Kristy and I were engaged to be married and we had two cars that came together with us. The 1969 Camaro and a 1968 El Camino. Not only was I getting married, but another huge change came into my life.
Working for the department store certainly wasn’t going to provide enough income for our life together. My step-father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and encouraged me to try to get a job there. After several attempts to get a job, on July 3, 1973, I was instantly hired. My wage went from $1.95 per hour to $8.00 per hour overnight! Kris was working at a local hospital in an administrative position. So, we felt we were pretty well set to get married.
In our preparation for merging our lives we spent a lot of time planning the wedding and we both wanted a nice place to live. We found a brand new two bedroom apartment that had ultra modern colors and style. The carpet was bright 1970’s orange and the appliances were a really cool, avocado green! I’ll never forget the decor with matching browns, greens, and “burnt” orange as we called it. We arranged to move Kristy into the apartment the month before our wedding.
From an accident that occurred along the way, my El Camino got a pretty bad crush on the front of the fender. Even though I was making a lot more money, we had over spent our budget in preparation for our wedding and new home. I decided not to get the car fixed and spend the insurance claim money on something else. It seemed like a good idea at the time but that decision was something that came back to bite me later, in a way I never expected.
After getting Kristy settled into the apartment we would often spend time there talking and working on wedding plans. One night. Kristy told me something that changed our lives forever. Without uncovering private places, let’s just say that I became shocked and was heartbroken. I had emotions that were buried deep inside me and I don’t think I was even aware of what I was feeling.
Marriage or Not?
My immediate thoughts went to whether or not I was going to go on with the wedding. Something inside me shut down and I went numb. I felt incredibly trapped because we had made so many plans, spent so much money and the invitations were already sent out. What else could I do? I didn’t really think I had an option, so the wedding would go on.
This moment in my life was something that, without knowing it, would cause a breakdown in the foundation of our marriage that neither of us knew anything about. It was a sink hole undermining our relationship that was hidden. I shut down and became detached after our conversation. It was as though I literally forgot about it for a season. I never talked with Kristy, or anyone else for that matter, about what was in my heart. I just stuffed it and went on like nothing happened.
The wedding drew closer and it was time to get the marriage license. When we went to the officials to obtain the license we learned of a waiting period we didn’t know anything about. We were told that we couldn’t get married on Saturday. Oh, man! What should we do? They advised us to get a license in Iowa where there wasn’t a waiting period. So, we talked to the Priest to arrange for the more simple Iowa wedding. We joked about this meaning that our marriage would be twice as strong since we did it twice.
Getting Married as a Virgin
Due to wanting to be a good person mixed with my own fears and naivety I had never gotten into a situation with anyone where sex became a temptation. There was kissing, holding hands, and being close physically, but I felt good about being sexually clean. No one had actually ever talked with me about sexual morality. I guess, I just grabbed on to the idea that it was good to abstain from these things.
I felt very anxious about my first sexual experience. In my small mind on these things I feared I would not know what to do. I had never seen pornography either, so my knowledge of sex was really NILL! Other than my experience with personal masturbation all I had was some knowledge of the bodies, but nothing about how they worked together. Once again in my life, I was left to my own ways to figure things out. No mentors, counselors, or good friends to discuss these things with. I just had to go through it.
We moved into the apartment and with my personal things and our two cars. The merging of our lives went fairly smooth. The “formal” wedding occurred and we returned to our apartment that night. Sexually, things worked themselves out quite naturally and my fears were relieved. Due to my new job and our lack of finances, we didn’t take a honeymoon so that first night certainly wasn’t romantic. We started playing house and found ourselves with a troublesome financial load. We had over spent, over bought, and the price of the new apartment was heavy.
Moving Out With Our Two Cars
There was as conflict in our apartment building from some crazy accusations of noise from our downstairs neighbor. We really weren’t loud people at all and complied with all of the requests to be even quieter. But without much warning we were asked to move out. We think it had to do with the relationship the lady had with the managers and they just decided they wanted us out. It was a blessing because it allowed us to get out from under the heavy rent payments. So, after just a few short months we found ourselves moving from our apartment into an older house that was only half of the price of the rent we had been paying.
We decided that it was time to change the car situation around and felt we needed reliable transportation. As we looked at our two cars we found that the “winking eye” of the damaged El Camino made it unsellable due to safety inspection problems. So, I made the decision to trade off the Camaro for a 1974 Datsun B-210 just like the one pictured here. It was green and had an amazing “four speaker, AM-FM stereo”. Kristy made it clear that trading her Camaro was not her first choice. Looking back on it, I can understand how much she loved her car and how frustrated she must have been for me to have gotten rid of it instead of the El Camino that I didn’t like at all. We were so young and making decisions wasn’t out strong suit.
You take my car, you take my heart!
I think, much like it was for me just before our wedding, losing her car was something that she buried deep inside her own heart. So, here we were two people that were very young, carrying a huge financial load and hurting deep inside in ways we were not prepared to deal with. Our wounds grew deeper and yet we just kept going on without asking the right questions or speaking the truth.
We didn’t talk, listen, or really care about each other in ways that would nurture a healthy marriage. I put my energy into fixing up our home and other distractions. Than to pay for it all, I took on a second job.
After two years we found out that our first child was going to come along. I was ecstatic! Kristy always wanted children so she was too. Our focus then turned to preparing for the baby. Remodeling the baby’s room, getting all of the things needed for a new baby was enough to distract us from the wounds in our hearts.
A Brand New Baby
In March of 1976, Alysha was born! I couldn’t get enough of her. Holding her in my lap, staring at her, she had grabbed my heart. It was a tremendous joy for me to be a dad. We had not been in a church since our wedding, other than maybe a Christmas service. Since my family was Catholic, we felt we had no other optio, but to go through with baptizing Alysha in the Catholic church. It was the expected thing to do so we did it. Neither of us had any particular religious convictions so this was just an act of keeping the peace with my family.
The Sink Hole Began to Sink!
Some of the buried stuff surfaced and we began to have arguments that were pretty typical on the surface but they were fueled by the lack of resolve from the other things we had never dealt with. At one point we had to call a family member in to help us get through the argument. It was right after that big argument that we found out that our second baby was coming.
I felt trapped again. I really didn’t want to continue living like I was. Kristy and I were so disconnected emotionally. but with one child and another one on the way what could I do? I had to just keep one foot in front of the other and move towards being a father again. I stuffed my feelings again. I was not clearly aware of what was going on inside of me. I only knew that I wanted to get out, to find some sense of real connection. I realized I didn’t feel connected anywhere. I felt really concerned about having another baby given the state of our marriage being what it was.
Baby No. 2
In July of 1977, Amanda was born. I was emotionally more shut down by this time and felt an internal struggle bonding with her. But I loved her and saw her bright shining personality develop very quickly. She was easier to connect to. Alysha seemed more emotionally independent from early on. Our two girls were beautiful. They had bright shiny blonde hair and soft beautiful skin. The two almost looked like twins at times. They were our two little girls and we moved on into family life.
With the kids, two jobs, and growing responsibilities my struggle to bond with Kristy just got further buried underneath life. It was much easier to just deal with the surface needs and not pay attention to the emptiness growing inside of my heart. On a regular basis I felt unheard, devalued and unimportant. I tried to cope with the loneliness I felt on a daily basis.
I didn’t have many friends other than those I worked with. I never did anything alone or with another friend. I spent all of my energy on the family and ongoing remodeling of our older house. That was my focus. I did have one really good friend, Dan, who I talked to a lot. We worked together and spent almost all of our break times talking together about life, family, work issues and anything else that came across our time together. I experienced some of the old feelings of jealousy with Dan and his other friends. I felt possessive with our time and didn’t want to go without talking with him daily. I would compromise my job by taking longer breaks than were allowed, hiding in hallways to talk with him. Fortunately I never got into too much trouble for all of the time I spent with him.
I really needed his friendship and time to process my life with him. The jealousy and neediness didn’t go any further so as to cause any big problems. But I definitely was dependant on Dan’s friendship to fill up some of the void I had. He was the kind of friend that was always there. He was there when both of our daughters were born and was present for other important events. I was there for him when his father passed away. I was in his wedding when he married his wife Arlene. We were very good friends.
The cars in my life continued to change. We kept the Datsun but had a few other second cars. Some came along because they were cheap! I remember a 1965 Ford Fairlane that was one of the cheap ones. Then another memorable car came into our lives. A 1970 Ford XL. I think about the cars I would love to have back and this is one of them. The car in the picture doesn’t begin to capture the beauty of the car I had. While the color was close, mine was a special edition with a shiny gloss black engine hood on top of the beautiful Coppertone body. I was so long I couldn’t close the garage door behind it.
I had several life goals in my mind. A brand new custom designed home with all new decor, a brand new car in the driveway, and living in the suburbs. I was only 23 years old by this point.
In searching for these goals to be accomplished, we were about to take another detour and I was having more trouble hiding the emptiness and disappointments in my heart.
Some who know me, may be thinking, “John, weren’t you a homosexual?” “Isn’t that what was going on underneath all of this?”
As I have said, I was sexually a virgin. I was naive about sexuality. In the sixties, no one really talked about homosexuality. I really had no idea of my sexuality. Whether I was homosexual or not never entered the equation. That may sound really strange to many of you who are reading this but it is true. I seemed to like girls, dated some, married Kristy, and functioned normally as I knew how. I certainly wasn’t a “raging” heterosexual, that’s for sure, but I had nothing to compare my life to. I didn’t have friends that I talked with, or listened to about their sexual exploits. I didn’t have a brother. No cousin, or uncle that lived close by.
Oh, sure, I had mostly female friends in high school. I didn’t get along well with other guys that were my peers. I hated sports. I loved home decor, feelings, and had a couple of emotionally close male friendships. I didn’t have a lot of lust for girls in general. I was called s sissy, weak, and “girly” in my childhood. But none of these added up to homosexuality because they were not connected to “sex”. I had a complicated and wounding relationship with my step-dad and an over dominate mother.
Many would say, “DUH” John’s gay. But again, in my world, the only connection I had to the topic of homosexuality was the lady I had worked with that my mom told me was a lesbian. That didn’t count because she was much older and obviously was a female. Certainly I embodied a lot of the stereotypes but in my stunted emotional development I never labeled myself.
I am going to write more about my marriage, sexuality, and the development of homosexuality as I tell this story. But, I’ve written the story in chronological order so it is unfolding as I experienced it. I truly think that the incidents I have described played a significant role in the breakdown of our marriage for sure. I am not sure that homosexuality really played much of a role in all of this up to this point. I was disheartened, emotionally closed off, and distant from Kristy. That was very significant in the whole picture.