once in my life. That had been a very long time ago and during a quite tumultuous time in my life, and I do not believe I had to opportunity to really see the beach life for all that it could be. But, after that first trip to Biloxi, it was all over for me. I spend the next nine years obsessing over living in the Gulf of Mexico. It became the status of my ultimate dream life, and eventually, part of my five year plan.

As luck would have it, nine years after I first sank my toes into the sugar sand beach of Biloxi, I had an opportunity presented to me to move to Southwest Florida. It wasn’t exactly the part of the Gulf that I have envisioned living in, but it was still the Gulf. And at that time, given the circumstance, it was the only viable option for me. There was no debate for me. Without even questioning it, I got rid of everything that I could to downsize, packed what I needed to take, and moved to the Gulf of Mexico.

Settling here in my new apartment with its top-notch amenities that included a beautiful fishing lake complete with a walking trail bordering its perimeter, a stunning resort-style pool, grounds around the entire community bathed in the most lush tropical landscaping I had ever seen, and an impeccable gym that featured top of the line workout equipment and windows that overlooked all of the aforementioned, with only a twenty minute drive to the beach, I thought I had it made. Finally, my dream had come to be a reality. I was living life in the Gulf of Mexico. Oddly enough, however, we had made the move here during the last weekend of September and began our official move-in during the first week of October. Up to this point in my life, I had never really had an opportunity for beaches and swimming in October.

Now, it was still relatively warm back home in north Georgia during this time, so it wasn’t initially a huge difference. But as the month progressed, a huge difference was being noted. We made plans to take my granddaughters out to a local farm for some “fall” inspired fun. It was a little difficult to think of pumpkins and fall themed decor, while it was still above ninety degrees here. But we decided to give this a chance. Later that month, we found a local church hosting a trunk or treat just before Halloween, my daughter in law dressed the girls up in their beloved and highly anticipated Halloween costumes and we set out for an evening of fun. Ironically, long before the end of our night, the girls had shed about half of their costume pieces. None of us had ever experienced a ninety degree Halloween before, and we were not acclimating very well. There was still hope for Christmas! Lo and behold, December came around, and things did not change all that much. I knew there had to be some way the South Floridians celebrated the holidays, they deserved fall and Christmas too, right? I found a few local events such as a holiday light show complete with Christmas carols, hot cocoa, and a bonfire. Yes! It was a perfect picture of everything we loved to do back home. The girls were dressed in holiday themed attire and off we went. No one could bear to drink the hot cocoa and we all avoided going anywhere near the bonfire like it was the plague. The temps had begun to fall here in Southwest Florida, but still being in the mid-eighties, it proved far too difficult a task to feel in the holiday vibe. On Christmas day, my husband had the idea to make it a special day and spend our first Christmas here on the beach. After all, that is what we moved to the Gulf for anyway. Well, as luck would have it, we were not even able to get across the bridge to get to the beach. This was the height of “snowbird” season, and everyone in the state seemed to have the same idea. It seemed that living in a beach town was all well and good, until the reality hit that the seasons and the holidays were going to be nothing like they had ever been before. We really missed snow.

As time went on, and luck would have it, there was about to be a shift in our lives that would take us into another direction. Shortly after the beginning of August, and following a recent trip back home to visit family, there was an opportunity for us to go back home. Our family clearly wanted us closer, and Henry was really not as much in love with living the south Florida as I had once hope he would be. Truth be told, I think missing my family began to outweigh the picturesque lifestyle imagery that I had envisioned for myself ten years ago. So, without hesitations, we graciously accepted the offer presented to us and will be making the necessary arrangements to leave the Gulf of Mexico and return home to North Georgia. Our journey home will not be until October, which, ironically, will culminate a year of living the beach life and be at the heart of the Fall season.

It will be with bittersweet emotion that I will bid adieu to the Gulf. Yet, in the same regard, my heart is so happy and full to be returning to my family. And, with that, this year Fall will be so much more special to me this year. In knowing all that I have learned about the value of family and in seeing firsthand what life is like for those who do not get to enjoy a proper fall. What I look forward to most for this fall is taking my grandchildren to the pumpkin farm, and to indulge in hot cocoa or cider to provide a warmth and help knock the chill off. I look forward to getting to wear hoodies. In my entire fall and winter in south Florida, I had to opportunity to wear a hoodie only twice. There is just something about hoodies that are a natural a part of fall as chili and other beloved comfort foods. I look forward to seeing all the children dressed for trick-or-treating on Halloween. I look forward to feeling that first frost, the one that signals snow will be on the horizon. Mostly, I look forward to football. I had to learn the hard way that moving out of state will put you in the network for your new state’s professional sports team, and I missed every single game my football team played last season. But, I really want to bundle up in my favorite hoodie and go out to enjoy a local high school football game. Nothing truly says fall quite like bonfires, pumpkins, and football, and I greatly look forward to getting to experience them all again this fall.

A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

Finding One’s Self

            The quest to find one’s identity is the heartbeat of humanity. The quest for identity can be attributed to many things that lay the foundation to one’s identity, such as race, culture, sex, or even personal history. Daniel Keys’ writing of “Flowers for Algernon” is an example of one man’s journey to find himself. Everyone lives their life as a journey to simply find their one true self.

            Everyone deserves to be treated as though their life has meaning and value. Incidentally, Charlie Gordon defends his right to be seen as somebody. “” But I’m not an inanimate object” I argued, “I’m a person.”” (Keys p 89). This argument of his has the haunting element of the many peoples who have been trapped in the bonds of slavery over the years, proclaiming their right to be seen as equals, also that statement can be ingrained in a society of oppressed people such as the Jews who were horrifically persecuted and maimed simply because of being Jewish and their desperate cries to be seen as a real people, who deserved a place and a right in society as much as any other nation of people.

            Another standard by which some choose to use as a form of personal identity is one’s status. For some people, the more they have, whether it is friends or possessions, the more popular or revered they will be. Charlie Gordon believed that if he gained more intelligence, was smarter, everyone would like him more and he would have more friends. He recorded this theory as he was writing in his progress reports before he had the surgery to make him smarter. “If your smart you can have lots of friends to talk to and you never get lonely by yourself all the time.” (Keys p 15). This is much the same way of thinking by people who believe that the more nicer things they have, such as, expensive sports cars, boats, or expensive material things the more status they will have and therefore people will look up to them and admire them. It also correlates to the idea that others have, in that, if they “go with the flow” and do what the “in crowd” does, they will have more friends and not be lonely; such as, if they go clubbing or to bars and drink and party like everyone does, they will always have lots of friends around and never worry about being lonely. However, sadly enough, this way of thinking is shallow and generally lends itself to reckless actions that leads on to finding themselves in a much worse place than they were before they tried to use their status to forge friendships.

            Charlie learned after his operation that intelligence is also an identifying factor in one’s identity. People become categorized by the level of their education or intelligence and others react to them accordingly. Often times people of higher intelligence tend to look down or dismiss the validity of someone else because they are of lesser intelligence. In a conversation between Charlie and Alice, this idea was addressed as she pointed out to him that he, in fact, made her feel awkward following the operation because she could not keep up with him intellectually and stated that next to Charlie, she felt dull-witted. She went on to say to him that now, most days that they see each other, after she leaves him, she goes home with a miserable feeling that she is now slow and dense about everything. She explains that she reviews things that they have said to each other and thinks of things that she should have said and thinks of all the bright and witty things that she should have said, then feels like kicking herself because she did not think to say them when they were together. This kind of intelligence segregation begins early in life. One can see it in schools where the smart, or more commonly referred to as, “preppy” kids demean or simply ignore the lesser aptitude students. It is also prevalent in the workplace as higher up the management chain. The more educated and higher salaried employees do not really do any kind of socializing wither the lower educated and lesser salaried employees. In many cases, it falls back to the status ideology, but mostly in these situations, it simply rests on the principle that at different intelligence levels, they do not have very much in common and do not have the ability to communicate on the same intellectual levels.

            From birth, one’s family, culture, heritage, and ethnicity begin laying the groundwork to their identity. As one progresses through life, factors such as education, work experiences, status, friends, and relationships mold the clay and help to define their one true identity. Each individual lives out their lives in a way so as to find that quest on one’s true self. Charlie Gordon gained just enough intelligence to realize that no matter how much one can alter their life, deep down, there is no changing who a person truly is. The core value of the idea is that all men are created equal, but society sets the standards by which all men are perceived.


Keys, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.  

When the Water Recedes

Life throws a lot of things our way. Life will send the storms; the flood, the fire, and the rain. But I believe the most important thing to consider is, when the water recedes, what does your character say about you? I have literally been through some of life’s storms. My son and I were trapped in our severely damaged home after the Palm Sunday tornadoes in 1994, and most recently my family survived a devastating flood. Having to jump from a window because we were in danger and getting to higher ground to watch our life literally floating away before our very eyes. They say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but I like to take that a step further and say that I believe what doesn’t kill you can make you kinder.

One who learns to value how fragile life is can in turn learn to appreciate even the smallest gestures of kindness. Since the flood, I have seen my sixteen year old daughter really grow in her maturity. She has ministered to friends at school, and even to those in school whom she does not consider very friendly. She makes posts on Facebook and Twitter that get hundreds of likes and retweets. She has become quite the inspiration to many, and she is without doubt the most uplifting person I know. Her character speaks volumes of the wonderful person she is, and people are naturally drawn to her because they feel better just being around her.

 Since the flood, I have become more aware of people, as in their actions and reactions. I recently took my car in for service at the dealership, and while I was there I planned to catch up on some of my reading. I found myself getting sidelined by people watching instead. Mostly I was watching and listening to the employees of the service department. Many of the “grunt” workers of the department were coming into the main area and mingling a bit. As I watched them and caught bits and pieces of their side conversations, I gathered it was lunch time and the service department manager had lunch catered in to them every day. I was highly impressed by this. Not by the fact they were enjoying BBQ sandwiches as much, but rather in how they responded to him and him with them. He was more than a boss to the men in his employ, he was a leader. Many places would think nothing of the employees clocking out, fighting traffic to get to a place of choice, and waiting to get their meal before finally eating only to fight traffic getting back. But there was no “every man for himself” attitude in that service department. I could easily see the employees not only respected him, but admired him, and they followed his example. I was so impressed by witnessing of the service manager’s character, that I called my daughter right there in the lounge and bragged emphatically over the place.

I’ve also taken notice of people’s reactions to you in checkout lines. Of course employees are taught to say the generic “have a nice day” as part of their customer service training. But how many people going through those lines, actually appreciate or take time to reciprocate their “have a nice day?” I have started a habit, sadly I do not remember to do it every time while in checkout lines- I’m far from perfect, but when the cashier says for me to have a nice day, I reply with “thank you, and you have a blessed day as well.”  I have had quite a response to this. I’ve had many people take a double take, light up, and say, “Thank you so much!” with gleaming smiles.

am I being Kind

We all have bad days, bad weeks, and bad years, but the trick is, not to let the storm make you bitter. Besides, we never know when someone else’s day is worse. Are they still in their time of flood season? Maybe just a simple gesture of kindness can make a difference in someone’s storm. So when life throws her perils your way, and the waters recede from the flood, what will your character say about you? Anyone can learn the mundane task of repeating “have a nice day” as part of your routine. But I believe people should be sincere in their delivering and receiving of even the simplest acts of kindness. I believe that once the dust settles and when the water recedes, people have the ability to learn valuable lessons from the story, and even greater, the ability to grow from the experience. Just like glass is put into the fire to refine it and make it something beautiful, I believe we can use our trials by fire to refine us and build the kind of character that legacies are made of.

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Stella Got Her Groove Back, Why Can’t I?

Being a strong, independent woman is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet, it does not always serve one well in the grand scheme of life. Never, will I ever, say that being strong or independent are characteristics that are not admirable or desired. However, there are times in life where we find ourselves at a crossroads in which it is best to just sit back and allow fate to control our paths. It has been said that some of the best things in life are either free or unplanned. The greatest things in life are both.

I was doing pretty well for myself. I had a good job and made a decent living. I had a cute little “hipster” house for myself and my then eighteen-year-old daughter. I was taking college courses to complete my next-level degree. And, I had a pretty rad car, a brand new 2013 Camaro, that I felt like a total bad ass driving around. I belonged to a Camaro car club and went to car shows and races when I wanted to and did not go when I did not want to. I had a friend who had introduced me to gold prospecting, and when I was not off on some car club event or writing six page essays, I was knee deep in some North Georgia creek shoveling out pans of pay dirt to sift through and add to my vial of shimmering flakes of promise and prosperity. Ah, there was something very intoxicating indeed about holding up that glass container full of nuggets and flakes that had not been before touched by human hands. I had a good life. I had it all together. My life was utterly perfect, right?

Enter, stage right. It seemed simple enough, a friend request from a Facebook car group was not an uncommon occurrence. Then, he showed up in my direct message inbox. Also, not altogether an unheard-of occurrence. I checked out his profile. I mean, we can all say we are not, and we can try to pretend and even convince ourselves we are not in the least bit materialistic and reactive to people based on their physical appearance. But all of the pretending in the world does not change the fact that we are human, and we are reactive to people based on their physical appearance and how they can be perceived by the world. He was surely cute, and very small-town country, which lent an air of charming about him that made him all the more appealing. But then there it was. His birthdate. How could this be? I had a child of my very own that was older than him. I mean, sure, it was very flattering to be flirted with by a younger man. But, was this too far? Was he too young? I let reason and logic get the better of me and fought back his flirtatious advances by calling him “small fry” continually reminding him that I had “given birth to people older than him.” It seemed the more I resisted, the harder he pursued. That boy definitely had no quit in him. Eventually, I had given in and gave him my cell phone number so that we could chat with each other on just more than the Facebook app. His voice was so deeply rich in southern twang. I am, myself, from North Georgia and have for the better part of my life been made fun of for my southern accent. But this small-town North Carolina boy even impressed me with how country is twang was. He was charming and opinionated. Over time, getting to talk to him and listen to his infectious laughter became one of my most anticipated highlights of my day. Eventually, we reached that critical point in every online relationship, he wanted to meet offline. Deep down, I wanted to meet him too. Just to be near him both excited me and scared the hell out of me simultaneously. I mean, there was still that giant elephant in the room, and I was not sure how that would play out if we did meet and discovered that we did, in fact, have a real romantic connection. My daughter and her best friend, who, after reading every single text between us and convincing me to put him on speaker for some of our conversations to listen in on us, encouraged us to meet. My daughter’s friend struck the final blow when she told me that, “if he is willing to make that much of an effort, he deserves a chance.” To this day, I still give Lauren full credit for everything that has happened since then.

So, with nervous anticipation, I packed a small weekend bag, and headed out after work for the longest and most nerve-wrecking five-hour drive of my life. What was I doing? Was I really driving two states away to meet a boy half my junior, and for what? What did I really expect to come of this? Did I really think this was going to be some romantic fairy tale? I experienced every emotion imaginable during that drive. When I arrived and I saw him in person for the first time, my hands were shaking. He immediately calmed me as he wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. The kind of hug that says, I have waited for this for such a long time. Suddenly, all of the playful banter and flirting became very real. We spent the next two days barely out of each other’s sight. It was magical, and surreal all at once. We went out in public, and I was aware of the questioning and condescending stares from strangers. He did not care, or he was completely oblivious; either way, he had no reaction to anyone and their judgments. He was enthralled in our spending time together. That Sunday morning as I drove him back to his house, it was the most somber and sad drive. He all but begged me not to leave, and admittedly, there was a part of me that never wanted to leave his side. But my life and my job and my family were back in Georgia, and Georgia was where I had to be. I left the radio turned off in the car and just reflected about the weekend and what it meant as I drove south. Once I crossed the South Carolina state line, I was overcome with such sadness, already missing him. I cried.

A week later, there was a huge car show event in Atlanta, and then a big race that every car enthusiast around planned to attend. We had talked about it several times. I had already made plans to go, and we had hoped for him to get to go with me. He decided to. Since he lived a solid five and a half hours away, the plan was for him to stay with me for two weeks and we would enjoy the two car events. I was excited during that week to get to see him again. I had confided in a few of my coworkers about our meeting, and there was, as expected, mixed reactions, given the great white elephant. But, at the end of the day, they loved me and wanted me to be happy, they just also wanted me to be smart about what I chose to pursue that happiness. The week passed and we were back together. It was glorious! We enjoyed both car events, and just spending the evenings after I got home from work being together. I showed him some of my favorite and most special places around town. We talked, and laughed, and held hands, and fell in love during those two weeks. The weeks passed and he continued to stay at my place. At first, I did not mention it, because I was really enjoying having him there with me. One night, we drove to the mountain overlook, one of the most sacred and special places for me. I brought up the subject, given that he had came to stay with me for an intended two weeks with nothing more than a duffle bag full of clothes. As we sat overlooking the city down below us and the stars above, shining incredibly bright against the black sky backdrop, we talked, and we cried. We talked of what we wanted out of life, what made sense, what seemed irrational, and what felt right. We both cried a little as he talked about how torn he was between going back home and staying with me forever. I said little, because deep down, I had come to love him, and I wanted him to stay. But I could not be selfish, so I simply said that it had to be his choice. As if on cue, the Perseid meteor shower began all around the sky overhead. He pulled me in close to him, pressed his face to mine, and I could feel his tears as they washed down my cheek. A great silence filled the air, and I knew no matter what he decided, I had to accept it and simply be grateful for the moment we shared. He pulled back and looked at me. The light from the stars and the meteor shower reflecting in those big beautiful eyes of his as he smiled down at me. He did not have to tell me that he had made his choice, or what he had decided, I felt it in every fiber of my being. We sat for several hours under the spectacular light show the universe had put on for us that night and we talked about our future. Being in a real relationship would not be an easy feat, given the white elephant. There would be many people, even family and friends, who would not accept it or support it. We talked out every scenario and defeated any doubt lingering. Everyone would not agree with it, but we had reached a point where that no longer mattered. We were in love, and we were going to do this.

As expected, a lot of people were not very excited about our relationship. Many questioned it, others doubted it would last past being more than a summer fling. But, over time, everyone changed their opinions of us. My daughter has always been very supportive of our relationship, as she had said once that she has never seen me this happy. It is not about me being unhappy prior to meeting him; remember I had a good life going and had my shit together. I had a good family support system, I had friends both at and outside of work, and I had hobbies and did things that I enjoyed. But she knew, as human beings, it is in our nature to desire being in relationships. Whether they are platonic, family, or romantic, we are ingrained to have relationships. I was not looking to find someone to date when I met him, yet our relationship has provided me so much in ways that I had never imagined. She saw that and has always been our biggest cheerleader. I always said that I never wanted someone to complete me; that I wanted to be complete and whole as a person on my own, then to find someone who would simply add to the quality of my life. I have stuck by that idea. He did not bring anything material to the table, as I had a good job, a nice car, and already lived on my own fully self-sustaining. But what he has added to my life has been companionship, friendship, romance, love, and joy. Things that I would not have otherwise. Our life was shaping up to be something great. One night, over a half a bottle of Everclear and Orange Juice, we talked about making this permanent. We joked about it after the fact, but I believe mainly that was because each of us thought the alcohol was talking for the other and we were nervous to ask each other if we really meant everything, we said that night. Yet, with Brianna’s help, he set up the most incredible scene at the million-dollar view on Christmas Eve, and slipped a ring on my finger. A promise of forever was made under an overcast rain-drizzled night.

Since that night, we have made things official and were married on a sunny September afternoon. We also made another huge leap of faith when we decided to follow my son and daughter in law to Southwest Florida to live. Ironically, my dream for the past ten years has been to live in a condo in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first trip we had taken together for our birthday was to St Augustine Florida, not exactly the Gulf, I know, but it somehow made Florida special for us. Sadly, Ryan and Teresa decided not to stay, and they elected to move the babies back to north Georgia. It was very hard for us, but at the end of the day, we had to respect their choice. For various reasons, we have stayed in Florida. There are days when we hate it and days when we love it. He is more than my best friend; he is my rock. He holds me and lets my cry when I miss my family or want an ice cream date with my granddaughter. He risks an almost guaranteed sunburn to brave the beach with me, because he knows, “that’s what you move to Florida for.” Our relationship has not been without it share of storms, but we have managed to weather them, thus far. Will our age difference defy the odds and our relationship stand the test of time and last forever? Who is to say, really? Only time can tell. But I am not planning to waste any precious time right now trying to worry over whether it will last or for how long. Right now, it is, and that is all that matters. I told him once that regardless of whether we make it or not, and there will always be a chance that we will not, no matter what happens, I will always be grateful for the time that we have had, for the things that we have shared, and for the love created, and for the life that we have enjoyed. I have also told him that we are going to have a great life, and we do have a great life. No matter how long it lasts, if it lasts forever or if it only lasts a few years, I have a great life with Henry, and a life that I will always be grateful for.

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